Who'll get the call? '20 HOF tracking, explained

How many former players will go from stars to legends?

January 21st, 2020

This year's Hall of Fame results are only hours away. The Cooperstown Class of 2020 will be finalized on Tuesday, with coverage beginning at 3 p.m. ET on MLB Network and the announcement airing in the 6 p.m. hour.

We already know that and Marvin Miller are going to be inducted via the Modern Era Committee, but who will join them via the ballot orchestrated by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA)? Thanks to the ballot tracker work done by Ryan Thibodaux (aka @NotMrTibbs on Twitter) and his team, fans can keep up with the vote in real time. Every candidate's progress is updated as individual Hall of Fame voters divulge their ballots, giving us an idea of where the players stand.

Players need to get 75 percent of votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. About half the ballots are currently known, with 212 of an estimated 412 either made public or released anonymously (ballots were due by Dec. 31). Based on the estimated total, 309 votes would be needed for Hall of Fame election; the actual number could be slightly more or less depending on how many ballots were filed.

This year, it appears the BBWAA class is essentially going to come down to two: , a surefire electee, and , who has a 50-50 shot.

Here's a guide to the key candidates. They're listed in order of the percentage of the known votes they've received so far as of Tuesday morning -- though another flurry of ballots is still a possibility leading up to the official announcement. The Hall of Fame ballot tracker is viewable here, and vote flip data ("No" votes to "Yes" votes) is available here.

Derek Jeter
SS -- Yankees

Year on ballot: 1st
Currently polling at: 100% (212 of 212)
% needed on remaining ballots: 48.5% (97 of 200)

The question now isn't whether Jeter will get in; it's whether he'll be unanimous. The 11th Yankees captain has appeared on every ballot revealed so far, and it seems like No. 2 has a good chance to join his teammate Mariano Rivera (HOF Class of 2019) as the second unanimous Hall of Fame inductee.

Jeter's 3,465 hits and five World Series rings make him a shoo-in for first-ballot election. He's the only first-timer on this year's ballot who still has a chance at election -- the others are just fighting to stay on the ballot. Jeter might even be the only BBWAA candidate elected in 2020, period.

Larry Walker
OF -- Rockies, Expos, Cardinals

Year on ballot: 10th (final)
Currently polling at: 83.5% (177 of 212)
% needed on remaining ballots: 66.0% (132 of 200)

Votes flipped so far from 2019-20 ("No" to "Yes"): 34 of 65 (52.3%)
Flip rate needed for induction (based on 2019 totals): 44.9%

From the rate Walker is polling at, you might think he's on a clear path to Cooperstown in his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot. But it's not that simple. It's actually going to be very, very, very close. Walker is as much of a coin flip as a candidate gets.

Why? Walker has historically had a significant dropoff between public and undisclosed ballots (and he's not the only one -- many players like him, including other 2020 candidates, experience similar drops). The dip will likely be about 10 percentage points -- last year, he dropped from 65.9 percent to 54.6 percent. That means the former Rockies slugger needs to keep up around an 85-percent public-ballot pace if he's going to stay above the cutoff once the final results are in.

He's just about at that level heading into the last hours before the reveal. In his favor: Walker's flipping tons of former "No" voters this year. He's gained a net 33 votes from 2019-20, while changing over half his Nos to Yeses among known ballots from returning voters. That makes him basically the only candidate with a real shot to get in other than Jeter. Walker's support has grown dramatically in recent years. Over the last three, his share of the vote has increased from 21.9 percent to 34.1 percent to 54.6 percent.

So what will happen in 2020? Right now, various Hall of Fame forecasts have Walker essentially right at the 75 percent threshold ... either just above it, or just below it. Walker is making a huge final-year push, but his election will come down to the thinnest of margins.

RHP -- Phillies, D-backs, Red Sox, Orioles, Astros

Year on ballot: 8th
Currently polling at: 78.8% (167 of 212)
% needed on remaining ballots: 71.0% (142 of 200)

Votes flipped from 2019-20: 13 of 53 (24.5%)
Flip rate needed: 36.0%

Schilling is above the 75 percent threshold for now -- the only player besides Jeter and Walker still there -- but it's probably not going to be enough. He's unlikely to get in this year. Like Walker, Schilling has had a sizeable difference between public ballots and final results, dropping from 69.8 percent to 60.9 percent in 2019. If this year is similar, he'd project to get around 70 percent of the vote total.

