The chances that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will soon be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame have diminished somewhat in recent days as more writers have disclosed how they voted on the 2017 ballot.
As of Monday afternoon, 184 votes had been made public on the Hall of Fame vote-tracking site operated by Ryan Thibodaux. With candidates needing to be named on 75 percent of ballots cast to win induction into the Hall, Bonds stood at 65.2 percent and Clemens at 64.7. The official, final vote totals, which will most likely exceed 400 ballots, will be announced on Jan. 18.
Just a week ago, with nearly 160 votes made public, Bonds and Clemens each stood at 70.3 percent, close enough to reach out and touch a Cooperstown plaque. But based on patterns in previous votes, there was a distinct possibility that the numbers for Bonds and Clemens would start to slip a bit. And they have.
Still, if Clemens, Bonds or both ended up with more than 60 percent of the final vote — and there is still a good chance of that happening — it would represent a big jump from their support in the 2016 vote, when Clemens was named on 45.2 percent of the ballots and Bonds on 44.3.
And with five more years of eligibility on the ballot, Bonds and Clemens would have a shot to build on that momentum, as others have in the past, and actually gain entry into Cooperstown despite their well-known links to performance-enhancing drugs.
On the newly disclosed ballots, no voters flipped their support to Bonds or Clemens. Voters can include as many as 10 former players on their ballot, and as of last week, 21 voters who had previously declined to support Bonds supported him this time. Twenty-two writers did the same for Clemens.
For now, at least, Bonds and Clemens remain stuck on those numbers.
Some of those who have changed their minds and decided to support Bonds and Clemens have cited Bud Selig’s recent induction into the Hall of Fame by a veterans committee, which is separate from the writers who vote. Selig was baseball’s commissioner for nearly a quarter of a century, including the period in which the use of steroids and other performance enhancers flourished.
Although Selig eventually led a crackdown on such substances and made baseball more aggressive than other sports in policing them, he has repeatedly been criticized for not getting baseball to act sooner.
And in the minds of some writers, that failure is not appreciably worse than the fact that Bonds and Clemens were so prominently linked to performance-enhancing drugs. If Selig is in the Hall of Fame, they reason, then Bonds and Clemens should be, too.
Based on the current results of the Hall of Fame tracker, both Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are in strong position to be inducted when the final vote totals are revealed. Each continues to be named on 90 percent of the ballots made public so far. Raines is in his 10th and final year on the ballot. Bagwell is in his seventh.
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