Chipper Jones. Vladimir Guerrero. Jim Thome. Trevor Hoffman.
There will be some long and very interesting speeches on July 30 when these four - plus Veterans Committee choices Alan Trammel and Jack Morris - are inducted into the Hall of Fame.
This is just the fourth time that four players have been elected in one class. The last time was in 2015 - and that is noteworthy. Hall of Fame voters are starting to clear the decks. Now 16 players have been elected since the shutout of 2013, the most of any five-year stretch.
It suggests voters are selecting more than four or five players on their ballots. They are dealing with the wave of eligible closers and designated hitters, a wave we all knew was coming. This will allow us to take harder looks at other players' cases instead of worrying about running out of boxes to check off (no, I'm not a fan of the Rule of 10).
The one interesting thing is that the PED candidates stalled this year. Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez and Bud Selig - three players who were linked to PED use, and one executive who was accused of enabling the era - have been elected in recent years. It seemed to reflect shifting views about how to treat players from that era. But Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens - the two most controversial figures during that period - saw little, if any, progress toward the 75 percent needed for induction.
I thought views have softened (mine have) but that wasn't reflected with Clemens and Bonds.
Clemens received 57.3 percent of the vote, just up from 54.1. In fact, Clemens received 242 votes this year, only three more votes than last year. Bonds is at 56.4, up from 53.8. But Bonds received exactly the same amount of votes as he did a year ago, 238. Fewer ballots this year as compared to last year explains why the percentages rose.
Both players have been on the ballot for six seasons, which means they have four more chances to be voted in. With the decks cleared this year, perhaps voters will take a harder look at their cases or, at least, examine their stance on how to deal with to key players from the PED era.
Me? I rolled over a few years ago. I've concluded that many more players were dirty than were caught. Dirty pitchers were throwing to dirty hitters, and the voters have already elected a group players that have been whispered to have used PEDs. A former commissioner is in The Hall who was in office while a lot of the shenanigans took place. I decided that things were too wild and loose before drug testing policies were strengthened to crack down on a few cases.
I thought I was doing the noble thing by holding them responsible on the ballots I filled out four, five years ago. Now I believe that some cheaters already are in The Hall. And it has led me to change my stance.
Let's see how this Bonds-Clemens conundrum plays out. Is there another surge of support coming for these guys, or have voters put their foot down? Bonds and Clemens have four more years....
Now, here's who I voted for:
I voted for the maximum of 10 candidates. If I would have had more room, I would have put Billy Wagner on. If Hoffman was excellent, Wagner was dominant. I feel his support will rise significantly in the coming years.
Too bad Edgar Martinez was not voted in. He gets one more chance, and he was only 20 votes shy this year. He was a splendid hitter during his career, so I hope he gets his day in Cooperstown.
And it's also too bad Johan Santana lasted just one year. He did not receive at least five percent of the vote, and now drops off the ballot. I will point this out: If the 2005 Cy Young vote is held this year - in an era where a 20-win season is no longer an automatic seal of approval for winning the award - Santana might have leaped over Bartolo Colon and Mariano Rivera to win. Colon was 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA that year. Santana was 16-7, 2.87. He struck out 81 more batters than Colon that year, had a WHIP under 1.00 and his ERA+ was 155 to 122 for Colon.
That would have been three straight Cy Youngs. Other than Clemens, every pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs is in the Hall of Fame. Santana's career dropped off significantly because of injuries. Not saying it would have been a lock - Sandy Koufax's career dropped off because of injuries as well, but his numbers are better than Johan's - but Santana could have least spent more time on the ballot to continue the discussion.
And current stars Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer have each won three Cy Young Awards.