While the final results of the 2022 Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame voting will not be announced on MLB Network until January 25, now is a good time to identify some key trends in the voting as we approach announcement.
Will Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and/or Curt Schilling be elected in their final year of being eligible for the writers’ ballot? How will big new entrants to the ballot like David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez fare in their first year of eligibility? Which candidates could make significant gains with enough time left to possibly one day cross the 75 percent threshold required for the election? And which candidates might fall out of the vote altogether if they don’t get at least five percent?
Using data from Ryan Thibodaux’s Baseball Hall of Fame Tracker, we’ll be taking a snapshot of the situation with just over a week to go before the announcement. Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET, the tracker contained 170 ballots — or about 43.4 percent of the estimated total ballot count.
Let’s take a look at the notable trends in the mood:
That’s the big question. It looks like Red Sox legend David Ortiz has the best chance of being elected to Cooperstown, based on the state of play at the moment – he’s gotten 83.5 percent of the known vote so far, but that’s no guarantee that he will be above 75 percent when all the votes are counted. Private ballots not submitted to Thibodaux’s tracker usually lead to drops in the tracker’s grade, especially for players associated with performance-enhancing drugs (Ortiz reportedly failed a PED test in 2003, although there are no sanctions were in place at that time and the results were intended to remain confidential).
“The question that remains for Ortiz is whether his decline from what the Tracker shows on announcement day is similar to what we’ve seen from Bonds and Clemens (they fell more than 11 percent last year) or less (Andruw Jones, for example, fell 5.1 percent, while Todd Helton fell just 2.4 percent), Thibodaux said. “If the public voters and private voters after the election treat Ortiz the way they treat Bonds and Clemens, Ortiz will probably fall short by 75 percent. If they treat him more charitably as they tend to do for most other candidates, then he has a real opportunity to be a first-vote Hall of Famer.”
Ortiz certainly has the statistical credentials to deserve election – he launched 541 home runs, was a 10-time All-Star, a three-time World Series champion and one of the most post-season clutches in history, and won the 2004 American League Championship Series MVP Award and the 2013 World Series MVP Award The question is, how much will the PED connection hurt his vote totals when it’s all said and done?
Will Bonds, Clemens and/or Schilling be elected in their senior year?
Four controversial names are on the writers’ ballot for the last time this year — Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Sammy Sosa, whose vote totals have suffered from PED connections in previous years. Sosa has never gotten more than 17 percent of the vote, so it’s safe to say he won’t be elected this year. Schilling’s odds don’t look great either — while he knocked on the Hall’s door last year by taking 71.1 percent of the vote, he’s currently trailing 60 percent, marking a big drop that may have resulted from voters who don’t want to vote for him after abusive comments he’s made in recent years, including on social media.
Bonds and Clemens’ vote totals over the years have pretty much mirrored each other. Last year they reached 61.8 percent and 61.6 percent respectively. This year, Bonds — who has won a record seven MVP Awards and is the all-time home run leader (762) — follows at 77.1 percent, and Clemens — who amassed 4,672 strikeouts and won a record seven Cy Young . Awards — is 75.9 percent. If the two are experiencing similar declines from public to private voting, as they have in recent years, it doesn’t look like either will be picked.
“Their final percentage should improve again this year due to turnover in the electorate and a small number of voters changing from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ (they are net +2) so far,” said Thibodaux. “But we see no evidence yet that there will be enough change of mind or enough turnover in the electorate to make enough difference.
“The wildcard for Bonds and Clemens is that since they have historically performed so poorly among private voters, that also means they have a chance of getting more votes there than among the early public voters who already overwhelmingly support them. voters get closer to matching the public voters this year, then Bonds and Clemens still have a chance.”
Another notable candidate associated with PED use throughout his career, Alex Rodriguez is making his Hall of Fame voting debut this year — trailing at 40.6 percent.
Who will be this year’s big winners?
Four candidates appear to be making significant gains in this vote: Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner and Andruw Jones.
Rolen, a seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, got 12 votes from repeat voters last year, bringing his percentage of the vote to 68.8 percent — he secured 52.9 percent of the vote. the votes for 2021.
Helton, a five-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner at first base for the Rockies, has racked up 11 votes among returning voters, following 56.5 percent — last year receiving 44.9 percent.
Wagner, a seven-time All-Star closer who saved 422 games, is nine votes ahead of the returning voters — following 46.4 percent of the vote in ’21, trailing 47.6 percent.
Jones, a 10-time Gold Glove Award winner in the midfield who hit 434 home runs, is +6 among returning voters, placing him at 48.2 percent after taking 33.9 percent last year.
Who could fall out of the mood completely?
Candidates at risk of failing the 5 percent threshold required to remain on the ballot include Mark Buehrle (by 5.3 percent in his second year of eligibility), Ryan Howard (by 1.8 percent in his first year), Tim Hudson (at 2.9 percent in his sophomore year), Torii Hunter (at 1.8 percent in his sophomore year), Tim Lincecum (at 2.9 percent in his first year), Joe Nathan (at 2.4 percent in his first year), Jonathan Papelbon (with 0.6 percent in his first year) and Mark Teixeira (with 0.6 percent in his first year).
Particularly notable names here, given their career stats, are Nathan, Papelbon, and Teixeira. Nathan made 377 career saves and a 2.87 ERA in 16 seasons. Papelbon, who reached the final of the 2007 World Series for the Red Sox, registered a 2.44 ERA with 368 saves over a 12-year career.
Teixeira hit 408 homeruns, was a five-time Gold Glove Award winner at first base and won a World Series ring with the Yankees in 2009. His 50.6 career WAR (Baseball Reference) is 6.7 more than Gil Hodges, the great Dodgers first baseman. who was recently elected to the Hall of Fame by the Golden Days Era committee.