That, at least, could position him for election in 2021 or '22. Schilling will have two more chances at election via the BBWAA ballot after this, and he's trending in the right direction. Over the last three years, his vote total has increased from 45.0 percent to 51.2 percent to 60.9 percent. By his career statistics, he's deserving (3,116 strikeouts, an 11-2 record and 2.23 ERA in the postseason with three World Series rings), but his history of incendiary political commentary seems to have hindered his support.

OF -- Giants, Pirates

Year on ballot: 8th
Currently polling at: 71.7% (152 of 212)
% needed on remaining ballots: 78.5% (157 of 200)

Votes flipped from 2019-20: 4 of 57 (7.0%)
Flip rate needed: 38.9%

MLB's home run king was above 75 percent on the public ballots for a while, but he's now dipped below. And that's almost certainly a sign of things to come. Once you take the coming dropoff into account, Bonds isn't going to be elected this year. He'll likely to finish at around 60 percent of the vote.

Bonds' 762 homers, seven MVP trophies and some of the most jaw-dropping numbers ever speak for themselves. But the connections to steroids have held Bonds back in Hall of Fame voting. It's hard for him to flip the votes he needs to. Support has slowly shifted in his favor over the years, and his 59.1 percent total in 2019 was his highest yet. With two more years on the ballot after this one, will he make the final gains necessary to be elected?

RHP -- Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Blue Jays

Year on ballot: 8th
Currently polling at: 70.8% (150 of 212)
% needed on remaining ballots: 79.5% (159 of 200)

Votes flipped from 2019-20: 4 of 58 (6.9%)
Flip rate needed: 38.2%

Clemens is in the same boat as Bonds -- an all-time great statistically, but with PED links. Their Hall of Fame votes tend to parallel each other, and Clemens projects to end up around the same 60-percent mark on the final 2020 ballot tally. He has the same struggle flipping votes as Bonds. Right now, Clemens is just below 75 percent, with two fewer votes than Bonds on public ballots, and that figures to drop further when the results are released.

One of the most dominant pitchers ever, Clemens amassed 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, seven Cy Young Awards, an AL MVP Award and two Triple Crowns. His Hall of Fame voting percentage has edged upward along with Bonds, to a personal high of 59.5 percent in 2019. Like Bonds, he won't make it this year, but he has a chance in his final two years of eligibility.

SS -- Indians, Mariners, Giants, White Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays

Year on ballot: 3rd
Currently polling at: 49.5% (105 of 212)
% needed on remaining ballots: Can't reach 75% (based on est. 412 ballots)

Votes flipped from 2019-20: 25 of 117 (21.4%)
Net vote gain from 2019: +21

Vizquel is worth noting because he's a rare candidate who could actually get a boost from the public to final vote total. He did last year, when he went from 38.4 percent on previously known ballots to 42.8 percent in the end results. Now he's hovering around 50 percent already, with seven years of ballot eligibility beyond this one. The defensive wizard, one of the best shortstops ever with 11 Gold Gloves to his name, will be an especially interesting name to monitor on the Hall of Fame ballot in coming years.

3B -- Phillies, Cardinals, Reds, Blue Jays

Year on ballot: 3rd
Currently polling at: 47.6% (101 of 212)
% needed on remaining ballots: Can't reach 75%

Votes flipped from 2019-20: 43 of 124 (34.7%)
Net vote gain from 2019: +50

Rolen's not going into the Hall of Fame in 2020, but he's only in his third year of 10 on the ballot, so he's got time. And now that a logjam of candidates has been cleared off the ballot in recent years, Rolen has become a huge vote gainer. This year alone, Rolen's gained 50 votes so far -- the most of any candidate. The seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove-winning third baseman is on pace for a big jump in the final results from last year's 17.2 percent.

Other notable vote gainers
Gary Sheffield (OF, 6th year on ballot): +43 votes (at 36.3%)
Billy Wagner (LHP, 5th year): +37 votes (at 34.9%)
Jeff Kent (2B, 7th year): +32 votes (at 33.0%)
Todd Helton (1B, 2nd year): +31 votes (at 32.1%)
Andruw Jones (OF, 3rd year): +28 votes (at 24.1%)
Manny Ramirez (OF, 4th year): +11 votes (at 31.6%)

First-timers in danger of falling off the ballot
5% of votes needed to maintain eligibility
Bobby Abreu (OF): 6.1% (13 votes)
Jason Giambi (1B): 0.5% (1 vote)
Cliff Lee (LHP): 0.5% (1 vote)
Paul Konerko (1B): 0.5% (1 vote)
Eric Chávez (3B): 0.5% (1 vote)
Alfonso Soriano (2B): 0.0%
Rafael Furcal (SS): 0.0%