How Boston Globe writers voted for the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame

To use a basketball expression in a baseball context, Hall of Fame voters have run out of slam dunks.

Mariano Rivera was chosen on every ballot in the 2019 election and Derek Jeter on all but one in 2020. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America then pitched a shutout in 2021, and that could well be the case again this year.

The challenges of the 2022 ballot are well-represented in the decisions made by the seven Globe writers who vote.

Thirteen players received at least one vote, but there were no unanimous selections. One of our voters checked off 10 names, the maximum allowed. Another selected only one. The average was 5.7.

This ballot marked the first year of eligibility for Red Sox icon David Ortiz. He batted 6 for 7 with our voters.

The ballot represented a resetting of the process, as four controversial candidates — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa — are in their final year of eligibility.

Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa are hotly debated remnants of baseball’s Steroid Era, with Schilling perhaps the first player to talk his way out of the Hall.

Based on votes made public to this point, none appear likely to earn the 75 percent required for induction.

Ortiz has received 83 percent, but that will likely recede when the full results are announced Jan. 25 from Cooperstown.

Any players elected would join six selections from the Veterans Committee for induction on July 24.

Without further ado, here is how the Globe writers voted and why.

Players on the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot and how the Globe writers voted

75 percent of the vote is needed to gain election to the Hall of Fame. Candidates remain on the BBWAA ballot for 10 years provided they are not elected and they are named on at least 5 percent of all ballots cast each year.

Barry Bonds LF 10 5 61.8%
Roger Clemens RHP 10 5 61.6%
Curt Schilling RHP 10 5 71.1%
Sammy Sosa OF 10 1 17%
Jeff Kent 2B 9 3 32.4%
Gary Sheffield OF 8 1 40.6%
Billy Wagner LHP 7 2 46.4%
Manny Ramírez OF/DH 6 2 28.2%
Andruw Jones CF 5 2 33.9%
Scott Rolen 3B 5 4 52.9%
Omar Vizquel SS 5 0 49.1%
Todd Helton 1B 4 3 44.9%
Andy Pettitte LHP 4 0 13.7%
Bobby Abreu RF 3 0 8.7%
Mark Buehrle LHP 2 0 11%
Tim Hudson RHP 2 0 5.2%
Torii Hunter CF 2 0 9.5%
Carl Crawford OF 1 0
Prince Fielder 1B 1 0
Ryan Howard 1B 1 0
Tim Lincecum RHP 1 0
Justin Morneau 1B 1 0
Joe Nathan RHP 1 0
David Ortiz DH 1 6
Jonathan Papelbon RHP 1 0
Jake Peavy RHP 1 0
A.J. Pierzynski C 1 0
Álex Rodríguez SS/3B 1 1
Jimmy Rollins SS 1 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 1 0

My losing battle is over. For the 10th and final time, I checked off the names of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling knowing they are unlikely to get in.

Bonds and Clemens are two of the most accomplished players in baseball history but have been denied admission to the Hall because of their ties to performance-enhancing drugs.

I’ve voted for them in the belief that the Steroid Era was part of baseball history and can’t be ignored. Baseball didn’t have a testing program until 2004 and looked the other way at drug use.

Retroactively using the Hall of Fame ballot to punish players for what was tacitly approved by the league, the union, and most every team and manager at the time isn’t fair.

My line has been drawn when testing started, so Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez don’t get a vote. They knew the consequences of their actions.

It’s a particularly maddening fate for Rodriguez, one of the most skilled and fundamentally sound players in history.

Schilling’s Hall credentials aren’t ironclad, but he’s worthy of a vote. His loathsome comments about my profession aren’t part of the equation, but I’m glad he won’t be on the ballot next year.

Let the Veterans Committee deal with him now. I suspect Schilling won’t like that result, either.

I also voted for Todd Helton, David Ortiz, Scott Rolen, and Billy Wagner.

Ortiz is one of the most impactful and influential figures in baseball this century. Not voting for him requires fashioning an excuse.

Yes, he was a designated hitter. It’s been a position since 1973; get over it.

