Some baseball greats may be selected for immortality as the 2017 inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will be announced at 5pm CT today in a live show on MLB Network with coverage starting at 2pm. Players must be on 75% of ballots to be selected for induction.
Ivan Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero headline the first-timers on the ballot, joining an already crowded field that includes Tim Raines, who is on his last ballot, Jeff Bagwell, who narrowly missed induction last year, and players with PED suspicions like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
There has also been controversy over Curt Schilling, who put up terrific numbers including some historic post-season performances, but has soured writers with his political views. Voters and other writers have also debated the qualifications of closers like Lee Smith and Trevor Hoffman, and designated hitter Edgar Martinez. Others on the ballot who may get decent support include Mike Mussina, Larry Walker, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Billy Wagner, and Jorge Posada. Former Royals outfielder Matt Stairs is also on the ballot, although he is not likely to get any votes.
Ryan Thibodaux has done a great job tracking ballots made public, and his data shows that Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell are very likely going to be inducted, with Rodriguez, Guerrero, and Hoffman all on the bubble. Royals Review readers voted for Rodriguez and Bagwell to be inducted in our mock ballot.
Some of the voting has not been without controversy. Former New York Times writer Murray Chass drew ire for submitting a blank ballot as protest, which still counts as a vote. Cleveland Plain-Dealer writer Bill Livingston wanted to abstain from voting, but submitted a blank ballot as well, explaining he did not want the vote to count. ESPN’s Pedro Gomez has drawn criticism for his ballot, lashing out at critics on Twitter. The BBWAA, which votes on the Hall of Fame has also voted to make ballots public next year for the first time, a move that ESPN’s Jayson Stark writes will improve the process.
Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger was a Hall of Fame voter for the first time and explained his ballot thoughtfully in his Mellinger Minutes column.
Inductees will be honored in a ceremony in Cooperstown on the weekend of July 28-31. Players voted for induction will join former Royals and Braves General Manager John Schuerholz and former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for enshrinement. Among the players eligible to be on next year’s ballot for the first time include Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and Scott Rolen, and former Royals Johnny Damon, Jeff Suppan, and Scott Podsednik.