theScore's mock HOF ballot welcomes class of 4
With the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame class set to be announced Tuesday, 18 of theScore's news editors submitted their own mock ballots with whom they believe are worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown.
In their final year on the ballot, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds finally earned induction. The two credibly accused users of performance-enhancing drugs led the way on our ballots, earning 17 of 18 total votes. Our voters would've put arguably the best pitcher and best hitter in the sport's history into Cooperstown last year as well, though.
Meanwhile, Ortiz, in his first year on the ballot, only finished one vote behind Clemens and Bonds. The prolific slugger was tied to PED use in his career and was named in a 2003 federal investigation among 100 baseball players. However, Ortiz denied the claim when it was reported by the New York Times in 2009. Even further, commissioner Rob Manfred noted in 2016 it was entirely possible Ortiz was among a number of false positives that were included in the test.
With A-Rod, there's no doubt. And, as a consequence, the three-time MVP got the least support of the four inductees. The 14-time All-Star admitted in 2009 to using steroids early in his career. Years later, when the Biogenesis scandal broke, Rodriguez was heavily scapegoated and handed a 211-game suspension for his involvement while 12 other players served lesser punishments. A-Rod appealed and had the suspension reduced to 162 games, missing the entirety of the 2014 campaign.
Despite missing that time, A-Rod ranks fourth all time in homers - four away from joining the exclusive 700-HR club that includes only Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth. However, it's clear his suspension was the reason behind many voters leaving him off their ballot.
Missed the cut
Rolen and Sosa tied with 11 votes but wound up falling well short of the 75% threshold required for enshrinement this time around - and for different reasons.
Despite being one of the best third basemen in baseball history - on both sides of the ball - Rolen never quite acquired superstar status, bouncing between four teams. Every player ahead of Rolen by third base JAWS has earned enshrinement. However, the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner never finished in the top three of MVP voting and only won one Silver Slugger during an era defined by power hitters.
This brings us to Sosa, who is in his final year of eligibility. The former MVP had an incredibly storied career but is in many ways synonymous with the steroid era and was named in the same New York Times report as Ortiz. While Ortiz has been afforded some benefit of the doubt, Sosa hasn't. He's had to defend himself in court alongside Rafael Palmeiro (later tested positive), Jose Canseco (later admitted using steroids), and Mark McGwire (later admitted using steroids). He also notably got caught corking his bat. However, when the league investigated, all 76 of his other bats were clean. He's still the only player to ever have three separate 60-homer seasons. Interestingly, he never led the league in any of those years.
Schilling seemed to be gaining traction toward induction but spent last winter asking the BBWAA to remove his name from the ballot after failing to earn election in his ninth and penultimate year of eligibility. The BBWAA ultimately rejected his proposal. Despite an incredible career, Schilling has found himself in a number of controversies, notably getting suspended and fired from his job as an ESPN analyst for sharing racist and sexist memes on his social media accounts. The character clause has come into play for some voters as a result.
Falling off our ballot
None of these players received the necessary 5% of support to earn another year on the ballot. Of note, Nathan would've potentially been worthy of an additional look, ranking eighth all time in saves with 377. However, if Wagner is having trouble getting in with 422 career saves, Nathan's chances were always going to be slim.
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