The ballots are in and the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017 has officially been announced. Three new members will be immortalized this summer in Cooperstown – Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez.
Jeff Bagwell led the way with 381 of 442 votes, Tim Raines was right behind with 380 of 442 votes and Ivan Rodriguez became the second catcher ever to go in on the first ballot with 336 of 442 votes.
With the Class of 2017 revealed, it is only natural for us to immediately move onto the potential Class of 2018
Vladimir Guerrero – Guerrero, in the first year of eligibility, fell just 15 votes shy of enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A sure-fire lock for Cooperstown, Guerrero finished his Major League career with 2590 hits, 449 HRs, 1,496 RBIs and a .318 batting average. I think the voters spoke their mind and Vlad The Impaler left it all out on the field.
Trevor Hoffman – A tough-luck loser in his second year of eligibility, Hoffman fell just 5 votes of enshrinement. Hoffman is the greatest relief pitcher (to this point in history – Mariano Rivera not eligible until 2019) to be eligible for enshrinement. Hoffman finished his career with an astounding 601 career saves coupled with a 2.87 ERA. Cooperstown will see you shortly, Mr. Hoffman.
Chipper Jones – Chipper will be heading full speed into his first year of eligibility coming in 2018. Jones is no-doubt a Hall of Famer and will likely be enshrined on the first ballot. Jones retired with 2,726 hits, 468 HRs, 1,623 RBI and a .303 batting average. Arguably one of the greatest Atlanta Braves to play the game, Jones will be taking his seat in Cooperstown shortly.
Jim Thome – Thome finshed his Major League career as one of the greatest home run hitters we have ever seen, 7th-greatest ever to be exact, partially why we consider him to be a Hall of Fame lock. Finishing with 2,328 hits, 612 HRs and 1,699 RBI, Thome has some fantastic numbers. It seems as if Thome’s .276 batting average will hold him back a little, but with weak retiring classes approaching, Thome should have little issue gaining induction.
Looking like Hall of Famers
Only 3 players have been over 50% and never been inducted: Gil Hodges, Jack Morris and Lee Smith. These following players all received 50%+ in the 2017 voting.
Edgar Martinez – In his 9th year of eligibility, Edgar Martinez hit that magic 50% number. This is huge for the Edgar Martinez’s road to Cooperstown, but it is too late? Only one year left for one of the greatest designated hitters to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Martinez missed enshrinement by 73 votes this season, despite jumping from 27.0% to 58.6% over the past three voting cycles. Martinez finished his career with 2,247 hits, 309 HRs, 1,261 RBI and a .312 batting average. If Martinez doesn’t get voted in, we have to believe the Veterans’ Committee will put him in.
Barry Bonds – The numbers truly speak for themselves – Barry Bonds is the greatest power hitter we have ever seen and will likely ever see. Bonds is the face of the Steroid Era, due to suspicion and massive growth to his head, but it is not a Hall of Fame without a guy like Bonds. 2,935 career hits, 762 HRs, 1996 RBI, 2,558 BBs and a .298 batting average. Bonds, originally expected to be held out of baseball’s highest honor, has seen his voting total jump from 36.8% in 2015 to 53.8% in 2017. The voting rules are different now, but we know Bonds is heading in the right direction.
Roger Clemens – Just like Bonds, the numbers speak for themselves – suspicion or not, Roger Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame. 354 career wins, a 3.12 ERA, 4,672 strikeouts, 7 Cy Young Awareds and an MVP too – what else could you ask for? If Bonds is the hitter face of the Steroid Era, Clemens indeed is the pitching face of the Steroid Era. The voters continue to warm up to The Rocket, as he has seen his vote total increase from 37.5% in 2015 to 54.1% in 2017. Clemens is a Hall of Famer and will be sometime very soon.
Mike Mussina – The Moose, as he was affectionately known as, continues his slow trudge towards Cooperstown. A very solid pitcher throughout his 18 year career, Mussina racked up 270 victories coupled with a very respectable 3.68 ERA. Despite never being flashy enough to win a Cy Young Award, Mussina averaged 17 wins a season through arguably one of the best era for hitters in baseball history. Voters are continuing to realize Mussina’s worth to baseball history. In his first year on the ballot, Mussina grabbed only 20.3% of the vote, being someone who is good enough to garner a look but nothing really more than that. Four years later, Mussina has seen an increase in his voting total every year and is now up to 51.8% of the vote. Mussina was a Hall of Famer when he retired and Cooperstown looks to be close to acknowledging just that.