Ortiz also may well have tested positive in a 2003 drug test that was supposed to be anonymous for survey purposes. But commissioner Rob Manfred has since cast doubt on the legitimacy of that test.

Ortiz then tested negative for 13 years while dozens of others were caught. He was an easy choice.

Helton, Rolen, and Wagner are all players trending toward Cooperstown. Helton’s résumé resembles those of Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, and Orlando Cepeda.

Rolen was one of the best third basemen of his generation. That position, for some reason, has gone underrepresented in Cooperstown.

Evaluating relief pitchers for Hall worthiness is a tricky business. Wagner had 27.8 career WAR and pitched 903 innings. Tim Hudson, who probably will have a one-year stay on the ballot, had 56.5 WAR over 3,126⅔ innings.

Hudson clearly was more valuable, but he doesn’t rise to the level of a Hall of Fame starter. Meanwhile, Wagner was one of the best closers in history, with statistics that arguably are better than those of Trevor Hoffman, who was inducted in 2018.

Should Wagner be left off because he was deemed best suited for relief when he was a 24-year-old rookie? I nearly voted for Joe Nathan for the same reasons.

Relievers deserve a good vetting and a better understanding of their value.

Now that David Ortiz has reached the gates of Cooperstown, the crucial questions seem to be these:

Is he less worthy of enshrinement because he was a designated hitter?

Is he unsuitable because of his place in the Steroid Era?

Is he so tainted by circumstances surrounding someone nearly killing him that he is unfit for induction?

I’ve had the unusual experience of covering Ortiz as the Globe’s Red Sox beat writer through the historic 2004 championship season and since then as the Globe’s sports investigative reporter. I’ve seen the best of his public life and investigated the worst.

Growing up in the 1950s near Fenway Park, my hero was Ted Williams. I never could have imagined that a kid named David Americo Ortiz Arias, signed at 16 out of the Dominican Republic, would end up hitting more home runs (541) than Williams (521), who lost three prime years serving in World War II and almost two more in the Korean War.

By WAR alone, Ortiz (55.3) was no match for Williams (122.1), who played more than 100 fewer games (2,292) than Ortiz (2,408). Williams never had the option of playing as a designated hitter, which Ortiz mastered to great advantage, building a body of work that compares favorably with those of Hall of Famers Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas, both mainly designated hitters.

On the steroid question, Ortiz and three others — Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and Sammy Sosa — purportedly tested positive in Major League Baseball’s anonymous baseline survey in 2003. We know this because federal agents unconstitutionally seized the confidential survey results, a US appeals court ruled, and someone leaked their names.

The leaks were unfair on another level. More than 90 other players tested positive in the survey, but none were ever identified and the records containing their names were destroyed under a court order. So it’s possible, if not probable, that others who tested positive in 2003 have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

I believe Ortiz was one of many players who used products containing performance-enhancing substances that were sold over the counter in the Dominican Republic’s loosely regulated pharmacies before MLB cracked down. Ortiz said he never did so knowingly.

I have not seen any substantiated evidence that Ortiz was a habitual PED user. He has never been identified as failing another test, and he was tested exhaustively. In 2015, I saw a time-stamped photo of testers paying a surprise visit to his Dominican home at 7:30 one February morning.

Many Hall voters engage in pretzel logic on PEDs. In my case, I voted this year for Ortiz, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens but not for Ramirez or Rodriguez because those two were busted after the pivotal 2005 agreement between players and owners that strengthened testing and penalties for PED users.

Sosa? I consider him and admitted PED ingester Mark McGwire among the players who were most freakishly altered during the Steroid Era. I have never voted for either.

As for Ortiz’s near-death nightmare, I’ve spent considerable time digging into his shooting, and I believe he put himself at risk by socializing with individuals who had ties to dangerous figures in his native Santo Domingo. But I have found no evidence that he engaged in any criminal activity.

Finally, after nine years of voting for Curt Schilling, I’m out. He took his ball and went home after he narrowly lost last year. Game over.

This is the Hall of Fame ballot I’ve been dreading.

It’s the last chance for the PED-tainted guys whose numbers scream “First ballot of course!” It’s the last chance for Curt Schilling, a pitcher who is a clear-cut Hall of Famer to me but who has muddied the waters with his oft-cuckoo political views.

