The ballots are in (required to be postmarked by December 31, 2021) and we assume the votes have been tabulated (the information held tightly, of course). But it's still almost a week until the results of voting for the 2022 class of inductees - possibly including a few former SF Giants - for the Baseball Hall of Fame are released on January 25.
Before the 2010s, everyone would be waiting with baited breath for the announcement, with little idea of the chances of most players. Sure, some voters would divulge their ballots in columns leading up to the announcement (voters for the Hall of Fame come from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America - BBWAA - who have been active with the organization for at least 10 years), but those were few and far between...if you could even find the printed paper.
With the advent and popularity of newspapers going online - even online-only publications such as The Athletic - and social media such as Twitter, it has become far easier for voters to announce their votes and for interested parties to collate the information and figure out trends and probabilities for each player on the ballot.
Filling the gap by collecting the information and running the numbers is Ryan Thibodaux. Since the 2014 voting cycle he has published his findings on his Baseball Hall of Fame Vote Tracker website. Thibodaux and his team of people searching out ballot announcements has been crucial for anyone to get a feel for how any candidate's chances of induction are improving or worsening, including the eight former Giants on this year's ballot.
Thibodaux estimates 392 ballots will be cast this year - down from previous years where anywhere from 397 to 549 voters returned ballots yearly since 2015. Candidates need to be included on at least 75% of returned ballots to be elected or at least 5% of ballots to remain on for the next year, assuming they haven't exhausted their eligibility period of 10 years on the ballot. As of the end of the day on January 18, 161 voters have made their choices public - though Thibodaux expects many more ballots to be revealed around the time of the official announcement.
As of now, Barry Bonds is a coin flip to get in
In his 10th and final year on the writers' ballot (with likely chances on some sort of "veteran's committee" in the future if he doesn't get it), Major League Baseball's all-time home run leader sits at 77.2% on revealed ballots (132 out of 161). While that seems promising, it's a spot he's been around this time each of the past few years before settling in at roughly 60%. It's estimated he'll need another 162 votes on the ballots that haven't been announced, and many of those are from voters who haven't voted for him and keep their vote private. His best chance might be if the USPS lost a majority of ballots from the old curmudgeons who didn't get along with him. Or, maybe, enough late voters were swayed by a former federal investigator for the BALCO scandal saying he should be elected.
Continuing alphabetically, former starting pitcher Tim Hudson, in his second year on the ballot, has received five votes so far. He's out of the running for induction, but he can still stay on for 2023 with another 15 votes. He scraped by the 5% mark last year (5.2%), so it might be dicey this time around.
Possibly the best power-hitting second baseman in baseball history, Jeff Kent, is in his 9th year on the BBWAA ballot. He has already guaranteed his spot among the 2023 options, with 53 votes so far garnering 32% of the vote. Based on the estimated total number of ballots he doesn't have enough to get in this year, but he's obviously well ahead of the 5% cutoff. Last year, Kent came in a little over 32% in the final numbers. A late rush to get another 10-20% might give him momentum for voters to take another look in his final year and get enough support.
In his first year on the ballot, beloved former starting pitcher Tim Lincecum is in the same position as Hudson: 5 votes so far, needing an estimated 15 more to remain on next year's ballot. Reliever Joe Nathan is almost in the same spot on his first try, but he's at four votes and will need around 16 more to get a second chance.
While solid players, pitcher Jake Peavy and catcher A.J. Pierzynski are both likely to fall off after this, their first appearance on the ballot. Peavy has no votes yet, though Pierzynski has garnered the support of one voter thus far.
Finally, defensive whiz Omar Vizquel, in his fifth year, is suffering badly after earning more support each year until 2021. Allegations of domestic abuse of his ex-wife and sexual harassment of an autistic batboy (while managing in the White Sox system) have caused many votes to turn away, but the former shortstop is almost assured of another year: 19 voters have publicly voted for him, meaning he needs just one more on the estimated total to pass 5%.
In the coming days, the various team sites on FanSided will publish mock ballots - keep an eye out here on Around the Foghorn to see who your SF Giants writers would elect. Personally, I voted for a couple of the players mentioned above - but I can guarantee my ballot won't be as controversial as some (a vote for Jeff Kent - and no on else?)!