Need A Little Push
Curt Schilling – On the field, Curt Schilling is the definition of clutch. 216 wins, 3.46 ERA and a third-best-ever 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his regular season career tells some of the story – the other half of the story is told in the postseason. Schilling has 19 career postseason starts, where he boasts a record of 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA. Schilling arguably is the greatest postseason pitcher we’ve ever seen. Following retirement, Schilling has proven himself to be just an all-around garbage human being and this year’s voting started to reflect how truly feel about him. From 2015 to 2016, Schilling saw the bump that every player, who isn’t a first ballot HOF’er, usually sees. The numbers jumped from 39.2% to 52.3% in one voting period, it looked as if Schilling would look toward Cooperstown soon. Then, this last year happened. Schilling’s voting totals dropped 52.3% to 45.0% in 2017. A positive jump will be needed with 5 years of eligibility left.
Omar Vizquel – Vizquel’s first year of eligibility is coming up in 2018, so we have no votes to draw from but it seems like Vizquel has a strong case for the Hall of Fame, especially with some lean years approaching. Out of the gate, there is no doubt that Omar Vizquel is one of greatest defenders we’ve ever seen. Vizquel retired with 11 Gold Gloves, which is the third most by any infielder in the history of baseball. 2,877 hits and a .272 batting average definitely shouldn’t hurt Vizquel’s case. It might take a few years but we suspects we’ll be talking about Vizquel heading to Cooperstown before his eligibility runs out.
Andruw Jones – In his prime, Andruw Jones was one of the best players in all of baseball. 434 HRs and 10-straight Gold Gloves play to Jones’ strength as attempts to push towards Cooperstown, but only having a .254 career batting average and 1,933 hits will be a strong detractor. Jones amazing player in prime but he burned out while fading away. We suspect there will be a strong push for Jones to make it into the Hall of Fame but his case seems fringe at best. Jones only recorded 1,933 hits in his career, just doesn’t appear to be a strong enough case for us.
Billy Wagner – Billy Wagner retired with 422 career saves, best for 9th-most in baseball history. Wagner’s 2.31 ERA over 903 innings isn’t too bad either. Where is the issue here then? Oh yeah! Of the closers who rank top-ten in history for most saves, only one (Dennis Eckersley) is currently in the Hall of Fame. Now, I know that’s a little flawed because we will soon see the top two closers on that list go in – Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman – but the voters have not been hot on relief pitchers and closers throughout the history of Hall of Fame voting.
Gary Sheffield – Everything about Gary Sheffield looks like a Hall of Fame candidate: 509 HRs, 2,689 hits, 1676 RBI, .292 average but he just hasn’t seen enough love yet (PED suspicion?) to warrant excitement about a potential enshrinement. Sheffield has had an interesting journey with voters, so far. In his first year, Sheffield received 11.7% of the vote. Sheffield’s vote total dropped in the second year, down to 11.6%. In the 2017 ballot, Sheffield jumped up to 13.3% of the vote. He will need quite a push to make the necessary jump into Cooperstown.
Manny Ramirez – multiple failed tests should keep him out despite great play This is a very, very interesting case for the Hall of Fame voters. Ramirez finished his career with 2,574 hits, 555 HRs, 1,831 RBI and a .312 batting average. These statistics would be a Hall of Fame lock for any other player but we all know Ramirez is not just any other player. Ramirez has failed multiple PED tests toward the end of his professional career. The first year of voting was kind to Ramirez, giving him 23.8% of the vote, but it remains to be seen if the voters warm up to Ramirez or leave him out in the cold.
Outside Looking In
Scott Rolen – Rolen retired as one of best third basemen during his career, with 2,077 hits, 316 HRs, 1,287 RBIs and .281 average. His numbers are strong but it just does not seem to be enough at this point. If Rolen had not broken down in the last two years of his professional career in Cincinnati, this story might be a little different. A first-timer on the ballot in 2018, we will see how the voters feel. Rolen still remains a killer Eddie Van halen doppelganger though.
Johnny Damon – Damon may have a stronger case for the Hall of Fame than we thing. Damon retired with 2,769 hits, 235 HRs, 1,139 RBIs, and a .284 batting average. A 2-time World Series Champion, Damon found himself in the middle of the action both times. We don’t know where voters for Damon in 2018 and beyond, but we definitely expect him to get some votes despite our prediction that he’ll ultimately fall short.
Johan Santana – There was a 3 season stretch from 2004 to 2006 where Santana was absolutely the best pitcher in baseball. We’re talking a 55-19 record in those 3 seasons, with 2 Cy Young Awards book-ending this stretch. Santana finished his career with 139 wins and a 3.20 ERA, both of which will help Santana but might ultimately help him end up a little short of Cooperstown. Santana will always have the feather in his cap of throwing the first no-hitter in the history of the New York Mets, which arguably was the pitching performance that ended his career.
BLTD’s Predicted Class of 2018
Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman and Chipper Jones