On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced. Over 400 ballots have been cast by veteran members of the Baseball Writers Association of America in recent weeks. A player needs to appear on 75 percent of submitted ballots for induction into Cooperstown and five percent to remain on the ballot another year.
Here’s how you can watch the 2019 Hall of Fame announcement:
- Date: Tuesday, January 22
- Time: 6 p.m. ET
- Television: MLB Network
- Streaming: MLB.com
Last year Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome were voted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. The BBWAA has voted at least two players into the Hall of Fame each year since 2014. Here is everything you need to know about this year’s upcoming Hall of Fame announcement.
The voting criteria is vague
BBWAA members who have been active at least 10 years are eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame. Here are the voting guidelines directly from the Hall of Fame’s site:
Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
That is quite vague and I assume it is intentional. The Hall of Fame standard is very much open to interpretation. Some voters exclude players with performance-enhancing drug ties, for example. Others won’t vote for a designated hitter or a relief pitcher. That’s the criteria though. How to apply it is up to the individual voter.
There are 35 players on this year’s ballot
This year’s Hall of Fame ballot features 15 holdovers from last year and 20 first-timers to give us 35 total players up for Hall of Fame consideration. Here are all 35. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, a player must have played at least 10 full seasons in the major leagues and been retired five years. They must also pass through a screening committee to appear on the ballot.
Furthermore, a player can only spend 10 years on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. Once upon a time it was 15 years. That was shortened up a few years back. Sluggers Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez are both on the Hall of Fame ballot for the 10th and final time this year. Larry Walker is in his ninth season of Hall of Fame eligibility.
Mariano Rivera is a lock for induction
The only slam dunk, no doubt about it lock for Hall of Fame induction this year is longtime Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. According to the publicly revealed ballots tracked by Ryan Thibodaux, Rivera is currently polling at 100 percent. He’s been named on every ballot. That is unlikely to last — no player has ever been voted into the Hall of Fame unanimously — but the fact Rivera has received such overwhelming support indicates he is as close to a lock for induction as it gets.
Three others are over the 75 percent threshold
As of this writing, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina are polling north of the 75 threshold needed for induction, according to Thibodaux’s tracker. Halladay is in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, Martinez is in his final year, and Mussina is in his sixth year. Also, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling are a few percentage points below the 75 percentage threshold and could clear 75 percent as more ballots are revealed.
That said, non-public ballots historically drag each player’s voting percentage down. It seems voters who decline to make their ballot public have the toughest Hall of Fame standards. Rivera is a lock and both Halladay and Martinez appear to be in great shape for induction. Mussina will be a closer call. Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling are all but certain to fall short of induction
Baines and Smith are already in
We already know two members of the 2019 Hall of Fame class: Harold Baines and Lee Smith. Baines and Smith were voted into Cooperstown by the Today’s Game committee earlier this winter. The Hall of Fame replaced the old Veterans Committee with four “eras” committees a few years ago. These are the four new committees and the years they cover:
- Today’s Game (1988 to present): Meets next in 2021.
- Modern Era (1970-87): Meets again in 2019.
- Golden Days (1950-69): Meets next in 2020.
- Early Baseball (1887-1949): Meets next in 2020.
Each committee consists of a 16-person panel comprised of Hall of Famers, baseball executives, and historians. Smith received 16 votes and was a unanimous selection. Baines received 12 votes, the minimum needed for induction. He and Smith will join Rivera and the other members of the 2019 Hall of Fame class at induction weekend later this year.
Induction weekend is in July
July 19-20 in Cooperstown, N.Y., to be exact. Each year during induction weekend Hall of Famers gather in Cooperstown to welcome the new inductees. Fans flock to Cooperstown as well to see the ceremony and hear the speeches. With Rivera a certainty to be voted in this year I imagine Cooperstown will be packed with Yankees fans that weekend in July.
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