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Vizquel among Mariners on 2020 HOF ballot

@gregjohnsmlb
November 18, 2019

SEATTLE -- After celebrating the induction of two Mariners -- Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez -- into the National Baseball Hall of Fame over the past four years, Seattle fans don’t have quite as big a rooting interest in this year’s voting process. But there still are several players

SEATTLE -- After celebrating the induction of two Mariners -- Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez -- into the National Baseball Hall of Fame over the past four years, Seattle fans don’t have quite as big a rooting interest in this year’s voting process.

But there still are several players with Mariners’ connections who’ll garner support on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot that was released on Monday, topped by shortstop Omar Vizquel and lefty Cliff Lee.

Other former Mariners among the 32 players on this year’s ballot are outfielder Raul Ibanez, infielder Chone Figgins and reliever J.J. Putz.

Here's the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot

Eligible voters from the Baseball Writers' Association of America will submit their ballots by year’s end, and the 2020 class will be announced at 3 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Jan. 21, on MLB Network. Voters can select up to 10 players on their ballots.

First-time nominee Derek Jeter of the Yankees is the shortstop who headlines this year's process and he figures to be a near-unanimous selection, but it’ll be interesting to see if Vizquel continues building his vote total in his third year of eligibility.

Vizquel spent the first five seasons of his 24-year MLB career with the Mariners from 1989-93. The 52-year-old was named on 37 percent of the Hall of Fame ballots in 2017 and hiked that to 42.8 percent last year. Players need to draw 75 percent support to get the call to Cooperstown and remain on the ballot for 10 years, unless they fall below five percent.

Vizquel is ahead of where Martinez was during his initial years on the ballot, as the Mariners’ standout designated hitter polled at 36.2 percent and 32.9 percent his first two years before eventually climbing to the 85.4 percent that got him inducted last year.

Vizquel was regarded as one of the elite defensive shortstops in his era and won 11 Gold Gloves, including his first with Seattle in ‘93. He then played 11 seasons in Cleveland before joining the Giants, Rangers, White Sox and Blue Jays.

The slick fielder from Venezuela also racked up 2,877 hits over his lengthy career, while posting a .272/.336/.352 slash line. He was a three-time All-Star and set a record for most games played at shortstop (2,709).

Lee is the other former Mariner who figures to draw some votes, though his time in Seattle was brief. The 13-year MLB veteran started 13 games for the Mariners in 2010, going 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA before being traded to the Rangers in mid-July.

Lee posted a 143-91 record with a 3.52 ERA in 328 games (324 starts) with the Indians, Phillies, Rangers and Mariners. He was a four-time All-Star and won the 2008 American League Cy Young Award while with the Indians.

One other former player with Mariners’ connections who has a shot at induction this year is catcher Ted Simmons, who is one of 10 on the separate Modern Baseball Era ballot that will be voted on by a 16-person committee Dec. 8 at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Simmons, 70, was an eight-time All-Star with the Cardinals and Brewers during his 21-year career and later worked as a senior advisor to former Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik from 2011-14.

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