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Barry Bonds getting support from early ballots to Baseball Hall of Fame

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Barry Bonds getting support from early ballots to Baseball Hall of Fame

The National Baseball Hall of Fame electees will be announced on Jan. 22. with the induction ceremony to take place on July 21.

And just like clockwork, the question surrounding Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens has been brought up once again: Should Bonds and Clemens be considered for the Hall of Fame despite being connected to performance-enhancing drugs?

While this won't answer that question, there are signs that the ice is thawing out on a discussion that has been capped for a long time. With 182 ballots revealed, MLB.com's public ballots show huge support of Clemens and Bonds. And Ryan Thibodaux, as well as his team, who track the ballots notice an upward trend between the two controversial stars.

"We've noticed all six of [MLB.com] voters voted for Bonds," Thibodaux told NBC Sports Bay Area. "Overall, Bonds and Clemens look like they will see a rather small increase in their vote percentages this year."

Thibodaux also said we shouldn't get used to those high percentages located next to Bonds and Clemens, they will more than likely fall to the 60-percent range once other large outlets like ESPN reveal their voters' ballots. 

"They typically do relatively poorly on these late-arriving ballots," Thibodaux said. 

Then, Bonds and Clemens will likely fall even further as more and more ballots are revealed. That's standard.

It can cause some concern for Bonds and Clemens supporters, knowing this may be how it'll be until the two run out of chances. They only have a few more opportunities to get elected, but there is still hope.

"Every year, new voters come in who reach 10 years in the BBWAA, and older voters who haven't covered baseball for 10 years lose their vote. Bonds and Clemens do very well among the younger, newer voters, and poorly among the older set."

This may not be enough to have them hit the 75-percent mark, but it will be close.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter for MLB.com, and a Hall of Fame voter, did indeed vote for the Bonds and Clemens on his ballot -- and he's done it for the last three years since he was given the chance. 

"Bonds is the best player I ever watched play, and Clemens -- if not the best pitcher I've ever watched pitch, he's certainly in the top three," Feinsand told NBC Sports Bay Area. "And yes, there's a lot of circumstantial evidence that each of them used PEDs. but at the same time, they both played in the testing era and never tested positive."

Jon Morosi, also of MLB.com spoke to KNBR on Wednesday saying something similar.

"I voted for Bonds and Clemens, as I have every year,” said Morosi. “For now, at least, my policy regarding players tied to PED use remains unchanged: I do not vote for players suspended under MLB’s drug policy from 2005 to present, but I support the best-all-around players from the complicated era that preceded it.”

[RELATED: Barry Bonds kept out of Hall for the sixth year]

Could the demographics of the voters be the ultimate say in whether these players under the dark cloud of steroids get voted in? Perhaps.

What we do know is the steroid era happened -- we don't necessarily know when it started and who did and did not participate in being exposed to the PEDs -- but the voters continue to speak.

Whether or not anyone is listening is another thing. 

MLB rumors: Giants-Twins Madison Bumgarner trade chatter ‘premature’

MLB rumors: Giants-Twins Madison Bumgarner trade chatter ‘premature’

It's possible that Madison Bumgarner made his last start for the Giants on Saturday at Oracle Park.

Charley Walters, a columnist for The Pioneer Press in Minnesota, reported that the Twins are "moving closer to a trade with the Giants for left-handed starter Madison Bumgarner."

Don't get too worked up just yet.

Darren Wolfson, a sports reporter for KSTP-TV in Minnesota, isn't ready to say a deal between the Giants and the Twins is close.

Bumgarner is the Giants' biggest trade chip, and he's expected to fetch them a haul of prospects before the July 31 trade deadline. A deal this far away from that deadline would be a surprise, though, as the team might want to wait longer for more suitors and richer offers.

The Twins aren’t one of the eight teams on Bumgarner's no-trade list, so that would make it easier for the Giants to facilitate a trade with Minnesota, which has surprised everyone this season and owned the best record in baseball through Saturday.

In 14 starts this season, 29-year-old Bumgarner has a 3.83 ERA and struck out 84 batters in 87 innings.

