These crowded Hall of Fame ceremonies are becoming the norm, and 2019 might be more of the same.
With newcomers Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay headlining the ballot — and Edgar Martinez up against a deadline — next year’s induction class could be another sizable one. That would certainly fit with the recent trend after four players were elected this week in the 2018 class.
Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman were voted in this year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, marking the second time in four years the BBWAA elected four players. Since 2013, when the writers elected nobody, there’s been a veritable flood of BBWAA inductees — at least two per year for five straight votes.
The last time the BBWAA voted in multiple players for that many years in a row was from 1951-56.
Next year could be another multiplayer induction. Here are a few things to look ahead to in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote:
Rivera is viewed by many as the game’s greatest closer, and his dominance may transcend whatever misgivings voters have about the value of low-workload relievers. Hoffman received 80 per cent of the vote this year. Goose Gossage got 86 per cent when he was elected, and Bruce Sutter got 77. Rivera has a chance to do what none of those three relievers did — enter the Hall on the first ballot.
Halladay will likely have plenty of support after winning two Cy Young Awards and finishing his career with 67 complete games — a number that already feels staggering. Last season’s major league leaders in complete games were Corey Kluber and Ervin Santana with five each. Halladay had five or more in seven different seasons.
Halladay died Nov. 7 at age 40 when a plane he was piloting crashed off Florida’s Gulf Coast. It was too late to add him to this year’s ballot — a player who dies less than five full years after retiring is eligible in the next election six months following his death. He’ll be eligible for the Hall of Fame next year, when his five-year wait was expiring anyway.
Martinez will be on the BBWAA ballot for the 10th time — and that’s the most a player is allowed. He’ll either be voted in or have to start waiting for a veterans panel to take up his case. He received 70 per cent of the vote this year, up from 59 in 2017 and 43 the previous year. There’s still some opposition to Martinez, who spent much of his career as a designated hitter, but he doesn’t need much more of a gain to reach the threshold of 75 per cent for induction.
Todd Helton joins next year’s ballot, giving voters a chance to consider another slugger who put up big numbers in hitter-friendly Colorado. Larry Walker received just 34 per cent of the vote this year, although that was up from 22 per cent in 2017. Helton had a career OPS of .953, but the favourable environment at Coors Field may invite skepticism from the voters.
BONDS AND CLEMENS
Another year came and went, and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens aren’t much closer to Cooperstown. Their Hall chances seemed to be growing when they crossed 50 per cent for the first time in 2017, but their progress slowed considerably this year, with Clemens finishing at 57 per cent and Bonds at 56.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Andy Pettitte joins the 2019 ballot, but the terrain has been difficult for starting pitchers, with Mike Mussina (64 per cent this year) and Curt Schilling (51 per cent) still needing to make up ground. Pettitte may be overshadowed by Halladay’s arrival on the ballot.
Lance Berkman, another of next year’s newcomers, had a .943 career OPS. That’s similar to Helton’s — and without the benefit of Colorado home games — but Berkman had over 1,600 fewer plate appearances.