Hall of Fame voting for the 2017 class is about to be revealed, but it is never too early to look at the potential 2018 class and who will join the ballot. The yearly vote to send baseball players to Cooperstown has become a difficult one for some voters in recent years, especially with the debate about PED use and its effect on the history of the game. An updated report by MLB analyst Ryan Thibodaux gives a look at the public ballots this year, predicting which players will be inducted this summer and which ones will have to wait another year.
As it stands, only three players have received enough support (75 percent) to gain entry into Cooperstown. They are Tim Raines (89.5), Jeff Bagwell (88.7), and Ivan Rodriguez (78.6). The numbers for Rodriguez continue to drop, though, possibly putting him at risk of falling under the 75 percent threshold as the final ballots get counted. It is estimated that only 238 of the 435 ballots have been counted so far.
If those numbers do stand, and the 2017 Hall of Fame vote leads to three new players getting inducted, it could leave a packed ballot for next year. Holdover players would then include Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Larry Walker, Billy Wagner, Jeff Kent, and Fred McGriff.
A report breaking down the new players who will be eligible for induction on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot lists quite a few names who could garner votes from members of the BBWAA. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Johan Santana, Johnny Damon, Jamie Moyer, Omar Vizquel, Hideki Matsui, Kerry Wood, Livan Hernandez, and Chris Carpenter lead the list. While some may garner little support, there are certainly a few players who will enter the debate of deserving a spot in Cooperstown.
This is where it could get very tricky for a player like Omar Vizquel, who was better known for his stellar defense than what he did with the bat. Will the Hall of Fame voters recognize how good he was on the defensive side of the ball and reward the long and successful career that he put together? While there are some defensive stars in the Baseball Hall of Fame, some players have also been overlooked because their contemporaries were better on offense.
A previous report by the Inquisitr covered one of those votes when All-Star shortstop Alan Trammel failed to garner enough support, despite being much better on defense than players like Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees. Could “Little O” fall victim to the same voting process that failed to induct Trammel? It’s a worrisome question, but with an overly packed ballot of candidates members of the BBWAA already like, it’s worth asking if Vizquel will even get the five percent necessary to remain on the ballot for another year.
Over his 24-year career, Omar Vizquel spent time with the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays. On offense, he finished with 2,877 hits, 1,445 runs scored, 613 extra-base hits, 404 stolen bases, and a 0.272 batting average. He was also extremely adept at bunting, posting 256 sacrifice hits during his time in the league.
On defense, Vizquel won 11 Gold Glove awards, with a nine-year streak that was broken by Alex Rodriguez in his prime. Vizquel would then win two more in the National League, becoming the oldest shortstop to ever win the honor. For his career, Vizquel set the all-time record for 2,709 games at shortstop, finishing third in career assists and 11th in career putouts at the position.
Vizquel also helped turn a record 1,734 double plays during that time, finishing with the second-best fielding percentage in history. The only player above him on that list is not named Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr., Brendan Ryan, or Derek Jeter. It is Troy Tulowitzki, who ranks ahead of Vizquel by.0006 heading into the 2017 MLB season. It’s entirely possible that Vizquel could take back that top spot if Tulowitzki has a tough time starting the year.
Both the statistics and eye test state that Omar Vizquel was one of the best defensive shortstops to ever play the game. If there were a wing in Cooperstown dedicated just to defense, he would be enshrined there on the first ballot. But does he have enough popularity among the BBWAA to get throw the hallowed gates? Can he even garner five percent of the total vote when he first appears on the packed ballot? He certainly deserves to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, but now it is the job of the writers to reward him during the 2018 Hall of Fame vote.
[Featured Image by Ken Levine/Getty Images]