It's hard to believe that the annual Hall of Fame elections are here again. That means it's time for my annual predictions. (...And for the record, some of them have actually come true in years past!)
There are thirty-four players on the primary ballot, nineteen of which are first-year candidates. Several of these hopefuls won't get enough support for consideration in 2018. These include: Matt Stairs, Freddy Sanchez, Carlos Guillen, Melvin Mora, Jason Varitek, Pat Burrell, J.D Drew, Mike Cameron and Derek Lee.
There are at least four first-year candidates who should get enough votes to return to the ballot in 2018. One or two of these players may actually be enshrined in the coming year. Players I believe will return to next year's ballot are Manny Ramirez and Jorge Posada. Posada's five World Series rings will definitely hold some sway over voters and Ramirez put up an impressive batch of statistics in spite of all those "Manny Moments." But Posada's numbers are not of the first-year enshrinement variety. And Manny's adventures with steroids will undoubtedly keep him out of the Hall--for the time being at least.
The two first-year players I believe have a very good shot at induction are Ivan Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero. Rodriguez has more hits and Gold Gloves than any catcher in history. He also has an AL MVP Award to his credit. Guerrero was one the best hitters in the majors over a thirteen-year span, averaging 33 homers and 107 RBIs per season from 1998 through 2010. Though he led the league in errors as a right fielder nine times, he currently ranks among the top thirty of all time in assists and double plays.
Front runners from last year's primary ballot include Tim Raines, Trevor Hoffman and Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell led the class of non-inductees with 71.6 percent of the vote. Raines, now in his tenth year of eligibility, garnered 69.8 percent. Hoffman, who is second on the all time saves list, netted an impressive 67.3 percent in his first appearance on the ballot.
In July 2016, the Hall of Fame announced changes to the Era Committee system. Time frames were restructured to decrease the frequency of pre-1970s consideration. As a result, the "Today's Game Era Committee" will make its debut in 2017. The ballot includes players, managers and executives from 1988 into the twenty-first century. The players being considered are Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser and Mark McGwire. Lou Piniella, Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner are among the managers and executives on the list.
SO WHO WILL GET IN?
It's a tough call, but I believe that Ivan Rodriguez will make it. I also feel that George Steinbrenner has a legitimate shot. Like him or hate him, "The Boss" did more for the Yankees than any owner in history. His 11 pennants and 7 World Series titles definitely support that claim. In regard to last year's leading candidates, I'll go out on a limb and predict that Jeff Bagwell--arguably the greatest player in Astros history--will get the additional votes he needs this time around.