Voter support for them is growing, but will Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get into the Hall of Fame?
Based purely on playing credentials, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would have been first-ballot Hall of Famers and surely gotten 90-plus percent of the vote. But as the most prominent faces of steroid use speculation, the two remain out of Cooperstown through eight years on the ballot now.t
The baseball writer’s voting body seems pretty strictly divided–those who will not vote for alleged PED users at all and those that are open to the idea there are probably already PED users in the Hall of Fame and will vote for Bonds, Clemens and others who have been tied to PED use (alleged or proven).
Bonds and Clemens have two years left on the writer’s ballot, before they will then be subject to consideration when the Modern Era Committee meets. They both reached 60 percent of the vote this year for the first team, which seems to put reaching the required 75 percent in play over their final two years.
Clemens has had a similar upward track as Bonds, from 37.6 percent of the vote in 2013 to 61 percent this year.
The 2021 class has no sure-fire locks among those who’ll be on the ballot for the first time, so Curt Schilling (70 percent of the vote this year) should gain induction fairly easily. Guys like Omar Vizquel (52.6 percent this year) and Scott Rolen (35.3 percent this year) stand to gain a lot of votes next year.
In 2022, Bonds and Clemens’ final year on the ballot, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez will be on the ballot for the first time. They have also been tied to PED use/speculation, so that clouds the picture as voters possibly end up considering all four for their ballots.
As older Hall of Fame voters have been phased out of the process in favor of a younger crop, players from the Steroid Era don’t carry quite the same stigma.
Based on this year’s 397 submitted ballots, Clemens needs 156 more votes and Bonds needs 157 more votes to gain Hall of Fame induction. Bump that up to a nice round 400, and they need 158 and 159 more raw votes respectively to gain induction. Those numbers make it seem unlikely they’ll each gain close to 80 votes per year over the next two years.
While entirely different situations, the significant gains made by Larry Walker this year on his way to induction in his final year on the ballot can be somewhat informative regarding Bonds and Clemens.
Will Bonds and Clemens ever get into Cooperstown? It still feels unlikely, but growing support and a thin class of 2021 first-time eligible players creates room for both to get a lot more votes a year from now. Perhaps next year is the year they get in, or they both may be on the doorstep looking to their final year on the ballot in 2022.
If I was a voter, with the assumption there are unknown others in Cooperstown who used PEDs, Bonds and Clemens would be easy boxes to check on my ballot.