Baseball Hall of Fame voting: Omar Vizquel, Scott Rolen and other players who made gains on 2020 ballot
Some of these players have real momentum toward induction
The 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame will include Ted Simmons thanks to his induction via the Modern Baseball Era Committee at the Winter Meetings last month, along with the long overdue induction of the late MLBPA legend Marvin Miller. Tuesday, we found out Derek Jeter and Larry Walker will join them as the two entries from the BBWAA ballot.
Here, though, I'd like to focus on players who gained some serious momentum during this voting cycle that will carry over to a very player-friendly ballot in 2021.
First off, some might wonder why vote totals change from year to year. Well, on one hand, minds can change as voters continue to study the players' careers, but it's usually just the changing electorate and ballot (). The voting body changes each year and voters can place a maximum of 10 players on their ballot. In the past handful of years, the ballot has really cleared names in significant fashion.
- In 2015, four players were inducted and Don Mattingly fell off the ballot.
- In 2016, two players were inducted while Alan Trammell and Mark McGwire fell off the ballot.
- In 2017, three players were voted in while Lee Smith fell off the ballot.
- In 2018, four players were voted in.
- In 2019, four players were voted in while Fred McGriff fell off while missing out in his final try.
This means that some Big Hall voters who might have thought there were upwards of 15 worthy players a few years ago now had some new spots open. Only Jeter was an obvious first-ballot selection in 2020, so there was likely room for many voters to add and the rising totals for some players shows it.
With Jeter and Walker coming off the ballot next year and no actual Hall-worthy candidates coming on the ballot, the momentum should only continue.
We don't seem to be making progress, and it's possible they've permanently plateaued.. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens
The following players do have some momentum moving forward, however.
2019 vote percentage: 42.8
2020 vote percentage: 52.6
It's seems inevitable that Vizquel will get in. The only question is which year. The ballot continues to clear spots while Vizquel has gone from 37 percent in his first vote to over half the voting body in his third year. I think he's got a real shot next year, but 2022 or 2023 might be more realistic. Regardless, Vizquel fans should be feeling pretty good right about now. He's probably going to get in.
2019 vote percentage: 17.2
2020 vote percentage: 35.3
Rolen's got some serious momentum here, and if things continue on this path, he'll be enshrined in a few years. It's only his third year on the ballot, so he's got plenty of time and it looks like newer voters and those who just needed the ballot jam to clear are hopping aboard. He obviously has a long way to go, but gaining so many votes already is a huge sign. Two more spots cleared this year (Jeter and Walker) while no quality candidates come on the ballot next year. In 2022 we'll have plenty of "fun" discussing the candidacies of A-Rod and Big Papi, but the other notable new additions on that ballot would be Mark Teixeira and Jimmy Rollins. Then in 2023, only Carlos Beltran comes on as a potential pick. The smart money is on Rolen getting in.
2019 vote percentage: 16.7
2020 vote percentage: 31.7
Wagner ranks fourth in career saves with better rate stats than Trevor Hoffman, but he only managed 903 innings in his career. He was exceptional, but some voters apparently think Wagner didn't compile enough of a workload. He has, however, nearly doubled his previous high as the ballot clears. This is Wagner's sixth year on the ballot, so it's an uphill battle. The guess is it doesn't happen until some sort of veteran committee gets him to Cooperstown.
2019 vote percentage: 13.6
2020 vote percentage: 30.5
Another tough road here. Sheffield is also in his sixth year on the ballot. Last year was his highest percentage and he more than doubled it this year, but he has a lot of ground to make up in the next few years and I'm guessing -- like Wagner -- there just isn't enough time or votes. Overall, though, this has to be very encouraging for Sheffield after years of looking like he had no shot to make it.
2019 vote percentage: 16.5
2020 vote percentage: 29.2
Part of Helton's fight comes down to the Coors Field factor, so maybe Walker getting in will help a bit. The gains in votes in just Helton's second year were encouraging, too. It'll be very interesting to see where he ends up next year with a much easier ballot than Walker had to contend with for years. There's real momentum here and it looks like he'll have his day at some point, even if it takes the full 10 years.
2019 vote percentage: 18.1
2020 vote percentage: 27.5
He checks a lot of boxes, but has been unable to grab lots of support. This is his seventh year on the ballot, and Kent was previously between 14 and 18.1 (last year was his previous high total). Kent only has three years left, so it's hard to see him making the climb. There is precedent, though, because it just happened: Larry Walker got just 21.9 percent of the vote in his seventh year. Maybe Kent's ahead of the game, then?
2019 vote percentage: 7.5
2020 vote percentage: 19.4
Note the 7.5 percent Jones got last year, which was behind Sammy Sosa and the lowest total for a player who didn't fall off the ballot. This is his fourth year, so he needed a huge bump. He's starting to get it. Can he make the Walker Climb? It seems like Jones' case is starting to gain some momentum, so this one is hard to handicap. I wouldn't count him out.
2019 vote percentage: 8.5
2020 vote percentage: 13.9
I discussed. The gains are interesting, but also ultimately irrelevant. Sosa needs to climb over 60 percent with just two more chances on the ballot. I'm assuming no veterans committee will ever induct him, so he's probably never getting in. Imagine hearing that in 2003.
2019 vote percentage: 9.9
2020 vote percentage: 11.3
Pettitte is an old-school candidate, with the 256 career wins and five World Series rings. This was his second year on the ballot and though he did increase his vote percentage, he didn't make the significant gains some of the candidates above made. It was far more modest with the ballot being more wide open. This leads me to believe Pettitte is never going to really come close to the 75 percent barrier.
It was Abreu's first year on the ballot and he only netted 5.5 percent of the vote, but with spots continuing to be cleared -- note that Schilling, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa only have two chances left, for example -- it's possible Abreu can build some momentum moving forward. It's hard to see him getting in, but you never know. He stayed on the ballot, so that was a success.
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