Bonds' HOF support dips slightly; Kent survives ballot cutoff

Bonds' HOF support dips slightly; Kent survives ballot cutoff
January 8, 2014, 12:15 pm
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Barry Bonds’ received 34.7 percent of the vote this year, down from 36.2 percent in his first year of eligibility. (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Kent will get another turn in the batter’s box next year. J.T. Snow will not.

And when the Hall of Fame voting results were announced Wednesday, Barry Bonds’ support dipped ever so slightly, from 36.2 percent to 34.7 percent.

Bonds was listed on 198 of the 571 ballots submitted by qualified members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. That’s down by eight from the 206 votes he received last year (out of 569), his first on the ballot.

But don’t mistakenly interpret Bonds’ ever so slight drop as a stronger referendum against his candidacy. Actually, you could argue that more voters were open to the idea of Bonds in Cooperstown.

The backlog of candidates, and the 10-vote limit, undoubtedly cost Bonds a decent number of check marks. In fact, 50.3 percent of the electorate filled out the maximum 10 slots -- soaring from the then-record 22 percent who did so a year ago.

The ballot logjam, caused by split opinion over what to do with stars of baseball’s steroid era, also threatened to artificially limit support for other first-time eligibles like Kent – and perhaps knock him off the ballot entirely after one appearance.

But Kent easily polled the 5 percent necessary to stay on next year’s ballot. He received 87 votes, or 15.2 percent. Snow, who had a fine career that included six Gold Gloves at first base, received two votes and will not reappear.

Amazing but perhaps not surprising, another former Giant, Armando Benitez, also received one vote. Maybe that voter meant to select Pat Buchanan. Or maybe, it’s been postulated, that same person voted for Aaron Sele last year, and is “marking” his/her ballot to make sure it’s been tabulated.

Three candidates received the required 75 percent for induction, and they were not surprises: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. Combined with managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox, who were selected by the veterans’ committee, the six-man group will be the largest collection of living inductees in Hall of Fame history. 

Craig Biggio should have joined them, since 75 percent of the electorate felt he belonged, too. But he came excruciatingly close at 74.8 percent, missing by two votes. At least two voters shared on Twitter that they wanted to select Biggio but had allocated their 10 ballot spots.

The shame of it: Now Biggio will gum up a spot for many voters (including me) on next year’s ballot, which will be just as stuffed with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz eligible for the first time.