Now that this year’s historic class for the Baseball Hall of Fame has been announced, it’s time to look ahead to see what the ballot will look like next year and who will be likely to get in. This year’s list of potential first timers on the ballot aren’t quite as promising as last year. Here’s the full list of guys who will be added to the ballot next year.
- Garret Anderson
- Brad Ausmus
- Luis Castillo
- David Eckstein
- Jim Edmonds
- Troy Glaus
- Ken Griffey Jr.
- Mark Grudzielanek
- Jose Guillen
- Cristian Guzman
- Mike Hampton
- Trevor Hoffman
- Bob Howry
- Jason Kendall
- Mike Lowell
- Gary Matthews
- Bengie Molina
- Russ Ortiz
- Chan Ho Park
- Russ Springer
- Mike Sweeney
- Fernando Tatis
- Billy Wagner
- Jeff Weaver
- Randy Winn
Obviously not all 25 of these guys will find their way to Cooperstown, as there are some obvious choices for first-ballot election, while the rest could very easily fall off the ballot after their first appearance due to not receiving the required percentage to stay on.
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Of those 25 names, most Padres’ fans eyes will likely gravitate towards Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman pitched for the Padres for 16 seasons and is the club’s all-time leader in saves. He’s also second all-time behind Mariano Rivera and is one of only two closers to reach the 500 and 600 saves plateau alongside Rivera. He’s clearly one of the greatest closers of all-time, but is that enough to gain admission to the Hall? Lee Smith has been on the ballot for 13 years and was the all-time saves leader for his first 6 years on the ballot. It’s obvious that saves don’t hold as much weight as other stats. Hoffman wasn’t exactly a superstar, and that may hurt him. He went out and did his job better than anyone else could, but he didn’t grab headlines, so the writers may hold that against him. I have no doubt he’ll stay on the ballot, but getting in may take awhile.
The only no-doubter on the list of first timers is Ken Griffey Jr. Griffey was one of those guys who when you watched him, you knew you were watching greatness. He’s 6th all-time in home runs and 15th in RBI and he did all that while battling through a constant stream of injuries. In an era of tainted superstars, Griffey was one of the few to do it the right way, as far as we know. He’ll easily make it into the Hall on his first try.
The only other guy with potential among the first timers is Billy Wagner. Other guys like Jim Edmonds, Mike Lowell and Jason Kendall might be to find a way to keep themselves on the ballot, but with no real shot of making it in. Wagner has a lower career ERA and WHIP than Hoffman, so anyone who votes for Hoffman will very likely consider Wagner too.
Now how about the guys who are still on the ballot? The steroid guys, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, all are very unlikely to make it in despite their accomplishments. Clemens led that group with just 37.5% of the vote. He’s exactly half of the way there, but it’s a long mountain to climb and a lot of opinions to change. McGwire and Sosa barely hung on to stay on the ballot. It looks like voting reform or the Veterans Committee will be the only way those 4 will ever get in.
At the top of last year’s ballot were Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines. Piazza missed getting in by 5 percent, while Raines and Bagwell missed by around 20 percent. With the ballot clearing up a little, Piazza seems like a sure bet to get in, while Bagwell will likely have to wait another couple years. Raines has as far to climb as Bagwell, but the time to do it. He may be the first player to be impacted by the name rules restricting the time a player spends on the ballot. It has been reduced from 15 to 10 years and Raines will now be in his 9th year. To me personally, Raines isn’t a Hall of Famer based on his numbers, but I wasn’t alive for a good portion of his career, so I can only go on the numbers I see. There will be a strong push for him the next two years, but it’ll be tough for him to get in.
All in all, I think we’ll see Piazza and Griffey get the call to the Hall. The steroid guys might see a spike in their percentages due to a less-clogged ballot, but they’ll still all end up under 50 percent. It’ll be fun to hear the running debate go on for another year, and that’s one of the great things about the Hall of Fame. It keeps everyone talking about the greats of the game for years and years to come.