The results of the 2022 BBWAA Hall of Fame vote will be revealed in one week (Tuesday, Jan. 25). We already know the class is set to include six inductees from era committee ballots (Buck O'Neil, Bud Fowler, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Minnie Miñoso and Gil Hodges). Will anyone be added to that class?
The short answer is maybe not. Players on the BBWAA ballot must get 75 percent of the vote and that's always a tall order. Residue from the so-called "steroid era" and some other factors are making things even tougher.
Leaning on Ryan Thibodaux's excellent work with his team's Hall of Fame ballot tracker (where roughly 44 percent of the vote was known as of Tuesday afternoon), let's take a look at some of the candidates with the best chance of getting in this year.
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It's his first time on the ballot, so it's very difficult to pin down. As of Tuesday afternoon, Ortiz has appeared on 83.6 percent of the known ballots. The only thing we have to lean on here is the divide between "old school" and "new school" voters.
The following paragraph is total generalization, but it's all we have.
Old school voters are more likely to keep their ballots private and tend to vote for fewer candidates. They also tend to be hard liners with any whiff of PED involvement (Ortiz reportedly had a failed drug test in 2003, though it's pretty murky). This voting bloc is also much more likely to penalize Ortiz for being a DH for the overwhelming majority of his career.
As such, Ortiz's public ballot percentage is likely to tumble once we account for the private ballots. Gary Sheffield, for example, saw an 8.7 percent drop from his public vote percentage to actual, final percentage once the results were revealed last year. If Ortiz loses 8.7 percent from 83.6 percent, guess what that comes to? 74.9 percent. Yikes.
Barry Bonds/Roger Clemens
Let's face it, they are tied together. And it's just a formality at this point.
Bonds got 61.8 percent of the vote last year after being named on 73.7 percent of the public ballots. Right now, he's tracking at 77.2 percent and has gained just two votes from returning voters. Given what we know about private vs. public ballots, this just isn't going to cut it.
Clemens got 61.6 percent of the vote last year after being named on 73.2 percent of the public ballots. Right now, he's tracking at 76 percent and has also only gained a net of two votes.
Schilling hit a high water mark of 71.1 percent of the vote last voting cycle and likely would have been a shoo-in for this one, but then he virtually set himself on fire (again).
He's tracking at 59.6 percent and has lost a net of 21 votes from those who voted for him last year. I guess he's getting his (incredibly weird) wish.
Rolen took a huge leap forward for the third straight voting cycle last year, up to 52.9 percent. He's not going to make it this time, but he's getting there. He's tracking at 69 percent on public ballots and has gained a net of 12 votes from returning voters. He lost 7.6 percent last year from the tracker once every vote was counted. If something similar happens again, he'll still have gained close to 10 percent and will be within striking range for next year, especially with Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Sammy Sosa and maybe Ortiz coming off the ballot when Carlos Beltran is the only strong first-time candidate in 2023.
Others making gains
No one else is going to get close to 75 percent and we might not see anyone else break 50 percent, but here are some notables.
Todd Helton: He got 44.9 percent of the vote last year after being named on 47.3 percent of the public ballots. He's tracking at 56.7 percent right now and has gained a net of 11 votes.
Andruw Jones: He received 33.9 percent of the vote last year after being named on 39 percent of the publicly revealed ballots. He's at 48.5 percent right now.
Billy Wagner: After getting 46.4 percent of the vote last year, Wagner has gained a net of nine votes and is polling at 48 percent.
The polarizing Alex Rodriguez is polling at 40.9 percent in his first go-round on the ballot.
Vizquel got 49.1 percent of the vote last year, but, likely in light of recent allegations, has lost 49 votes and is tracking at 11.1 percent.
I'm gonna keep the faith on Ortiz. He'll just barely get 75 percent of the vote and make it in. It's a one-man BBWAA class, giving Cooperstown seven players to celebrate this July.