The Baseball Writers Assn. of America announces its 2016 electees to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday (3 p.m. PST on MLB Network). Ken Griffey Jr. is expected to be elected, with Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines in the running. To be elected, a candidate must receive 75% of the vote.
The Los Angeles Times has a policy that forbids its writers from voting for awards, but as the election results are unveiled, here are three things to watch:
1. Could Griffey become the first player unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame?
Griffey has been picked on every ballot revealed publicly — about 37% of the electorate as of Tuesday afternoon — and tracked by Ryan Thibodaux at @NotMrTibbs. The Hall of Fame revoked voting rights of about 100 writers, none of whom had actively covered baseball within the last decade. That group generally is believed more likely to include voters skeptical about electing any candidate on the first ballot. The closest to a unanimous election so far: Tom Seaver, who received 98.84% of the vote in 1992. Babe Ruth got 95% of the vote in the first election in 1936 — good for induction but second behind Ty Cobb (98.23%). Bonus note on Griffey: he'll be the first player selected as the first overall draft pick to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
2. Are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens doomed in this process?
Bonds, the all-time home run leader, was selected most valuable player a record seven times. Clemens won a record seven Cy Young awards. Each has been on the ballot for three years; neither has gotten more than 37.6% of the vote. But the older writers no longer eligible to vote largely leaned toward the hard line against players tied to steroid use. Another factor: voters hoping that the passage of time would yield additional information might reluctantly realize what they know now might be all they are going to get. Bonds and Clemens each beat federal perjury charges. The Miami Marlins just hired Bonds as their hitting coach. Some voters also have publicly confessed to the weariness of trying to separate suspected steroid users from proven ones. On the publicly available ballots, Bonds and Clemens each is tracking close to 50% — not enough for election this year, but a big enough leap from last year that the 75% standard might yet be within their reach in the six years before they would fall off the ballot.
3. What other candidacies are worth watching?
This is the final year on the ballot for Mark McGwire and Alan Trammell, each of whom is expected to fall far short of election. McGwire and Trammell would receive further consideration from a veterans' committee, which meets every three years. Trevor Hoffman, in his first year on the ballot, might have been a shoo-in years ago, before statistical analysts started to question the worth of a closer and of the save, the statistic that has defined closers. Hoffman has 601 saves, second to Mariano Rivera on the all-time list. Hoffman has gotten 62% of the vote on the publicly available ballots.