If you’ve been waiting for a spirited Baseball Hall of Fame debate, you’re going to get one this winter.
The 2022 ballot made its debut on Monday, and it contains the names of 13 newly eligible players. Can you guess which one will inspire the most discussion?
If you guessed Alex Rodriguez, you get a gold star. While “A-Rod” has turned around his image in recent years, coming fully clean about his PED usage and becoming an MLB broadcaster, his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal earned him a full-season suspension from MLB in 2014 and made him one of the most divisive players in the game.
David Ortiz, who is beloved in Boston, will also inspire more than a little conversation. In 2016 it was leaked that Ortiz failed a PED test in 2003 along with 103 other MLB players. This was before MLB had an official PED testing program, so he wasn’t suspended and the results (which were supposed to be kept anonymous) were never publicly announced.
To be elected to the Hall of Fame, a player needs to be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots. To stay on the ballot from year-to-year, players need to be named on at least five percent of ballots. The maximum number of cycles a player can stay on the ballot is 10.
Returning players also controversial
There are 17 returning players also on the ballot, which can be seen in full courtesy of Ryan Thibodaux of the legendary Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Tracker.
As if “A-Rod” and “Big Papi” weren’t enough, the four candidates in their final year of eligibility are also pretty controversial: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa. Schilling, who got 71.1 percent of the vote in 2021, publicly asked to be removed from the ballot last year, but the Hall of Fame declined to honor his wishes.
Bonds, Clemens and Sosa are a trio of players who were significantly involved in the steroid era in baseball, which has significantly affected their Hall of Fame chances. Bonds, one of the greatest players of all time, and Clemens have both seen their vote totals rise steadily, but they topped out in the 60-65 percent range, at least 10 percent short of what they need to make it to Cooperstown.
In addition to Bonds, Clemens and Schilling, third baseman Scott Rolen was the only other player to tally more than 50 percent on the 2021 ballot.
Will writers treat Rodriguez, who was suspended for PED usage but put up Hall of Fame numbers throughout his career, the same as Bonds and Clemens? Will Ortiz suffer any consequences for his leaked PED test? We’ll find out on Jan. 25, 2022.