Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are near the bottom of their Hall of Fame nominations. Either they come in today – and it’s going to be close – or Cooperstown can get away from them altogether.
David Ortiz knows a thing or two about late-game clutch wobbles. But he could put this one away on his first at bat.
Bonds, Clemens and Ortiz appear to be the only players with a chance of being inducted into the Hall of Fame when the results are released today, with Ortiz the most likely to take part on his first try.
Bonds and Clemens are in their 10th and final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Largely due to allegations of performance-enhancing drug use, they were unable to meet the 75% threshold to earn a spot among baseball’s greats.
Bonds won 61.8% of the vote in 2021 and Clemens 61.6%. So far this year, Bonds has been included in 77.5% of public ballots tracked by bbhoftracker.com, and Clemens is at 76.5%. The tracker counted around 48% of expected ballots, and players have historically received a lower percentage of votes from members who do not disclose their picks.
That means Bonds, with seven MVPs and a record 762 home runs, and Clemens, with seven Cy Youngs and one MVP, will likely be frozen.
Curt Schilling is also in his final year, but his support has plummeted since finishing 16 fewer votes last year.
Ortiz, a 10-time All-Star who has spent most of his career with the Boston Red Sox, is on 84.5% of the public ballots. He leads a group of 13 first-time eligible players that also includes Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Tim Lincecum. Only A-Rod and Rollins appear to be given serious consideration by voters, but neither will come close to induction this year.
The players elected today will be listed on July 24 in Cooperstown along with committee selections from the era Buck O’Neil, Minnie Minoso, Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Bud Fowler.
Bonds, Clemens and Rodriguez undoubtedly look like the Hall of Famers on the back of their baseball cards, but the PED’s suspicions have tarnished their reputations with many voters. Bonds denied knowingly using PEDs, while Clemens denied taking them outright. Rodriguez was banned by Major League Baseball for the entire 2014 season after violating the league’s drug policy.
Ortiz also comes with PED baggage, but voters are less bothered by the flimsier evidence of his use. His only reported positive test for DEPs came during a 2003 investigative test that was meant to be anonymous and used to determine whether to institute regular testing. Ortiz denied using steroids, and commissioner Rob Manfred said in 2016 “I think it would be a mistake” to disqualify him from the Hall of Fame based on that test alone.
Averaging .286 and 541 homers, Ortiz could also benefit from a recent shift in voters’ designated hitter ratings. Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines have all entered Hall since 2014. Martinez has made 71.7% of his on-set appearances as DHs, most among Hall members. Ortiz would top him at 88%.
BBWAA members are responsible for electing Hall members “based on the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team”.[s] on which the player played.” No one was selected last year, with Schilling coming closest.
Schilling ostracized himself in retirement by directing hateful remarks at Muslims, transgender people, journalists and others. He asked the Hall to remove his name from this year’s ballot, but he remains a candidate. However, enough voters have given up on his cause to ensure he stays away – he appears on just 61% of public ballots.
Others have also been rejected by some voters for disturbing behavior off the field. Battlefield shortstop Omar Vizquel was accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife and was sued last year for sexual harassment by a former minor league bat boy. After obtaining 52.6% of the vote in 2020, it is tending to around 11% this year.
Bonds was also charged with domestic violence.
Other new entrants among this year’s nominees are Justin Morneau, Jake Peavy, Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, AJ Pierzynski and Mark Teixeira. Players must appear on at least 5% of ballots to stay in next year’s pool. None of these players exceed this threshold on the public ballots.
Several other players are on the verge of making gains that could portend a future election, including Scott Rolen (fifth year), Todd Helton (fourth), Andruw Jones (fifth) and Billy Wagner (seventh).