The 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame fell flat, with no candidate getting the call to Cooperstown. What this year lacked in excitement, next year’s ballot doubles in drama.
Not only are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling entering their 10th and final year on the ballot, but two huge names that are contentious in their own way are hitting the ballot for the first time — Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz.
What a year of overlap.
When you remember that Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez are also on the ballot, that means that six members of the 500-home run club will be on the 2022 ballot. And there remains a chance that none of them get in.
Bonds stands as the closest, getting 61.8 percent on this most recent voting results, released Tuesday night, but still well short of the necessary 75 percent. Sheffield received 40.6 percent, Ramirez finished at 28.2 percent and Sosa got 17.0 percent. Meanwhile, Schilling was the closest to all-important 75 percent with 71.8 and Clemens was the next highest pitcher with 61.6 percent.
Add A-Rod and Big Papi to that list and you have some of the best players of the last generation — and the best illustration of what makes Hall of Fame voters pull their hair out.
Figuring out the steroid era
Voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America have spent nine years trying to reconcile the steroid era, with Bonds and Clemens steadily climbing toward Cooperstown. Voters have let plenty of “clean” players like Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones and Jim Thome in on the first ballot. In that regard, they’re very kind.
But figuring what to do with anyone connected to PEDs has been another issue altogether, with voters left to make their own moral decisions.
For A-Rod, Ramirez will be a pretty good comp. Since he has a PED suspension on his record, voters will almost certainly shun him more than Ortiz.
Big Papi, on the other hand, never got suspended or publicly failed a PED test. It was reported that he failed a test in 2003 but was never punished. He denies it. Still, suspicion is enough to keep Sheffield (40.6 percent) outside Cooperstown. It was enough for voters to agonize over Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza, both of whom eventually got in.
Ortiz and A-Rod are both media-friendly these days — Ortiz always has been; Rodriguez has had his moments. That bodes well for them, compared to the surly Bonds.
Ortiz certainly has a better chance than anyone in 2022, but when it comes to steroid-era grandstanding Hall of Fame voters, you never can really know.
The rest of the 2022 ballot
The 2022 ballot is so fascinating that we’ve made it this far without mentioning Tim Lincecum, who stands to eligible for the first time at just 36 years old. He won’t get in, but that peak of his sure was great.
Other big names on the next ballot:
That’s quite a walk down memory lane, with at least three more players who reasonably could have been pegged as future Hall of Famers during parts of their careers.
But will *any* of them get in? We’ve got a year to argue about it.
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