(Reuters) – Outfielders Vladimir Guerrero and Manny Ramirez and catcher Ivan Rodriguez are among the prominent newcomers to the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot released on Monday.
But Ramirez, considered one of Major League Baseball’s best right-handed hitters of his generation, may have a difficult time winning enough support from voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America due to his doping past.
Ramirez, who batted .312 with 555 homers and 1,831 RBIs in a 19-year career spent mainly with Cleveland and Boston, failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs twice – with the Dodgers in 2009 and the Rays in ’11, his last major league season.
Doping suspicions have so far kept seven-time most valuable player Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens from membership in the Cooperstown shrine.
Catcher Jorge Posada is also newly on the ballot that includes first baseman Jeff Bagwell, outfielder Tim Raines and closer Trevor Hoffman, who all came close to election for the Class of 2016.
Election requires at least 75 percent of the vote by eligible BBWAA members. The Class of 2017 will be announced on Jan. 18 with the induction ceremony to be held on July 30 in Cooperstown, New York.
Bagwell, who played his 15-year career with the Astros, fell 15 votes shy of the 330 required for induction last year. Raines, in his final year on the ballot, was 23 votes short in 2015, while Hoffman missed by 34 votes.
Of the newcomers, Guerrero might have the best chance of becoming a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
In a 16-year career spent mostly with the Expos and Angels, rifle-armed right-fielder Guerrero had a career batting average of .318 with 449 homers and 1,496 RBIs.
Rodriguez played 21 seasons for six teams, spending 2,427 games behind the plate – the most ever in Major League Baseball.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Steve Keating)