And the last thing any of us needed was another guy whose off-the-field circumstances need to be considered carefully before placing a check mark next to his name. Talking about you, Omar Vizquel.

It’s the first year for David Ortiz, who doesn’t exactly come unencumbered.

Oh, if it could only be about baseball, gentlemen, baseball, as the great Jimmy Cannon would say.

YES VOTES

Todd Helton: Yes, I know where he played every one of his home games during a 17-year career. Coors Field is a notorious hitter’s park. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I’m not going to punish him for a circumstance beyond his control. I choose to reward him for a career OPS of .953, for slugging over. 600 four times (with a high of .698 in 2000), for having more walks (1,335) than strikeouts (1,175), and for his .316 lifetime average. It’s that simple.

Andruw Jones: I was a huge Bill Mazeroski guy because he may have been as good at playing a position, in his case second base, as anyone in history. Many would say the same thing about 10-time Gold Glover Jones. Then throw in 434 career homers. For the record, this is a first-time decision. I’m now convinced he belongs.

Jeff Kent: Another guy I’ve come around on. He knocked in 100 eight times. He had a four-year run of 40-plus doubles (1999-2002). He had 377 homers. He had 12 20-homer seasons. And he was a second baseman. Not many second basemen have been more productive.

David Ortiz: I can hear the haters now. “Boston homer” will be the least kind thing they’ll say. Must I enumerate his credentials? They are unassailable. Start with a career OPS of .931, bolstered by going over the magic 1.000 five times. 541 homers. The postseason accomplishments, which include an otherworldly 1.948 OPS in the 2013 World Series. Don’t start with the DH thing. You’d be ridiculous. The DH has been with us for nigh onto a half-century. So … not voting for him would mean you put stock into his name being on that 2003 bad boy list? I choose not to. It was very dubious. So there.

Scott Rolen: I’m listening to the National League guys, who feel that in the last 50 years or so only Mike Schmidt was a better third baseman. The man won eight Gold Gloves while compiling 1,287 runs batted in. He was a seven-time All-Star. I’m saying he belongs.

Curt Schilling: It is my belief that the only times he wasn’t not just good, but great, were when he was hurt. Yes, 216 wins aren’t that gaudy, but he was truly an elite pitcher, a man who fanned 300 three times. The trump card is his postseason résumé, which includes an 11-2, 2.23 stat line. The man has requested his name be removed from consideration, but there’s no way I’d give him that satisfaction. And wouldn’t you look forward to the sideshow in July in Cooperstown if he gets in?

MAJOR NOS

For years I’ve said that someday I may wake up and say, “I give up. We don’t know which juiced pitchers pitched to which juiced batters, so I’m tired of being judge and jury. I’ll just let ‘em all in.” Of course, it would be easy if the Hall itself would just tell us to vote on the accomplishments, period. But it hasn’t, and I can’t.

It’s a simple matter of being able to look at yourself comfortably in the mirror each day. I respect and understand the reasoning of anyone who votes for Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, Sosa, or anyone else on that hazy list. We all just have to live with ourselves.

Finally, I had been voting for Omar Vizquel, but given his disturbing domestic abuse allegations, I am not currently comfortable doing so. The case isn’t closed. Let’s see what happens.

I loved it when Ken Griffey Jr. was on the ballot. Same when it came time to vote for Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.

It’s been 35 years since I first had the honor of voting for ballplayers eligible for Cooperstown, and it is never something taken lightly. That’s why this year’s ballot presents such a challenge.

The Hall through the years has asked baseball writers to consider candidates’ “character.” It’s absurd, of course. Is there any group less qualified to pass judgment on a candidate’s “character” than a pack of baseball scribes?

The easy thing would be to ignore the charge and just go with the best players. On this year’s ballot, that obviously would include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, and David Ortiz.

All of them are 500-plus home run guys. Bonds was the best hitter of his generation, Clemens the best pitcher. Based on stats alone, Bonds is one of the top five players who ever lived and Clemens among the top five pitchers. It’s pretty absurd to have a Hall of Fame that includes Harold Baines but not Bonds, Trevor Hoffman but not Clemens.

