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The Hall of Fame’s newest class of inductees will be announced at 5 p.m. tonight, and Jim Thome will not have to sweat it out.
Thome is running at 93.1 percent with 55 percent of ballots logged in Ryan Thibodaux’s tracker, giving him plenty of room to spare above the 75 percent threshold. A three-player class is a lock, and I’d guess there will be a fourth when the smoke clears.
- Chipper Jones: 98.3
- Vladimir Guerrero: 94.8
- Jim Thome 93.1
- Trevor Hoffman: 78.1
- Edgar Martinez: 76.8
- Mike Mussina: 70.4
- Barry Bonds: 63.9
- Roger Clemens: 63.9
- Curt Schilling: 59.2
- Larry Walker: 38.2
- Omar Vizquel: 32.2
- Manny Ramirez: 22.7
- Fred McGriff: 19.3
- Jeff Kent: 13.3
- Scott Rolen: 12.4
- Sammy Sosa: 11.2
- Gary Sheffield: 10.7
- Billy Wagner: 10.7
- Andruw Jones: 5.6
- Everybody else: <5 percent
I’d bet that Hoffman clears the bar by a few percentage points while Martinez is left on the doorstep. Hoffman has the “all-time saves leader” sheen that plays well among voters who don’t make their ballots public. He came out slightly ahead of his public ballot percentage after all votes were counted, while Martinez and Mussina took big hits from those unimpressed by the lack of milestones.
Here’s what my ballot would look like, in order of how much I’d enjoy voting for them.
1. Chipper Jones: A .300/.400/.500 switch-hitter who logged most of his defensive reps at third base but moved to the outfield when needed. That’s a no-doubter.
2. Jim Thome: Had to produce a lot to overcome defensive limitations, but 612 homers and a top-10 walk total will do the job. Provided both peak and career value, making key contributions to contenders up until age 40.
(Aside: Back in 2008, Thome went to Cooperstown with his dad to drop off his 500th home run ball. I covered the story for my day-job employer. Thome was thrilled to be in the museum — he used the word “magical” multiple times — and his dad got all choked up at the prospect of his son getting inducted. It should be a special ceremony.)
3. Vladimir Guerrero: He’s a borderline candidate by his career WAR total (59.3), as he wasn’t much of a defender. Logging all that time on Montreal’s turf didn’t help his legs, but he earns points for being a helluva hitter and a memorable figure. Read Jonah Keri’s Expos book to see why his plaque should have the nickname “Baseball’s Bill Brasky.”
4. Barry Bonds: He doesn’t deserve a whole lot of sympathy, but think about how much fun you’re going to have explaining his 2001-04 run to people who weren’t around then. They won’t be able to comprehend it.
5. Roger Clemens: He doesn’t deserve a whole lot of sympathy, but he basically had Pedro’s run in Boston, he successfully defended himself in court, and he’s still throwing against college teams. I respect the desire.
6. Mike Mussina: 270 wins with the supporting peripherals while spending an entire career in the AL East from 1991 to 2008, which is damned difficult. He went 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA in his final season, so he had stat-padding left in the tank.
7. Scott Rolen: One of the game’s best-ever defensive third baseman with a consistently potent bat. Third baseman have too difficult a time getting into the Hall given the demands of the position.
8. Edgar Martinez: Another .300/.400/.500 hitter, who was one of my favorites to watch. He wasn’t a regular player until 26, partially due to injuries, partially because the Mariners blocked him, but did just about everything he could through age 40.
9. Curt Schilling: I’d have a lot more fun making his case if he weren’t such a pathetic figure, and it’s all self-inflicted.
10. Andruw Jones: I’m not entirely sold on his case because he could’ve done more to control his decline phase, but the Atlanta portion of his career was incredible and center fielders don’t get the respect they deserve. Kenny Lofton and Jim Edmonds were both one-and-done, and it’d be just as unfair for Jones.
Victims of the 10-man limit:
11. Gary Sheffield: I’ve “voted” for Sheffield before, and Jason Lukehart made a strong case to put Sheffield ahead of Martinez.
Either this year or next, Edgar Martinez is going to the Hall of Fame. So why can't Gary Sheffield get any support, when he was an even better hitter? https://t.co/NQuypPUHzs
— Jason Lukehart (@JasonLukehart) January 23, 2018
12. Sammy Sosa: His existence is going to be difficult to explain to future generations, but you can fill up a plaque with his accomplishments — 600 homers and the only player with three 60-homer seasons — and I’ve grown sympathetic to the way the Cubs used him and losed lost him.
13. Larry Walker: I’ve waffled on him because he only had one season with more than 150 games, and only three seasons where he played in 90 percent of team games. He was an incredibly gifted player, but that’s a lot of missed time teams had to account for. I think I’d put him on the ballot if it weren’t so loaded, but I’m comfortable putting him outside the top 10.
Other cases of note:
Trevor Hoffman: I don’t expect every reliever to get the kind of postseason opportunities Mariano Rivera received, but closers are so limited in role that I think I need them to show up in big games to consider them. Hoffman didn’t pitch all that well in October, and that doesn’t count his ugly blown save in Game 163 in 2007, either. It’s the same reason Billy Wagner does little for me.
Johan Santana: I’ve seen the Sandy Koufax comparisons, and he sure looked like Koufax against the White Sox, but without the 300-inning seasons of Koufax’s time, I don’t think we’re going to see such a romanticized peak-based case for a pitcher again.
Who’s on your ballot?