After about six weeks of discussion, evaluation and arguing, we'll find out Wednesday which players will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. The BBWAA voting results will be announced at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network (more how to watch info here).
With the great reveal coming soon, it's time to put ourselves out there and offer up predictions. Now, these aren't quite as fun as they would be without the internet, as our guesses have a lot more education surrounding them. Thanks to the excellent work of ballot collectors like Ryan Thibodaux and so many voters making their ballots public in advance, we can make pretty strong guesses. Still, polling can be off and we have a variety of guesses below.
It should be noted before we dive in that Thibodaux's collection poll usually ends up being five to seven percent low on "new school" vote darlings such as anyone with PED ties or players underrated without the WAR element like Larry Walker or Mike Mussina. Barry Bonds' actual percentage was 6.9 percent lower last year than we saw from public ballots while Mussina was 7.2 percent lower. On the flip-side, "old school" vote darlings like closers actually tend to gain support. Lee Smith's percentage was actually 5.7 percent higher than polling indicated last season.
As we head into Wednesday, Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell are both polling well over 85 percent, so they should be in. Ivan Rodriguez is over 75 percent, so he has a shot but could fall below the 75 percent threshold. Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman are both between 70 and 75 percent, so they have a shot. No one else is over 65 percent, so it would be shocking if anyone else made it.
As for the predictions, here we go:
Bagwell, Raines, Hoffman get in, Pudge and Vlad just miss.
Raines: ~90 percent
Bagwell: ~80 percent
Hoffman: ~76 percent
Vlad and Rodriguez both finish around 65 percent.
In his final year on the ballot, my prediction is Raines gets a nice boost -- the public ballots have all but confirmed it at this point -- and clears the 75 percent threshold with ease after falling only 23 votes short of induction last year. Bagwell has been trending upward in recent years and it has continued this year. He was only 15 votes short last winter. A year ago Hoffman was one of the rare players who actually gained support from the private ballots, so while the public ballots say he's just short of the 75 percent this year, I think he ends up just over when all 400-something ballots are counted. Guerrero and Rodriguez are very much on the bubble right now, and history suggests their voting percentage is going to drop once the private ballots are tabulated. As for everyone else, I think Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will see increased support, but not a meaningful amount. They'll still be well short of 75 percent. Curt Schilling will see the biggest drop in support from last year. Jorge Posada will be the biggest name to receive less than five percent of support and fall off the ballot.
Raines, Bagwell, Hoffman, and Vlad get in (maybe some private voters will buy into Vlad's aura?). Pudge falls just short.
I'm gonna go nuts and say we have a five-man class. Raines and Bagwell seem like locks at this point, based upon polling. Closers usually get bumps from anonymous ballots, so that'll get Hoffman in. I'll piggyback R.J.'s sentiment on Vlad's aura giving him a late push and Pudge is close enough that I just wanted to go a bit crazy. We haven't had a five-man Hall of Fame class via BBWAA voting since the original induction in 1936, which was Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.
I'll be the pessimist and say just Raines and Bagwell get in. Raines falls short of 90 percent though. Pudge, Vlad and Hoffman must wait until 2018 to be elected.
So we have Perry with two making it, Keri and Axisa with three, Anderson with four and myself with five. Who will be correct and win ... well, nothing really. Pride? We'll find out soon. It's Hall of Fame time. Get excited!