Former SF Giants stars Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds are nearing the end of their Hall of Fame eligibility, but early voting returns this year are bad for their chances.
Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds were the faces of the SF Giants throughout the 2000s. At the time, both seemed like guarantees to reunite in Cooperstown one day. However, things have not gone as once expected.
Bonds was the best player in baseball over his career and very well could be the best player of all time. Of course, his connections to BALCO and the epidemic of performance-enhancing drug use throughout his mid-30s has led to his omission from enough Hall of Fame voters’ ballots to keep him out of Cooperstown. With just two more years of eligibility, his time is running out.
Kent, on the other hand, has never been directly connected to PED use and remains one of the most prolific second basemen of all-time. However, limited defensively and buried statistically by many of his peers playing in the steroid era, he has struggled to get any traction. In his eighth year on the ballot, Kent will have to receive votes from 75% of eligible voters in one of the next three cycles. His previous high is 27.5%, an absurdly low number given his obvious Hall of Fame case.
Both had reputations as abrasive figures and even had a few quarrels with each other. They were also notoriously disrespectful in their treatment of members of the media. While many voters will insist it has had no impact on their behavior, it’s hard to think it’s had no impact on some votes.
Votes are not due until December 31st and the Hall of Fame will not announce the 2021 class of inductees until next year. However, the Baseball Hall of Fame Tracker records votes as writers make them public to allow fans to track every candidate’s progress. Thus far, 22 ballots (about 6% of the vote) have been recorded, and the results are far from promising.
Currently, no player eligible would be inducted. Bonds is tied with Roger Clemens as the leading vote-getters, receiving votes from 72.7% of the counted ballots. However, public ballots have previously been more favorable to Bonds than those submitted privately. Unless a huge surge comes in his favor soon, he’ll remain on the outside looking in once again.
Kent, on the other hand, has received a vote from just one of the counted ballots. At his current 4.5% rate, Kent would not meet the 5% threshold to remain on the ballot going forward and would no longer be eligible. While there are still plenty of ballots that could help him maintain his eligibility, it almost assuredly sinks any chances of a Hall of Fame surge this year.
Former Giants shortstop Omar Vizquel has received a noticeable amount of support early on. Receiving Hall of Fame votes from 59.1% of the counted ballots. He received a 52.6% tally last year. Still a far cry from the necessary 75%, Vizquel can celebrate the progress because this is only his fourth year on the ballot. With many more cycles to go, he’s trending in the right direction.
Two other former Giants, Barry Zito, and LaTroy Hawkins are eligible but have received no votes thus far. Neither are considered Hall of Fame players, but both had long careers and Zito has a Cy Young and two World Series rings on his resume.
The SF Giants have one of the longest lists of Hall of Famers in Major League Baseball. However, the early returns from voting suggest no former Giants, even stars like Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds, will be having their names enshrined in Cooperstown next year.