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How did our writers fill out Hall of Fame ballots?

January 21, 2020

The six MLB.com writers below were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2020 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The Hall of Fame will announce the results today, with live coverage on MLB Network beginning at 3 p.m. ET and the announcement

The six MLB.com writers below were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2020 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

The Hall of Fame will announce the results today, with live coverage on MLB Network beginning at 3 p.m. ET and the announcement expected in the 6 p.m. hour. Here's a look at how the six voted, along with an explanation of their ballots, as well as voting totals among this group included at the bottom.

Mark Feinsand

1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Derek Jeter
4. Jeff Kent
5. Manny Ramirez
6. Scott Rolen
7. Curt Schilling
8. Gary Sheffield
9. Omar Vizquel
10. Larry Walker

Four of the players I voted for a year ago -- Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay and Edgar Martinez -- were inducted into the Hall, so I began this year’s ballot with my six holdovers (Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, Schilling, Sheffield and Vizquel).

That meant I had as many as four spots to fill. The first one was easy: Jeter. I had the opportunity to watch the legendary shortstop as a Yankees beat reporter nearly every day for 14 years, and if he’s not a first-ballot Hall of Famer, I don’t know who is.

There was no other first-ballot candidate who I felt was vote-worthy, though in full disclosure, I nearly gave Jason Giambi a vote. Giambi was one of the most personable players I have ever been around, not to mention one of the fiercest sluggers in the league during his prime. Based on my voting history, I wasn’t holding any PED issues against Giambi. But despite his .399 career on-base percentage and .916 OPS, I couldn’t pull the trigger.

Giambi had a 50.5 career WAR, including a 42.2 WAR in his seven best seasons (only 0.2 behind Jeter’s best seven), but that was the problem. Giambi played 20 years in the Majors, and outside of his peak from 1999-2006, his numbers just weren’t good enough. Great career, but just short of Hall-worthy.

I’ve nearly voted for Walker in each of my first three years, but he’s fallen victim to an overcrowded ballot each time. This year -- Walker’s final year on the ballot -- I decided to check the box next to his name. Yes, Walker benefited from playing nine-plus years for the Rockies, but his career road numbers were pretty darn impressive, too.

My final two spots went to players who, just like Walker, had always been Hall-worthy in my opinion, just not in the Top 10 each year. Rolen and Kent were two of the best ever to play their respective positions, and hopefully as the ballot thins out a little, each will get the recognition I believe he deserves. -- M.F.

Jeffrey Flanagan

1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Derek Jeter
4. Andruw Jones
5. Manny Ramirez
6. Scott Rolen
7. Curt Schilling
8. Gary Sheffield
9. Omar Vizquel
10. Larry Walker

I sincerely hope Walker makes it -- truly one of the greatest all-around players in baseball history.

My biggest complaint about this system, though, is the limitation of voting for 10 players on the ballot. I will continue to bang the drum that we need a binary system for HOF voting -- a simple yes or no on each eligible candidate. I have never understood why we need to limit the number of players we vote on. In many years there have been more than 10 players deserving, and in those years, those deserving players are often not voted for simply because of a flawed process. -- J.F.

Chris Haft

1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Todd Helton
4. Derek Jeter
5. Jeff Kent
6. Curt Schilling
7. Omar Vizquel
8. Billy Wagner
9. Larry Walker

I initially refused to vote for Bonds or Clemens, but they are guilty for their alleged wrongdoings only in the court of public opinion. That’s not damning enough not to vote for a guy.

Certainly, Coors Field helped Helton, but he didn’t perform that poorly on the road (.855 OPS), and he carried an excellent glove with him wherever he went.

Jeter’s a no-brainer. I’ve always voted for Kent and Vizquel. They compared more than favorably with others at their respective positions. I’ve vacillated on Schilling; this year, I decided to choose a side. His productivity was definitely good enough. I thought harder about Wagner’s career and recalled his dominance. I thought harder about Walker’s career and recalled that he gave his teams a chance to win in a variety of ways, as not just an elite hitter, but also a great defender and brilliant baserunner. -- C.H.

Richard Justice

1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Todd Helton
4. Derek Jeter
5. Scott Rolen
6. Curt Schilling
7. Gary Sheffield
8. Billy Wagner
9. Larry Walker

This is the first time in recent memory I didn’t vote for the maximum of 10 as I wrestled with Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel, Bobby Abreu and Manny Ramirez, ultimately deciding not to vote for any of them.

For me, the ballot broke down to five easy calls: Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Schilling and Walker. Wagner was also easy. If closers are part of the game, then the best of the best belong in, and Wagner fits that description.

Rolen, Sheffield and Helton were tougher calls, but all of them in the end belong in the Hall. Rolen was both an elite defensive player, as well as an elite offensive player at his position. Sheffield was a tremendous offensive player, and that overcomes his defensive problems. In Helton, the Coors Field factor will cost him votes. But as Hall of Fame expert Jay Jaffe has written, Helton’s “369 homers and 2,519 hits are both above the median among Hall first basemen.” -- R.J.

Jon Paul Morosi

1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Derek Jeter
4. Andruw Jones
5. Jeff Kent
6. Scott Rolen
7. Curt Schilling
8. Gary Sheffield
9. Omar Vizquel
10. Larry Walker

I’ve been waiting to cast this ballot for years -- and not only because of Jeter’s place on it. I believe larger induction classes are better -- and vote accordingly. So I’m thrilled that deserving players now have a place within my 10-player maximum; Kent, Sheffield, Vizquel and Jones made my cut for the first time.

My toughest decision was Jones against Todd Helton. In the end, Jones was an all-time great at his position, offensively and defensively, for several seasons. I do not believe Helton’s career resonated in the same way.

Now, a general comment: I weigh the ethical questions of the so-called "Steroid Era" every year. My essential position has not changed. Unless a player has been suspended by MLB for PED use, I give him full consideration. -- J.M.

T.R. Sullivan

1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Derek Jeter
4. Andruw Jones
5. Scott Rolen
6. Omar Vizquel
7. Billy Wagner
8. Larry Walker

No doubt Mariano Rivera is one of the greatest of all-time, but Wagner was close in performance. He just never had the chance to pitch in a World Series.

No doubt Jeter deserves enshrinement, but Vizquel deserves to be there, too, as the best defensive player of his time at a premium defensive position. Jeter is a lock, but Vizquel and Wagner rate highly in my book and are deserving of going into the Hall of Fame out of this class. -- T.S.

Vote totals of the MLB.com writers

With 75% of the vote needed for entry to the Hall, Bonds, Clemens, Jeter, Walker, Rolen, Schilling and Vizquel received enough support -- the first four appearing on all six ballots, and the other three appearing on five of six (83%) -- from MLB.com writers. Names in bold exceeded the 75% threshold among our voters.

Barry Bonds -- 6 votes
Roger Clemens -- 6 votes
Derek Jeter -- 6 votes
Larry Walker -- 6 votes
Scott Rolen -- 5 votes
Curt Schilling -- 5 votes
Omar Vizquel -- 5 votes

Gary Sheffield -- 4 votes
Andruw Jones -- 3 votes
Jeff Kent -- 3 votes
Billy Wagner -- 3 votes
Todd Helton -- 2 votes
Manny Ramirez -- 2 votes