Heath Bell makes debut on Hall of Fame ballot

November 18th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- One legendary Padres closer had his moment in Cooperstown two summers ago.

Another closer in San Diego’s storied line of relief aces will be looking to follow in those footsteps.

And while it seems unlikely that will follow Trevor Hoffman into the Hall of Fame, it's worth remembering his excellent big league career.

Bell was among 18 first-time nominees as the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot was released Monday. He pitched 11 seasons, recording a 3.49 ERA. The best of those seasons came with the Padres.

In five years in San Diego, Bell notched a 2.53 ERA and made three straight All-Star teams from 2009-11. He led the National League with 42 saves in '09.

For years, it seemed an impossible task that anyone would be able to replace Hoffman at the back of the Padres' bullpen. Bell did so seamlessly. He notched four seasons with a sub-3 ERA and never allowed more than 7.6 hits per nine innings with San Diego.

Other noteworthy names on the 2020 ballot include Derek Jeter, Cliff Lee, Jason Giambi, Josh Beckett and Bobby Abreu. Gary Sheffield, who slugged 509 homers over a 22-year big league career, is back on the ballot for a sixth time. Sheffield spent two All-Star seasons with the Padres in 1992 and '93.

To receive induction into the Hall of Fame, players must be named on 75 percent of ballots from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. To remain on the ballot for another year, players must receive at least 5 percent of votes, with a maximum of 10 years on the ballot.

Voters must submit their ballots by the end of the year, and the 2020 class will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 21, on MLB Network.