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Todd Helton and the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

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Colorado Rockies analysis and news for Sunday, November 15, 2020

Yes, it’s the offseason. That means baseball news and analysis is hard to come by. But in his weekly feature Patrick Saunders saved us by turning the conversation to the Rockies and the Hall of Fame. The ballot will be officially released on Monday, which means we have eight to ten weeks to debate the names until the announcement in early January. So let’s kick off Hall of Fame season by talking about who’s likely to be inducted, where Todd Helton stands in his candidacy, and those players who are appearing on the ballot for the first time. You can find Baseball-References’ Potential Hall of Fame ballot here.

The top of the ballot

The story is the same here as it has been for the previous eight: what to do with the “Steroid Era” behemoths Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. The Bill James Hall of Fame monitor gives players a score, based on their stats and previous voting trends, of likelihood of induction with anything above 100 as likely and below as unlikely. Clemens (332) and Bonds (340) break the scale. Clemens debuted on the ballot in the with about 35% of the ballot and in eight years have climbed to 61% and 60.7%, respectively. That’s a slow climb indicative of an electorate that’s still making up their minds. One would think they’d be locks for 75% either this year or next But as long as voters remain unclear on how to handle their prodigious stat lines in concert with their PED connections, they’ll languish on the ballot. You can also put Manny Ramirez in this group; he’s got a 226 HOFm but sits at 28.2% of the ballot thanks to his slightly less opaque connections to PEDS.

If Bonds and Clemens don’t get the bump, it’s likely that Curt Schilling finally will. His HOFm score is 171 and there’s no doubting his credentials. But Schilling has also been his own worst enemy, often lambasting the media for executing a conspiracy to keep him out of the hall (which is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy if you ask me, but I digress).

If Schilling doesn’t get the bump, don’t expect any players to be elected on the BBWAA ballot. Omar Vizquel (52.6%, 120 HOFm) is likely still too far away, and Scott Rolen (35.3%, 99 HOFm), Billy Wagner (31.7%, 107 HOFm), and Gary Sheffield (30.5%, 158 HOFm) would require unprecedented jumps.

The Curious Case of Todd Helton

As mentioned above and linked below, Saunders’ feature this week focuses on Helton’s case, so we’ll just touch of some of the particulars here then you can read the article for yourself (assuming you haven’t hit your Denver Post article limit yet). Helton enters his third year on the ballot with 29.2% of the vote last year, which is a threshold Walker didn’t cross until his eighth year on the ballot. That, coupled with Walker’s election removing the Coors Field stigma, puts Helton on a solid trajectory for eventual election, but we may have to wait a few more years. Again, check out Saunders’ piece for a more thorough breakdown.

First time eligible

As a reminder, to be eligible for the BBWAA ballot, a player has to have played for at least ten years in the majors and been retired for at least five. While it’s certainly possible that old friends LaTroy Hawkins, Michael Cuddyer, Jeremy Affeldt, and Jason Marquis could find themselves on the ballot, I wouldn’t expect any of them to hit the requisite 5% of votes to make it to their second year on the ballot.

There are a few notable first timers though. Count me among the people who wants to see Mark Buehrle (career 117 ERA+, a perfect game, and a speed demon) in the hall, same with Torri Hunter (110 OPS+) and Tim Hudson (120 ERA+). Those guys are definitely Hall of Very Good, so I’m not getting my hopes up that they’ll be elected, but hopefully they’ll get to stick around on the ballot long enough to get consideration. Oh and Dan Haren (@ithrew88 on Twitter) should get a look as well because that guys is fun.

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Todd Helton’s journey toward Hall of Fame resumes Monday | Denver Post

Patrick Saunders lays out the particulars of Helton’s case here, with some choice quotes from the man himself, as well as owner Dick Monfort and Hall of Famer Larry Walker (feels good to say that).

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