As was the case in so many clutch moments during his legendary career with the Red Sox, all eyes are on David Ortiz as we eagerly await the announcement of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022.
After no players were elected on last year’s Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, Ortiz — a first-time participant in this process — has by far the best chance of selection when results are revealed at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday on MLB Network.
Here are answers to the most pressing questions going into Tuesday night:
How can I watch?
Coverage of the 2022 Hall of Fame announcement begins at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday on MLB Network, with a reveal of the results by Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch at 6 p.m.
The show, which will be hosted by Greg Amsinger, Brian Kenny and Lauren Shehadi, will be simulcast on MLB.com and in the MLB app on connected devices.
A first-ballot entry for Big Papi?
Ortiz, who retired after the 2016 season, most certainly has Hall of Fame numbers — 541 home runs, 632 doubles, 1,768 RBIs, a .931 OPS, 10 All-Star selections, seven Silver Slugger Awards, three World Series titles, etc.
But on top of some voters reserving “first-ballot Hall of Fame” status for a select few, Ortiz also has to contend with biases against the designated-hitter role (the BBWAA has never voted a DH as a league MVP, and it took Edgar Martinez the maximum 10 years to get elected to the Hall) and concerns about performance-enhancing drugs. Ortiz was alleged to have tested positive in 2003 survey testing that was done to guide future enforcement policy and was never intended to be public. But Ortiz played 13 seasons under a drug policy and did not test positive once in that time frame.
In Ryan Thibodaux’s tracking of publicly released ballots, Ortiz had 84% support as of this writing (with just less than 45% of estimated ballots known). Typically, players’ percentages go down in the actual results, as voters who keep their ballots private have generally tended to vote for fewer players.
Whereas first-ballot Hall of Famers were once a rare species, they have become much more commonplace in modern voting. Since 2014, 13 players have been elected on their first try, most recently Derek Jeter in 2020.
Will the voters pitch another shutout?
Last year’s empty outcome marked just the ninth time in the BBWAA process that no players were selected. It has never happened in consecutive years.
Contributing to the cause last year were a record 14 blank ballots cast out of 401 submitted. Blank ballots — as opposed to voters simply abstaining from the process altogether — affect the percentages of all players.
Will Schilling, Bonds or Clemens get the Hall call at last call?
This was the 10th and final time on the ballot for Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, all of whom have had complicated, controversial cases that have kept them from reaching the 75% threshold so far. Last year, Schilling was checked on 71.1% of ballots cast, falling just 16 votes shy. Bonds (61.8%) and Clemens (61.6%) were further behind.
Immediately after last year’s voting reveal, Schilling posted a letter on social media that he had written to the Hall of Fame in which he criticized the way he has been portrayed in the news media and asked to be removed from the 2022 ballot. The Hall of Fame’s board voted unanimously to deny Schilling’s request. But in public tracking, Schilling had lost a net total of 21 votes as of this writing.
Bonds and Clemens, both of whom have been associated with PEDs, each gained two votes from returning voters in the public tracking, but they would need major help from the anonymous voters to have any chance of entry.
Sammy Sosa is also on this ballot for the final time but received just 17% support last year.
Will Rolen keep rolling?
Scott Rolen didn’t get elected in last year’s vote, but he was still a big winner on that ballot, jumping from 35.3% support in 2020 to 52.9%. To go from 52.9 (79 votes shy of entry) to 75 might be too tall an order for Rolen, who is on the ballot for the fifth time. But it will be interesting to see how close he can come as more voters come around on his case as a productive and defensively stalwart third baseman. In public tracking, he had a net gain of 12 votes from returning voters.
What are some other key names to watch?
Crossing the 50% threshold, as Rolen did last year, is an important milestone on the road to 75. A few others have a chance this year:
Among the public ballots, Helton had gained 12 votes, Wagner 10 and Jones eight, with Sheffield losing two votes.
Omar Vizquel’s case had been in relatively good shape with 52.6% support in 2020. But The Athletic published allegations of domestic abuse made by Vizquel’s ex-wife during the 2021 voting period, and his support slipped to 49.1%. The fallout from those allegations, as well as a recent lawsuit accusing Vizquel of sexually harassing a batboy in the Minor Leagues, has caused Vizquel to lose support on the ballots of 45 returning voters, per the public tracking. Vizquel has denied the allegations by his ex-wife and declined to comment on the lawsuit.
What about A-Rod?
In his retirement years, Alex Rodriguez has used his broadcasting career to reshape his public image after a rocky playing career. Rodriguez missed the entire 2014 season due to a suspension by MLB for the use and possession of PEDs following the Biogenesis investigation. And though he never tested positive under the Joint Drug Agreement, A-Rod admitted to using PEDs from 2001-03, and he apologized after the 2014 suspension.
Voters must weigh those facts against an impeccable statistical case – 696 home runs, 548 doubles, 2,086 RBIs, a .930 OPS, three MVP awards, 10 Silver Sluggers, 14 All-Star selections and a World Series title with the Yankees in 2009.
Though A-Rod will fall well short of first-ballot entry, he has by far the most support of any first-ballot candidate not named Ortiz, with 40.6% of public ballots giving him the check mark.
Other first-timers on this ballot included Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Torii Hunter, Tim Lincecum, Prince Fielder, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon, Justin Morneau, Carl Crawford, Jake Peavy, Joe Nathan and A.J. Pierzynski. Players must be selected on at least 5% of ballots submitted in order to remain on the ballot the following year.