It’s that time of year again, and since Edgar finally made it into the Hall, I confess to following the vote tallies less carefully. Ryan Thibodaux, as always, does a great public service for those of us obsessed by the Hall with his BBHOF Tracker. However, for an in depth look at the votes, I encourage you to link to his amazing spreadsheet that shows each candidate and each public vote cast.
It’s always kind of a horserace, with Derek Jeter leading the field with 100%, followed by Larry Walker in his last race with 84.7%, Curt Schilling, overcoming years of foot-in-mouth disease with 80%, and the tainted Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens still in the competition with 77.1 and 75.7% respectively. Will they all cross the finish line as winners on announcement day? Probably not.
Jeter will be the year’s big winner. I fully expect him to receive a unanimous vote and he’s completely deserving. He has the counting numbers: 3,465 hits and 260 homeruns despite his pretty average defense will grab the traditionalists. His career 72.4 WAR and Jay Jaffe’s 57.4 JAWS rating leaves him well above the average ratings of shortstops in the BBHOF. Jeter was the leader of some very good Yankees teams, maybe the smartest ballplayer I ever saw.
With 35% of the votes cast, it looks like Walker gets in too. It is likely to be much closer than the current margin, but he has picked up 22 new votes among the 139 counted. He’ll need 187 more votes to make 75%. Larry Walker was a wonderful player; he’d have my vote.
The biggest obstacle to Curt Schilling’s election is Curt Schilling’s lack of discretion. With a Twitter account as radioactive as certain politicians, Schilling’s political, cultural and racial views offend many. His endorsement of lynching journalists a couple of years ago cost him the votes of many BBWAA voters. He would not receive my vote for human being of the year. However, he was a terrific pitcher, a fighter on the mound, and great big-game pitcher. That said, I don’t think his percentage will hold for the final count. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling he’ll be back for a ninth year on the ballot. I hate the bloody sock, but it was the bloody sock. I’d hold my nose and give him my vote.
I don’t think Bonds and Clemens make it this year. This is the 8th year for both of them on the ballot, and induction by the writers just doesn’t look good. Though the count is right at the magic number, look at the votes. Bonds has gained one and lost one voter from 2019. Clemens lost two voters. The later votes and non-public votes are much more negative. Both were just over 59% last year. They could see a slight tick up, but steroid use remains a polarizing issue for voters, and I don’t see that changing enough to push them over the top this year or any year. 2022, their last on the writers’ ballot should be an interesting one, with a full blown presidential election-style campaign to get them in. My vote is still no, and I don’t see it changing.
Lots of interesting trends among the remaining candidates. Because the number of obvious candidates is pretty thin, quite a few have gained ground. Below is the list of those that seem to be building toward election. Not this year, but possibly for the future.
Scott Rolen 3rd year 50.7% +39 votes
Omar Vizquel 3rd year 46.5% +13 votes
Gary Sheffield 6th year 39.6% +34 votes
Manny Ramirez 4th year 36.1% +9 votes
Todd Helton 2nd year 35.4% +25 votes
Billy Wagner 5th year 33.3% +26 votes
Jeff Kent 7th year 28.5% +21 votes
Andruw Jones 3rd year 27.1% +23 votes
Sammy Sosa 8th year 18.8% +6 votes
Andy Pettite 2nd year 12.5% +7 votes
Of the 2020 nominees, in addition to Jeter, the only candidate likely to continue is Bobby Abreu, and he’ll need to pick up a few more votes to remain. He is currently at 6.7%. I hope he’s able to stick and allow another year of discussion.
Of those on the list, my certain choices would be Rolen, Vizquel and Jones. I could be convinced on Sheffield, Helton and Kent. Ramirez is a two time drug bust after the beginning of the testing regime. Not interested, colorful personality or no.
I’m interested to see how this all turns out. More later.