Thursday, December 22, 2016

Early 2018 Hall of Fame Thoughts

If you missed it yesterday, I posted my 2017 Hall of Fame ballot at Outfield Fly Rule. The guys at OFR are doing a wonderful job with their Hall of Fame coverage for this year, but what happens next year? Well, let's do some crystal balling.

First off, using Ryan Thibodaux's invaluable Hall of Fame tracker, I can make an educated guess as to who will be named to the Hall of Fame class of 2017. Jeff Bagwell seems like a lock and I believe Ivan Rodriguez gets in as well. Tim Raines would drop off the ballot regardless, but I think he'll receive the needed 3/4's percentage in his final year to avoid the travesty of snubbing Raines one last time.

Before we get too far into this, we are still early in the process. Over the last three years, Thibodaux's tracker of HOF ballots has included between 302 and 331 ballots and as much as 70.5% of the total ballots have been made public. So far, we have just 84 ballots. A lot can change to affect the three players I've mentioned and others that are on the borderline. My gut doubts that each of the players who have received at least 70% of the publicly known ballots will join the Hall of Fame class of 2017. I just want this to be clear, though - this is a theoretical exercise based in part on Thibodaux's tracker, recent history, and gut feelings.

With all that said, if I were to guess who will make up the '17 class, I would stick with the three I've already mentioned and add Trevor Hoffman. The former Padres closer was one of four returning players from last year's ballot who saw their percentage of total votes climb when the non-publicly known ballots were added to the total. To be fair, it was only a difference of about a percentage point, but since it was a rarity on last year's ballot, it stood out. Hoffman is sitting on the threshold right now. If someone is added to this class, it'll be him.

That leaves the steroid-tainted duo of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Their support has climbed into the 70% range early on and while I do believe it will drop, I think they will both be inducted very soon - likely in the same year and that could be 2018. Also in the steroid discussion is Manny Ramirez, who is not looking very strong so far with just 33% of the vote. He's a few years out from really having a case.

Edgar Martinez seems like he'll miss out in 2017, but is trending in the right direction. Of returning voters to this point, he has gained 13 votes and lost just one. He has just two more years of eligibility and might be a last-year guy much like Raines, who is the only player to have a higher net gain in returning voters than the former Mariners' star. In contrast to Martinez, Curt Schilling has lost 14 votes and gained just four. His politics and his personality are hurting him more than his numbers. My gut says he'll get voted in, but it may have to wait until his final year of eligibility.

A couple of other candidates that are trending up are Mike Mussina (+6) and Larry Walker (+7). While Walker is seeing a similar increase in gained votes, he trails Mussina by nearly 40% and received nearly 30% fewer total votes last year. Mussina's trend makes him a likely Hall of Famer over the next couple of seasons. Walker is going to need a major movement to join him.

One last candidate to go over before we look at the ballot newbies for 2018. Vladimir Guerrero has just three less votes than Hoffman to this point and one more vote than Clemens and Bonds. I don't think the voters will make him a first-ballot guy, but he seems like a good bet to make it in 2018.

Next year's rookie class includes four players with a 100 or better Hall of Fame Monitor, which gives them a likely chance to be selected for the Hall of Fame. Two of those players pass 50 in the Hall of Fame standards scale, which means they rank as an average Hall of Famer or better. First, the two that didn't grade well on both and both share one thing in common - elite defense. Omar Vizquel and Andruw Jones both have fascinating arguments to join the Hall of Fame and my personal belief is that both are deserving. I think Andruw is an easy selection because once you remove the "he didn't live up to the hype" part of the argument, you can find a Hall of Fame resume. In regards to Vizquel, I make the argument that if you elect a player like Ozzie Smith, why not Vizquel?

The two players who passed both the HOFm and HOFs criteria are Jim Thome and Chipper Jones. My belief is that Thome will be passed on for stupid reasons (position, park, he DH'd some) while Chipper is a first ballot guy. John Smoltz was more of a borderline case and he received nearly 83% of the vote in 2015. People need to quit believing the media is against Atlanta. As we have seen over the last few years, they award the stars of the 90's era quickly and rather overwhelming despite deserving criticisms. While I doubt Andruw makes it in with Chipper in 2018, Andruw is a sure bet to get in eventually. More and more baseball writers are valuing defensive metrics, which will only boost Andruw's case.

So, to recap - my guess is that Bagwell, Rodriguez, and Hoffman will join Raines in this year's class. With that in mind, my early prediction for the 2018 class will be Chipper, Guerrero, Bonds, and Clemens.

Moving forward, I believe Mariano Rivera will be a first ballot guy in 2019 with Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Halladay becoming prime candidates in the years that follow provided none of the trio make it in 2019 (and I doubt they do).

2020's class only has one Hall of Famer in Derek Jeter and he's a first ballot guy. There are no Hall of Famers among the 2021 lot. This is good news for candidates currently on the ballot and those joining in 2018 and 2019 as it will help clear up some of the backlog.

Did I miss the mark on anyone? Let me know.

2 comments:

  1. Pretty clear to me that Andruw Jones never gets in, the cumulative counting numbers just don't warrant it. I think your standards are too low; Helton and Pettitte were good, but not great, they will need tickets to get into Cooperstown.

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    1. Andruw Jones was a defensive marvel and if we aren't counting that, then Ozzie Smith and others shouldn't be in the Hall. I don't think he'll get in immediately, but I believe as more and more writers adopt advanced metrics, traditional counting stats will not be taken into consideration as much as they are now.

      Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte may not be Hall of Famers...I'd need to look at it more. They definitely have careers worth debate, though, to see if they climb from the Fred McGriff area of really good, but not good enough. That's what I meant by referring to them as "prime candidates."

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