Last month, the results of the BBWAA vote for the 2021 Hall of Fame class was announced, and *crickets*. Fortunately for the merchants of Cooperstown, they will still have a bonanza for induction week—pandemic permitting—as the large 2020 class will be there after having the 2020 induction week corona-cancelled. Among the honorees, of course, will be Derek Jeter, so the tourist draw will be huge.
So, with that set, what can we and the good folks of Cooperstown look forward to from 2022-2025?
2022: The loaded ballot returns. First timers will include David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Marke Texeira, Jimmy Rollins, and Justin Morneau. Appearing for the tenth and final time will be Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa. I expect a class of one: David Ortiz will get in on the first ballot. There will be some who rail against him because his name was illegally leaked as one of the 103 players who tested positive for something in the supposed-to-be-anonymous survey testing in 2003. MLB officials have stated he wouldn’t actually be considered positive under formal testing, and he never did test positive under formal testing in twelve years of play once formal testing began in 2004. Other voters will vote for Ortiz who would never vote for Bonds or Clemens, and some of the reasoning will be tortured and hypocritical. Regardless, “Big Papi” is popular enough that he will be a Hall of Famer next year. Alex Rodriguez will not; he will get the Bonds/Clemens treatment, probably debut in the 40-50% range, and slowly climb, but not fast enough to get elected ever unless directions from the HoF change.
Meanwhile, Bonds and Clemens will get a little boost in their last year on the ballot, but probably not past 65%. Then they and Sosa become the HoF’s problem via the Today’s Game committee whenever it meets. That itself will be interesting as it will send a message to the BBWAA electorate no matter what it does. If it puts them on the ballot, along with Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, and doesn’t elect them, that’s basically status quo. It continues to consider them without allowing them to be enshrined as their stats indicate they should. It also crowds other worthy players off the ballot, which could influence some voters to vote for more borderline candidates rather than leave it to the Today’s Game committee. If any of them not only make the ballot, but get inducted, then that tells the BBWAA to go ahead and vote for A-Rod, Manny Ramirez and whoever else they want to regardless of PED history. Leaving them off the ballot would send the opposite message. The HoF would be best served by (if they must have a character clause as a tool to keep undesirables out) determining for themselves which players are of too-low character for induction and leave them off the ballot sent to BBWAA voters rather than forcing writers to be the arbiters of morality.
I will be interested to see if the HoF grants Schilling’s wish to not be on the 2022 ballot. The BBWAA does not want that, apparently wanting the opportunity to not vote for him as an act of commission rather than HoF omission. He got 71% this year, but his Twitter posts following the January 6 Capital Hill riot will very likely result in a significantly lower total next year.
I expect at least some upward mobility to be shown by returnees Scott Rolen, Omar Vizquel, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, and Billy Wagner.
2023: This is not a strong first year class, headed by Carlos Beltran and John Lackey. It will be Jeff Kent’s 10th year. Kent is a near lock to ultimately be selected via the Today’s Game committee at some point after he does not get inducted via BBWAA voting. I think Beltran eventually does get in, but not on the first ballot. My guess for the class of 2023: Scott Rolen and Omar Vizquel.
2024: The ballot is getting big again, with debuts including Adrian Beltre, Jeff Mauer, Chase Utley, David Wright, Bartolo Colon, Matt Holliday, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jose Bautista. Gary Sheffield will be on his tenth and last ballot, and won’t get elected. He will then enter the HoF’s Today’s Game committee “WTH do we do with the PED guys.” purgatory. Beltre will fly into the Hall with well over 90% of the vote. I’m going to guess the BBWAA forgives Carlos Beltran for banging on trash cans and makes him Beltre’s classmate.
2025: The new guys on the ballot will include Ichiro Suzuki, CC Sabathia, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, and Curtis Granderson. It will be Billy Wagner’s 10th/final time on the ballot. The only question for Ichiro is if he joins Mariano Rivera as a unanimous selectee. I’m going to guess Wagner does get in on his final chance from the BBWAA. I’ll also predict Mauer gets in on his second try to make it a class of three.
I think Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley ultimately will get elected by the BBWAA too, but not by 2025.
On other thing about the 2025 ballot—currently there are some surprising names who could be considered that year but ultimately won’t….yet. That’s because every 10+ years veteran player who did not play last season due to injury or to opting out will be eligible if the never play again. That includes Chris Sale, David Price, Buster Posey, Felix Hernandez, and others.