Baseball Hall of Fame has empty class for ninth time ever; what history says about future enshrinement chances

For the first time since 2013 and only the ninth time in history, no players were voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The 2021 Hall of Fame vote results were announced Tuesday and no players met the 75 percent threshold needed for induction.

Over 400 votes were cast this year and the full voting results are available at the BBWAA’s site. Here are the top five vote-getters:

  1. Curt Schilling: 71.1 percent (16 votes short of induction)
  2. Barry Bonds: 61.8 percent
  3. Roger Clemens: 61.6 percent
  4. Scott Rolen: 52.9 percent
  5. Omar Vizquel: 49.1 percent

The BBWAA did not vote a player into the Hall of Fame in 1945, 1946, 1950, 1958, 1960, 1971, 1996, 2013, and now 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Golden Days Era Committee and Early Baseball Era Committee to cancel their scheduled vote in December, so no one was voted into the Hall of Fame this year. This is the first truly empty class since 1958.

Just because the BBWAA did not vote any players into the Hall of Fame this year does not mean there were no future Hall of Famers on the ballot. Nine players — nine! — on the 2013 ballot were eventually voted into the Hall of Fame: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.

In 1996, six players on the ballot were eventually voted in: Phil Niekro, Tony Perez, Jim Rice, Ron Santo, Bruce Sutter, and Don Sutton. Joe Torre was on that ballot as well, and he was later voted into the Hall of Fame as a manager. A whopping 15 men on the 1971 ballot were later voted into Cooperstown. There are Hall of Famers on the 2021 ballot. They just have to wait a little longer.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling will be on the ballot for the 10th and final time next year. Historically, players receive a bump in support their final year on the ballot, which might be enough to get Schilling into the Hall of Fame. Bonds and Clemens have seen their support stagnate around 60 percent, however, and their performance-enhancing drug ties likely mean they may not be voted in.

It appears the player on this year’s ballot most likely to be voted in down the line is Rolen. He’s seen his voting percentage climb from 10.2 percent to 17.2 percent to 35.3 percent to now 52.9 percent in his four years on the ballot. Rolen has another six years of eligibility remaining and he’s making big year-to-year gains. He’s on a nice track to 75 percent.

Although no one was voted into the Hall of Fame this year, there will be an induction ceremony this summer. The 2020 induction ceremony was canceled because of the pandemic, and that group will be honored during a ceremony this year. Derek Jeter, Ted Simmons, Larry Walker, and the late Marvin Miller were voted in last year and will be inducted this summer.

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