Jeter, Walker Elected to Hall; Vizquel’s Day Appears Nearer
Vince Guerrieri | On 22, Jan 2020
The bad news is that the Baseball Hall of Fame didn’t come calling for Omar Vizquel.
The good news is that it appears it will only be a matter of time.
The results are in from the Baseball Writers Association of America, and they voted in Derek Jeter and Larry Walker. Jeter received 99.7 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility – meaning he was left off one writer’s ballot – and Walker received 76.6 percent of the vote in his 10th and final year of eligibility (It used to be 15, but it seems the Hall wants Steroid Era players to drop off the ballot as soon as possible). Jeter and Walker will be inducted along with veterans committee candidates Ted Simmons and former MLBPA director Marvin Miller later this summer. (Miller is a posthumous inductee.)
Just below the 75 percent threshold for election is Curt Schilling, who got 70 percent of the vote, following by Roger Clemens (61 percent) and Barry Bonds (60.7), all of whom are in their eighth year of eligibility.
Vizquel came in sixth on the ballot, with 52.6 percent. It’s his third year on the ballot, and each one has seen his vote total increase. He got 37 percent of the vote in his first year, and 42.8 percent last year. He’s definitely trending in the right direction. Surprisingly, former Indians teammate Manny Ramirez, in his fourth year of eligibility, is also seeing his vote totals trend upward. He got 28.2 percent of the vote this year.
Jeter was considered a mortal lock this year – potentially just the second unanimous inductee after teammate Mariano Rivera last year – for a variety of reasons, not the least of which he headlined far and away a weak class of first-year inductees, including former Indians Cliff Lee and Jason Giambi, both of whom will drop off the ballot after getting less than 5 percent of the vote this year (Giambi got six votes, good for 1.5 percent, and Lee got two, good for 0.5 percent).
None of next year’s first-year Hall candidates – including pitchers Mark Buehrle, A.J. Burnett and Barry Zito, outfielders Torii Hunter and Shane Victorino and former Indian (shudder) Nick Swisher – are a slam-dunk candidate, which bodes well for Vizquel. It might actually also force a reckoning for the candidacies of players who weren’t just of the Steroid Era, but seemed to be culpable in the era. Although neither Bonds nor Clemens failed a drug test, grand jury testimony indicated that Bonds used performance-enhancing substances, and Clemens’ personal trainer said he supplied him with steroids and other drugs.
Vizquel, on the other hand, remains relatively untainted by drug allegations of the era, and given his gains in voting in each successive year, I wouldn’t be surprised if the hall comes calling for him next year.
Photo: John Kuntz/The Plain Dealer