Ramirez is probably the best righthanded hitter I’ve ever seen. A-Rod is the greatest shortstop in the history of the position. Sosa hit more than 60 homers in a season three times. Ortiz is the Father Christmas of baseball, won three championships in Boston, and may be the most clutch postseason hitter in history.

And yet here I am voting only for second baseman Jeff Kent. Kent gets this vote because he was dominant at his position in the time he played and there is no whiff of cheating or off-field scandal. Look him up: Among all second basemen, Kent ranks first in homers and third in RBIs — better than Ryne Sandberg or Joe Morgan. He also was National League MVP in 2000. He has a higher WAR than Bobby Doerr.

Fair or unfair, I’ve never voted for anyone who got caught using PEDs or appeared to gain an unfair advantage by juicing.

Granted, there is no way of knowing who was 100 percent clean and who wasn’t — and that includes Griffey, Rivera, and Jeter. We all make our own conclusions. And in many cases, writers vote for them even if they feel they cheated. It’s the “everybody was doing it” mentality.

In my opinion, Ortiz will gain entry when voting is revealed Jan. 25. Good for him. But there’s no vote here, because I’m trying to be consistent. Big Papi failed MLB’s baseline testing in 2003. The commissioner asked us to ignore that failed test — a presidential pardon not granted Sosa, A-Rod, or Manny, who also failed the same test. I didn’t vote for the others. Not voting for David.

Finally, there’s Curt Schilling. Based on stats alone, one can make a case for or against his candidacy. When he failed to gain entry last winter, he stated that he no longer wanted to be part of this process. I am honoring his request.

Frankly, I could have used the distraction during this never-ending pandemic. But on the annual stress-and-sweat scale of voting for the Hall of Fame, this year marked a low-impact cardio event.

The five remaining from last year — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen, and Curt Schilling — got check marks again this year.

For nine years in a row, I’ve been voting for Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling, and for nine years I’ve been explaining my votes for Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling.

I have nothing new to add to the conversation in Year 10. If my voting pattern doesn’t speak for itself by now, try running it through Google Translate.

Same story with Ramirez in Year 6, and Rolen in Year 5. Ramirez’s production clears the entry bar comfortably. Rolen’s case, like Schilling’s, is not a slam dunk, but his sustained all-around excellence merits a vote for the fifth time.

My votes for Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez, and others since Mark McGwire joined the ballot in 2007 (my first year as a voter) are barely nuanced clues as to how I weigh a player’s “character” and “integrity” compared with a player’s “record,” “playing ability,” and “contributions to the team.” Which is why voting for Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz did not require much, if any, moral gymnastics.

I was at Fenway Park for Rodriguez’s first game in 1994 and for Ortiz’s final game in 2016. In that 23-year span, each player held on to his respective perch atop the leaderboards and in the record books, leaving headlines and drama in their wake and leaving me with an easy choice to make in Year 1 of their candidacies.

I did spend a great deal of time looking again at the careers of Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Billy Wagner, and Gary Sheffield, trying to make a case to put one or more of them on my ballot for the first time. Still not there, but I have an open mind.

My first opportunity to vote for the Hall of Fame inspired plenty of questions and few confident answers. Ultimately, I accepted that infamy and fame are not mutually exclusive, and that players are elected — and rejected — not for their “character” but for what they did between the lines. The fact that players crossed lines to make history doesn’t alter the fact that they did make history.

That approach led me to vote for 10 players — and I would have voted for more if there were no limit. Among those for whom I voted: Barry Bonds is the greatest player of my lifetime and Roger Clemens is in the conversation for the greatest pitcher. Gary Sheffield and David Ortiz achieved sustained dominance in the batter’s box — with Ortiz adding an almost unrivaled postseason résumé that arguably established him as the most important player in Red Sox history. Sammy Sosa didn’t quite match the longevity of Ortiz or Sheffield, but he averaged more than 50 homers a season over an eight-year span during which his fame surpassed that of nearly every peer.

Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen both rank among the best defensive players ever at their positions, and they have the offensive credentials (Rolen’s line is very similar to that of Jeff Kent, for whom I likely would have voted with more selections) to define them as Hall-worthy.

