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Thome, Vizquel among former Indians on ballot

Pair eligible first time for election into Hall of Fame
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- One stands as arguably the most prolific slugger in Indians history and ended his career as one of the greatest home run hitters of all-time. The other dazzled Cleveland crowds with his defensive wizardry -- walking away with a pile of Gold Glove Awards -- and solid bat.

Now, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel are eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

CLEVELAND -- One stands as arguably the most prolific slugger in Indians history and ended his career as one of the greatest home run hitters of all-time. The other dazzled Cleveland crowds with his defensive wizardry -- walking away with a pile of Gold Glove Awards -- and solid bat.

Now, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel are eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame coverage

On Monday, Thome and Vizquel highlighted the players with Cleveland ties who are included on this year's ballot for potential induction into the Hall of Fame via voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. In order to be elected, a player must appear on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast, with the results being unveiled on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

Both Thome and Vizquel are appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Thome is Cleveland's all-time home run leader and already has a statue outside Progressive Field. He was put in the team's Hall of Fame two years ago, and he is one of nine players in baseball history to eclipse 600 home runs. The left-handed hitter has thought about what it would be like to be placed in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, N.Y.

2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

"Winning a World Series, I've always said, is the pinnacle for every player to try to accomplish," Thome told MLB.com after being inducted into the Indians' and Phillies' team halls of fame. "And then that honor to go into that great fraternity [of the Baseball Hall of Fame] is through longevity and playing a long time. Just having somebody recognize you for what you've done for the game, it would be very cool."

Thome hit a franchise-record 337 of his 612 career home runs with the Indians, the club that drafted him in 1989 (13th round) and for which he played from 1991-2002, and in the second half of '11. Thome also boasts Cleveland's club record for walks (1,008) and ranks in the franchise's top five for on-base percentage (.414), RBIs (937), extra-base hits (620), total bases (2,667) and runs scored (928).

Across 22 seasons in the Majors, Thome had stints with the Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Twins and Orioles. He is joined by Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth as the only players in MLB history to compile at least 600 homers, 1,500 runs and 1,700 walks. Thome was a five-time All-Star, won one Silver Slugger Award and posted a .956 OPS in his career.

Vizquel's chances of being enshrined will likely hinge on how much voters value his defense and longevity.

Video: DET@CLE: Vizquel inducted into Indians Hall of Fame

Over 24 seasons spent between stops with the Mariners, Indians, Giants, White Sox, Rangers and Blue Jays, Vizquel amassed 2,877 hits with 456 doubles, 404 stolen bases, 1,445 runs scored and a .272/.336/.352 slash line. Among all switch-hitters in Major League history, Vizquel's hit total ranks fourth, trailing only all-time hits leader Pete Rose (4,256) and Hall of Famers Eddie Murray (3,255) and Frankie Frisch (2,880). Vizquel's hit total is sixth most among all shortstops in big league history.

Vizquel won 11 Gold Glove Awards -- nine in a row from 1993-2001 -- and finished as baseball's all-time leader in double plays turned (1,734), games played (2,709) and fielding percentage (.985) among shortstops.

Vizquel spent the bulk of his career with Cleveland (1994-2004) and was a three-time All-Star with the Tribe.

Video: Vizquel is a candidate for the Hall of Fame in 2018

Beyond Thome and Vizquel, Manny Ramirez (1993-2000 with the Indians) is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the second year after being named on 23.8 percent of ballots last year. Ramirez hit 236 of his 555 career homers with Cleveland and holds the all-time club records for slugging percentage (.592) and OPS (.998). Ramirez was a 12-time All-Star and ended with a .312 average and a .996 OPS in 19 seasons, but the end of his career was marred by multiple positive tests for performance-enhancing substances.

Other players with Cleveland ties on this year's ballot include Jeff Kent (39 games for the Indians in 1996), Johnny Damon (64 games in 2012), Kevin Millwood (led American League with 2.86 ERA in 2005) and Kerry Wood (spent parts of 2009-10 seasons as the Tribe's closer). Kent is on the ballot for the fifth time, while the rest are all eligible for the first time.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

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