Here’s What Baseball Writers Got Right and Wrong in HOF Ballot
On Tuesday, David Ortiz was announced as the only new member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in the class of 2022. Voting was done by the Baseball Writer's Association of America (BBWAA). To make it in, players need at least 75% of the vote, and Ortiz earned 77.9% to make it in on his first year of eligibility. Here's an example of what the 2022 ballot looked like from USA Today baseball writer and BBWAA member Bob Nightengale.
Ortiz is absolutely deserving of the Hall of Fame. After starting his career with the Minnesota Twins, the 10-time All-Star had an illustrious 14-season stretch with the Boston Red Sox, winning three World Series titles with a World Series MVP in 2013, seven Silver Slugger awards, and three AL RBI leader titles. Ortiz finished with 2,472 hits, 541 home runs, and 1,768 runs batted in during his career. He retired with the Red Sox in 2016.
I don't think many people would argue that Ortiz doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Maybe one could provide an argument that he shouldn't have been a first ballot member, but the controversy with the most recent set of ballots is that the BBWAA denied both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in their final 10th year of eligibility. This was due to their years of alleged performance-enhancing drug use. However, according to a 2009 article by the New York Times, Ortiz was named one of over 100 players that tested positive for a performance enhancing drug in 2003. Ortiz has since denied the claim that he took any illegal substance. When asked about Bonds and Clemens, Ortiz was shocked that they aren't included in the class of 2022.
Let's start with Bonds. His career accolades are unbelievable. In his 22-season career, Bonds was an All-Star 14 times, a MVP seven times, a Silver Slugger winner 12 times, and even a Gold Glove winner eight times. He owns the MLB record for most career home runs with 762, most career walks with 2,558, and he has multiple single season records for highest amount of walks, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Incredibly, Bonds had more career walks than Ortiz had career hits. Kendall Baker of Axios Sports did the math regarding Bonds and Ortiz's on-base percentage. The numbers are eye-popping.
Simply put, Barry Bonds had a legendary career that is overshadowed by his alleged performance enhancing drug use.
Clemens is a similar story. An incredible 24-year career as a pitcher included 11 All-Stars, seven Cy Young awards, two World Series championships, two triple crowns, an AL MVP, and a load of other individual seasons at the top of multiple pitching categories, such as wins, strikeouts, and ERA. However, just like Bonds, these numbers are also clouded due to his alleged steroid use as a player. After receiving the news, Clemens released a statement where he effectively said that he didn't expect to make it in after the BBWAA continued to have members block his entry.
Bonds and Clemens each finished second and third on the ballot results, with Bonds picking up 66% of the vote and Clemens finishing with 65.2%. Each player needed just 40 more of the 394 total voters to pick them to end up in the Hall of Fame, but they were each denied. Ortiz will be the only member of this upcoming class as a result. Multiple baseball writers have already come out in support of these two stars. For instance, ESPN writers Buster Olney and Jeff Passan stated their case to why Bonds should be in the Hall. Passan's reasoning to why Bonds belongs in MLB's Hall of Fame was simple yet effective.
I would also argue that the pitcher that has won the most Cy Young awards in history deserves similar consideration. Clemens finished with seven of the most prestigious individual pitching awards: the most ever. Each player saw their careers prolonged allegedly due to performance-enhancing drugs, but it can also be argued that both of them had Hall of Fame numbers before steroids got involved.
Regardless, this is obviously a divisive topic, and some people think that these players don't belong in the Hall of Fame because of the cheating involved in performance enhancers. That's an understandable stance that at least 34% of the BBWAA would agree with, but, in my opinion, it's unfortunate that neither Bonds nor Clemens will have a plaque in Cooperstown while Ortiz ended up being a first-ballot member. A comfortable medium would be to induct both players into the Hall, but include the story of their steroid use in the latter halves of their careers for people to have the full context regarding two dominant players of that era.