Today, I will be rounding out my January blog posts with a preview of next year's potential Baseball Hall of Fame inductees! From the Veterans Committee to the BBWAA, the voters will have some interesting decisions to make in 2020.
The Harold Baines Conundrum
I already published my opinions on Baines's VC election that was announced in December of 2018, so I won't bore you with the details of why I don't think he's a Hall of Famer. What I will bother you with, however, is the implications of Baines's election into the Hall on future inductees. Next year will be the first year of the Baines-HoF era, so it's possible that we could see major shakeups in voting for players who had previously not received a lot of love and players who just didn't deserve it. If the Veterans Committee is more or less the same for next year, will Joe Carter and Will Clark make the Hall? Will BBWAA voters be more relaxed when it comes to steroid-users? The bottom line is that Harold Baines has established a new precedent for baseball's common law and no one really knows how it will effect the Hall of Fame's reputation.
Yet Another Yankee Shoe-In
Derek Jeter will appear on the BBWAA ballots next year for the first time and it will be no surprise to see him in Cooperstown at the 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremony. What might be a surprise, however, is if he receives every single vote. Former teammate Mariano Rivera recently became the first Hall of Fame inductee to receive 100% of the Hall of Fame vote, but some people speculated before the voting was released that Rivera wouldn't be unanimous because of his role of a closer. Probably the only reason that Jeter couldn't get 100% is the steroid skeptics on the ballot. But with the established point that a Hall of Famer could deserve 100%, will the former Yankees shortstop become the first unanimous hitter in the Hall of Fame?
The Other First-Timers
Besides Jeter, All Stars like Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, and Cliff Lee will appear on BBWAA ballots for the first time. While you could make an argument for each of these three guys, no one really thought of them as Hall of Famers when they retired, including myself. The one other first-timer who I think has at least a shot at the Hall of Fame is Paul Konerko. His numbers are pretty solid, but he gets a true boost by being a major figure in the history of the White Sox. It's quite simple: franchise fan favoritism has to be a category worth looking at when it comes to Hall of Fame member legitimacy and one could argue that it was this very factor that pushed Mo Rivera's vote to 100%. Konerko is not deserving of being a first-ballot Hall of Famer, in my opinion, but I expect his voting percentage to rise every year from 2020-2029.