Cooperstown set for blue chippers

Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

With baseball's hot stove degraded to lukewarm this offseason, the annual Hall of Fame debates have generated more than the usual fervor. With the results set to be announced Wednesday (3 p.m. EST, MLB Network), a few questions and answers:

Question: Are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens getting into the Hall of Fame this time?

Answer: No.

Q: Who is?

A: Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome, based on the tabulations of Ryan Thibodaux, who has compiled the more than half the ballots publicly revealed in advance of Wednesday's announcement. Trevor Hoffman and Edgar Martinez are on the bubble.

Q: What would be noteworthy if Hoffman and Martinez are elected?

A: The Baseball Writers' Association of America, or BBWAA, has not elected five players in the same year since 1936 -- its first year of voting. The elected class that year: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner.

Q: Would five players make for a long induction ceremony?

A: The July 28 induction ceremony also will include Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, who were selected last month by a Hall of Fame veterans committee. So the ceremony could include as many as seven players.

Q: If Hoffman and Martinez are elected, what player would get the most votes without getting elected? Bonds or Clemens?

A: Probably Mike Mussina.

Q: Are Bonds and Clemens really going to get shut out of Cooperstown?

A: It's possible that there never will be a plaque for the only seven-time MVP and the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner. Neither has been shut out of the Cooperstown museum; the Hall displayed the ball Bonds hit for his record 756th home run, bought by a collector and then decorated by an asterisk.

But as far as an election and the plaque that comes with it, Bonds and Clemens have four years remaining on the BBWAA ballot.

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With 75 percent of the votes required for election, Bonds and Clemens each got 54 percent last year. Neither is expected to get to 60 percent this year, according to projections based on Thibodaux's calculations.

Q: Who are the most prominent players set to appear on the ballot for the first time next year?

A: Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte and the late Roy Halladay.

Q: If Guerrero decides to wear a Montreal Expos cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, when might the Angels finally get one of their caps on a player's plaque?

A: Could be a while. Mike Trout is 26.

Q: When was the last time the Dodgers got their cap on a Cooperstown plaque?

A: Twenty years ago with Don Sutton. In the interim, they traded Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza, each of whom since has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Q: Who's next for the Dodgers?

A: Could be a while for them, too. Clayton Kershaw is 29.

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