PITTSBURGH -- Barry Bonds has made incremental progress in Hall of Fame voting over the last few years, but he’ll need a dramatic increase in support from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America if he wants to make it to Cooperstown before falling off the ballot.
Bonds is one of 32 players on the 2020 ballot, which was released Monday. The list includes 18 new candidates, most notably Yankees icon Derek Jeter, but only one Pirate: Bonds, the Majors’ home run king.
To be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, candidates must be named on 75 percent of ballots cast by selected BBWAA members who have 10 or more consecutive years of MLB coverage. Voters can select up to 10 candidates. Ballots must be submitted by the end of the year; the results will be announced by Hall of Fame president Tim Mead live on MLB Network on Jan. 21.
Bonds is one of four returning candidates who were named on more than half of last year’s ballots, joining Curt Schilling (60.9 percent), Rogers Clemens (59.5 percent) and Larry Walker (54.6 percent). Players named on at least 5 percent of the ballots each year remain eligible, for a maximum of 10 years. Bonds, who is in his eighth year of eligibility, received 59.1 percent of the vote in the last election cycle. His eligibility expires after the 2022 ballot.
Bonds’ progress last year represented a modest increase from the 56.4 percent of the vote he received in 2018. That followed a significant jump, as he went from 36.8 percent in 2015 to 44.3 percent in ’16 to 53.8 percent in ’17.
Voters elected four Hall of Famers last year -- Mariano Rivera (100 percent), Edgar Martinez (85.4 percent), Roy Halladay (85.4 percent) and Mike Mussina (76.7 percent) -- after sending four players to Cooperstown in ’18, three in ’17, two in ’16, four in ’15 and three in ’14. Harold Baines and Lee Smith were also inducted last summer through the Today’s Game Era Committee.
Bonds’ candidacy, along with that of Clemens, is always a topic for debate due to the players' link to performance-enhancing drugs.
Though Bonds made history mostly in a Giants uniform, he established himself in Pittsburgh. He slugged 176 of his 762 career homers, drove in 556 runs, stole 251 bases and slashed .275/.380/.503 while playing for the Pirates from 1986-92. He was named National League MVP in 1990 and ’92, and finished as the runner-up in ’91, and he won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger honors all three years. In addition, he ranks ninth among all Pirates with 50.1 Wins Above Replacement.
Bonds spent 15 years in San Francisco and ended his career with seven MVP Awards, eight Gold Gloves, two batting titles, 14 All-Star nods, a Major League-record 2,558 walks, and both the single-season and career home run records.
Another Pirate eligible for the Hall of Fame, but through a different selection process, is outfielder Dave Parker, one of 10 candidates on the Modern Baseball Era ballot for 2020.