Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are the leading candidates returning to baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot in a year without any favorites among the new names.
Schilling was third behind Derek Jeter and Larry Walker with 278 of 397 votes last year, finishing at 70% and 20 votes shy in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Clemens had 242 votes for 61% and Bonds 241 for 60.7%, both well short of the 75% needed, which was 298 votes last year. Both were overwhelming favorites before suspicions of steroids use.
Clemens has denied using performance-enhancing drugs, and Bonds says he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs.
All three will be making their ninth appearance on the BBWAA ballot this year, one short of the limit. Omar Vizquel was next in last year’s voting with 209 ballots for 52.6%.
Pitchers Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle and A.J. Burnett, outfielder Torii Hunter, and infielder Aramis Ramírez are among the top newcomers on the ballot.
Zito was 165-143 with a 4.04 ERA for Oakland and San Francisco, including 23-5 in 2002. Hudson was 222-133 with a 3.49 ERA for Oakland, Atlanta and San Francisco. The left-hander was a three-time All-Star and was the 2002 American League Cy Young Award winner with the A’s when he topped the league with 23 victories..
Buehrle was 214-160 with a 3.81 ERA, throwing a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox against Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009, and a no-hitter for the White Sox against Texas on April 18, 2007. A left-hander, he was five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner and set an AL record by pitching 200 or more innings 14 seasons in a row (2001-14).
Burnett. a member of the New York Yankees’ most recent World Series championship team in 2009, also pitched for the Marlins, Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies over 17 seasons. The right-hander led the league in starts twice, strikeouts per nine innings twice and total strikeouts once. He was 164-157 and pitched a no-hitter for the Marlins against San Diego on May 12, 2001.
Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove center fielder, had a .277 average, 2,452 hits, 353 home runs and 1,391 RBIs. He pitched for the A's the Giants and the Atlanta Braves, and is one of only 14 pitchers in history with at least 200 victories, 2,000 strikeouts and a .625 winning percentage. He was the National League Comeback Player of the Year with the Braves in 2010.
Ramírez, whose career covered 18 seasons with the Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, was a three-time All-Star who won the NL Hank Aaron Award in 2008 and the Silver Slugger Award for NL third basemen in 2011. Of his 2,303 career hits, 386 were home runs, the seventh-highest total among players who played at least half their games at third base. Ramirez had seven seasons of 100 or more runs batted in, and his career RBI total of 1,417 ranks sixth among third basemen.
Voting will be announced Jan. 26 and anyone elected will be inducted July 25 along with Jeter and Walker, whose inductions were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other holdovers on the ballot include Andy Pettitte, Billy Wagner, Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Scott Rolen, Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa.
Newcomers also include Dan Haren, LaTroy Hawkins, Aramis Ramirez, Michael Cuddyer, Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino.
Ballots by members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years or more must be postmarked by Dec. 31.