For the first time in eight years, no candidate received the requisite 75 percent of BBWAA votes.
This year’s edition of the annual process used to determine induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is finally over. On Tuesday evening, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced that no candidate received 75 percent of the vote required for induction into baseball’s most hallowed club.
No candidates elected in 2021 Hall of Fame voting. https://t.co/UIrFl3JaOX
— BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) January 26, 2021
This represents just the ninth time in 77 years of balloting that the BBWAA has not elected a former player into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Which means, if the Hall is able to hold an in-person ceremony this summer, the Class of 2020 will be honored alone. Last year’s class included Yankees icon Derek Jeter and longtime outfielder Larry Walker.
This summer’s ceremony would also include 2020 Modern Era Committee selections Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller, Ford C. Frick Award winners for broadcasting in 2021, Al Michaels, and 2020, Ken Harrelson, and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winners for writing in 2021, Dick Kaegel, and in 2020, the late Nick Cafardo.
Who missed the cut?
There were 14 blank ballots submitted, eclipsing the previous record of 12 (set in 2006).
Curt Schilling, who led the Diamondbacks and Red Sox to World Series championships, came the closest; he came up just 16 votes shy of induction.
Following the announcement, he released a letter requesting to be taken off the ballot and deferring the decision to induct him to the veteran’s committee.
Curt Schilling in a letter to the Hall of Fame: "I will not participate in the final year of voting. I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player."
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 26, 2021
Schilling on talent alone likely would have been inducted already. All he needed to do was shut up in the years following his retirement.
Instead, Schilling went off the alt-right deep end.
He claims that he’s being held out because of his political opinions. But in reality, it’s because his speech in his post-playing days has been so blatantly and unapologetically offensive that the writers have no choice but to carefully consider the Hall of Fame’s character clause. And someone that makes jokes about hanging journalists and supported an armed insurrection probably doesn’t make the character clause cut.
Beyond Schilling, the next closest were Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both Bonds and Clemens have seemingly plateaued in gaining votes. At this point, any writer willing to look past the performance enhancing drug issues has already done so. At this rate, it seems unlikely that the BBWAA will vote either one into the Hall of Fame.
Scott Rolen, Billy Wagner, Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones and Todd Helton all saw significant jumps in their vote totals.
Rolen is currently the closest of the five, sitting at 53% in his fourth year on the ballot. Sheffield seems likely to come up short of the 75% threshold after receiving just 41% in his seventh year on the ballot. Wagner will be a tight race as well, sitting at 46% in his sixth year on the ballot.
This time of year always reminds me of how much I hate the Hall of Fame voting process. Typically for reasons like Chris Russo’s comments Tuesday morning. But also due to the absolutely asinine thought process that goes into voting.
For starters, players should not be gaining dozens of votes each year. Nobody on this list decided to lace up their spikes after appearing on the ballot. Their numbers don’t change from year to year. So why are players not worthy of a vote one year, but deserving of it the next?
And why did it take until Mariano Rivera for a player to receive 100% of the votes? Rivera is not the best player of all time. But in the name of “tradition”, writers blatantly lied on their ballots to ensure that nobody received 100% of the votes.
That makes zero sense.
It means somebody voted against putting Nolan Ryan and Hank Aaron in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. How are we supposed to respect a system that has people voting against those two names because of “tradition”?
There were Hall of Fame worthy players on this year’s ballot. But the BBWAA won’t induct anyone. In a case like Schilling, Bonds and Clemens I understand the arguments for and against voting for them. And I can respect whatever decision is made, even if I don’t personally agree with it. But Scott Rolen and Billy Wagner? They absolutely deserve better.
Maybe 2022 will be the year the BBWAA gets its act together. But I wouldn’t hold out hope. The most consistently frustrating portion of the baseball off-season will return as scheduled in 2022. And we’ll ruthlessly debate each player’s candidacy (except Schilling, thankfully) all over again.
At least we can finally put the 2021 Hall of Fame voting behind us.