Last week four more legends were immortalized as Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, and Roy Halladay were inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame as the class of 2019. All four of these players left their mark on the game with careers stretching from the 1990s into the 2000s with eye-popping numbers and countless postseason heroics.
As we look forward to the 2020 inductions one question remains, is it time for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens to finally be enshrined?
While the necessary 16 percent jump in voting may seem unlikely, this upcoming ballot leaves room for a substantial jump. The voters are limited to ten players per ballot, with Bonds and Clemens left off the majority of them.
Due to deserving first-year inductees like Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Ken Griffey Jr. taking priority on most ballots, Bonds and Clemens' opportunity has been limited.
Despite the exclusion, Bonds and Clemens have seen a steady increase from 36 and 37 percent up to almost 60 percent in their seventh year on the ballot.
There also may be a shift in the voters themselves.
Older and “baseball-purist” voters have recently allowed the inductions of Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza, two players clouded in controversy throughout their careers. One would think that the acceptance of such players would allow for Bonds and Clemens to receive the required 75 percent.
Many people around the hall of fame induction process believe voters are punishing Bonds and Clemens by making them wait until their final year of eligibility before inducting them.
That may be the case, but regardless, 2020 is a great year for the home run king and 'The Rocket' to take a big step forward.
With that said, who will be an inductee into the MLB Hall of Fame Class of 2020?
1) Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter will appear on the ballot for the first time next year and will undoubtedly be another first-year inductee. Jeter amassed five World Series titles and 3,465 hits as the shortstop for the New York Yankees.
Better known as 'The Captain,' he collected the 2000 World Series MVP trophy by hitting .409 in the five-game victory over the cross-town rival New York Mets. The 14x All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner should waste no time receiving his plaque in the Hall of Fame.
2) Curt Schilling
An interesting name entering his eight-year on the ballot is Curt Schilling. If you are shocked that Curt Schilling is not already in the Hall of Fame, you are not alone.
Schilling is one of seventeen pitchers in the history of baseball to reach 3000 strikeouts, totaling 3,116, which is more than Hall of Famer John Smoltz, and he did it in over 200 fewer innings. Schilling also ranks at or near the top in multiple World Series pitching categories, with some calling him the greatest World Series pitcher of all time.
He won three World Series rings earning an ERA of just 2.09 for the Diamondbacks and Red Sox. His heroic battles with the Yankees, while he was in Boston, make it easy to forget that he beat out former Hall of Fame teammate Randy Johnson for the 2001 World Series MVP after shutting down an all-time great Yankees' lineup as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
So what’s the catch?
Schilling, several times, has been heard on-air stating insensitive remarks that have been taken into account by voters. He received 60.9 percent of the vote last year and has three years remaining on the ballot putting him the same company as Bonds and Clemens.
With that being said, the controversy surrounding Schilling is completely off the field, which makes it more logical for him to gain the necessary votes at a faster pace. After a nine percent increase from 2018 to 2019, Schilling should receive over 70 percent in 2020 with an outside chance of enshrinement.
The Rest of the Pack
After Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, and Jeter the ballot drops off dramatically.
Former Rockies Todd Helton and Larry Walker are among the more deserving players on the ballot, but the voters have been harsh on players who have had the benefit of playing in the hitter-friendly Coors Field the majority of their career.
Year after year, the two Rockies' legends defied the odds by winning four combined batting titles and proving to be the model of consistency. At the end of the day, the voters cannot unsee the huge uptick in production at Coors Field, but with a much more open ballot, they should receive more votes than last year.
Lastly, Omar Vizquel should be excited to watch the extra votes that are going to roll in on his behalf. The smooth fielding Venezuelan won 11 Gold Gloves in his career making him one of the premier defensive players in baseball history. His shortcomings came at the plate, where his lifetime 82 OPS+ makes him a significantly below-average hitter. The voters should still recognize the precedent that was set by Ozzie Smith and others who struggled at the plate but flashed the leather in the field.
One thing is for sure, and that is Derek Jeter receiving his Hall of Fame plaque in January. The younger generation of baseball fans will get to see the most heralded shortstop to ever wear pinstripes accept his place in Cooperstown.
Jeter alone on the stage should draw plenty of attention but unlikely appearances from his postseason foe, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds could make the induction ceremony the most historic and controversial induction ceremony of all-time.
*preview photo credited to Sports Illustrated
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