Momentum appears to be building for the selection of two of the most controversial players from the steroids era to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Prominent baseball writers are saying it is time that all-time home run leader Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens join the ranks at Cooperstown.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today made the case for Bonds and Clemens.
“It’s absurd that two of the greatest players in the history of the game are not in the Hall of Fame.”
MLB.com revealed to its readers today that 12 of its 13 reporters put Bonds and Clemens on their ballots.
Bonds and Clemens, both in their sixth year of eligibility, have seen growing support in the past few years after receiving low totals in their first years on the ballot due to the suspicion that they took steroids. As Nightengale notes in his column, neither man ever failed a drug test.
With the two superstars receiving more support, it is possible that this year could see one of the largest classes in Hall of Fame history.
Two people on the ballot for the first time, former Atlanta Braves slugger Chipper Jones and Cleveland Indians first baseman Jim Thome, are considered to be locks for induction.
Jones was the top player on a team that was in the playoffs year after year during the ’90s and early 2000s, while Thome collected 612 home runs without a hint of steroid scandal during his career.
Others also appear to have an excellent shot at induction.
In order to be elected to the Hall of Fame, a former player has to be named on 75 percent of the baseball writers’ ballots. In 2017, former San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader until surpassed by the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera (who is on next year’s ballot) was listed on 74 percent of the ballots. This is his third year of eligibility.
Former Montreal Expos outfielder Vladimir Guerrero was named on 71 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility.
All of those players received strong support from the MLB.com writers, as did former Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees starter Mike Mussina.
Others who have received growing support are Edgar Martinez of the Seattle Mariners, who would be the first pure designated hitter to be elected, and former Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker, whose candidacy has been hurt by playing at hitter-friendly Coors Field but whose all-around skills have been written about recently by a growing number of sportswriters.
The 13 MLB reporters named three players, Jones, Thome, and Guerrero on all 13 ballots, with Bonds and Clemens named on 12. Martinez and Mussina were on 10 ballots.
One player with gaudy statistics who has not been building any momentum has been former Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa. While Sosa was engaged in the classic 1998 home run battle with Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire, McGwire never received much support during his 10 years on the ballot, and the same fate has befallen Sosa.
Joining Jones and Thome in their first year on the ballot are some who seem unlikely to reach the Hall of Fame but have claims to fame in baseball history, including the following.
Livan Hernandez, who was best known for post-season heroics while with the Florida Marlins.
Chris Carpenter, the bulldog starter who led the St. Louis Cardinals to World Series victories.
Omar Vizquel, one of the best fielding shortstops in major league history during a two-decade-plus career with several teams, including the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners.
Jamie Moyer, who overcame early inconsistency to pitch in the major leagues until he was 47.
Johnny Damon, the center fielder for Yankees and Red Sox championship teams.
Johan Santana, the first and only pitcher in the history of the New York Mets to throw a no-hitter.
Scott Rolen, a clutch hitter and outstanding fielding third baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies.
Whoever is elected this year will join two former Detroit Tigers standouts, starter Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell, who were both elected on the Modern Era ballot for the class of 2018.
The Hall of Fame class is scheduled to be announced on Wednesday afternoon.