What vote results told us about this year’s Hall of Fame ballot

Curt Schilling’s time in the penalty box looks like it’s running out. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens do not appear as lucky. Andy Pettitte, meanwhile, at least lives to fight another year.

Beyond the Baseball Hall of Fame celebrations for electees Derek Jeter and Larry Walker stood those who fell short of the required 75 percent threshold on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. The biggest winner of the non-winners arguably was Schilling, the master commander (4.38 strikeouts-to-walks ratio) and postseason stud who rose from 60.9 percent to 70 percent.

With an exceptionally weak class coming aboard next year — pitchers Mark Buehrle and Tim Hudson and outfielder Torii Hunter headline the group — Schilling, who just spent his eighth year on the ballot, will serve as the favorite to gain election. His candidacy had been hurt by both ballot gridlock and a flurry of hateful comments about different people and groups, yet he should move past both, with two years of eligibility remaining.

Other results of note:

Curt Schilling
Curt SchillingAP
  • The Steroids Scapegoats, Clemens and Bonds, both in their eighth years of eligibility, barely moved, going from 59.5 and 59.1 percent, respectively, to 61 and 60.7. There will need to be some sort of drastic change in thinking — perhaps, as Bob Costas suggested Tuesday on the MLB Network a flurry of voters will flip in 2022 with the thinking that they made them wait until their last shot — in order to get them to Cooperstown.
  • The beloved Yankee Pettitte registered an ultra-modest jump from 9.9 percent to 11.3, a bad sign for him. He did not benefit greatly from last year’s election of four players, the removal of Fred McGriff (he used up his 10 years) or this year’s class featuring only Jeter as a guarantee.
  • Others, however, did benefit from that combination of forces. Shortstop Omar Vizquel leaped from 42.8 percent to 52.6, and with seven years left, he should feel quite optimistic about his prospects. Third baseman Scott Rolen enjoyed a gigantic jump from 17.2 percent to 35.3 in his third year, the second-biggest gain after Walker. Former Yankee and Met (among many others) outfielder Gary Sheffield also had a great day, going from 13.6 percent to 30.5 in his third year. Closer Billy Wagner (16.7 percent to 31.7, fifth year), Rockies first baseman Todd Helton (16.5 percent to 29.2, second year) and center fielder Andruw Jones (7.5 percent to 19.4, third year) all saw big bumps, too.
  •  Jeter’s Yankees teammate Bobby Abreu was the only other first-year candidate to register any level of success. With 5.5 percent of the vote, the outfielder barely cleared the 5 percent necessary to quality for the next ballot.
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