For the fifth consecutive year, there was an election for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Barry Bonds was eligible. For the fifth consecutive year, Bonds was not elected. This reflects poorly on the National Baseball Hall of Fame, not Bonds.
The wrinkle in 2017, however, is that there is hope! While there weren’t any former San Francisco Giants elected to the Hall of Fame this year, there is increasing hope for Bonds. After losing votes between his first and second appearances on the ballot, Bonds improved from his 44.3 percent in 2016 to 53.8 percent this year.
The bad news for Giants fans is that Jeff Kent didn’t make any gains in the voting, likely due to the crowded ballot. He was at 16.6 percent last year, and he moved up to 16.7 percent in this vote. The 2019 ballot will provide a better test for Kent, but the odds are longer right now than they should be.
We’ve known that Bonds’ numbers are improving because of Ryan Thibodaux’s tireless work, but there are only theories as to why it’s happening in his fifth year. Maybe it’s because Bud Selig is in the Hall now. Maybe it’s because people are sick of pretending that Bonds doesn’t belong in a museum that honors the best baseball players of all time. But it’s happening, and Hallologist Jay Jaffe thought last year that the numbers pointed to an eventual induction.
Let’s just get all of this out of our system before moving on. A museum of the best baseball players without Barry Bonds is like a ...
- Golden Girls museum without Rue McClanahan
- Playstation museum without Crash Bandicoot
- Cat museum without a display featuring a dead bird left on a doormat
- Cooking museum without yeast
- Grant Brisbee Museum of Middle School Horrors without a single mention of wedgies
It makes zero sense. It’s not the Good Timey Museum of Players Who Embody the Christmas Spirit. It’s a museum with the best players in baseball history. Put the BALCO stuff on the plaque, but don’t pretend the best player of the ‘90s was Paul O’Neill.
Kent is more of a borderline case, with his raw numbers looking less impressive in the context of the high-offense ‘90s and ‘00s, but he’s still one of the best offensive-minded second baseman in history, and his defense has always been unfairly maligned. My guess is that he mirrors the creeping gains of Tim Raines and Jack Morris until the final year of his ballot, when he’ll either go the way of Raines ... or Morris.
Giants fans will have to wait for their next Hall of Famer, but we knew that. The good news is that Bonds is gaining, and the ballot is clearing. There’s still a chance that Bonds and/or Kent will get voted in before they fall off the ballot (2023). It’s not a certainty. But the Hall of Fame is telling me there’s a chance, especially for Bonds.