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Baseball writers unlikely to elect anyone to Hall of Fame this year

Curt Schilling #38 of the Boston Red Sox

Curt Schilling #38 of the Boston Red Sox gets the signs against the Colorado Rockies during Game Two of the 2007 Major League Baseball World Series at Fenway Park on October 25, 2007 in Boston. Credit: Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

At about 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, we’ll find out if Baseball Hall of Fame voters have pitched a shutout.

That’s when the results of the 2021 voting will be announced on MLB Network. If recent voting trends hold, no player will earn the 75% required for entry into Cooperstown.

The controversial trio of Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens held the lead in publicly revealed ballots as of 6 p.m. on Monday night.

With 182 ballots tallied by Hall of Fame tracker Ryan Thibodaux, about 46% of the expected final total, Schilling was at 75.3%. But Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters do not have to reveal their ballots either before or after the election, and vote percentages almost always go down when every ballot is counted.

Last year, for example, Schilling was named on 73.7% of public ballots in the final tally before the vote was announced. He finished at 70.0%.

Schilling, the 2001 World Series co-MVP and a three-time champion, has an excellent Hall of Fame resume. But his toxic post-playing persona has caused enough voters to pass on him — and some who voted for Schilling in the past dropped him this year because of his incendiary political rhetoric.

As of 6 p.m. on Monday, the steroid-tainted duo of Bonds (72.5%) and Clemens (72.0%) seemed poised to increase their numbers from 2020, when Bonds was named on 60.7% of ballots and Clemens earned 61.0% of the vote.

If they are not elected, Schilling, Clemens and Bonds will be in their final years of eligibility on the 2022 BBWAA ballot. They will be joined by first-timers Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, among others.

Top movers in this year’s public tally as of 6 p.m. on Monday included Todd Helton (up 30 votes from 2020), Andruw Jones (plus 29), Scott Rolen (plus 26), Billy Wagner (plus 23) and Gary Sheffield (plus 19).

Of those in that group, Rolen was the top percentage-getter in public ballots at 62.1%.

Former Yankees lefthander Andy Pettitte, who had his own PED issues, was up 11 votes but was named on only 15.9% of the public ballots.

Shortstop Omar Vizquel, who had climbed up the ballot in recent years, was down two votes from 2020. In a story that broke in mid-December, Vizquel was accused by his wife, Blanca, of domestic abuse in incidents from 2011 and 2016. Vizquel has denied the allegations and said they were part of a "smear campaign" during a heated divorce.

Even though Vizquel is not currently employed in the game, Major League Baseball said it is investigating the allegations.

The only newcomer on the 2021 ballot polling above the 5% needed to remain on next year’s ballot was lefthander Mark Buehrle, who was at 7.7%.

It’s not shocking that the BBWAA electorate could be taking a pause this year. There is no surefire candidate among the 25 on the ballot.

The BBWAA elected 22 players in the previous seven years. Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were elected by the BBWAA as the Class of 2020, with Ted Simmons and the late union chief Marvin Miller joining them via one of the Hall of Fame’s era committees.

The 2020 induction ceremony was postponed because of the pandemic. Jeter, Walker, Simmons and representatives of Miller’s family will be invited to the rescheduled induction ceremony scheduled for July 25.

If an upset happens and someone is elected on Tuesday, that player or players also will be on the Cooperstown stage with the Class of 2020.

If not, it will be the ninth time since voting began in 1939 that the BBWAA has held an election and not selected anyone. (That occurred in 1945, 1946, 1950, 1958, 1960, 1971, 1996 and 2013.)

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