BBWAA's Hall of Fame ballot features 25 candidates

Winners of the Cy Young, Hank Aaron and Comeback Player of the Year awards, pitching authors of several no-hitters, a former batting champion and one of the game’s most celebrated defensive center fielders head the group of 11 new candidates appearing on the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot that is being mailed this week to more than 400 voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Pitchers Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Mark Buehrle and A.J. Burnett, infielder Aramis Ramírez, outfielder Torii Hunter and infielder-outfielder Michael Cuddyer will join 14 holdovers from the 2020 balloting in which shortstop Derek Jeter and outfielder Larry Walker were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Candidates must be named on 75 percent of ballots cast by selected BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of MLB coverage to gain election and be part of Induction Weekend July 23-26, 2021, in Cooperstown. The other players who were named on more than half of the ballots cast in last year’s election were pitchers Curt Schilling (70 percent) and Roger Clemens (61.0), outfielder Barry Bonds (60.7) and shortstop Omar Vizquel (52.6).

Players may remain on the ballot for up to 10 years provided they receive at least five percent of the vote. Other holdovers from the 2020 ballot are pitchers Andy Pettitte and Billy Wagner, first baseman Todd Helton, second baseman Jeff Kent, third baseman Scott Rolen and outfielders Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramírez, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa.

Zito, who pitched all 15 of his major league seasons in California’s Bay Area with the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, was the 2002 American League Cy Young Award winner with the A’s when he topped the league with 23 victories. The left-hander, a three-time All-Star, went on to lead the AL in games started four times, total 165 career victories, compile a postseason record of 6-3 with a 2.83 ERA and earn a World Series ring with the Giants in 2012. Zito’s former Oakland teammate, Hudson, was the AL Cy Young Award runner-up in 2000 as part of a 17-season career in which he posted a 222-133 record with a 3.49 ERA. Hudson, who also pitched for the Giants and the Atlanta Braves, is one of only 14 pitchers in history with at least 200 victories, 2,000 strikeouts and a .625 winning percentage. He was the National League Comeback Player of the Year with the Braves in 2010.

Buehrle, a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, set an AL record by pitching 200 or more innings 14 seasons in a row (2001-14). The left-hander was 214-160 with a 3.81 ERA over 16 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays, a record that included two no-hitters, including a perfect game July 23, 2009, for the White Sox against the Tampa Bay Rays. His other no-no was April 18, 2007, for the White Sox against the Texas Rangers. Buehrle was 16-8 with a 3.12 ERA for the White Sox team that won the 2005 World Series. Burnett, a member of the New York Yankees’ most recent World Series championship team in 2009, also pitched for the Marlins, Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies over 17 seasons. The right-hander led the league in starts twice, strikeouts per nine innings twice and total strikeouts once and pitched a no-hitter for the Marlins May 12, 2001, against the San Diego Padres.

Ramírez, whose career covered 18 seasons with the Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, was a three-time All-Star who won the NL Hank Aaron Award in 2008 and the Silver Slugger Award for NL third basemen in 2011. Of his 2,303 career hits, 386 were home runs, the seventh-highest total among players who played at least half their games at third base. Ramirez had seven seasons of 100 or more runs batted in, and his career RBI total of 1,417 ranks sixth among third basemen.

Hunter’s nine Gold Glove Awards for fielding are the third most for center fielders, and his 3,948 career putouts rank 30th all-time. He led center fielders in assists three times, double plays twice and putouts once. In addition to his flashy defense, Hunter banged out 2,452 hits while batting .277 over 19 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers with 353 home runs and 1,391 RBI and won two Silver Slugger Awards. Cuddyer, who played alongside Hunter in Minnesota for seven years, also had a .277 career batting average over 15 seasons that also included service with the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets. Cuddyer won the NL batting title with a .331 average for the Rockies in 2013.

Also on the ballot are pitchers Dan Haren and LaTroy Hawkins and outfielders Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino.

Writers must return ballots by a Dec. 31 postmark. Votes are counted jointly by BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell and Ernst & Young partner Michael DiLecce. Results will be announced by Hall of Fame president Tim Mead at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, live on MLB Network.

The ballot: Bobby Abreu, Barry Bonds, Mark Buehrle, A.J. Burnett, Roger Clemens, Michael Cuddyer, Dan Haren, LaTroy Hawkins, Todd Helton, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Andy Pettitte, Aramis Ramírez, Manny Ramírez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner and Barry Zito.