The Baseball Hall of Fame released the names of the 25 players on the ballot for the potential class of 2021 on Monday morning.
It’s an exciting annual tradition, even though it’s more about the discussion generated than any actual surprises with the ballot release. It’s not hard to guess who’s going to be on there.
Here’s everything you need to know, from the players on the ballot to how they’re voted on to when the results are announced.
Who is on the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot?
Newcomers: Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle, A.J. Burnett, Aramis Ramírez, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Dan Haren, LaTroy Hawkins, Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino
Holdovers: Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Billy Wagner, Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Scott Rolen Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramírez, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa.
Who has a chance of being elected this year?
It’s entirely possible that nobody will be elected on this ballot, which hasn’t happened since the voting for the would-have-been class of 2013.
Three players received at least 60 percent of the vote last year, which traditionally has meant a pretty good chance of being elected the next year. But those three players — Curt Schilling (70.0 percent), Roger Clemens (61.0) and Barry Bonds (60.7) — are very controversial figures on the ballot, and it’s hard to see enough minds being changed to get them to the 75 percent mark this year. Schilling is the only one who has a reasonable shot. Though, it’s worth noting that it’s the ninth year for each of those players, so it’s possible a voter could have been withholding a vote as their own form of “punishment” and decides to vote for them this year.
As for other players, Omar Vizquel received 52.6 percent of the vote, and a jump to 75 percent doesn’t seem likely. Same thing for the other six who were above 25 percent last year: Scott Rolen (35.3), Billy Wagner (31.7), Gary Sheffield (30.5), Todd Helton (29.2), Manny Ramirez (28.2) and Jeff Kent (27.5).
This year’s crop of newcomers is thin, which is a change of pace. The question isn’t whether any newbies will be elected — that’s not happening — but whether any of this year’s newbies receive the 5 percent of the votes necessary to stay on the ballot.
You have to go back to 2013 to find a time when there wasn’t a first-timer elected to Cooperstown, but even that year eventual Hall of Famers Craig Biggio (68.2) and Mike Piazza (57.8) were named on most ballots. Here’s a list of recent ballot newbies who were elected: Derek Jeter as part of the class of 2020, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome in 2018, Ivan Rodriguez in 2017, Ken Griffey Jr., in 2016, the trio of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz in 2015 and the trifecta of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas in 2014.
When is the Hall of Fame election?
All ballots have to be physically mailed in, with a postmark on or before Dec. 31, 2020. They are being mailed out to eligible voters this week.
From the Hall of Fame news release: “Votes are counted jointly by BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell and Ernst & Young partner Michael DiLecce.”
When are the 2020 Hall of Fame results announced?
Also from the news release: “Results will be announced by Hall of Fame president Tim Mead at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, live on MLB Network.”
How can I track the Hall of Fame ballots/results?
The results won’t officially be announced until Jan. 26, but many voters publicly announce their ballots (I’m one of those) at some point before the actual announcement.
Those announcements are tracked here, an invaluable site if you’re into that sort of thing. Last year, 284 of the 398 ballots were included on the tracker before the official results were announced.
When is the induction ceremony?
The 2021 Induction Weekend is scheduled for July 23-26 in Cooperstown, N.Y. The 2021 Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, July 25.
Anyone elected on this ballot will be joined by those elected as part of the class of 2020 — Derek Jeter and Larry Walker by the BBWAA, and Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller by the Modern Era Baseball Committee. There is no veterans committee-type vote for 2021.
The 2020 ceremony, obviously, was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.
When is the next veterans committee vote?
There is no veterans committee type vote for the class of 2021. Originally, both the Golden Days Committee (players primarily from 1950 to 1969) and Early Days Committee (pre-1950) were supposed to vote this winter, but those were delayed because of the pandemic. Those 16-person committees meet in person, and the Hall smartly decided it wasn’t safe this year.
The entire schedule has been pushed back by one year.
Who votes for the Hall of Fame?
Members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who have at least 10 consecutive years of covering baseball are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame. For the class of 2020, there were 397 ballots submitted. The number of eligible voters for 2021 has yet to be released.
Each voter can choose between zero and 10 players.
How is a player elected?
Players become eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot five years after their final MLB game. A BBWAA screening committee — with six members — determines which players have careers worthy of making the ballot. There are 25 this year, a number that’s well down from previous years: 32 in 2020, 35 in 2019, 33 in 2018 and 34 in 2017.
Any player receiving at least 75 percent of the vote — last year, that would have been 298 of the 397 ballots — is elected to the Hall of Fame. Any player receiving at least 5 percent of the vote stays on the ballot the next year; last year, that magic number was 19, and Bobby Abreu just snuck over that mark, with 22 votes.
Players are eligible to remain on the ballot for 10 years. The just-released ballot is the ninth year for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa.