MLB

Which first-time Hall of Fame candidates have the best chance at Cooperstown in 2020?

The 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was released on Monday. Which first-timers have the best chance to gain election into Cooperstown?

On Monday, the official Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for 2020 was released. The list of 32 Cooperstown hopefuls includes14 holdovers from last year and 18 new candidates.

The 14 back on the ballot from last year include such notable but controversial candidates as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and others connected to steroid use. The question of how voters will continue to weigh the accomplishments of that era is still very much to be seen. There are also a handful of interesting candidates – Curt Schilling among them – who may see more votes this year with fewer obvious choices on the ballot.

At the same time, we also have 18 first-time candidates on the ballot this year, being judged by the voters for the first time. What are the chances that these players gain election? Here, we look at their candidacy, starting with one player who is a virtual lock to get in.

New York Yankees

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Lock

Derek Jeter

For nearly two decades, Derek Jeter was a cornerstone for baseball‘s most storied franchise, the New York Yankees. He was perhaps the most important player for one of the game’s greatest dynasties in the late 1990s. He had a presence on the baseball diamond that few players have ever had, and he had the respect of so many fans across the game, even many of those who hate the Yankees. Jeter personifies what the Hall of Fame is all about.

Even though Jeter has the intangibles, his statistics also clearly put him into Hall of Fame territory. He collected 3,465 hits in his career, which is good for sixth all-time. He batted at least .300 in 12 seasons and finished with a lifetime .310 average. On defense, he won five Gold Glove Awards. Amazingly, he never won an MVP award, but he finished in the top ten in voting eight times.

Both the statistics and the intangibles show that Jeter was an elite player over a long period of time. Because of that, it’s a virtual guarantee that he’ll get far more than the required 75% of votes to get in on the first try. The better question might be whether he gets in unanimously on his first ballot.

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