Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Johan Santana headline 2018 Hall of Fame ballot

Chipper Jones is one of 19 newcomers on the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. (Getty Images)

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year: Baseball Hall of Fame time! The Baseball Writers Association of America released the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot on Monday, and as we all expected, it’s a doozy.

There are 19 newcomers on this year’s ballot, but there are four big names that everyone will want to talk about. Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel and Johan Santana. Those four represent some of the best sluggers, pitchers, infielders and all-around players of their generation.

Jones spent 19 years in the majors, and spent all of them as the third baseman for the Atlanta Braves. There are no sure things on a Hall of Fame ballot, but Chipper is as close as it gets. He was an eight-time All-Star, and he was the NL MVP in 1999. And beyond that, he was part of those terrifying mid-’90s Braves teams that just kept winning and winning and winning, including the World Series in 1995.

Jim Thome hit an ungodly number of home runs over his 22-year career. He hit 612 to be exact, which ranks eighth all-time. The five-time All-Star played for six different teams, but spent 13 years with the Cleveland Indians, who even have a statue of him outside their stadium. But Thome is beloved by pretty much everyone, and is one of the great home-run hitters of all-time.

If you’re looking for defense of the highest caliber, look no further than Omar Vizquel. He won 11 Gold Gloves at shortstop, went to the All-Star Game three times, and played for 24 years. He also stole 404 bases, has more defensive games at shortstop than anyone ever (2,709), and has the highest ever fielding percentage (.985) at that position.

Johan Santana’s Hall of Fame case is one of the most interesting. Santana was a flat-out incredible pitcher, but his career lasted just 12 years before a shoulder injury forced him into retirement. His decline was sharp, but he deserves consideration. He threw over 200 innings for five seasons in a row, won two Cy Young awards (both with the Minnesota Twins), and had an undeniable peak. He also gave the New York Mets their very first no-hitter in 2012.

Beyond those four, there are fifteen other players who will be appearing on the ballot for the first time: Chris Carpenter, Johnny Damon, Livan Hernandez, Orlando Hudson, Aubrey Huff, Jason Isringhausen, Andruw Jones, Carlos Lee, Brad Lidge, Hideki Matsui, Kevin Millwood, Jamie Moyer, Scott Rolen, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano.

Those 19 new players will join 14 players from last year’s ballot. And those names are fraught with excitement and drama as well. Trevor Hoffman fell just five votes short of induction, and Barry Bonds made more progress toward that coveted 75 percent. There’s also Edgar Martinez, Vlad Guerrero, Roger Clemens, Billy Wagner, Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa and Larry Walker.

The 2018 ballot is stacked, and that means one thing: a very interesting Hall of Fame season.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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