Photo Credit: ESPN.com
Just a week after the Baseball Hall of Fame made history in its 2019 class, electing Yankee closer Mariano Rivera as it’s first unanimous inductee, voters must now turn their attention to the 2020 class. The 2020 class lacks true depth on the ballot, something that will continue for the next few years, so voters must reevaluate the players they glossed over in the previous years. Here’s a look at who could potentially make the trip to Cooperstown and be recognized as one of the greatest to ever play the game of baseball.
First Year on Ballot:
Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Cliff Lee, Paul Konerko
Derek Jeter: This one seems pretty obvious. With 2020 being his first year on the ballot it seems to be a lock Jeter makes it to Cooperstown on his first try. During his illustrious 20-year career with the Yankees, “The Captain” was a five-time World Series Champion, 14-time All-Star as well as a five-time Gold Glove recipient. Over Jeter’s career, he proved to be one of the most clutch and consistent players of his generation hitting .310 for his career and was one of only 32 players to reach the 3,000 hit mark all while playing shortstop for the Yankees. Perhaps, the most famous position in all of baseball. While he probably will not be a unanimous selection like his former teammate Mariano Rivera was this past year, Jeter should have no trouble surpassing the 75-percent mark needed to reach the Hall of Fame.
Barry Bonds: There is certainly a case to be made for Barry Bonds, but it does not come without questioning. The numbers are there for the Home Run King as he crushed 762 homers to go along with his 14 All-Star selections as well as 7 MVP awards in his 22-year career, but the inevitable PED scandal will be the biggest obstacle for Bonds to hurdle. In his seventh of ten years on the ballot, Bonds received 59 percent of the votes, rising two percentage points from the previous year. At his current pace it will be a challenge to surpass the 75 percent mark, but with classes in the future lacking true first-ballot type players, the climb could be achieved. Another thing in Bonds’ favor is more and more suspected PED users are entering the ballot in the coming years so the voters might be more inclined to induct them all to ensure the Hall of Fame doesn’t leave out some of the best to ever play, regardless of suspected PED use. While I don’t see Bonds making it this year, I suspect he will make a sizable climb to around 66-67 percent to give him a serious chance to make it in his final two years of eligibility.
Roger Clemens: Much like Bonds, Clemens’ career is Hall of Fame worthy, but the off the field issues is what will hang up Clemens up from possibly being honored as one the greats. During his 24 year career with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Astros, the right-hander posted a 3.14 career ERA and is only one of 24 pitchers to reach 300 wins in his career as he piled up 354. Clemens was able to claim seven Cy Young awards, as well as an MVP award in 1986. In Clemens seventh year on the ballot, he received 59 percent of the votes putting him in line with Bonds possibly to enter the Hall of Fame in the same class. Just like for Bonds, I don’t think next year will be the year Clemens gets in, but I expect him to get a bump in votes putting him in for a realistic shot in his last two years on the ballot.
Curt Schilling: In 2020 Schilling will be in his eighth year on the ballot. Despite missing the cut in 2019, he received the highest percentage of votes of those below the 75-percent mark. In Schilling’s 20 year career predominately with the Phillies, he posted a 3.46 ERA to go along with 216 wins. While I don’t think the six-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion has the numbers to be considered one of the best of his generation, he doesn’t have the PED distractions to diminish his legacy like Bonds and Clemens. After receiving a nine percent increase from 2018 to 2019, I expect the trend to continue and for Schilling to eventually reach Cooperstown.
Better Luck Next Year:
Omar Vizquel (42.8%), Manny Ramirez (22.8%), Scott Rolen (17.2%), Todd Helton (16.5%)
While the class of 2020 may not have the many inductees, the results could be one of the most interesting in the past few years due to the implications it has on the future of players with a history of PED use. If Bonds and Clemens close the gap by 5-6 percent it probably means a likely induction for the two opening the door for players like Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz in the future. The voters must be careful how they vote in 2020 as it could change the way the Hall of Fame is viewed for generations to come.