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Why Alex Rodriguez’s second year on Hall of Fame ballot could show if he has eventual chance of enshrinement

Why Alex Rodriguez's second year on Hall of Fame ballot could show if he has eventual chance of enshrinement

This is the second voting cycle with Alex Rodriguez on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Those who deeply care about him not making it to Cooperstown can rest easy for this year. He won’t get in. He got 34.3 percent of the vote last time in his first try. He’s not leaping 40-plus percent to get to the 75 percent needed for induction.

Last year, I looked at how A-Rod’s candidacy is so polarizing and complicated. The short version: A-Rod’s on-field resume is that of one of the greatest players to ever play baseball. I think there’s an argument to be made that he’s the single most talented player ever. On the flip-side, his involvement with PEDs crushes his candidacy with an awful lot of people. This puts him in the same territory as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who both fell off the ballot last year. 

It feels like with A-Rod, Clemens and Bonds, everyone has already made up their minds, which means the voting percentages shouldn’t change much, right? Think about it. Anyone with whom you discuss the matter has their heels dug in, right? These players elicit strong feelings. And yet, that feeling didn’t turn out to be true with Clemens and Bonds, at least in terms of Hall of Fame voting percentages. We’ll just use Bonds as our example here, for purposes of brevity, as the two were neck and neck throughout their 10 years on the ballot. 

Bonds got just 36.2 percent of the vote in his first year and it dipped to 34.7 in Year 2 before 36.8 the third time around. Then in the fourth year it went to 44.3 percent and rose to 53.8 percent in year five. It got to 66 percent for Bonds’ 10th year.  

One of the reasons for the big jump between years three and four was a purge of BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America) voters who hadn’t covered baseball in the previous 10 years. Remember, BBWAA members don’t get a vote until they’ve been active in the organization for 10 years. This means that there’s some voter turnover every year and that matters with A-Rod. 

Looking at Bonds and Clemens’ totals rising, my guess is a decent part of that is a wave of “new-school” voters coming on board while “old-school” voters lost their votes. In and of itself, voter turnover can’t cause a 30 percent rise, though, so that means there were some minds changing among holdover voters. We can’t pin down the reasons — nor do they matter, frankly — but the point is as time goes on, it seems as…

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