With my recent Hall of Fame kick, I’ve been looking at this year’s ballot and prospective future ballots a lot. And every time, all I can think of is how crazy the ballot will start to look in the future. I just needed to put it all in writing, though, to share my thoughts. I feel like I’ve written this before, but either way, it wasn’t recent enough that I remember doing it, the issue is still relevant, it still shocks me every time.
So, we know that this year has a lot of candidates. As I’ve said, I’d vote for eighteen if given the choice: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Mussina, Larry Walker, Tom Glavine, Mike Piazza, Alan Trammell, Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Craig Biggio, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Jeff Kent. We’ll probably get one of them elected this year. Some number will almost certainly drop off the ballot, which is really unfortunate.
On that note, this ballot should have been even more crowded. Kenny Lofton and Kevin Brown should be there, too, but both fell off after one go-around unfortunately. Who all will join them in no-man’s land next year, not on the ballot but too recent for the Veterans Committee? My guesses would start with Kent and Sosa, but I also wouldn’t be shocked about McGwire or Palmeiro. Maybe even Mussina or Walker if we’re really unlucky.
Next year, to replace Maddux and whoever else is gone (Jack Morris at least, since this is his 15th year), we’ll see Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Gary Sheffield, all of whom have Hall Ratings over 100. I’d also like to give a special mention to Brian Giles-he was a personal favorite growing up, and he was almost certainly better than you remember (even a 98 Hall Rating!). In a world with an unlimited ballot, I’d definitely at least throw him a vote based on those two factors, although I imagine I’d be more or less the only person to do so.
Then we have possibly the weakest ballot of the six upcoming in 2016. I’m not sure who all will fall off after the 2015 vote, but we’ll definitely be adding a pair of worthy center fielders in Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jim Edmonds. Edmonds will almost certainly be underrated and may even fall off the ballot in one try, which will be an absolute travesty (and not just because I’m an Edmonds fan). On the note of personal favorites, Jason Kendall will join that year. He’s a dead match for Giles, in that he has a surprisingly high Hall rating (87!) and he was another personal favorite. Also, the Hall doesn’t seem to have a clear idea of how to deal with relievers, but we’ll be getting to of the better ones in recent memory that year with Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman. Yes, this is our “breather/catch-up” year. It will also mark Alan Trammell’s final year, barring unusual occurrences.
2017 will see an interesting quartet added. Ivan Rodriguez is the surest bet of any of them, but who the hell knows how the voters will go anymore. On top of that, we get the introduction of Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jorge Posada. Manny Will bring an interesting and spirited debate, I’m sure. Vlad and Jorge are both more borderline, although again, I wouldn’t be shocked if both immediately fall of the ballot because that’s how the BBWAA rolls these days.
The 2018 ballot is a doozy, with interesting newcomers just oozing off of it. Chipper Jones will hopefully be elected in his first try. Jim Thome is poised to join the debate that year as well, assuming he doesn’t manage a comeback this year. It’ll be interesting to see how things go for him, although Frank Thomas this year may be a test case. Also, Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, and Bobby Abreu are all set to come up in 2018. I’d say all three are worthy. Abreu looks a lot like Tony Gwynn, believe it or not. Andruw Jones is maybe the best fielder of all-time. I’ve covered Rolen a lot already. He may be my favorite player of all-time (either him, Albert Pujols, or Cal Ripken, Jr.), but even then, his case looks a lot like Ron Santo’s. All the worthiness in the world didn’t get him elected for decades and decades.
Not helping matters is that 2018 is also the year that Omar Vizquel, Johnny Damon, Chris Carpenter, and Jamie Moyer will all join the ballot. I wouldn’t vote for any of them, but I would almost guarantee that they’ll all get some level of support. Vizquel is probably the player most likely to inspire heated generational debates that are currently sparked by Jack Morris.
That’s the last year that we know for sure, but we already have something of an idea about 2019’s additions. Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Halladay have all announced that they won’t play in 2014, making them eligible then. On top of that, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman are free agents who may not garner contracts for next season, but both will deserve a good, hard look upon their appearance on the ballot. I’m not sure I see that happening if the ballot is 30 players deep at this point. Assuming nobody I've mentioned falls off other than the players that age out, we'll easily top that mark, even assuming that the BBWAA actually elects somebody in that span.
Worrying about it this early won’t really do anything, but I figured I should bring it up since it was on my mind.