On November 20th, The Baseball Writer Association of America (BBWAA) released the ballot of HOF-eligible players for 2018. Here are some of the newly added players who could be immortalized in 2018.
Chipper Jones is almost a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer. Jones was the NL MVP of 1999, an 8-time All-Star, 1995 World Series Champ, and one of the most beloved players in history.
Everybody loves Chipper, a switch-hitting 3rd baseman, who could rake is always fun to watch, but the most likable thing about Jones was his loyalty. Jones played all 19 years of his legendary career with the Atlanta Braves, even when the team wasn’t even close to making the playoffs. He never wanted to leave, and fans always love to see that.
Chipper Jones was one of the most consistent players of my lifetime. With a career batting average of .303, 2726 hits, 1623 RBIs and 468 homers, Chipper Jones should be a lock for the 2018 induction.
Legendary shortstop, Omar Vizquel, is one of the smoothest players to ever grace a baseball diamond. Vizquel was a solid hitter, but he was known for his glove more than his bat.
Vizquel obtained 11 gold gloves at the shortstop position, the second most by any shortstop behind Ozzie Smith who had 13. Vizquel being one of the most elite defenders of all-time could get him into Cooperstown but let’s not forget about his bat. Vizquel had a career batting average of .272, and that may not sound like a lot, but Vizquel played until he was 45.
Vizquel played one of the most gruelingly long sports for 24 years while maintaining a level of play to be a starter on many major league teams. He will undoubtedly become a Hall of Famer at some point but will have to wait to see if it will be 2018.
How could you not love Jim Thome? Thome was a big burly boy who cranked homers for 22 years making him the 8th all-time with 612 home runs.
Thome never came close to winning an MVP (4th place in 2003), never won a world series, but was consistently one of the most dangerous hitters in the league. There are stories of Jim Thome hitting home runs in batting practice with a hand-eye coordination bat called a “Thunderstick.” That kind of power doesn’t come around very often.
Jim Thome was baseball’s version of Paul Bunyan and a fan favorite. Jim Thome will undoubtedly be enshrined in Cooperstown someday, but with this loaded ballot he may have to wait.
A few other first-time candidates are some fan favorites such as Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Orlando Hudson, Andruw Jones, Chris Carpenter, Kerry Wood, Johan Santana, and Scott Rolen.
Even though these players were very popular when they played, most of them probably won’t ever be inducted into Cooperstown. But it is nice to see them be recognized by the BBWAA as candidates.
Another Hall of Fame ballot means it’s time for the yearly debate of whether players who have used performance-enhancing drugs should be inducted into Cooperstown. The two most notable nominees being Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Regardless of your opinion of if they should be inducted or not, it looks like this will be another year of disappointment for Mr. Clemens and Mr. Bonds. With multiple new candidates that surely deserve it, it looks even tougher for Bonds and Clemens who are certainly behind players such as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero who both barely missed the cut last year. It is hard to believe Bonds or Clemens will be inducted in 2018 but who knows.
Kevin Hurley is a sophomore journalism student at Paradise Valley Community College writing MLB articles for The Sunrise Sports.