The Baseball Writers' Association of America just rattled off one of its most prolific five-year Hall of Fame voting periods ever, and it's all but certain to vote at least one more player in next year, when a certain Yankees hero lands on the ballot for the first time.
• Mo (unanimous), Edgar, Doc, Moose elected to HOF
Now that we know who will comprise the Class of 2019 at this July's Induction ceremony in Cooperstown, here's a look ahead to the major storylines that should surround the BBWAA's Class of 2020 ballot.
The Captain's coronation
Hall of Fame employees and Cooperstown residents alike have been preparing for 2020 for years now, all because of one slam-dunk electee: Derek Jeter. One of the most popular players in baseball history, Jeter has a chance to achieve something his longtime teammate, Mariano Rivera, just became the first player to do: get selected unanimously by BBWAA voters. Even if Jeter doesn't reach 100 percent, his Induction ceremony could break the current attendance record of roughly 82,000 who watched Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. receive their plaques in 2007. It could even be the first six-digit Cooperstown crowd in history -- if this year's event doesn't reach that mark first.
Will this be their year?
Larry Walker's recent surge toward 75 percent -- he just jumped from 34.1 to 54.6 percent in his ninth year of eligibility -- mirrors Martinez in many ways, and the Rockies star is hoping for similar final-year magic. Few believed Walker would have a chance at a BBWAA election last year at this time, but voters appear to be overcoming a Coors Field bias and recognizing Walker's strong numbers away from Denver. If elected, Walker would be the first player to don a Rockies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
This year's voting cycle saw three divisive candidates in Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling make moderate gains in their push for election, but the clock is ticking. Each player's contributions to baseball history itself is unquestioned, but a large swath of BBWAA members will never cast a vote for this trio based on either allegations of performance-enhancing drugs in the case of Bonds and Clemens, or the post-career controversy that has accompanied Schilling. All three players have just three years of BBWAA eligibility remaining, and their recent ballot stagnation could bring their cases to a dramatic conclusion in 2022.
• 2019 Hall of Fame voting results
The clock is also ticking for a host of down-ballot candidates who need to start gaining momentum, including Sammy Sosa (entering his eighth year of eligibility), Jeff Kent (seventh), Gary Sheffield (sixth), Billy Wagner (fifth), Manny Ramirez (fourth), Scott Rolen (third), Omar Vizquel (third) and Todd Helton (second). Fred McGriff fell off the ballot after failing to reach 75 percent on his 10th and final year of eligibility, but a strong final-year bump should help him get strong consideration from the Veterans Committee down the line.
The other first-timers
Besides Jeter, no other player joining next year's ballot is a lock for induction, and all might struggle to even get the 5 percent support needed to move forward. With that said, at least a few first-timers have a case and figure to garner some degree of support.
Bobby Abreu wasn't widely regarded as a Hall of Famer during his 18-year career, which included just two All-Star selections and no top-10 finishes in voting for the Most Valuable Player Award. Yet the longtime Phillie posted the kind of stellar overall numbers that could catch the attention of more analytically inclined modern voters. Abreu finished his career with a .291/.395/.475 line (128 OPS+), nearly 2,500 hits and exactly 400 stolen bases and 60 WAR.
Jason Giambi has some flashy accomplishments on his resume, including 440 home runs and the 2000 American League MVP Award for Oakland. But the slugger's ties to performance-enhancing drugs will cloud the picture as they have for many others in recent years.
Johan Santana fell off the ballot on his first try a year ago, and another talented lefty with an excellent peak but short career will try to avoid the same fate. Cliff Lee's case basically boils down to a six-year span from 2008-13 in which he posted a 2.89 ERA (140 ERA+) and 6.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and won a Cy Young Award.
Paul Konerko spent almost his whole career with the White Sox -- helping them win the 2005 World Series --- and posted some solid counting stats, including 439 homers. But there's a high bar for first basemen, and Konerko's lack of positional, defensive and baserunning value held him under 30 career WAR.
While the 2020 ballot won't officially be set for some time, several other big names are expected to be included, even if it's difficult to imagine them attracting enough support to avoid going one and done. That list includes Josh Beckett, Eric Chavez, Adam Dunn, Rafael Furcal, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Pena, Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano.