The 2012 Hall of Fame ballot has been released. There are 14 players returning from last year's ballot and 13 new faces. A player needs 75% of the votes to gain admission, and the voters are allowed to vote YES to as many as ten.
Here's the complete list.
Jeff Bagwell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Juan Gonzalez, Brian Jordan, Barry Larkin, Javy Lopez, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Dale Murphy, Phil Nevin, Rafael Palmeiro, Brad Radke, Tim Raines, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker, Bernie Williams, Tony Womack, Eric Young.
I think it's safe to say that, rightly or wrongly, none of these guys is universally regarded as an Obvious, No-Doubt-About-It Hall of Famer. Normally, the counting numbers posted by McGwire and Palmeiro would have already landed them safely in Cooperstown. As we all know, it hasn't.
Which makes this year's ballot especially important for players like Morris and McGriff. Not only is it a good opportunity for both - it may also be one of their last really good chances as well. In particular, the clock is ticking on Jack Morris. He's already been on the ballot for twelve years, which means he has just three more cracks at it before he gets passed on to the Veterans Committee. This would not be good news for him - the Veterans Committe has a financial interest in not inducting anyone who's actually still alive, which is asking a lot of anybody. But hey - Ron Santo's chances have improved considerably since this time last year.
The situation is especially urgent for Morris because it's become somewhat unusual for the writers to affirm more than three players in any given year. Next year's class includes several men whose induction should be more or less automatic: Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, obviously, and Curt Schilling may make it on his first attempt as well. Next year's ballot will also include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa. None of those guys will be voted in, but Biggio, Piazza, and Schilling will be enough to make it extremely difficult for any holdovers from the previous year.
The Veterans Committee ballot includes Santo, Jim Kaat, Ken Boyer, Minnie Minoso, Gil Hodges, Tony Oliva, Allie Reynolds, and Luis Tiant, as well as executives Buzzie Bavasi and Charley Finley. This is Santo's year! And maybe Gil Hodges as well. Minoso is certainly deserving, but first he needs to shuffle off this mortal coil.
I say "For sure" to Bagwell, Larkin, McGriff, and Raines.
I want to think a little bit more about Trammell and Martinez. My first impulse is indeed to say yes to both of them - I'm just not completely sold quite yet.
I also want to think a little bit more about Mattingly, Morris, Murphy, Smith, Walker, and Williams. My first impulse is no to all of them, but I'm open to persuasion.
I still don't quite know what to make of McGwire and Palmeiro.
And to everyone else - thanks for playing! Especially Brad Radke and Tim Salmon.