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Vizquel gains in Hall vote, primed for better 2021

@gregjohnsmlb
January 21, 2020

SEATTLE – After seeing Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the past four years, there will be no Cooperstown connection regarding the Mariners in 2020. But fans of former Seattle shortstop Omar Vizquel certainly were given reason for future hope. Derek

SEATTLE – After seeing Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the past four years, there will be no Cooperstown connection regarding the Mariners in 2020. But fans of former Seattle shortstop Omar Vizquel certainly were given reason for future hope.

Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were the only newcomers elected into the Hall of Fame Tuesday by being named on more than the requisite 75 percent of the 397 ballots by Baseball Writers' Association of America voters. But Vizquel saw his support significantly bumped up to 52.6 percent in his third year of eligibility.

Considering that Walker earned just 21.6 percent in his third year on the ballot back in 2013 and Martinez was at 36.5 percent in his third year of eligibility in 2012 before eventually being elected last year, Vizquel certainly seems poised to eventually join former teammates Griffey and Martinez in baseball’s elite club.

Vizquel was named on 37 percent of the ballots in 2018 and 42.8 percent in ’19, with another 10 percent leap in the latest results.

Vizquel will be the fourth-highest returning vote getter on next year’s ballot behind Curt Schilling (70 percent), Roger Clemens (61 percent) and Barry Bonds (60.7). But Schilling, Clemens and Bonds all have issues with some voters and there aren’t any overwhelming choices among next year’s new eligible players, so Vizquel appears primed for a significant push.

If Vizquel does eventually go into the Hall, he’ll no doubt be wearing an Indians cap on his plaque, given he spent 11 seasons with Cleveland and earned eight of his Gold Gloves and all three of his All-Star berths with that franchise.

But Vizquel began his career with the Mariners, debuting in the same lineup with Griffey in 1989 and spending his first five MLB seasons in Seattle after signing with the club as a teenager out of Venezuela in '84.

The sure-handed shortstop won his first Gold Glove with the Mariners in ’93 before being traded to Cleveland the following season for Felix Fermin, Reggie Jefferson and cash.

Vizquel took home 11 Gold Glove Awards in his career, second most for a shortstop behind only Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith’s 13. And while defense clearly was Vizquel’s calling card, he racked up 2,877 hits – 43rd on MLB’s all-time list – over his 24-year career while posting a .272/.336/.352 slash line.

Three other former Mariners received votes in the 2020 election, but fell short of the 5 percent tally needed to stay on the ballot next year. Pitcher Cliff Lee was named on two ballots, while outfielder Raul Ibanez and closer J.J. Putz earned one vote each. All three were in their first year of eligibility.

Second baseman Chone Figgins, the only other ex-Mariner on the 32-man ballot, was one of seven players who didn’t receive any votes.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.