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Hall of Fame FAQ: What to know about '20 election

It's time to prepare for Tuesday's big announcement
@mattkellyMLB
January 16, 2020

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America is almost ready to reveal its National Baseball Hall of Fame election results, so it’s time to prep for the big announcement. Below are answers to all your questions about the Class of 2020 election, which looks poised to honor at least one turn-of-the-millennium

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America is almost ready to reveal its National Baseball Hall of Fame election results, so it’s time to prep for the big announcement.

Below are answers to all your questions about the Class of 2020 election, which looks poised to honor at least one turn-of-the-millennium legend -- and possibly two.

Where will the election results be broadcast?

MLB Network will have live coverage of the results on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The Network’s coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET., with new Hall of Fame president Tim Mead expected to announce the results in the 6 p.m. hour.

What are the criteria for election?

Players must have appeared in at least 10 Major League seasons to be eligible for consideration, and they must be retired from the Major Leagues for five seasons before they can appear on the BBWAA ballot. They can remain on the ballot for a maximum of 10 years.

A player must appear on at least 75% of the writers’ ballots to gain election to the Hall, and if he does not gain election, he must earn at least 5% of the vote to remain eligible for BBWAA consideration the following year.

Who is already in this year?

We already know two members of the Hall’s Class of 2020: Catcher Ted Simmons and former MLB Players Association director Marvin Miller, both of whom were elected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee in December. It’s the fourth straight year in which a veterans’ committee vote has yielded electees.

Who are the first-time candidates?

Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter and Cliff Lee headline those debuting on the BBWAA ballot, alongside Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Eric Chávez, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Raúl Ibañez, Paul Konerko, Carlos Peña, Brad Penny, J.J. Putz, Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano and José Valverde.

Former Expos, Rockies and Cardinals slugger Larry Walker is in his 10th and final year of eligibility.

Who looks most likely to get in?

Jeter is as slam-dunk a candidate as it gets; the only question is whether he will join his former Yankees teammate, Mariano Rivera, as the second player in history to be voted to the Hall unanimously. As of Wednesday afternoon, the 14-time All-Star had appeared on all 147 writers’ ballots that had been made public (as tracked by Ryan Thibodaux, aka @NotMrTibbs on Twitter)

Walker’s hopes, on the other hand, are very much up in the air. He’s firmly in “toss-up” mode, having appeared on 85.1% of public ballots but likely facing less support from voters who prefer to keep their ballots private. Walker came into his final ballot year likely needing to “flip” about 44.9% of his “no” votes from 2019 into “yes” votes, and he had flipped 53.3% of those votes known to the public through Wednesday. Various Hall of Fame forecasts have him right on the bubble, so stay tuned.

Three more longtime holdovers -- Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- are also trending right around the 75% threshold on public ballots, but they have historically garnered much less support from private voters. So, this year appears to be a two-horse race with Jeter and Walker.

Who is on the bubble?

On the other side of the ballot, a handful of players are simply hoping to reach 5% and stick around for 2021. Abreu appears to be the only first-timer, apart from Jeter, with a chance of getting that total, but it will be close -- he had appeared on 7.1% of public ballots through Wednesday. Former Braves center fielder Andruw Jones and Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte both survived close calls in their debuts last year, but each of them looks assured of moving on to Year 3 with moderate gains in public votes. Slugger Sammy Sosa, now in his eighth year on the ballot, also looks safe to stay as he tracks around 18%.

Who's surging?

Third baseman Scott Rolen (+39 net votes from 2019), outfielder Gary Sheffield (+38) and first baseman Todd Helton (+26) probably won't gain election this year, but those three have made the biggest gains compared to last year at this time. Rolen in particular could cross the 50% line in 2020, which would position him well with seven years of eligibility remaining. For comparison's sake, Walker didn't cross 50% until last year.

Schilling is hovering near 80% of public ballots after landing on 64.7% of public votes last year, so his stock is definitely rising. Over the last three years, Schilling's vote total has increased from 45% to 51.2% to 60.9%. But the clock is ticking; Schilling will only have two years of eligibility left if he doesn't hear his name called Tuesday night.

Aside from Jeter’s vote total, is there any other history on the horizon?

If Walker can join Jeter in the Class of 2020, it would mark an unprecedented seventh straight year that the BBWAA elected at least two player candidates. The 20 players elected over the past six years set a record, smashing the previous mark of 15 BBWAA electees from 1951-56.

But that bountiful harvest could start dwindling after Tuesday. Pitchers Mark Buehrle and Tim Hudson and center fielder Torii Hunter will lead the first-time eligibles for 2021, with Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz entering the conversation in ’22. The first trio will likely fall short of election, and the cases of A-Rod and Ortiz should spark lots of debate. The last time the BBWAA didn’t elect at least one player was back in ’13.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.