Pudge, Manny and Vlad headline 2017 Hall of Fame ballot

Ivan Rodriguez is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2017. (Getty Images/Ronald Martinez)
Ivan Rodriguez is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2017. (Getty Images/Ronald Martinez)

There is no offseason. Sure, no baseball games are currently being played, but that doesn’t mean the constant online debates have to stop. With the BBWAA’s release of the 2017 ballots Monday, it’s officially Hall of Fame season!

This year’s ballot contains three fairly significant newcomers. Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez will headline the 2017 ballot.

Of that trio, Rodriguez, known as “Pudge” throughout his career, seems most likely to be inducted. The Texas Rangers’ catcher hit .296/.334/.464, with 311 home runs over his 21-year career. He made 14 All-Star games, won 13 Gold Glove awards, picked up seven Silver Slugger awards and was the 1999 MVP. He’s considered not just one of the best catchers of his era, but one of the best catchers of all-time.

With that said, Pudge isn’t a lock for enshrinement. It’s possible he could be held back by the era he played in, and rumors of possible steroid use. Most of those rumors surfaced in Jose Canseco’s book “Juiced.” Though Canseco isn’t the most reliable source, and Pudge never tested positive, those rumors followed him throughout his career. If Pudge fails to be elected in his first year on the ballot, it will likely be due to those issues. By the numbers, he’s a pretty safe candidate.

That’s also the case with Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez. Looking at the numbers, he’s a clear candidate for induction. Ramirez hit an incredible .312/.411/.585, with 555 home runs, over a 19-year career. He was one of the best outfielders of his era.

Manny Ramirez had excellent numbers, but tested positive for banned substances twice. (Getty Images/Elsa)
Manny Ramirez had excellent numbers, but tested positive for banned substances twice. (Getty Images/Elsa)

While Rodriguez’s steroids allegations are based on rumors, Ramirez’s are much more than that. Ramirez tested positive, and was suspended, twice by Major League Baseball for using banned substances. Given how voters have treated rumored steroid users in recent years, Ramirez’s positive tests should sink him his first year on the ballot.

That leaves Guerrero. The Montreal Expos/Los Angeles Angels outfielder has excellent numbers, and no rumors about steroid use, but remains a fringe candidate. Over 16 years in the majors, Guerrero hit .318/.379/.553, with 449 home runs. He made nine All-Star games, won eight Silver Slugger awards and was the 2004 MVP.

Vladimir Guerrero has an interesting Hall of Fame case. (Getty Images/Stephen Dunn)
Vladimir Guerrero has an interesting Hall of Fame case. (Getty Images/Stephen Dunn)

While those numbers look exceptional, Guerrero could be hurt by only playing 16 years in the majors. That seems like a ludicrous statement, but he could have benefitted by padding his numbers for a few years. By JAWS, a stat which measures whether a player is a Hall of Famer, Guerrero comes up just short when compared to other right fielders in the Hall. Guerrero comes close enough that you could justify voting for him, however.

Those three might be the newest big names on the ballot, but there are also some interesting holdovers from the last few years. Expos outfielder Tim Raines is on the ballot for the last time. He received 69.8 percent of the vote in 2016, and needs to reach 75 percent for induction in 2017. It’s his last year of eligibility, so there could be a push to get him in.

Other players of note include Jeff Bagwell (71.6 percent), Trevor Hoffman (67.3 percent) and Curt Schilling (52.3 percent). Bagwell came just 15 votes shy of induction last season. Those were the only three players remaining on the ballot to have received over 50 percent of the vote last year.

Barry Bonds remains on the Hall of Fame ballot. (Getty Images/Lisa Blumenfeld)
Barry Bonds remains on the Hall of Fame ballot. (Getty Images/Lisa Blumenfeld)

The ballot also includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Billy Wagner Lee Smith and Larry Walker. Of that group, Clemens had the highest vote total last year with 45.2 percent of the vote. While some of those players could see their percentages shift this season, none seem likely to make the Hall in 2017.

And, of course, if you’re looking for other fun names on the ballot, you have Jorge Posada and Derrek Lee. Posada may actually have an interesting case as a fringe candidate, but he doesn’t seem to be taken seriously as a Hall of Famer. Lee had some really great seasons during his prime, but won’t come close to induction. The same can be said for shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Oh … you were looking for more fun names? Well, Matt Stairs is on the ballot. He’s joined by Casey Blake, Melvin Mora, Arthur Rhodes, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, to name a few. None of those players will get the five percent of the vote needed to remain on the ballot, but they are all candidates to get a mystery vote that prompts people to wonder what the heck that writer was thinking. Hey, Jacque Jones got a Hall of Fame vote in 2014. These things happen.

The Hall of Fame will be voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In order to vote for the Hall of Fame, writers have be in the organization for 10 consecutive years. Voters can choose up to 10 players for their ballots. Ballots are due by Dec. 31, and the results will be announced Jan. 18 during a special on MLB Network.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik