The National Baseball Hall of Fame has received a haul of fame in recent years. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has provided an avalanche of inductees -- 20 in the last six years, to be exact.
With Monday’s release of a 2020 ballot headlined by first-time-eligible Derek Jeter, another class will soon be confirmed, congratulated and cheerfully consigned to Cooperstown. Eligible voters from the BBWAA will submit their ballots by year’s end, and the 2020 class will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 21, on MLB Network.
Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Abreu and Paul Konerko are some of the other notable first-timers on the 2020 ballot. Meanwhile, Larry Walker is on the ballot for the final time, hoping to get over the hump.
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The full ballot
Below is a list of every player on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, with first timers bolded.
Bobby Abreu, Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Barry Bonds, Eric Chávez, Roger Clemens, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Raúl Ibañez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Konerko, Cliff Lee, Carlos Peña, Brad Penny, Andy Pettitte, J.J. Putz, Manny Ramírez, Brian Roberts, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano, Sammy Sosa, José Valverde, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker.
Players must appear on 75% of submitted ballots to be ushered into the hallowed Hall in the 2020 induction ceremony on July 26 in Cooperstown. Last year, 425 ballots were submitted, and players needed 319 for induction. Players are eligible for up to 10 years on the BBWAA ballot.
Last year, Edgar Martinez became the sixth player to be inducted in his final try, and his Cooperstown class included right-handers Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera, the first player inducted unanimously. Harold Baines and Lee Smith were also inducted last summer via the Today’s Game Era Committee.
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There, too, players must appear on 75% of ballots submitted by a 16-member voting body, and whoever is selected will join the BBWAA class on Induction Day next July.
Below is a list of every player who is returning to the ballot from last year who received at least 25% of the vote, along with their number of years on the ballot, their 2019 vote total and percentage.
NAME, YEAR (2019 vote total, perecentage)
Curt Schilling, 8th (259, 60.9%)
Roger Clemens, 8th (253, 59.5%)
Barry Bonds, 8th (251, 59.1%)
Larry Walker, 10th (232, 54.6%)
Omar Vizquel, 3rd (182, 42.8%)
Other names returning to the ballot are Manny Ramirez (97 votes, 22.8% last year), Jeff Kent (77, 18.1%), Scott Rolen (73, 17.2%), Billy Wagner (71, 16.7%), Todd Helton (70, 16.5%), Gary Sheffield (58, 13.6%), Andy Pettitte (42, 9.9%), Sammy Sosa (36, 8.5%) and Andruw Jones (32, 7.5%). Players who receive less than 5% of votes are removed from the ballot the following year.
This year’s BBWAA ballot brings five questions to the forefront:
1. Will “Captain Clutch” achieve voting perfection?
The aura of Jeter -- given his five World Series rings, his 14 All-Star selections, his 3,465 hits, his 1,923 runs and his many postseason exploits -- dominates the BBWAA ballot. No. 2 won’t have to wait for a second try. The question is not whether he’ll get in but whether he’ll join teammate Mariano Rivera, who last year became the first unanimous selection, as a 100 Percenter.
Now that the barrier has been broken -- and the ballot is not quite as loaded as it had been in some years past, compelling the concept of “strategic voting” in which a no-doubt-about-it Hall of Famer is left off a particular voter’s ballot to make room for somebody who needs the help more -- it’s a distinct possibility.
2. Will Walker finally walk in?
In his last try with the BBWAA, Walker will need another surge. After receiving 34.1% of the vote in 2018, Walker jumped 20.5 percentage points in ’19. That was one of the 10 largest jumps year over year in the last half-century of voting. But with the 54.6% showing, Walker will need a virtually identical leap this time, or else hold out hope that a small committee one day provides his entry ticket.
Walker had a career .313/.400/.565 slash with 383 homers, 2,160 hits, seven Gold Gloves. He was the 1997 NL MVP, and his career bWAR of 72.7 ranks 10th among players who played at least 40% of their games in right field – with the other nine in the Hall of Fame.
3. Will Bonds and Clemens make any gains?
As has become an annual tradition, the candidacies and vote totals of Bonds and Clemens will be a hot topic of debate and dissection, given their worthy stat lines but ties to performance-enhancing drugs.
Both have made modest gains each of the last five years. From 2018 to ’19, Bonds went from 56.4% to 59.1%. Clemens went from 57.3% to 59.5%. Both will need to see more significant strides if they’re going to clear the hurdle before their eligibility expires after the 2022 ballot.
4. Will “Little O” make a big jump?
Vizquel is another especially interesting holdover, as he made a particularly positive stride from 37.0% in his first year of eligibility in 2018 to 42.8% last year.
The primary case for Vizquel is built around his rare longevity and his defensive prowess at shortstop, where he won 11 Gold Gloves across 24 seasons while setting a record for games played at the position (2,709).
5. Are any other first-timers worthy?
As far as the non-Jeter portion of the rookie class, there are no other slam-dunk selections. Using the Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor -- a rough scale in which a player scoring over 100 is likely to be inducted and a player under 100 is less likely -- these are the first-timers with the highest scores:
Jason Giambi: 108
Alfonso Soriano: 105
Bobby Abreu: 95
Paul Konerko: 80
Adam Dunn: 75
Cliff Lee: 72
Within that group, Giambi was the 2000 AL MVP who hit 440 homers with 2,010 hits and 1,441 RBIs in his 20 seasons. Soriano totaled 2,095 hits and 412 homers with a .500 slugging percentage and 289 steals. Abreu hit 288 homers with 1,363 RBIs, 574 doubles and 400 stolen bases in his 18-season career. Konerko had 2,340 hits, 439 homers and 1,412 RBIs and helped lead the White Sox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005. Dunn hit 462 homers across 14 seasons, to go with a .364 career on-base percentage. Lee was the 2008 AL Cy Young winner, and he had a 118 career ERA+ as well as an impressive postseason career, with a 2.52 ERA in 11 starts.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.