The Hall of Fame ballot is out. Let the arguing commence.
The new names are Chris Carpenter, Johnny Damon, Brian Fuentes, Livan Hernandez, Aubrey Huff, Jason Isringhausen, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Carlos Lee, Brad Lidge, Hideki Matsui, Kevin Millwood, Jamie Moyer, Scott Rolen, Johan Santana, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, and Kerry Wood.
Holdovers are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Billy Wagner, and Larry Walker.
Chipper Jones and Thome seem as automatic a selection as one could hope to see. Of the other newcomers - Rolen is definitely one of the ten greatest third basemen of all time. That ought to be enough, but he may have to wait a while. Andruw Jones was a Hall of Fame caliber player in his 20s, but he fell off a cliff after turning 30 and that will probably keep him out. Carpenter and Santana were great pitchers, but didn't last long enough. Omar Vizquel was Ozzie Smith-lite - very similar, just not as good. I don't think he belongs. Of the others, I think only Jamie Moyer (269 wins is a lot of wins) and Hideki Matsui (he was a great player for years before coming to the majors) have a chance of hitting the 5% cut-off to stay on the ballot. Maybe Johnny Damon will linger on the ballot as well - some of those counting numbers are pretty impressive. The others were all good players, all better than at least a few people currently in the Hall, but the bar is supposed to be higher than that.
Of the holdovers, Hoffman and Guerreo barely missed last time around, so they're likely to get there this time. Martinez and Mussina are both obviously well qualified, and their vote totals have been increasing steadily. The same is true of Clemens and Bonds. All four players received better than 50% of the votes last time, the first time any of them had been supported by that many voters. But they've all got a ways to go to hit 75%, and I don't think any of them are going to get over the hump this time (new candidates keep popping onto the ballot.)
Meanwhile Curt Schilling, who had cleared 50% in 2016 actually saw his voting share drop this year. This probably had more to do with him being an obnoxious jerk than anything else. He's more than qualified, if he can just keep his mouth shut. The other holdovers all have a strong Hall case if considered in isolation, every one of them. But they'll continue to be outnumbered - swamped, actually - by the quantity of even better players still waiting to be honoured.