You can't, necessarily, argue with this year's Hall of Fame class. I'm one of those surprised by how long it has taken to get Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell inducted. When Tim Raines retired from baseball, George W. Bush was in his first term, Mozilla Firefox had just been released, and Jay Williams of Duke was the National Player of the Year. Jeff Bagwell should have been a first ballot HOFer. And I would love to hear the arguments from the 24% of voters who left Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, off of their ballots.
An interesting thing happened between this year and last. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens gained nearly 10% support, each. If that becomes a trend, Clemens (54.1%) could be voted in by 2019, and Bonds (53.8%) by 2020. Remember, a player needs 75% of the vote to be inducted into Cooperstown. Remember when we said, the younger generation won't stonewall the steroid-era stars? It's happening.
I'm sure it won't go that way, many of the “purists” will still be around in four years to try to rob the greatest stars of a generation out of the very place that should laud their achievements. But the fight is won, they can only delay the inevitable. There will be a perfect opportunity in 2021 to not only do the right thing and induct these baseball gods, but do it in a way that appeals to both sides of the steroids era argument.
The lack of talent in upcoming Hall of Fame classes is such that no one could be elected in 2021, giving voters (if they colluded-wink, wink) an opportunity to rip off the steroids era Band-Aid and let the narratives run. A class of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, and Sammy Sosa, maybe even have the Veterans Committee put up Mark McGwire, would allow everyone to hammer their point home. I can see the “HALL OF SHAME” headlines and the “VINDICATED” memes blowing up whatever social media platform we are using 4 years from now.
I ran through the next several years,and here are my guesses as to who will be inducted each year:
Player (years on ballot)
Jim Thome (2)
Derek Jeter (1)
Todd Helton (2)
Barry Bonds (9)
Sammy Sosa (9)
David Ortiz (1)
Roy Halladay (4)
Andy Pettite (4)