On January 18, the 2017 MLB Hall of Fame class will be announced. The ballot consists of 34 players, 19 of which are making their first ballot appearance. A player must earn 75% of the vote to be inducted of an approximate 435-440 ballots that will be cast.
Let’s first take a look at the 15 players who are holdovers from last year’s ballot and take a look at their chances.
Close to induction: Three holdovers from last year earned at least 65% of the vote, Jeff Bagwell at 71.6%, Tim Raines at 69.8%, and Trevor Hoffman at 67.3%. Early returns show Bagwell is nearly certain to be inducted, Raines is expected to make the jump over 75% in his final year on the ballot, and Hoffman is a coin flip at this point.
Barely hanging on: Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent, Larry Walker, Gary Sheffield, Billy Wagner, and Sammy Sosa all earned 21% or less of the vote, the lowest being Sosa at 7%. A candidate must earn at least 5% to make it to the next ballot. While some of these players make a very strong case for consideration, they are likely to remain barely making the ballot each year and staying under 20%.
Stuck In-between: Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Lee Smith all earned between 34% and 53% of the vote. Lee Smith was the lowest at 34.1%, and is in his final year on the ballot. Clemens and Bonds have been held out this long because of their connection to steroids, but early returns suggest they are gaining momentum and may push much closer to election this year. Schilling, Martinez, and Mussina, earning 52.3%, 43.4%, and 43.0% respectively, have largely been victims of crowded ballots. Martinez is running out of time, with this being his 8th ballot with the new limit of 10 years on the ballot. Schilling is in his 5th year and Mussina his 4th, and both stand a decent chance at induction a few years down the road, provided the ballot thins out some through inducting enough people over the next few years.
Now let’s take a look at the 19 newcomers:
The 19 new names on the ballot this year are Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, Mike Cameron, JD Drew, Jorge Posada, Magglio Ordonez, Derek Lee, Tim Wakefield, Edgar Renteria, Melvin Mora, Carlos Guillen, Casey Blake, Jason Varitek, Orlando Cabrera, Pat Burrell, Freddy Sanchez, Arthur Rhodes, and Matt Stairs. Most of these players will be one and done on the ballot, but let’s break them down by categories.
Good shot at induction: Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez stands a reasonable chance at reaching the 75% this year in his first on the ballot. If he doesn’t quite make it, he figures to earn at least 60% and will be in sooner rather than later. Manny Ramirez will be in the same boat as Bonds and Clemens. His numbers say he is a sure fire first ballot candidate, but his link to steroids will likely keep him in the range of 40-50% of the vote, and he will need to gain momentum over a few years if he is ever going to get in. Vladimir Guerrero figures to be in a similar situation to Schilling, Martinez, and Mussina. He was a good enough player to be in the hall, but will likely need to spend several years on the ballot before he gets close to induction. He figures to be in the 40-50% range of the vote as well and will need to gain momentum over the next few years.
Barely hanging on: Three guys stand out as having the potential to remain on the ballot but never get close to induction. Those three are Jorge Posada, Magglio Ordonez, and Edgar Renteria. It would not be surprising to see any of these three over 5%, but under 15% of the vote. Posada’s numbers alone don’t justify induction, but his 5 world series rings and the fact that he was a catcher, and there aren’t many catchers enshrined certainly helps his case to stay on the ballot. Magglio Ordonez was an extremely good hitter but a poor defensive player, which held him back from ever being considered truly one of the best in the game. His career was also short lived, which will also hold him back. Edgar Renteria was always good not great, though his positional value could hold him in higher regard than others with similar numbers, much like Posada.
Predictions: We are going to predict that Bagwell and Raines will be the only 2 to reach the 75% threshold, with Hoffman missing by just a few votes, followed by Pudge, Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling all receiving over 60% of the vote.
This could be bad news for guys like Mussina, who will have their candidacy improve the most with more guys getting in. Look for Moose to earn in the 45-50% range, along with Vlad and Edgar in the same range. Expect most of the guys at the bottom to hang on for one more year, with Posada and Ordonez being added to the mix. The guess is they will both clear the 5% threshold while Renteria falls just a bit short.
Personal Ballot: My personal ballot would be Bagwell, Raines, Hoffman, Pudge, Schilling, Mussina, Edgar Martinez, and Vlad. From that list, you may notice I left the steroid guys out in Bonds, Clemens, and Manny. There is no question they were three of the best players in the history of the game, but in the voter’s instructions as to how to vote for candidates, one aspect to take into account is integrity. With these three, you can throw integrity out the window, and as long as integrity needs to be taken into consideration, there is not a place for them in the hall. If the voting rules were to change, then the opinion of whether or not they should be enshrined could change as well.
What do you think? Who will get in? Who do you think should get in? Should the steroid guys get in? Comment and let us know! Stay tuned for more current sports stories. Don't forget to follow us on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram @beyondthemetrics, and Twitter @byondthemetrics