Votes gained: 39
Current Tracker percentage: 50
The following players have already added at least 20 check marks from voters who did not vote for them last year.
He checks a lot of boxes, but has been unable to grab lots of support. This is his seventh year on the ballot, and Kent has been between 14 and 18.1 (last year was his high total). One of the best offensive second basemen ever, he played through a high-offensive era and wasn’t good on defense. Even if he gets up into the low-30s, it’s hard to see him getting to 75 percent in Year 10. It’s just too high a hill to climb.
2019 vote percentage: 18.1
Votes gained: 21
Current Tracker percentage: 28.2
- In 2017, three players were voted in while Lee Smith fell off the ballot.
- In 2018, four players were voted in.
- In 2019, four players were voted in while Fred McGriff fell off while missing out in his final try.
2019 vote percentage: 16.7
Votes gained: 26
Current Tracker percentage: 33.1 Wagner ranks fourth in career saves with better rate stats than Trevor Hoffman, but he only managed 903 innings in his career. He was exceptional, but some voters apparently think Wagner didn’t compile enough of a workload. He has, however, gained 6.5 percentage points from 2017-19 and so far has added 26 votes this year. This is Wagner’s sixth year on the ballot, so it’s an uphill battle. The guess is it doesn’t happen until some sort of veteran committee at gets him to Cooperstown.
Rolen’s got some serious momentum here, and if things continue on this path, he’ll be enshrined in a few years. It’s only his third year on the ballot, so he’s got plenty of time and it looks like newer voters and those who just needed the ballot jam to clear are hopping aboard. He obviously has a long way to go, but gaining so many public votes already is a huge sign. At least two more spots clear this year (Jeter and Walker) while no quality candidates come on the ballot next year. In 2022 we’ll have plenty of “fun” discussing the candidacies of A-Rod and Big Papi, but the next best new additions on that ballot would be Mark Teixeira and Jimmy Rollins. Then in 2023, only Carlos Beltran comes on as a potential pick.
We know this because many voters make their ballots public and Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) tracks them. Using his excellent ballot tracker, let’s check out some of the players gaining the most support. We should note, for the most part, the tracker percentage every year for most players is higher than the final vote total. Generally speaking, the voters who don’t make their ballots public are in the Small Hall crowd and don’t vote for many players.
Here, though, I’d like to focus on players gaining some serious momentum during this voting cycle.
First off, we know Derek Jeter is going to make it. It’s his first time on the ballot and he’s a no-doubt first-ballot Hall of Famer (he’s actually tracking at 100 percent). Past that, it’s a tough call. Maybe Larry Walker makes it with a final-year bump. Curt Schilling got 60.9 percent of the vote last year (75 percent gains induction). Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were next highest.
2019 vote percentage: 13.6
Votes gained: 34
Current Tracker percentage: 39.4
2019 vote percentage: 7.5
Votes gained: 23
Current Tracker percentage: 27.5
This means that some Big Hall voters who might have thought there were upward of 15 worthy players a few years ago now have new spots open. Only Jeter among first timers is an obvious yes, so there’s likely room for many voters to add, and it appears they are doing it.
Note the 7.5 percent Jones got last year, which was behind Sammy Sosa and the lowest total for a player who didn’t fall off the ballot. This is his fourth year, so he needs a huge bump. He’s getting a boost, but there probably needs to be more for serious optimism. Still, it’s good to see him starting to get his due and thankfully he was able to stay on the ballot.
2019 vote percentage: 54.6
Votes gained: 22
Current Tracker percentage: 84.5
A bit of a tougher road here. Sheffield is in his sixth year on the ballot. Last year was his highest percentage and it looks like he’ll top it this year, but he has a ton of ground to make up in the next few years. Of particular note here are PED connections to Sheffield and players with that asterisk on their resume have fared the worst among voters who don’t make their ballots public.
The 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame will include Ted Simmons thanks to his induction via the Modern Baseball Era Committee at the Winter Meetings last month, along with the long overdue induction of the late Marvin Miller. We’ll find out who else will join them in this Hall class via the BBWAA vote, which will be revealed on Jan. 21.
So why do vote totals change from year to year? Well, first off, minds can change as voters continue to study the players’ careers, but it’s usually just the changing electorate and ballot. The voting body changes each year and voters can place a maximum of 10 players on their ballot. In the past few years, the ballot has really cleared names.
Helton’s fight comes down to the Coors Field factor. Still, this is encouraging so far. It’s only his second season on the ballot and private voters didn’t treat him too poorly last year. We’ll need to see the final tallies before really knowing, but at this point there should be some optimism regarding his eventual chances.
2019 vote percentage: 16.5
Votes gained: 25
Current Tracker percentage: 35.2
This is it for Walker. His 10th go-round. He jumped 20.5 percent from 2018 to last year. He needs a 20.4-percent climb to make it in 2020. Yes, he’s tracking well above water, but last year he was tracking at 65.9 percent on public ballots. The private ballots knocked him down more than 11 percent. A similar movement this season would leave him at a cruel low-70s percent in his final try. What a bummer that would be.