Dan's Dugout: HoF Voters Cool Toward Hot Corner • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: HoF Voters Cool Toward Hot Corner

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Third base is called “the hot corner” for one obvious reason: it’s too hot to handle for Hall of Fame voters.

Chipper Jones was one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history. Credit: Daniel Budasoff

Although Chipper Jones heads the Cooperstown ballot for 2018, his election will still leave the position as the least populated in the hallowed hall.

Only 16 earlier third basemen were enshrined – with a bunch of those chosen by various veterans committees.

There are 18 catchers, 22 first basemen, 21 second basemen, 24 shortstops, 22 leftfielders, 24 centerfielders, 24 rightfielders, and 77 pitchers. Frank Thomas, listed as a designated hitter in the latest edition of the annual Baseball Hall of Fame Almanac, spent much of his time at first base.

The Baseball Writers Association of America could still select Scott Rolen, like Jones a first-timer this year, or fellow borderline candidates Ken Boyer or Graig Nettles but the competition seems too fierce.

Because there are only 10 slots on each ballot, electors must make choices.

Jones, a former batting champ and MVP, is a lock, along with Jim Thome, who hit 600+ home runs. Nor would it be surprising to see Vlad Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman, who just fell short last year, vault over the 75 per cent of the vote this time.

There’s also a rising groundswell of support for Omar Vizquel, who won 11 Gold Gloves at shortstop during his 24-year career, and Edgar Martinez, one of the most prolific designated hitters in the game’s history.

And what about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who combined for 14 of the biggest awards a player can earn? Although many voters shun them because of alleged steroids use, other writers are considering their achievements only.

Barry Bonds owns home run records that don’t seem genuine

With 762 home runs and 354 wins, respectively, those achievements were not just remarkable but herculean.

Neither was convicted of using performance-enhancing substances but both got better as they aged – usually an indicator of help from steroids. Bonds, for example, holds both the single-season and career records for home runs even though he spent most of his career playing in the National League’s toughest home-run target.

Clemens finished one win behind Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who has more wins than any living pitcher, and fanned 20 men in a game twice – 10 years apart.

Support for both is growing and most writers agree they will reach Cooperstown eventually. Their chances were enhanced by the recent elections of Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, and Pudge Rodriguez, all of whom were accused of relying on artificial substances to boost their careers.

Although the writers’ vote won’t be announced until January 24, two new Hall of Famers were named by the veterans committee in December. Jack Morris, a pitcher, and Alan Trammell, a shortstop who spent his entire career with Detroit, were introduced to the media during the winter meetings.

All new members of the Hall of Fame will be enshrined July 29 during Induction Weekend in Cooperstown.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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