Tune in live to MLB Network's Hall of Fame special, part of a simulcast on MLB.com, to watch Hall president Jeff Idelson announce the next class of inductees.Since the inaugural Class of 1936, the writers have been famously stingy with their votes and have never elected more than 13 players
Tune in live to MLB Network's Hall of Fame special, part of a simulcast on MLB.com, to watch Hall president Jeff Idelson announce the next class of inductees.
Since the inaugural Class of 1936, the writers have been famously stingy with their votes and have never elected more than 13 players in any four-year stretch. But that record will probably get broken this year. There is a good chance that today, four or five players will be elected to the Hall.
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If it is four, that would make it 13 players elected in the past four years. If it is five, that would not only smash the four-year mark, it would be the first time since that first class that the writers voted in so many in a single year.
Idelson will almost certainly be welcoming Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero. Jones and Thome are on the ballot for the first time and both top 92 percent on Ryan Thibodaux's Hall of Fame Tracker, which tallies the public ballots. A player needs 75 percent of the vote to be elected.
Guerrero is on the ballot for the second year; he drew about 72 percent of the vote last year, just shy of what he needed. But he's already gained 44 new votes and should breeze in this year.
Former San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman could be the fourth player elected. He has been painfully close each of the last two years -- last year he fell five votes shy of election -- and while the public votes show him just over the line, he is likely to do very well on the non-public ballots and will probably finish around 80 percent.
The fifth possibility would be a surprise -- a pleasant one, to say the least. Former Seattle designated hitter Edgar Martinez -- one of the most popular players of his time -- got 59 percent of the vote last year. It is rare for a player to jump 16 points in one year unless there's a special circumstance (such as it being the player's last year of eligibility on the ballot). But Martinez has picked up a lot of new votes this year. According to the public votes, he is currently above the 75 percent threshold, but the odds are still against him, as we've seen in past years that voters who do not reveal their ballots in advance of the announcement tend to be stingier with their ballots. Next year is Martinez's last year on the ballot, and if he does not make it this time around, he's a virtual lock next year.
If four make it into the Hall, that would make the second time in three years that the BBWAA has elected four players -- something that has never happened before. In addition to being a four-year record, it would mean that the writers have elected 16 players since 2013, when the addition of several players connected to PEDs led to gridlock. That year ('13) was the first time in 17 years that not one player was elected to the Hall of Fame.
There has been a flood ever since 2013, however. The BBWAA has voted in ace starting pitchers (Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine), sluggers (Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., Jeff Bagwell), table-setters (Craig Biggio, Tim Raines) and two of the game's greatest catchers (Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez).
Now, the Hall will add Jones, one of the most spectacular hitters of our time, the only switch-hitter who hit .300 from each side of the plate. He should become just the seventh third baseman voted in by the BBWAA and the first since Wade Boggs in 2005.
Thome hit 612 home runs, so he would become the fifth player elected to the Hall of Fame with 600-plus home runs, a list that includes Griffey, Willie Mays, Ruth and Henry Aaron.
Guerrero's .318 lifetime average is fourth in the expansion era behind Hall of Famers Boggs, Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew. His .553 slugging percentage is much higher than any of those three, and he was an extraordinary blend of power and consistency at the plate, especially when you consider that he swung at just about everything.
Hoffman's 601 saves are second only to Mariano Rivera, who should get elected next year. Hoffman's ninth-inning entry into games while AC/DC's "Hells Bells" played was one of the hallmarks of baseball in the 1990s and 2000s.
It will be worth watching not only to see which players get elected, but to see if there is any movement on other fronts. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds each got about 54 percent of the vote last year; it will be interesting to see how those vote totals fluctuate, particularly after Hall of Fame vice chairman Joe Morgan wrote a letter to voters imploring them not to vote for players connected to steroids. Pitchers Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling also hope to make a move.
And it will be worth watching the fate of first-time nominees Scott Rolen (seven-time All-Star), Andruw Jones (10-time Gold Glove Award winner) and Johan Santana (two-time Cy Young Award winner). They will need five percent of the vote to return to the ballot next year.
Joe Posnanski is a columnist for MLB.com.