Hall of Fame ballots for the 2017 induction class have been mailed out to the Baseball Writers Association of America voters and the names on the ballot were released to the public this morning. The top newcomers: Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez. There are 19 new candidates in all. There are, of course, several holdovers too.
The newcomers, in alphabetical order:
Guerrero and Rodriguez, each frequently referred to as future-Hall-of-Famers, should each get a substantial number of votes. Guerrero may even make it in on his first ballot, though there is a lot of congestion in terms of holdovers, as we’ll see below. I suspect Pudge will have to wait a bit, though his first year support should be strong. Manny Ramirez would, based on his production, be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but multiple suspensions due to performance enhancing drugs will almost certainly doom his candidacy for the foreseeable future.
None of the other new names will likely get substantial consideration, though I do expect Jorge Posada and possibly Jason Varitek to hang around on the ballot for several years. Beyond that, we’re dealing primary with one-and-done guys, with some “he was a good guy, so I’ll vote for him” votes being scattered around.
The top holdover voters from 2016 are Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Trevor Hoffman, and Curt Schilling with no one else getting above 50% support in last year’s tally. The holdovers in alphabetical order, with 2016 support in parenthesis:
Jeff Bagwell (71.6%)
Barry Bonds (44.3%)
Roger Clemens (45/2%)
Trevor Hoffman (67.3%)
Jeff Kent (16.6%)
Edgar Martinez (43.4%)
Fred McGriff (20.9%)
Mike Mussina (43.0%)
Tim Raines (69.8%)
Curt Schilling (52.3%)
Gary Sheffield (11.6%)
Lee Smith (34.1%)
Sammy Sosa (7%)
Billy Wagner (10.5%)
Larry Walker (15.5%)
There are a ton of Hall of Fame-worthy players here, but many of them are simply not getting the sort of support one would assume they’d receive given what they did in their careers. Some of that is for obvious reasons, with Bonds, Clemens and Sosa being shunned as PED users, bet it alleged or confirmed. Others’ lack of support is somewhat more inexplicable and, I suspect, with voters simply being unable to accept the the starts of the 90s and 2000s compare with players of the more distant past. We all have some trouble contextualizing, I suppose, but the recent Hall of Fame candidates have suffered due to that shortcoming more than their predecessors ever did.
I presume Bagwell will make it this year and I believe Raines will be a close call in this, his final year on the ballot. Hoffman seems a likely inductee one day too, though it’s unclear if the new candidates this year will prevent him getting past the necessary 75% this time around. Anyone who dips below 5% on the ballot falls off.
Voters must return ballots with a Dec. 31 or earlier postmark. Results will be announced at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, on MLB Network.