The National Baseball Hall of Fame has released ballots for eight players who will be considered by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee for election as part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2023.
Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling make up the Contemporary Baseball Era Ballot, which features candidates whose major contribution to the game came in 1980 or later late.
The Contemporary Era Committee will meet Dec. 4 during Winter Meetings in San Diego, with voting results to be announced live on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET the same day. Candidates must receive votes out of 75% of the votes cast by the committee to be elected.
Here’s a look at the eight players to consider:
While perhaps best known for his fiery personality and controversial demeanor, Belle was also a top-flight hitter, producing 381 home runs, 1,239 RBIs and a .295/.369/.564 slash ( 144 OPS+) over 12 seasons before his career. cut short due to a hip injury. With Cleveland in 1995, Belle became the first player in AL/NL history to record 50+ homers and 50+ doubles in a single season, earning a second-place finish in the AL MVP race – as part of of a streak of three consecutive first-place finishes. Belle left Cleveland to sign a free agent contract with the White Sox, becoming the first MLB player to earn at least $10 million in one season.
Bonds’ association with performance-enhancing drugs kept him from being elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, but statistically the 14-time All-Star has very few peers. A career .298/.444/.607 hitter (182 OPS+), Bonds ranks first in home runs (762), walks (2,558) and MVP awards won (seven). He also stole 514 bases, making him the only member of the 400-400 and 500-500 clubs. Bonds won four consecutive NL MVPs from 2001 to 2004, setting a single-season record with 73 homers in the first year of that span and posting a collective OPS of 1.368. He finished his career with 162.8 wins over substitution, which ranks him fourth all-time behind Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Cy Young, according to Baseball-Reference.
Another player whose ties to PEDs prevented his election by the BBWAA, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts — third all-time behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson — on 24 seasons for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. The crushing right-hander has won a record seven Cy Young Awards, the first and last nearly two decades apart, a testament to his longevity. Clements also won the AL MVP award in 1986, and he’s the only pitcher to strike out 20 batters in one outing multiple times.
Mattingly was slowed by a back injury in the second half of his career, but from 1984 to 1989 there were few better players than Donnie Baseball. Mattingly hit .327 with 160 home runs, 257 doubles, 684 RBI and a .902 OPS during that span, winning the AL MVP award in 1985. Also a top defenseman, he won nine Gold Glove Awards at first base . Named the 14th captain in Yankees history in 1991, Mattingly was mired in non-contingent clubs for much of his career, but reached the playoffs for the first time his final season and hit .417. with one home run and six RBIs in five games. before calling it a career. He then moved into management, spending five years at the helm of the Dodgers and seven with the Marlins.
A constant power threat over his 19-year career, McGriff hit the 30-home run mark in 10 seasons and had more than 100 RBIs eight times. Involved in several high-profile trades, McGriff fitted for six teams and had at least one 30-home run season for five of them. Three of the first baseman’s five All-Star selections came as a member of the Braves, with whom he also won a World Series ring in 1995. He dropped just seven home runs from the 500 mark legendary and 10 hits short of 2,500 at bat. 284 with an .886 OPS.
Murphy’s run as an elite player didn’t last long, but the outfielder was one of the game’s best in his prime with the Braves. From 1980 to 1987, Murphy made seven All-Star Teams, won five Gold Glove Awards, and placed second to Mike Schmidt in home runs. Murphy was named NL MVP in 1982 and 1983, becoming the ninth player of all time to earn MVP honors in consecutive seasons, and he went on to lead the NL in home runs in 1984 and 1985.
Like Bonds and Clemens, Palmeiro saw his Hall of Fame bid hurt by his association with performance-enhancing drugs, falling from the BBWAA ballot after just four chances. The slugger was suspended for 10 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2005, after which he only played seven more games at the Majors. If Palmeiro were judged by numbers alone, he would have a clear case for Cooperstown, as he is one of seven players to join the 3,000 hit and 500 homer clubs. The four-time All-Star finished with 569 home runs, hitting 37 or more in 10 seasons and 1,835 RBIs.
Yet another player whose Hall of Fame bid was marred by controversy, the outspoken Schilling has put together an impressive on-court resume over his 20-year career. The right-hander had a knack for coming out on top in the playoffs, going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 playoff starts and winning three World Series rings — one with the D-backs in 2001 and two with the Red Sox (2004, ’07) – along the way. After being named co-MVP of the 2001 World Series, Schilling suffered a serious ankle injury – bleeding through his sock – to help the Red Sox end an 86-year title drought in 2004. Schilling is also a member of the 3,000 retired club, and he recorded a 3.46 ERA (127 ERA+) in 3,261 career regular season innings. However, he lost the BBWAA ballot after 15 years amid controversy surrounding his social media conduct and political views.