This is the 10th and final voting cycle on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for a trio of controversial Hall of Fame candidates who have gotten pretty close to induction, trickling down to a fourth who hasn’t. As things are currently tracking, it looks like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling will fall short of the 75-percent threshold required for induction into the Hall. Sammy Sosa is also in his 10th year, though he hasn’t even gotten to 20 percent.
As such, the four would fall off the ballot for the 2023 voting cycle. The period of time a player used to be eligible to sit on the Hall of Fame ballot was 15 years, but the Hall of Fame knocked it down to 10 years in 2014, seemingly in light of worries from some Hall of Famers over Bonds and Clemens — and their PED ties — possibly getting in.
Interestingly, we aren’t done discussing any of these guys. In fact, we might not even get a year off.
There is another route into the Hall aside from the BBWAA vote: The so-called veterans committees. This past December, the Early Baseball Era committee selected Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler while the Golden Days Era committee tabbed Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva and Gil Hodges as Hall of Famers in the 2022 class.
This coming December, the Today’s Game committee will vote at the Winter Meetings. Via the Hall of Fame website, here’s the task of that committee:
The Today’s Game Committee (“The Committee”) shall refer to the electorate that considers retired Major League Baseball players no longer eligible for election by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), along with managers, umpires and executives, whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from the 1988-2016 era.
Guess what players will be no longer eligible on the BBWAA election but also had their greatest contributions from 1988-2016?
Yep! Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Sosa.
Here’s how the 16-person voting body is formed: “The Today’s Game Committee shall consist of 16 members, comprised of members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, executives, and veteran media members.”
Twelve votes are needed for induction.
It’s tough to nail down what managers (Bruce Bochy, maybe?), executives (too early for Theo Epstein?) or umpires (Jim Joyce?) would get on the ballot, much less garner the support needed for enshrinement. It’s much easier to examine what players might get on this ballot.
I’m not positive on Sosa, but it was an awful quick turnaround for players like Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and Harold Baines between falling off the BBWAA ballot and then getting into the Hall of Fame via these committees. Through this lens, it seems Bonds, Clemens and Schilling have a great chance to get on it right off the bat in December if they don’t get 75 percent of the votes this January.
Some other players that might make it onto the Today’s Era ballot this coming December:
Kenny Lofton, Fred McGriff, Johan Santana, Kevin Brown, Jim Edmonds, Will Clark, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Johnny Damon, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Mark McGwire, Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Delgado, Juan González, David Wells, John Franco, Albert Belle and Rafael Palmeiro.
In looking at all these names I’ve included, I’d be awfully shocked if the committee — they meet and discuss all the candidates, individually, before voting, so it’s possible to form a relative consensus — didn’t induct at least one of these players, likely multiple. Some of them (Lofton and Santana come to mind) didn’t get a fair shake on the BBWAA ballots for various reasons while others hung around forever and just couldn’t get over the hump, like McGriff — oh, and Bonds, Clemens and Schilling.
So while we might have thought, albeit temporarily, we were done discussing the Hall of Fame candidacies of these guys, it is likely just an 11-month reprieve.