Update: Per this very good piece from Baseball Prospectus, upcoming HOF candidates, especially batters, should be skeptically eyeballed for another reason — an expansion-era bump. Especially if we assume that top batters are a "fat tail" on the bell curve, maybe then added 0.5 or 0.6 WAR, not just the 0.4 WAR per season that Kevin Whitaker estimates.
That said, even if HOF ballots aren't expanded from 10 players to 12 (which I would grudgingly accept) or even worse, the backlog won't get much worse, and could at least hold steady.
Now, 2015's entry class will add to it, what with Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as seeming first-ballot entries, John Smolz as a solid candidate, and Gary Sheffield as our next roiding controversy.
But, it will lighten up. In 2016, we have Junior Griffey as a first-year definite, followed by Jim Edmonds as a decent borderline candidate, and then a dropoff.
Next? The 2017 class brings Pudge Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, who will both have PEDing baggage, and Vladimir Guerrero, who's just outside my borderline. The dropoff after that is even huger than in 2016.
Chipper Jones leads the class of 2018, followed by Jim Thome, then Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones, if he doesn't come back to MLB from Japan. Jones is solidly a HOFer in my book; so's Thome. Rolen's a bit on the borderline. Jones, since almost all his value is in defense, no. Center field is not shortstop, and I think defensive sabermetrics are going to continue to draw discussion between now and then. That said, both he and Edmonds rank behind Larry Walker in overall WAR.
If all current voters vote a minimum of 6 candidates and half vote 10, we should be at the same average as we were this year.
Set aside the likely roiders who don't have "authenticity," per Ken Rosenthal, and give us an average of 2.5 inductees per year over these four years, and we'll be OK.
My take on all of these individuals?
The Big Unit and Pedro are no-brainers. Smoltz is a poor man's Curt Schilling. That said, will Pedro's low counting stats hurt him? If not, will his entry help Schilling? Sheffield? The BALCO package connection will hurt, even if Conte says the box contained only legit material. (He probably said that for product protection reasons after it didn't help that much.)
I already discussed Edmonds and Jones. And, this is going to force voters to address dWAR and even more advanced defensive sabermetrics, and the value of defense outside a position like shortstop, and more.
For 2017, Manny is a cut-rate Barry Bonds in my book. A definite HOFer, probably first-year entry, without the PEDing. Regular readers know my stance on the issue; until he gets honest, no entry. Pudge? Not busted, but clear connections to other Texas Rangers of allegations or actuality, all rooted in Jose Canseco. No on him; no major body bulking, but did HGH help his catching longevity. Guerrero falls just outside the borderlines. Good player, seemingly decent person, but not quite there.
On 2018, I don't think Thome was a user. That said, in an era of big bats, he could be accused of being a "compiler." Rolen? He gets to the heart of what Jay Jaffe and others have said about HOF voters and third base. It's an underfilled position. As for his cred? I think he deserves in.
Jay Jaffe also takes an initial gander. And, regarding the backlog, for the Class of 2016, he says:
Here’s where the traffic starts to break up a wee bit.(I've not read Jaffe enough to know if he's a small Hall or big Hall guy, but, going by my "sabermetric geniuses" post, I'd say big Hall.)