The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2021 is slated to be announced on Jan. 26. While there is a lot of talent on the ballot, there are no strong newcomers arriving.
In the last few years, players such as Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mariano Rivera headlined the voting. Each of these players were proverbial “slam dunks” for Cooperstown.
However, this year’s ballot lacks any first-year eligible players such as this.
Because of this, it could be a big year for the players that have inched closer towards being inducted over the last few years. This includes players such as Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
In this article, we will take a look at the Hall of Fame ballot and make our 10 votes for players who should be ushered in.
When looking at the ballot, it becomes clear; this is the year that players from the steroid era finally get their recognition. With the lack of strong newcomers to the ballot, it would be difficult for most voters to leave steroid users off of their ballot.
There are also other players who may be toeing the borderline that will get more votes this year. You can check out the full list of eligible players here.
With all of these players in mind, it will be interesting to see how the eligible voters approach this induction. Who will make up the next class to be ushered into Cooperstown?
Here are where our 10 votes ended up:
This is the year for the infamous slugger. The MLB’s career home run leader and face of the steroid era finally gets his call to Cooperstown this year. For Bonds, it is a deserving honor to arguably the greatest player in baseball history, steroids or not.
2. Roger Clemens
Just like Bonds, this is the year that Clemens overcomes the steroid scandals and makes it into the Hall of Fame. With 354 wins, a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, he is more than deserving of that spot.
3. Andruw Jones
Jones is on his fourth year on the ballot and has not received very much of the vote over this time. While he wasn’t necessarily the best hitter, he was one of the best defensive center fielders of all-time. All-time, he ranks 22nd in career defensive wins above replacement. This alone should give him a spot in the Hall of Fame, as he certainly deserves it.
4. Omar Vizquel
Similar to Jones, Vizquel’s value comes defensively. In fact, he ranks ninth all-time in defensive wins above replacement. On top of this, he totaled 2,877 hits over 24 seasons. However, it is worth noting that Vizquel is currently being investigated for domestic abuse allegations. If he is found guilty, that would change this vote.
5. Todd Helton
Typically, Colorado Rockies players are looked down upon due to playing in a hitting friendly environment. However, Larry Walker’s induction last year may greatly benefit Helton as the “anti-Coors Field” bias may go away. In his career, Helton hit .316 with 2,519 hits and 369 home runs.
6. Billy Wagner
Wagner has the sixth-most saves in MLB history, and the second-most by a left-handed pitcher. Over 16 seasons, he collected 422 saves with a 2.31 ERA and 1,196 strikeouts. The hard thrower deserves his spot in Cooperstown because of this.
7. Gary Sheffield
Sheffield is another player who has been linked to steroids. However, he was one of the best hitters in the MLB during his career. With his signature bat-waggle at the plate, he struck fear into opposing pitchers. He finished his career with 509 home runs, a .292 batting average and 2,689 hits.
8. Jeff Kent
Kent was not the prototypical second baseman. Instead, he brought power and slugging to the position that hadn’t really been seen before. Because of this, he had 2,461 hits, 377 home runs and a .290 average over his career. These offensive numbers stand out at the position and make a good case for Cooperstown.
9. Sammy Sosa
Another face of the steroid era, Sosa had 609 career home runs, good for ninth all-time. He was also one half of the 1998 home run race with Mark McGwire, hitting the second-most home runs ever in a single season with 66. He is the only player to ever have three 60 home run seasons.
10. Scott Rolen
Rolen has become a dark horse candidate recently. While his traditional stats aren’t amazing, his career wins above replacement easily makes him a Hall of Famer. His career WAR of 70.1 is good for ninth ever among third baseman, giving him a deserving case for the Hall of Fame. He also is tied for the third-most Gold Gloves at third base with eight.
As some may have noticed, Curt Schilling was excluded from this list. This was done because of a few reasons that hurt his Hall of Fame case. Statistically, Schilling deserves a spot among some of the better pitchers in the game. Over the steroid era he pitched in, he became one of the most decorated arms.
However, he has hurt his case since retiring. The 53-year-old has become known for hateful and dangerous rhetoric on his social media accounts, calling into question his character. He becomes an interesting case of how writers consider a player’s “off-field” character, even after his retirement. Because of this, he doesn’t get a spot on our ballot.
However you look at it, this will be an interesting year for the Hall of Fame voting. A storm of events featuring a lack of newcomers is creating a situation where players who have been on the ballot for a while have a chance of finally making it in.