With just under one-third of ballots submitted for the 2021 Hall of Fame class, it is becoming clear that the writers will not elect anyone this year. Admittedly, this could change as more ballots are revealed. Yet the BBHOF tracker run by the dedicated Ryan Thibodaux shows that while Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Shilling are all hovering just below the 75% threshold for induction, none have picked up even a single new vote from returning voters.
With no new sure-fire Hall of Famers to draw away support, this would have been the year for these three candidates to gain ground. Instead, voters appear to be more or less locked into their opinions. Bonds and Clemens are actually picking up modest support from public ballots, but given how anonymous votes dragged down all three candidates late in last year’s cycle, current trends suggests all three will fall short yet again.
Meanwhile, Scott Rolen is storming up the charts with 18 new votes and is closing in on 70% in his fourth year of eligibility. I suspect he will make the cut in the next two years, but not 2021.
Two other candidates of interest to me this year are Todd Helton and Omar Vizquel, for opposing reasons. Helton received only 29% support last year but has this year’s largest surge of new votes from returning voters, 24 and counting. Perhaps Larry Walker’s induction last year broke the Coors Field bias.
Vizquel had over 39% last year and seemed poised for further gains, but has instead lost a vote after picking up seven new selections and losing eight more. This is almost certainly due to the allegations of domestic violence from his ex-wife that surfaced in December, causing voters to invoke the character clause in their decision criteria. No other candidate on the ballot has lost as many returning votes and Vizquel also has one of the lowest percentages of new voter support of any major candidate (17%). His future induction seems increasingly unlikely.
Billy Wagner, Andrew Jones, and Gary Sheffield have all made solid improvements thus far over their 2020 totals. All three are hovering around the 50% mark, and may be able to build up enough votes in 2-3 years. Meanwhile, not a single new candidate appears likely to ever make the Hall. The only candidate to even break 10% of the vote thus far is Mark Buehrle. Personally, I think Buehrle has a legitimate case, but the voters appear to consider him a classic Hall of Very Good player.