[RELATED: Will Smith remains focused as trade rumors swirl]

With the Giants in last place in the NL West, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi could start trading off his valuable pieces to restock the farm system. Along with Bumgarner, you can expect veteran relievers Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson to be traded by the deadline.

Stephen Vogt's speed vs. Brewers leads Giants to fourth straight win

Stephen Vogt's speed vs. Brewers leads Giants to fourth straight win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey first worked together in the minors, and for a decade in the big leagues, more often than not, Posey has been in the squat when Bumgarner digs in and looks in at the plate in the first inning. Posey has caught nearly 80 percent of Bumgarner's big league starts, a number that would be much higher if not for a couple of season-ending injuries.

But when Giants manager Bruce Bochy sat down this week to plan out playing time, he made an interesting decision. With a day game Saturday, Bochy knew Posey, coming off a hamstring injury, would catch just one of the first two against the Brewers. He chose Friday, pairing Posey with Drew Pomeranz. That meant Stephen Vogt caught Bumgarner for a third straight start, and the left-hander didn't mind one bit. 

"That's definitely the fastest and easiest transition I've had with another catcher besides Buster," Bumgarner said. "The first game, it just clicked."

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the partnership found smooth waters so quickly. Vogt is apparently all about speed these days. 

The 34-year-old catcher had two triples and an infield single Saturday, providing much of the energy in an exciting 8-7 win over the Brewers that was the fourth straight for the Giants. Vogt, popular in every big league stop, has quickly become a favorite of longtime Giants, including Bumgarner. 

"The guy's a ballplayer," Bumgarner said. "He's fun to watch. He gives it all he's got. Everybody really appreciates that. He's a guy that's easy to pull for."

The two triples got most the attention, but Vogt's most impactful sprint may have been the one he made in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on the corners and two outs, Vogt hit a slow roller up the middle and beat Orlando Arcia's throw to first, reaching 27.6 feet per second, his second-fastest sprint of the season. 

"I like to joke that the fastest human being on the planet is a baseball player that smells a hit," Vogt said, smiling. 

All kidding aside, those four and a half seconds told the Giants a lot about their backup catcher. After being in the squat for nearly three hours, Vogt busted it down the line, providing a necessary insurance run. Will Smith would give up a solo shot to Christian Yelich in the ninth but held on when Mike Yastrzemski made a diving catch for the final out. 

"It ended up being a huge run," Bochy said of Vogt's final hit. "In the eighth inning, for a catcher to get down there like that, that's impressive."

Vogt's day was historic in a way. He became the first Giants catcher since Steve Nicosia in 1984 to record two triples in one game and just the third catcher in the last eight years to do it. The Giants had not had a two-triple game from any player in three years. 

Vogt's first triple, just the 10th of his career, came when he lined a 2-0 fastball from former teammate and friend Jimmy Nelson off the fourth archway. The ball would have been a home run in 18 ballparks, but it ricocheted into center field and Vogt cruised into third, his helmet flying off, as Yelich chased it down. With a sprint speed of 26.4 feet per second, Vogt reached third in 12.4 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the MLB average this season. He would score on Kevin Pillar's single. 

The second triple was a bit more traditional by the ballpark's standards, as Vogt lined a Junior Guerra splitter into Triples Alley and hustled into the bag in 12.14 seconds. Again, he scored on a Pillar single. Afterward, Vogt briefly took on a serious tone when noting that he hopes the ball won't be able to roll that far in the future. Vogt joined the chorus of players who want the bullpens moved off the field and into Triples Alley. He said it's a safety issue, pointing out that Chris Taylor toppled over a mound earlier this homestand. 

"If that's how we have to get that done, let's do it," he said. 

[RELATED: Will Smith focused despite trade rumors]

That's a conversation for the future. In the present, the Giants are just trying to put a positive stretch together. They remain eight games under .500, but this is their best run of the season, and on Sunday they have a chance to sweep a contender. 

"That's a big win," Vogt said. "A big win for us."