Todd Helton was a very good defensive first baseman if not quite their equal, and he forged elite offensive credentials over more than a decade to emerge as the first iconic wire-to-wire player in Rockies franchise history.

Curt Schilling is the all-time leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio, encapsulating the remarkable combination of power and precision that let him dominate — with several unforgettable October performances adding to his case.

Billy Wagner is perhaps the greatest non-Mariano reliever of the 21st century, with the highest strikeout rate and lowest batting average against in history.

In this voting cycle, I didn’t check off Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez. The almost-traded-for-each-other duo’s on-field accomplishments warrant plaques, and I would have voted for both had there been fewer than 10 other worthy players. As it is, I put them behind their contemporaries because of their shameless, repeated, penalized PED use.

I sent off my ballot feeling at least some measure of doubt or discomfort about every check mark I made and some I didn’t. I voted for players shadowed by PED use, arrests for and/or reports of domestic violence, DUI arrests, a potentially inappropriate relationship with a minor, and the habitual spewing of noxious and offensive views.

That said, for all the talk of the Hall’s character clause, few plaques mention anything besides a player’s on-field reputation along with a few statistics. The civil rights work and humanitarianism of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente aren’t mentioned on their plaques. Winning the Clemente Award isn’t mentioned. Nor is the role of Cap Anson in creating the color barrier nor of Kenesaw Mountain Landis in sustaining it. The widespread use of illegal amphetamines and stimulants that helped generations of players stay on the field goes unnoted.

The Hall — an inner sanctum located within a museum — serves as a compilation of the most dominant performers of the sport based on the sum of their game accomplishments with scant attention paid to personal sins and virtues. A scorecard of on-field integrity and off-field decency would yield a notably (though not entirely) different group.

Year 3 of voting for me. It remains a distinct honor, but it gets no easier.

Without a clear standard of judgment for dealing with the so-called Steroid Era, and with the addition of first-time-ballot guys who, fair or unfair, are as much the faces of that era as anyone — Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz — voters are left to decide how best to interpret Rule No. 5 for Election. The one that comes closest to telling us what to do, saying, “Voting shall be based upon the players’ record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Classifying the use of steroids as a disqualifying issue of integrity or sportsmanship is not that simple, in large part because of what I’ve written before. Once baseball stewards rewarded the overlord of the steroid era and enshrined former commissioner Bud Selig, they opened the door to the players who filled his game’s coffers with their steroid-fueled popularity.

Baseball can’t have it both ways. So for me, carrying over votes for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens was an easy decision, and one I honestly expect to contribute to both of them finally getting elected in this, their final year on the ballot.

Other holdovers for me:

Curt Schilling, detestable as he may be personally, but who was a Hall of Fame-caliber performer on the mound.

Jeff Kent, who I believe is criminally underrated as one of the best power-hitting second basemen of all time.

⋅ And Manny Ramirez, who I know will never clear this hurdle because of multiple steroid convictions, but who remains to my eyes one of the sweetest, most impressive righthanded hitters I’ve ever seen, a Hall of Famer long before he hit the juice.

That brings us to the new guys, and why for me, one obvious Hall of Famer is in while the other is out. For now.

⋅ Ortiz is in. Never convicted of steroid use, he gets the first-ballot nod. He was among the most feared hitters of his generation, and don’t @ me with any DH slander. If it’s a position in the lineup, it’s Hall of Fame-worthy. He was clutch, with power and swagger.

⋅ Rodriguez, however, is out, but will likely get in eventually. The author of one of the few righthanded swings to outshine Ramirez, A-Rod should have believed in himself enough not to use steroids. Instead, he lied about them, over and over again.

To me, no first-ballot call is a fair price to pay for those lies.

Credits
  • Reporters: Peter Abraham, Bob Hohler, Bob Ryan, Alex Speier, Dan Shaughnessy, Michael Silverman, and Tara Sullivan
  • Editor: Katie McInerney
  • Illustration and design: Ryan Huddle
  • Digital storytelling, design, and development: Daigo Fujiwara
  • Copy editor: John Carney
  • Technical QA: Jackson Pace

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