Two players seem certain to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame when voting results are announced on Tuesday. A few others could make it, too.

Don’t expect to see Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds among them. They are likely a year away.

The four top vote-getters are expected to be Mariano Riviera, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina.

Sound good? I think so.

Riviera and Halladay are on the ballot for the first time. Martinez is on the ballot for the 10th and final time, and this is Mussina’s sixth year of eligibility.

The spotlight on the balloting turns its attention annually to Clemens and Bonds, the two greatest eligible players not in the Hall of Fame.

Bonds: 762 home runs, 1.051 career OPS and seven MVP awards.

Clemens: 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and seven Cy Young awards.

Both were connected with performance-enhancing drugs – although never punished by Major League Baseball. Hall of Fame voters have been reluctant to elect them, but with each year’s voting they are getting closer.

It takes 75 percent of the vote to make it to the Hall. Both Bonds and Clemens once seemed like certain first-ballot selections. But in their first year of eligibility, in 2013, both players were in the high 30-percent range. It took three years to get over 40 percent and, the past two years, both got over 50 percent of the vote – Clemens 57.3 last year, Bonds 56.4.

Speculation is that the two will be voted in by 2020. There are not many stellar first-ballot candidates next year, beside Derek Jeter.

I don’t have a ballot, but if I did I would hold off on Bonds and Clemens (as I’ve said before, 2022 seems fair). Once you elect a player associated with PEDs, others must be seriously considered (Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, etc.).

Voters can choose only 10 players, and players must receive 5 percent of the vote to remain on the ballot the following year. Players cannot appear on the ballot for more than 10 years.

Here’s my top 10:

n Mariano Riviera. The all-time leader in saves (652) and games finished (952), Riviera had a 19-year career, which included 13 All-Star selections, five World Series titles, and a career 2.21 ERA and 1.000 WHIP.

n Edgar Martinez. He was the top vote-getter among those not reaching the Hall last year (70.4 percent) and seems a shoe-in, despite the prejudices by some against designated hitters. Martinez played only one-fourth of his games in the field, but he could hit – ranking 31st all-time in OPS (.933) to go along with a .312 average.

n Roy Halladay. The candidacy of Halladay, who died tragically in a plane crash 14 months ago, is full of emotion. But he was an accomplished pitcher – Cy Young awards in each league and eight All-Star selections. His record (203-105) is not eye-popping, but he was dominant for years, including five seasons of at least 19 wins and a 1.178 WHIP. He had a 2.37 postseason ERA and pitched a no-hitter against the Reds in the 2010 NLDS.

n Mike Mussina. The right-hander won 270 games while pitching for AL East teams, and could sneak in this year. He got 63 percent of the vote last year. Mussina was consistent and strong to the end, with a 20-9 record his last season (2008) as a 39-year-old.

n Larry Walker. I’ll admit to jumping on the Walker bandwagon. This is his ninth year on the ballot and his numbers are grabbing more attention – .313 average, .965 OPS and seven Gold Gloves. Nine of his 17 seasons were spent in the thin air of Colorado, where numbers can be inflated. But Walker hit elsewhere, too. When he had a banner year in 1997, with 49 home runs and a 1.172 OPS, he hit 29 of those homers away from Denver and had a 1.176 OPS in road games. Walker is a longshot this year, but in 2020, on his 10th and last ballot, he will be a favorite.

n Curt Schilling. His regular-season numbers are fine – 216 wins and 3,116 strikeouts. But his postseason performances – 11-2, 2.23 ERA, three World Series titles – should be what get him in. He received 51 percent last year, his sixth on the ballot. Maybe by next year.

n Todd Helton, Scott Rolen, Lance Berkman and Andy Pettitte. I’m not ready to say these four are Hall-worthy, but I’d vote for them to keep them on the ballot and continue the discussion. Rolen is on the ballot for the second time, the others for the first time.

Helton batted .316 with a .953 OPS, but all 17 seasons were in Colorado, casting doubt on the numbers. Pettitte won 256 games, and another 19 in the postseason. One black mark against Pettitte is his admission of using a human growth hormone twice in 2004 to quicken the recovery of an elbow injury. Berkman was not known for his glove (first base and outfield), but he could hit, with a career .293 average and .943 OPS. Rolen, an excellent third baseman, received 10.2 percent of the vote last year. He batted .281 with an .855 OPS.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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