The 2018 Hall of Fame vote will be revealed on Wednesday evening, and these five stories are worth keeping an eye on ahead of the big announcement.
After months of deliberation, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Baseball Writers Association of America will reveal their final voting results for the class of 2018. Without much news coming from the league’s actual free-agent market, the Hall of Fame has been one of the few things worth talking about from a baseball standpoint so far this winter.
The rise of the ballot tracker and the wonderful Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) does take away from some of the drama and intrigue surrounding the big reveal. According to the early results, the Hall will get five new members this summer. Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman and Edgar Martinez are all currently tracking with more than 75 percent. Jones, Guerrero and Thome are mortal locks, with vote totals above 90 percent as the ballot currently stands.
Hoffman and Martinez, both specialists, have much more interesting cases. They will be at the mercy of the private voters if their inductions are to come this year. Making both wait another year, when the upward trend makes it so obvious that they will eventually be inducted, seems pointless, but anything can happen.
Beyond the slam-dunk candidates, there are many more intriguing storylines that come with the Hall of Fame vote each year. These are the five worth keeping an eye on and considering as the announcement of this year’s class draws near.
5. The first full-time closer?
Last year, former all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman missed induction by a mere five votes. Inertia alone should be enough to push him into the Hall of Fame this year. If that does finally happen, Hoffman will be the first full-time closer from this generation to be enshrined in Cooperstown. There are relievers already in the Hall of Fame who worked as closers like Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley, but their careers spanned a time when the save was not such a dominant statistic and relievers still often went more than one inning at a time.
Interestingly enough, Hoffman was one of the few fringe candidates ever to actually gain a significant percentage of the vote upon the reveal of the final results. He went up 1.3 percent last year. Already checking in at 78.8 percent so far, it seems a lock that Hoffman is going in this year.
Hoffman’s induction is very much deserved. Had he swapped teams with, say, Mariano Rivera, he would have already been voted in by a resounding margin. Instead, Hoffman spent his career in relative obscurity with the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers. With Rivera coming onto the ballot next year, Hoffman’s induction could not come at a better time as he will not be forced to share the stage with another all-time great in 2019.