There will be four new members inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015. This group of four does not include the home run king and arguably the best hitter to ever play the game.
This year Barry Bonds was named on 36.8% (202 of 549) ballots cast, falling well short of the 75% required for induction. His numbers are up from last year by six votes and are about even with his first year on the ballot (he had four more votes, but more people voted in that year so his percentage is 0.4 higher).
With a maximum of just seven more years on the ballot, will Bonds ever be elected? Let’s take a look at a few different methods to hazard a guess.
1. How Bonds compares to his peers in left field
|Ted Williams HOF||123.1||69.2||96.2||19||1939||1960||19||1798||2654||521||1839||24||2021||709||.344||.482||.634||190|
|Rickey Henderson HOF||110.8||57.4||84.1||25||1979||2003||10||2295||3055||297||1115||1406||2190||1694||.279||.401||.419||127|
|Carl Yastrzemski HOF||96.1||55.4||75.8||23||1961||1983||18||1816||3419||452||1844||168||1845||1393||.285||.379||.462||130|
|Ed Delahanty HOF||69.5||48.5||59.0||16||1888||1903||0||1600||2597||101||1466||455||741||439||.346||.411||.505||152|
|Al Simmons HOF||68.7||45.7||57.2||20||1924||1944||3||1507||2927||307||1828||88||615||737||.334||.380||.535||133|
|Goose Goslin HOF||66.1||43.3||54.7||18||1921||1938||1||1482||2735||248||1610||176||949||585||.316||.387||.500||128|
|Billy Williams HOF||63.5||41.3||52.4||18||1959||1976||6||1410||2711||426||1475||90||1045||1046||.290||.361||.492||133|
|Fred Clarke HOF||67.8||36.1||52.0||21||1894||1915||0||1622||2678||67||1015||509||875||511||.312||.386||.429||133|
|Jesse Burkett HOF||62.9||37.2||50.0||16||1890||1905||0||1720||2850||75||952||389||1029||613||.338||.415||.446||140|
|Willie Stargell HOF||57.5||38.0||47.7||21||1962||1982||7||1194||2232||475||1540||17||937||1936||.282||.360||.529||147|
|Joe Medwick HOF||55.5||39.7||47.6||17||1932||1948||10||1198||2471||205||1383||42||437||551||.324||.362||.505||134|
|Zack Wheat HOF||60.2||34.7||47.4||19||1909||1927||0||1289||2884||132||1248||205||650||572||.317||.367||.450||129|
|Ralph Kiner HOF||49.3||43.7||46.5||10||1946||1955||6||971||1451||369||1015||22||1011||749||.279||.398||.548||149|
|Joe Kelley HOF||50.6||36.2||43.4||17||1891||1908||0||1421||2220||65||1194||443||911||430||.317||.402||.451||134|
|Jim Rice HOF||47.4||36.2||41.8||16||1974||1989||8||1249||2452||382||1451||58||670||1423||.298||.352||.502||128|
|Heinie Manush HOF||45.8||34.7||40.2||17||1923||1939||1||1287||2524||110||1183||113||506||345||.330||.377||.479||121|
|Lou Brock HOF||45.2||32.0||38.6||19||1961||1979||6||1610||3023||149||900||938||761||1730||.293||.343||.410||109|
|Jim O’Rourke HOF||51.3||24.2||37.8||23||1872||1904||0||1729||2639||62||1208||229||513||362||.310||.352||.422||134|
Bonds is the best left fielder to ever play the game. He is well above the position’s average in every category, except for triples (77 vs. an average of 118), strikeouts (1,539 vs. an average of 810) and batting average (.298 vs. an average of .311). Overall, adding him to the Hall of Fame would make the average left fielder enshrined a much better player. The average triple slash line would improve from .311/.385/.489 to .310/.389/.496. He would also bump up the average home runs by 26, RBI by 35, and walks by 81.
By this standard, Bonds should’ve been a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. The only other players not in the Hall of Fame who come close to being his equal statistics-wise are Pete Rose and Roger Clemens. Rose isn’t eligible, and Clemens has the same PED issues hanging over his voting numbers as Bonds.
2. Taking his three-year vote total and extrapolating a trend line based on those numbers (yay, math!)
A simple linear equation gives us the following: % Vote= 0.3(Years) + 35.3
If we plug in the full ten years on the ballot we end up with him maxing out at 38.3% of the vote, well short of the 75% needed.
If we are super generous (and not at all scientific), throw out the first year from the calculation for the extrapolation you get % Vote= 2.1(Years) + 32.6. Plugging in the maximum ten years with that formula equates to 53.6% of the vote.
Based on this method it looks like Bonds will never be voted into the Hall of Fame and will need the Veteran’s Committee to vote him in.
3. Wildly speculating on how I *think* things will go
The issue that’s keeping out Bonds (as well as others that played in the mid-to-late-1990s through the early-2000s) is performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids. The electorate is effectively split with about 25-30% not putting much or any consideration into PED use, another 25-30% passing on anyone with a hint of association to PED use, and another 40-50% that are deciding on a case-by-case basis.
With the hard line anti-PED voters holding a virtual veto on who gets into the Hall of Fame, it will take people in this camp softening their stance or some sort of ruling from the Hall on how to treat people suspected of PED use (or those who tested positive) to get many from that era into the Hall of Fame. The only drastic change I can imagine is that the hard line voters remember that PEDs have been deeply ingrained in the game for decades, as many already in the Hall are known to have used greenies and other drugs. However, I imagine too many voters see those as lesser forms of rule breaking/cheating … even if that line of thinking is pretty illogical.
With how slow things change in baseball, I can’t imagine too many minds changing or the Hall of Fame creating new ways for which PEDs should be considered. The backlog of deserving players and the ones that merit serious consideration will continue to grow — by my count for next year there are at least 11 deserving players and another seven on the cusp, with the backlog growing over the next few years.
Facing these realities, no matter how deserving Bonds is of being enshrined in Cooperstown, I cannot imagine the baseball writers ever voting him in. He believes he will get in eventually, but if that happens his inclusion will likely need to come from the Veteran’s Committee.