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2021: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens cross the line

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Top Newcomers

Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle, Torii Hunter, Dan Haren, Barry Zito, Aramis Ramirez

Top Holdovers

Clemens, Bonds, Schilling, Halladay

Most Likely To Be Elected

Bonds, Clemens, Schilling

The first year that I'll have a ballot will be a weak one for newcomers, as no one is anywhere close to the JAWS standard at his position or has a notable milestone that will fuel his candidacy. Hudson won 222 games and finished with a 120 ERA+, but he ranks just 81st in JAWS, far below every other starter up for discussion in this exercise except Pettitte. Buehrle, with his 214 wins and 116 ERA+, ranks 89th, one notch below Pettitte, and Haren and Zito are more than 100 spots below that (though if Schilling's Twitter feed can hinder his candidacy, maybe Haren's can help his). Hunter has 2,452 hits, 353 homers and nine Gold Gloves, but he's 32nd among centerfielders in JAWS, nowhere near as good as the Lofton/Jones/Edmonds cluster. Ramirez had some thump (386 homers and a .492 slugging percentage), but his dreadful defense (-85 runs) leaves him just 58th in JAWS among third basemen.

JAFFE: Some of baseball's best didn't were one-and-done on Hall ballot

All of that suggests that 2021 will be a year for holdovers to step forward, and it's here that I see Bonds and Clemens finally amassing enough support. Thirteen of the 15 new voters this year included both on their ballots (up from five out of 10 the year before), and after the pair gained roughly 17 percentage points over the last two cycles, it's clear that they're on their way. Assuming 442 ballots (as there were this year, just two more than in 2016), Bonds needs a net increase of 94 votes over his final five cycles—around 19 per year—and Clemens needs 93. Not only is that doable, but it also appears inevitable, particularly as the traffic thins out and the electorate turns over. This would appear to be a good spot for Schilling, also in the ninth year of his candidacy, to finish the job, and I'd bet Halladay moves within striking distance of election.