The official 2017 Hall of Fame ballot for BBWAA writers came out today, and there are a number of newly-eligible players who could contend for enshrinement, including Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, and Jorge Posada.
You can see here the full list of new and returning players on the ballot, as well as how many votes previously-eligible players received last year (including Sammy Sosa, who was named on just 7.0% of the ballots – far shy of the 75.0% needed to enter Cooperstown).
I’ve said a lot in the past about the more controversial members of the group, including my thoughts on why Sosa probably falls short of Hall of Fame status, and why Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be voted in.
Ivan Rodriguez should be a lock for the Hall, given his long and productive career, including so many elite years behind the plate. It’s funny that, as a Cubs fan, I almost always picture Pudge in a Marlins uniform … even though 2003 was his only year with the Marlins. (Glad the Cubs won this year, but I still can’t think about that 2003 NLCS with feeling embittered.) We’ll see if Rodriguez gets in the first time around, or if he has to do that arbitrary waiting a year or two thing.
Vladimir Guerrero is a tougher call for me, because he was very good for a reasonably long time, but he wasn’t necessarily super-elite for a 5 to 10-year stretch. That arm, tho. On the balance, I think Vlad gets in eventually – and deservedly so – but perhaps not this year.
Manny Ramirez is going to be a tough call for folks because of his PED suspensions, and the questions they raise about what would have otherwise been probably-Hall-worthy numbers.
Jorge Posada is perhaps better known for his association with the brilliant Yankees teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s than for his own production. Like Guerrero, Posada had a 10-year stretch where he was very good, but perhaps never the kind of elite you associate with Hall of Famers.
Returning players Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and maybe Trevor Hoffman should see enough of an increase this time around to be elected.
This is Raines’ final year on the ballot, and you’re going to see lots of sabermetrically-inclined folks pushing for his inclusion after a long career that was probably under-appreciated thanks to where he played, his reliance on on-base percentage for production, and our own lack of understanding of total player value at the time. Bonus fun fact on Raines? He played in the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s, and the 2000s.
Former Cubs closer Lee Smith is also in his final year on the ballot, and he probably will not get quite enough support to be put in the Hall by the voters. There are always ever-changing committees thereafter that might give a player the nod, though.
If Sosa does not receive at least 5.0% of the vote this time around, he will fall off the ballot, making it feel like every year is potentially his last on the ballot.