Over the last handful of years, there has been an unclogging of the ballot, especially since voters are limited to 10 names per ballot. This has allowed the writers to take a longer look at some of the other top candidates that remain. If I were lucky enough to have a ballot, this is how I would vote:
Class of 2021
I usually predict the players to be elected in any given voting cycle, but this year, it doesn’t appear any candidate will cross the 75% threshold. At last check, Curt Schilling was the closest candidate, however, his off the field behavior will likely keep him from reaching that mark in 2021. Many players are making big jumps this year, but they all will likely have to wait until 2022 to get the famous call from Cooperstown.
Scott Rolen (2020 Results: 35.3%, 4th Year)
Rolen is a new addition to my ballot this year and I added him for a variety of reasons. He might have been the best third base defender of his era and he had the offensive skills to warrant consideration for baseball’s highest honor. His case is similar to last year’s inductee, Larry Walker, who was helped by strong defensive numbers since he didn’t have the offensive counting stats that usually lead to induction. His career WAR, Peak WAR, and JAWS are all higher than the average of the current HOF third basemen. With the current ballots revealed, Rolen has made a big jump which should put him close to being elected on the 2022 ballot.
Billy Wagner (2020 Results: 31.7%, 6th Year)
Baseball is constantly evolving, and relief pitchers have been a group underrepresented when it comes to HOF election. Wagner is the best reliever not yet elected to Cooperstown and he put up numbers better than some of those already enshrined. He holds the record for highest strikeout rate of any pitcher with a minimum of 800 innings pitched. However, his innings total is well below other enshrined relievers, so he is going to have to rely on rate stats. He does have the most strikeouts among left-handed relievers. Former Twin Joe Nathan will be paying close attention to Wagner’s case in the coming years.
May Never Get In (But Still On My Ballot)
Andrew Jones (19.4%, 4th Year), Roger Clemens (61.0%, 9th Year), Barry Bonds (60.7%, 9th Year)
These three players are tough pencil in for a variety of reasons. Jones was one of the best defensive players of all-time and he has gained a lot of support during the current voting cycle as he will likely end with around 40% of the vote. There’s no question that Clemens and Bonds are two of the best players to ever play the game. However, steroid use is part of their story and some voters have not been able to ignore that fact. Outside of baseball, Bonds and Jones have been accused of domestic abuse while Clemens is accused of having an affair with a much younger woman. Bonds and Clemens are trending at over 70% of the vote so far, but it would take a big jump on the remaining ballots to clear 75%.
To provide transparency, I removed Omar Vizquel from my ballot this year as MLB continues to investigate some of his off-field behavior including domestic abuse. He was a borderline candidate, and these issues were enough to take him off.
To see the full 2021 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot, CLICK HERE. On January 26, the BBWAA will announce the results of the 2021 Hall of Fame balloting. Any players chosen will be inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend starting on Sunday, July 25 at 12:30 pm CST. This would also include last year’s class of 2020.
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