A crowded ballot once again has resulted in a crowded house in Cooperstown.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed on Wednesday night that it has elected four new members – Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman – for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Edgar Martinez fell 20 votes shy of the necessary 75 percent (of 422 total votes) for induction, leaving this group one member short of matching the record for the largest class elected by the BBWAA).
The initial Hall quintet in 1936 featured Babe Ruth and fellow early 20th century legends Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.
This year’s total also pushes the number of BBWAA electees to 16 over the past five years, after only 10 players had been so honored over the previous eight voting cycles, including zero inductees in 2013. The freshly minted quartet will join Modern Era committee selections Jack Morris and Alan Trammell for the induction ceremony in Cooperstown on July 29.
Notably, PED-tainted former stars Roger Clemens (57.3 percent) and Barry Bonds (56.4) made only slight gains in their sixth of 10 opportunities on the ballot after each player had jumped nearly 10 points one year ago to 54 percent apiece.
Manny Ramirez (22.0 percent), twice suspended for failing MLB-administered PED tests, Gary Sheffield (11.1) and Sammy Sosa (7.8) also continue to linger on the fringes of the balloting.
Conversely, Jones and Thome were considered locks in their first year of eligibility, and both cruised into the Hall with at least 90 percent of the vote.
Chipper, whose 97.2 percent marks the 11th highest total of all-time, was a longtime divisional nemesis of the Mets as the star third baseman of the Atlanta Braves. The 1999 NL MVP finished his career as an eight-time All-Star with 468 home runs, third-most by a switch-hitter in baseball history. In 2016, Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3 percent) eclipsed Tom Seaver’s longstanding record of 98.84 percent for the highest voting percentage.
Thome (89.8 percent) clubbed 612 homers over 22 major-league seasons, good for eighth on the all-time list, and he finished just behind Guerrero in the balloting. Guerrero, who posted a slash line of .318/.379/.553 with 449 homers, made a 20-plus point jump after falling just short in his ballot debut one year ago at 71.7 percent.
Hoffman ranks second behind only Mariano Rivera in career saves with 601 and made the Hall in his third year of eligibility, after finishing five votes shy of enshrinement last year.
Martinez, the longtime Seattle designated hitter who was one of only 14 players in baseball history with a career slash line of at least .310/.410/.510, saw another sizable jump from last year’s 58.6 percent to 70.1 percent. That likely sets him up for potential enshrinement in 2019, his final year of eligibility, when Rivera and the late Roy Halladay will be the top newcomers on the ballot.
Among other notables this year, former Orioles and Yankees starter Mike Mussina also continued to move closer towards eventual election, improving from 51.8 percent in 2017 to 63.5 percent, with five years of eligibility remaining. Curt Schilling also ticked upwards from 45 percent to 51.2, while Larry Walker jumped nearly more than a dozen percentage points to an eight-year high of 34.1.
First-timers Omar Vizquel (37 percent), Scott Rolen (10.2) and Andruw Jones (7.3) will receive further consideration in 2019 after registering at least the minimum of five percent of the vote.
Among those in this one-and-done category included former Mets hurler Johan Santana (10 votes) and ex-Yankees Johnny Damon (eight) and Hideki Matsui (four).