Last week, we learned that David Ortiz made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame via the BBWAA ballot on his first try. Another first-time candidate had career numbers that dwarf those of Big Papi, but didn't even get half as many votes. That would be Alex Rodriguez. I've already covered why A-Rod's candidacy seems very complicated to me, though maybe a good number of people disagree.
A-Rod got just 34.3 percent of the vote in his first try. In assessing his chances of enshrinement in the future, I'd say those chances are very slim. Let's examine why.
He'll have up to nine more tries on the BBWAA ballot. We've seen players start lower than this and make the Hall of Fame before, even very recently. Larry Walker started at 20.3 percent and made it on his 10th ballot. In similar territory to A-Rod, Edgar Martinez started at 36.2 percent. He even dipped down to 25.2 percent by his fifth ballot, yet made it on his 10th.
A-Rod, of course, is different. As noted at length in the article on his complicated candidacy, he served a suspension for violating the MLB Joint Drug Agreement, meaning he used performance-enhancing drugs.
With this as the jumping-off point, Manny Ramirez is the closest case. He failed drug tests and was suspended two different times. He's one of the most prolific hitters in history. He debuted at just 23.8 percent of the vote. In his fourth year, he jumped from 22.8 percent to 28.2 percent, but he's stagnated. His last three years have gone 28.2 percent to 28.2 percent to 28.8.
Among returning voters, it appears nearly everyone has made up their mind on Ramirez and won't be changing it. If that happens with A-Rod, he has no chance on the writers ballot, even with a deluge of new voters coming aboard.
As noted on Twitter by Dan Szymborski, the 2013-17 BBWAA classes have 189 members. BBWAA members have to serve 10 years in the organization before getting a Hall of Fame vote. That means there could be close to 189 new voters -- it's entirely possible not everyone is still in the BBWAA -- in the 2023-27 Hall of Fame voting cycles. I have no doubt that A-Rod picks up some support from the new voters, but it isn't guaranteed. I'm one of those 189 and I'm pretty sure I won't be voting for him. He certainly isn't going to get anywhere close to 100 percent of those new votes.
There were 394 votes for the Hall of Fame this year. A-Rod got 135. To get to 75 percent of the vote this year, 296 votes were required. In simply eye-balling all these numbers, A-Rod needs to pick up a ton of votes.
Perhaps there's an influx from the large number of new voters. Maybe a clearing of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa from the ballot helps. Maybe people reconsider.
In all, though, it's a steep, uphill journey.
A-Rod himself knows this. In 2017, on Joe Buck's HBO show, "Undeniable," A-Rod said the following of his PED use:
"Yeah, I mean there's so many frustrating things when you look back at that. Number one, you have a guaranteed contract for hundreds of millions of dollars. Literally, you can sit on the couch and get fat. Right, how stupid can you be? … This thing cost me over $40 million. And it cost me my reputation, and it may have cost me the Hall of Fame and a number of other things.
"And I remember sitting there at night at maybe 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning — I probably did this a hundred nights — and I would look up with tears and say, 'How the eff did I get myself in this position?' I'm the only jackass that has pocket aces and figures out a way to lose the hand."
No argument here.