The MLB Hall of Fame will announce its 2017 inductees at 6 p.m. on Wednesday night, Jan. 18, as chosen by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.
This year’s ballot includes 34 candidates, 19 of which are experiencing their first year of eligibility.
Newcomers Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jorge Posada lead the batch of first-timers, who join the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, Trevor Hoffman, and Sammy Sosa on the ballot.
Players need 75-percent of the vote for induction, with long-time Houston Astros first-baseman Jeff Bagwell owning the highest percentage from the previous year at 71.6-percent. Speculation is that Bagwell, along with Tim Raines and Trevor Hoffman, who earned 69.8-percent and 67.3-percent last year respectively, are the likeliest of selections for this year’s class.
After that, our guess is good as yours as to how the quirky BBWAA will decide who joins the ranks of the games all-time greats.
Schilling, Clemens, and Bonds hold the next highest percentages garnered from last year’s vote at 45.2, 44.3, and 44.3, with all three men on the ballot for the fifth time. Each man, along with guys like Sammy Sosa, brings a great resume to the table, but each also has the suspicion of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) swirling around them as well as character and/or personality issues that haven’t always endeared them to the fans and media.
Bonds and Clemens would probably have made the Hall one day anyway based on their God-given talents, but their increased performances as each of their ages advanced is something that raised numerous eyebrows toward the end of their careers.
There are also middle of the road guys like Mike Mussina, Magglio Ordonez, Jeff Kent, and Larry Walker, who were no doubt very good players, but who fall short of greatness in the overall view of the game’s history, and who also played in the “steriod era”.
Then, there’s reliever Lee Smith. He’s one of the best closers in history, having saved a lot of games (478), albeit for some crummy teams. This marks Smith’s 15th and final year on the ballot, one year after garnering 34.1-percent of the vote. Smith will probably see an uptick in votes, but likely not a big enough spike to make it in.
Another interesting thing will be seeing how the writers feel about the newcomers. In recent years, we’ve seen first-timers like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Ken Griffey, Jr. make the Hall, but those are special, once in a generation-type guys. The most likely of this year’s bunch to make the cut are Guerrero and Rodriquez. Ramirez would’ve been included in that same breath, but instead comes with a lot of baggage similar to Bonds and Clemens. After being busted for PED use in 2009, Ramirez opted to retire rather than serve a 100-game suspension following a second violation as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.
For me personally, I would still have a hard time checking the box on a guy who tested positive, or who I believed used during the steroid era. I’m just funny like that. I love the game, and rewarding someone who disgraced it by cheating to get ahead is something I just couldn’t do if I had a vote. Like I mentioned above though, Bonds and Clemens probably would have gotten there on their own if they’d kept on being the players there were before say 1998. I don’t begrudge any writer who votes for them. The numbers are there, and I get that. It’s just a personal preference of mine to not keep praising them for cheating.
As I mentioned earlier, I believe Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Trevor Hoffman are the most likely to get inducted this year. I still think the PED guys like Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Sheffield, and Ramirez will have to wait a little longer to get in, and that Curt Schilling will have to wait as well given his persona and fall from grace in the eyes of the many. I also believe guys like Lee Smith and Fred McGriff will fall short. Both players had great careers and were a model of consistency, but lack a little in their numbers to ever surpass the 75-percent mark. Of the newcomers, I believe Rodriquez and Guerrero stand the best chance of getting in based on their numbers and unique skills at their respective positions.
Who gets in: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Trevor Hoffman, and Ivan Rodriquez.
I think those four names will be announced Wednesday evening, and rightfully so. All four men will add to the fine collection of talent in the MLB Hall of Fame.