Alex Rodriguez? David Ortiz? Predicting the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2022
The 2020 Hall of Fame class of Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller will finally be enshrined in Cooperstown on Wednesday afternoon, with the ceremony pushed back a year as a result of the pandemic.
No players earned the 75 percent of the vote necessary for enshrinement in 2021, but looking ahead to the 2022 ballot, voters will have some interesting decisions to make.
It starts with the 17 returning players on the ballot, headlined by Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling who will have their 10th and final opportunity to earn induction.
Though the official 2022 ballot will not be released until November, and the voting results will not be announced until January, it's never too early to take a stab at predicting how the next Hall of Fame vote will play out.
These players are eligible for the ballot for the first time this year but seem unlikely to receive the five percent of the vote necessary to stick around for another year.
- OF Michael Bourn
- DH Billy Butler
- OF Marlon Byrd
- OF Carl Crawford
- OF Coco Crisp
- OF Jeff Francoeur
- 1B Ryan Howard
- IF Omar Infante
- SP Colby Lewis
- SP Tim Lincecum
- 1B Justin Morneau
- 1B Prince Fielder
- SP Kyle Lohse
- RP Javier Lopez
- RP Joe Nathan
- OF Angel Pagan
- RP Jonathan Papelbon
- SP Jake Peavy
- C A.J. Pierzynski
- RP Matt Thornton
- IF Juan Uribe
- SP Ryan Vogelsong
From that group, slugger Prince Fielder, two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and 2007 NL Cy Young winner Jake Peavy are the most likely to see some support from the committee, but reaching the five percent plateau seems unlikely.
These players earned enough of the vote last year to hang around, but are still a long way from earning the 75 percent needed for enshrinement:
- SS Omar Vizquel (49.1 percent)
- RP Billy Wagner (46.4 percent)
- 1B Todd Helton (44.9 percent)
- OF Gary Sheffield (40.6 percent)
- OF Andruw Jones (33.9 percent)
- 2B Jeff Kent (32.4 percent)
- OF Manny Ramirez (28.2 percent)
- SP Andy Pettitte (13.7 percent)
- SP Mark Buehrle (11.0 percent)
- OF Torii Hunter (9.5 percent)
- OF Bobby Abreu (8.7 percent)
- SP Tim Hudson (5.2 percent)
Slugger Sammy Sosa is also back from last year's ballot, but he's in his 10th and final year and highly unlikely to make the leap after receiving just 17 percent of the vote last year.
It's unlikely that 2022 is going to be their year, but keep an eye on Todd Helton (plus-15.7 percent), Billy Wagner (plus-14.7 percent), Andruw Jones (plus-14.5 percent) and Gary Sheffield (plus-10.3 percent), who all saw a significant spike in support last year.
Newcomer: 1B Mark Teixeira
Mark Teixeira tallied nine 30-homer seasons and slugged 409 long balls over the course of his 14-year career.
Is that enough to earn him a place among the greatest first basemen in MLB history?
Here's a look at where he fits among some of the other notable recent players at his position who are currently on the outside looking in for enshrinement:
- John Olerud: 129 OPS+, .295/.398/.465, 255 HR, 1,230 RBI, 58.2 WAR
- Will Clark: 137 OPS+, .303/.384/.497, 284 HR, 1,205 RBI, 56.5 WAR
- Fred McGriff: 134 OPS+, .284/.377/.509, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI, 52.6 WAR
- Mark Teixeira: 126 OPS+, .269/.360/.509, 409 HR, 1,298 RBI, 50.6 WAR
- Carlos Delgado: 138 OPS+, .280/.383/.546, 473 HR, 1,512 RBI, 44.4 WAR
Olerud, Clark and Delgado all went one-and-done on the ballot, while McGriff hung around for 10 years and topped out at 39.8 percent of the vote in his final year of eligibility in 2019.
With the ballot starting to thin out in terms of viable holdover candidates, Teixeira should at least be able to hang around for another year.
Prediction: ~5 percent of the vote
Newcomer: SS Jimmy Rollins
At his peak with the Philadelphia Phillies, Jimmy Rollins was one of baseball's best shortstops.
A three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner, he took home NL MVP honors in 2007 when he hit .296/.344/.531 with 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 home runs and 41 steals in a 6.1-WAR season. The following year, he led the Phillies to a World Series title.
But did he do enough to garner significant Hall of Fame support?
His 47.6 WAR ranks 24th all-time among shortstops, ahead of only Travis Jackson (44.0), Rabbit Maranville (44.0), Hughie Jennings (42.3) and Phil Rizzuto (42.2) among the 23 shortstops currently enshrined in Cooperstown.
However, his mix of power and speed is rare at the position.
Robin Yount, Derek Jeter and Hanley Ramirez are the only other shortstops in baseball history with 200 home runs and 200 steals in their career.
It should at least be enough for him to stick around on the ballot
Prediction: ~15 percent of the vote
Newcomer: SS/3B Alex Rodriguez
Barry Bonds received 36.2 percent of the vote in his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2013.
Unlike Bonds, who never officially tested positive for steroids in his career, Alex Rodriguez admitted to knowingly using PEDs during his career, and he even served a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.
How will that impact voting?
While many contend that Bonds was a Hall of Famer before his alleged PED use even began, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids after signing with the Texas Rangers in 2001 when he was still just 25 years old and far from an established all-time great.
