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HOF class could set record for living inductees

MLB.com @Marathoner

When Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson reveals the Baseball Writers' Association of America 2018 election results Wednesday on MLB Network and MLB.com, it is expected to set a record for most living inductees over any five-year span.

The record for most living Hall of Famers elected in any five-year period is 20, from 1969-73. Jack Morris and Alan Trammell are already bound for induction on July 29 thanks to the Modern Baseball Era ballot results last month, making it 19 living electees so far from 2014-18.

When Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson reveals the Baseball Writers' Association of America 2018 election results Wednesday on MLB Network and MLB.com, it is expected to set a record for most living inductees over any five-year span.

The record for most living Hall of Famers elected in any five-year period is 20, from 1969-73. Jack Morris and Alan Trammell are already bound for induction on July 29 thanks to the Modern Baseball Era ballot results last month, making it 19 living electees so far from 2014-18.

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Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero are all projected to join them based on the BBWAA vote, at least based on Ryan Thibodaux's ballot tracker, which lists each of the three well above 90 percent with nearly half of all ballots known. That would make it 22 living inductees.

A candidate must appear on at least 75 percent of the ballots for election.

"Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is when fans can come out to salute their heroes with the ultimate honor of being elected," Idelson said on Friday. "Earning election is difficult even in this era of many living electees. Only one percent of those to wear a Major League uniform end up with a plaque in Cooperstown.

"Cooperstown is about the history of the game, but those who create the history help bring the museum to life. Having a number of living electees, all of whom are deserving, certainly helps to embrace a wider fan base."

Video: Hoffman's case for Hall of Fame election in 2018

The only real question is how notably the record is shattered. Edgar Martinez and Trevor Hoffman continued to exceed the 75 percent mark in the latest tracking, so even 23 or 24 is feasible.

This could be the fourth time in the last five years that as many as three former players are voted in by baseball writers. Before 2014, you had to go back to 1999 to find the last time a trio was elected by writers: Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount.

The 17 living electees from 2014-17 already marked the most in any four-year period since 1972-75, two shy of the record set from 1969-72.

Here's another way to look at the stark contrast between these past five years and the five years before them: From 2009-13, there were 14 Hall inductees. Only six of those were elected by the BBWAA, half as many as from 2014-17. And of those 14 inductees, only three elected by the Veterans Committee were living at the time: executive Pat Gillick, manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey (who passed away on Jan. 13).

Video: Thome's case for Hall of Fame election in 2018

It is important to note that this five-year record would be for "living" electees, because in 2006, the Hall inducted 17 former Negro Leaguers, plus Bruce Sutter.

Here is a look at the five-year plaque rush:

2018: Morris and Trammell, with at least a few more likely

2017: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez (BBWAA); John Schuerholz and Bud Selig

2016: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza (BBWAA)

2015: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio

2014: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas (BBWAA); Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre

Three of those 2014 inductees represented the powerhouse Braves era, and that representation is still going strong. If three names (including Jones) are announced Wednesday and we have a record of 22 living Hall of Fame electees in this five-year span, then Braves fans can claim six key reasons, or a stunning 27 percent. Never mind that Maddux chose to go without a team logo on his plaque because of his success with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Padres.

"When you look back at the 1990s and early 2000s, the Braves were winning their division virtually every year," Idelson said. "Although it resulted in only one championship, their prolonged excellence over a decade plus, it's emblematic that the guys who have earned elections have represented great teams, from their general manager to their manager to their 1-2-3 pitchers to potentially Chipper Jones as the second No. 1 Draft pick ever."

Even if the living-electee wave slows down in the next few years, it would likely have little effect on Hall tourism. Mariano Rivera will be eligible in 2019 and Derek Jeter a year later. Yankees fans will migrate upstate en masse for those probable first-ballot inductees.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him on Twitter @Marathoner.