The great subplot of Hall of Fame results day is always how Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and other stars from the steroid era perform on baseball writers’ ballots. The answer this year: They’re still not going to Cooperstown and they’re not getting much closer.
Bonds and Clemens specifically didn’t see nearly the same growth in 2018 that they had in years past. Seventy-five percent of the vote is needed for a plaque in Cooperstown, but Bonds got 56.4 percent and Clemens finished at 57.3. Last year, Bonds got 53.8 percent and Clemens got 54.1 percent.
They had each jumped up about eight or nine percent the past two years (see table below), but that didn’t happen again. Instead, they gained right around three percent each. This came after Joe Morgan’s letter to Hall of Fame voters asking not to include suspected PED users.
Now it’s time to wonder if they’ll ever cross the magic 75-percent threshold on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballots. This was the sixth year on the ballot for Bonds and Clemens, meaning they’ll have four more chances.
But if their cases have stalled — they each only gained two votes from returning voters, according to ballots made public by voters and tabulated by the Hall of Fame Ballot Tracker — getting to 75 percent is looking a lot tougher. They’re not close enough that a few new, younger voters each year are going to get them over the hump.
And get this? Other steroid-era players fared even worse on this year’s ballot.
• Sammy Sosa, whose support hasn’t been anywhere close to Bonds, finished at 7.8 percent. He was also in his sixth year on the ballot and got 8.6 percent last year. Unless something drastically changes soon, Sosa isn’t sniffing the Hall of Fame.
• Manny Ramirez also doesn’t get the same support as Bonds, but he has PED suspensions on his record. Ramirez finished at 22 percent this year, his second on the ballot. Last year, he got 23.8 percent of the vote. That’s a long way to go, but he has a lot of time left on the ballot — time that will crossover with both Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.
• Gary Sheffield gets lumped in with the PED crowd by a lot of voters for his association with BALCO, even though he never faced suspension from MLB. In his fourth year on the ballot, Sheffield got 11.1 percent of the vote, compared to 13.3 percent last year. He hit 509 homers, that’s a big Cooperstown-friendly number, but the PED association continues to drag him down.
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