He has done a lot to repair his public image in the years since his retirement following the 2016 season, and the same can't be said for Bonds or Clemens, so maybe that helps his chances.
Still, I'd be shocked to see him come close to 75 percent in his first year on the ballot, and he'll likely start off somewhere closer to the voting total that Bonds posted in 2013.
Prediction: ~40 percent of the vote
Newcomer: DH David Ortiz
The induction of Edgar Martinez in 2019 has opened the door for David Ortiz and other players who were primarily designated hitters during their career to receive serious Hall of Fame consideration.
That said, it took Martinez 10 years to eclipse the 75 percent threshold, despite the fact that he hit .312/.418/.515 with 309 home runs, 1,261 RBI and 68.4 WAR in his career.
Martinez actually has the advantage in OPS+ (147 to 141) and WAR (68.4 to 55.3) over Ortiz, but he did not have nearly the same profile during his playing career, and Ortiz had the far superior power numbers with 541 home runs and 1,768 RBI.
There's also the matter of postseason performance, which is a significant chip in Big Papi's favor.
In leading the Boston Red Sox to a trio of World Series titles, he hit .289/.404/.543 with 17 home runs and 61 RBI in 85 career playoff games, winning ALCS MVP in 2004 and World Series MVP in 2013.
The on-field resume is there, but there is also the matter of a reported positive PED test in 2003 when he was included on a list of more than 100 players in a survey compiled by federal investigators. The legitimacy of that list has been called into question, and commissioner Rob Manfred said in 2016 that it was "entirely possible" Ortiz never tested positive.
The designated hitter stigma and those lingering PED questions will likely be enough to keep him from being a first-ballot guy, but he'll get there in time.
Prediction: ~55 percent of the vote
Holdovers: OF Barry Bonds
The numbers speak for themselves with Barry Bonds.
He is arguably the most accomplished player in MLB history with a record 762 home runs and a staggering 162.7 WAR—a mark that trails only Babe Ruth (183.1), Walter Johnson (164.8) and Cy Young (163.6) all-time.
However, the PED cloud continues to hang over his legacy.
His voting support has come a long way since he received less than 40 percent in each of his first three years on the ballot, but things have stalled out in recent years.
- 2019: 59.1 percent
- 2020: 60.7 percent
- 2021: 61.8 percent
At this point, most voters have had the better part of a decade to decide where they fall on the PED debate. Because of that, it is less likely Bonds is going to receive a significant final-year push like we saw from Larry Walker in 2020 and many others in past years.
Prediction: ~65 percent of the vote
Holdover: SP Roger Clemens
Undoubtedly one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history, Roger Clemens has spent his first nine years on the ballot caught under the same PED cloud that hangs over Barry Bonds.
Clemens ranks inside the top 10 all-time in wins (354, ninth), strikeouts (4,672, third) and WAR among pitchers (138.7, third), and he won a record seven Cy Young Awards during his 24-year career.
His voting totals have been trending parallel to Bonds throughout their time together on the ballot, and his support has similarly plateaued in recent years.
- 2019: 59.5 percent
- 2020: 61.0 percent
- 2021: 61.6 percent
Voters are also similarly dug in on where they stand on his Hall of Fame candidacy, and a late spike to get to the magic 75 percent number feels just as unlikely for Clemens as it does for Bonds.
Prediction: ~65 percent of the vote
Holdover: 3B Scott Rolen
Third base is a notoriously fickle position when it comes to Hall of Fame voting.
It took the Veterans Committee to find a place for Ron Santo who ranks eighth all-time at the position with 70.5 WAR, one spot ahead of none other than Scott Rolen who was worth 70.1 WAR in 17 seasons.
Just behind Rolen is a strong contingent of Hall of Fame snubs, including Graig Nettles (67.9), Buddy Bell (66.3), Ken Boyer (62.8), Sal Bando (61.5) and Darrell Evans (58.8). All told, there are only 15 players who played primarily third base currently enshrined.
It looked like Rolen was destined to join that list of snubs when he received only 10.2 percent of the vote during his first year on the ballot in 2018, but he has seen a significant spike each of the past two years.
- 2018: 10.2 percent
- 2019: 17.2 percent
- 2020: 35.3 percent
- 2021: 52.9 percent
Another increase like the one he saw in 2021 would put him at 70.5 percent and on the doorstep of Cooperstown.
A seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner who posted a 122 OPS+ with 316 home runs and 1,287 RBI in his career, Rolen was a true two-way star, and while I don't expect him to make a big enough jump in 2022 to get the call, it's only a matter of time.
Prediction: ~70 percent of the vote
Holdover: SP Curt Schilling
The most likely candidate to be inducted during the 2021 voting window, Curt Schilling came up just short.
He finished with 71.1 percent of the vote, up slightly from the 70.0 percent he received in 2020, which broke down to just 16 more votes needed from the 401 voters who cast a ballot.
Unlike Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the hurdle Schilling needs to clear does not have to do with PED allegations, but rather, his off-the-field persona. However, that still makes him a case where voters have likely dug in their heels, so don't expect to see a major swing in support in his 10th and final year on the ballot.
With 80.5 career WAR as a pitcher, 3,116 career strikeouts to rank 15th on the all-time list, and one of the greatest postseason resumes in MLB history, his on-field performance is certainly Hall of Fame worthy.
It's going to be close, but I think he'll get enough final-year support to narrowly clear the 75 percent mark and take his place among the all-time greats.
Prediction: ~77 percent of the vote