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Former Indians Johnny Peralta, Mike Napoli are on the baseball club’s ballot

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The couple is in their first year of eligibility for possible induction to Cooperstown. They were joined on the ballot by Tribe stars Manny Ramirez and Omar Vizquel.

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CLEVELAND — Voting for the 2023 National Baseball Hall of Fame has begun, and two former Cleveland Indians stars are making their first appearance on the ballot.

Shortstop Johnny Peralta and first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli are among the 28 names that will be considered by more than 400 baseball writers from around the country and abroad. Half of these names are in their first year of eligibility, which means they’ve now been retired for at least five years and have spent at least 10 seasons in the big leagues.

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Peralta played 15 seasons in the majors and was in Cleveland most of his career, earning his first call-up in 2003. The Dominican Republic native had the unenviable task of replacing fan-favorite Omar Vizquel (more on him later), and while he Never able to match the latter’s ability on the field, he managed to become a reliable presence in the lineup, blasting at least 20 home runs three times. He was also a member of the 2007 American League Central Tribe Championship team that finished just one win shy of reaching the World Series, hitting . 333 with a pair of homers in that postseason.

In a lopsided deal that didn’t go the Indians’ way, Peralta was traded to Detroit in 2010 for pitcher Giovanni Soto (who appeared in just six games over his career). He would make three joint All-Star teams with the Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals. However, he finished his career in 2017 with a . 267 average, 202 home runs, and 30.4 GRA.

Unlike Peralta, Napoli only spent one season in Cleveland, but it was definitely a memorable one. The veteran player led the 2016 set with 34 homers and 101 RBIs, providing a much-needed pop to a lineup that ended up winning its first AL pennant in 19 years. Along the way, he became a popular cult hero among supporters of the tribe thanks to that phrase “Party in Naples”, He ended up raising thousands of dollars for the Cleveland Clinic by selling the T-shirts.

Prior to arriving in Northeast Ohio, Napoli broke into the role of catcher with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and later made the All-Star team in position with the Texas Rangers before winning the World Series in 2013 with the Boston Red Sox. After leaving Cleveland, he spent one final season at Lone Star State before re-signing with the Tribe in a minor league deal in 2018, but a triple-A knee injury in Columbus ended his career after 12 years, 267. Homers.

Naples and Peralta are candidates for the Cooperstown election, which requires at least 75% “yes” votes from all writers involved in the process. Just to stay on the ballot, players must achieve a minimum of 5%, and a pair will likely struggle to get that percentage.

Along with the newcomers, former Tribe stars Vizquel and Manny Ramirez join the 12 remaining from last year’s ballot, each in their fifth and sixth years of eligibility, respectively. For these two, the question isn’t really about skill: Vizquel has won 11 Gold Gloves playing shortstop and hitting 2,877 career hits, while Ramirez is 15th on the all-time list with 555 home runs.

Unfortunately, both have so far been left in limbo for their alleged transgressions. Ramirez has tested positive for PEDs at least twice, calling the legitimacy of his entire career (including eight seasons in Cleveland) into question. He failed to gain even 30% of voter support.

Vizquel seemed to be on the fast track to induction after receiving more than 50% of the vote in 2020, but that number slipped the following year after accusations of domestic violence by his then-wife. The charges were later dismissed in court, but separate allegations surfaced of him sexually molesting a first-rate batsman, and Hall of Fame support subsequently dropped to less than 25% in 2022.

Another former Indian on this year’s roster: Jeff Kent, who hit . 265 in 39 games when the Tribe won the AL Central title in 1996. Here in Cleveland, Kent is known for being part of two memorable deals: he and José Vizcaíno were acquired from New York Mets for Carlos Baerga before they were both shipped to San Francisco at that time as part of a deal that brought Matt Williams. Kent became a five-time All-Star with the Giants, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers, winning the 2000 National League Most Valuable Player Award while striking out 351 home runs as a second baseman, an MLB record that still stands to this day. This is Kent’s tenth and final year on the ballot.

The final results of this year’s voting will be announced in January. In addition, the Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Baseball Era panel will consider a slate of senior nominees for next month’s Winter Meetings, including Indians’ legendary Albert Bell.

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