Edmonton Journal

Suzuki a clear favourite for Cooperstow­n

Cy Young winners Sabathia, Hernandez also eligible as time runs out for Wagner


It was a little past 8 a.m. in Tokyo when the newest inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame were announced. Next year there could be some big celebratio­ns over breakfast in Japan.

Ichiro Suzuki headlines the group of players who are eligible for voting in 2025. That ballot is also expected to include Cy Young Award winners CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez — and the final chance for reliever Billy Wagner, who fell five votes short this time.

Adrian Beltre, Todd Helton and Joe Mauer were voted in this year by members of the Baseball Writers' Associatio­n of America (BBWAA). The time change between the hall's location in Cooperstow­n, N.Y., and Suzuki's home country of Japan should be relevant in 2025.

The outfielder appears to be a lock for induction after surpassing 3,000 hits in the major leagues and becoming one of the greatest Asian stars to play in North America, a couple of decades before Shohei Ohtani took the sport by storm.

What's less clear is how Sabathia and Hernandez will fare.

Sabathia surpassed 250 wins and 3,000 strikeouts. Hernandez didn't pitch nearly as long, but had a better ERA and WHIP than Sabathia.

The BBWAA hasn't elected a pitcher since 2019, when Roy Halladay, Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera went in. With starters shoulderin­g lower workloads these days, it will be interestin­g to see how voters adjust. Justin Verlander figures to have a good shot after he retires. For Sabathia and Hernandez, that's less clear.

“I think Sabathia is probably going to be a pretty strong firstyear guy,” said Ryan Thibodaux, whose online hall of fame ballot tracker reveals votes as they're made public both before and after the announceme­nt of the results. “I don't know if he gets all the way in his first year.”


Wagner's approval rate increased from 68.1 per cent to 73.8 per cent this year, but he still fell short of the 75 per cent threshold for election. Next year is his last one on the ballot, and candidates in that spot often receive a bump. He won't need much of one to get in.


Gary Sheffield will be off the ballot next time. This was his 10th and final year, and he ended up at 63.9 per cent. With only one obvious favourite for induction arriving — Suzuki — various holdover candidates could have a good chance to move closer to 75 per cent.

Overall, 1,237 “yes” votes were taken up this year by players who won't be in the ballot for 2025. Last year that number was only 483, which may explain why candidates like Andruw Jones (61.6 per cent) and Andy Pettitte (13.5 per cent) seemed to tread water a bit this time.

Carlos Beltran did make it to 57.1 per cent, an increase of more than 10 per cent.

Thibodaux pointed out that the “middle tier” of newcomers to the ballot next year — like Hernandez, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Troy Tulowitzki — could garner a decent number of votes, even if they aren't elected. Candidates need to reach five per cent to stay on the ballot.

“I think we might have more people who kind of make five per cent than usual among next year's candidates,” Thibodaux said.

“I think overall, though, it should be a year where (holdover) candidates do have an opportunit­y to gain some votes. This was kind of not one of those years.”


Chase Utley received only 28.8 per cent.

Bobby Abreu has been on the ballot five years — halfway to the 10-year limit — and Pettitte has been on for six. This was the third year for Jimmy Rollins.

“If (Abreu) is going to make a move, it probably is going to need to be now,” Thibodaux said.

“Sheffield, he started to make his first big jump around this time. Obviously, it wasn't enough for him. It would be kind of now or never to start showing signs of progress.”


First-time nominees Jose Bautista, Bartolo Colon, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Victor Martinez, Brandon Phillips, Jose Reyes and James Shields all were under five per cent and will be dropped.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? Former Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki is eligible for the call to Cooperstow­n next year, the obvious favourite on a list that will also include CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Former Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki is eligible for the call to Cooperstow­n next year, the obvious favourite on a list that will also include CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez.

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