There are a few interesting newcomers to the ballot next year, headed by the best catcher I have ever seen play the game, Ivan Rodriguez and a dynamic hitter who never saw a pitch he didn’t like, Vladimir Guerrero. These two men are the closest things to a shoo-in on the upcoming ballot, but neither one will challenge Ken Griffey’s 99.3% record mark set on Wednesday.
Here is a list of the possible names for next years ballot, annotated alphabetically:
(LF) Pat Burrell: who played for the Phillies and Giants, as well as other teams. He supplied some power, but will not receive 5% of the vote. (SS) Orlando Cabrera: a solid middle infielder and nothing more. (CF) Mike Cameron: he had power, speed and a glove, but a woeful batting average and was suspended for PED use; he hasn’t a prayer. (RF) J.D. Drew: the poster-child of the disabled list, Drew is more for the annals of “What-Could-Have-Been.” (RF) Vladimir Guerrero: one of the strongest candidates for enshrinement next year. His triple-slash exceeds Griffey’s; he was fun to watch and might just be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. (SS) Carlos Guillen: a solid hitter for a middle infielder, Carlos was a good player but won’t get any Hall support. (1B) Derrek Lee: the Ron Guidry of first basemen, meaning he had a very solid career with one season, 2005, where he played in another galaxy. He should get at least five percent but may not stay on the ballot long despite his credentials. (3B) Melvin Mora: a decent hitter for average, but not Hall material. (RF) Magglio Ordonez: a batting champion who never could seem to stay healthy. His chances of remaining on the ballot are very slim. (C) Jorge Posada: the catcher for a dynasty, Posada will see plenty support. He won four consecutive Silver Slugger Awards. I can see him on the ballot for a number of years, and he may make the Hall of Fame, but only after languishing on the ballot for awhile. (LF) Manny Ramirez: suspended for PED use; don’t waste a vote on him. (SS) Edgar Renteria: he had some Postseason heroics, but he isn’t Hall material. (C) Ivan Rodriguez: the closest thing this ballot has for a slam-dunk induction. Boy was he fun to watch behind the plate. It’ll be interesting to see how his tenure in the Steroid Era effects his vote total. If playing in the Steroid Era has hurt guys like Jeff Bagwell, it should hurt Ivan as well. (CF) Aaron Rowand: he could ballhawk really well, but his career isn’t Hall-worthy. (C) Jason Varitek: he’ll see some support, and might even stay on the ballot for awhile, but alas, players of his captain makeup with just solid numbers rarely make the Hall of Fame. (P) Javier Vazquez: too inconsistent for consideration. (P) Tim Wakefield: he won’t be the latest knuckleballer since Phil Niekro to make the Hall, rest assured.
The holdovers will be, with their percentage from the last vote in parentheses, are:
Jeff Bagwell (71.6), Tim Raines (69.8), Trevor Hoffman (67.3), Curt Schilling (52.3), Roger Clemens (45.2), Barry Bonds (44.3), Edgar Martinez (43.4), Mike Mussina (43.0), Lee Smith (34.1), Fred McGriff (20.9), Jeff Kent (16.6), Larry Walker (15.5), Mark McGwire (12.3), Gary Sheffield (11.6), Billy Wagner (10.5) and Sammy Sosa (7.0).
As of this moment, if I had a ballot to fill out for 2017, I’d pencil in: Jeff Bagwell, Vladimir Guerrero,Trevor Hoffman, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez, Curt Schilling and Billy Wagner.
I may eventually persuade myself to give Mike Mussina a vote by then, and maybe even the two “Problem Children” in Clemens and Bonds, with three spots left vacant on my ballot. Time has a way of altering perception; we’ll just have to see.