2019 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

It’s out. Who should get in?
Rick Ankiel

A much ballyhooed young pitcher, brought up very young by the Cardinals, and he swiftly caught Steve Blass Disease, finding himself unable to throw a strike.
When it became apparent he wasn’t going to be able to pitch again, he decided to try to make it back to the majors as an outfielder, and to my admitted amazement, he did it, and had a pretty decent year in 2008, hitting 25 homers.

As inspirational as that is, I don’t understand why he’s on the ballot. He wasn’t a regular player long enough to really merit it. Ryan Dempster, who had a full career and was twice the player, isn’t on the ballot.

Jason Bay

Bay is Canadian, from British Columbia. He is, I am pretty sure, one of the ten best Canadians of all time; fairly clearly behind Fergie Jenkins, Larry Walker, Joey Votto, Jeff Heath, and Russell Martin and in and amongst a bunch of guys like Justin Morneau, John Hiller, Terry Puhl, and Matt Stairs. I suppose that ranking tells you he’s not a Hall of Famer, but he had a few good years.

Most of the best Canadian players of all time have played in the last thirty years; Fergie Jenkins, the only Canadian Hall of Famer so far, is an exception, but other than that probably three quarters of them are recent.

I’m not sure why that is, but my guess would be that it’s relatively recently that Little League and the semi-professionalism of youth baseball coaching came to Canada. When I started playing youth baseball in Kingston, Ontario is about 1980, we weren’t even affiliated with Little League. The appointed coach was basically whatever parent felt like doing it that year; there were no qualifications required, no programs to help the coach figure out what he was doing. In retrospect – and I mean no disrespect, it’s just fact – the coaching was enthusiastically bad, consisting largely on telling us to play catch and saying “keep your eye on the ball.” Some coaches told us to catch fly balls with two hands, which has not been the preferred method of doing that since before I was born. Team equipment consisted of four old bats and catcher’s gear. The fields were vacant lots.

That started to change around 1985 or so; it was then, as memory serves, that Little League finally spread to our part of Canada. Today, I have two ball diamonds more or less across the street from my house, used by kids. Their equipment alone looks like a Division 1A college squad. Coaches are licensed and trained. There’s no way that doesn’t result in better ballplayers.

Lance Berkman

Berkman was, really, one hell of a hitter, but he’s just not quite there. He played 1879 games, and if he’d lasted for more like 2400 games he’d be a Hall of Famer. But he didn’t, and he didn’t have the kind of peak to mitigate a shorter career. He sort of of falls into a pile of guys like Shawn Green or Fred Lynn, guys who were stars and had 66% of a Hall of Fame career, but it’s the last third that’s the hardest to get.

Barry Bonds

Seventh year on the ballot; he only gets three more, and if he doesn’t make it he’s temporarily ineligible until the Hall of Fame creates a new “committee” to revisit players of this era and puts him in. Obviously, it’s an ongoing joke that he isn’t. I can understand is steroid use is your coin flip on guys like Rafael Palmiero, but there’s no coin flip here.

Roger Clemens

The Barry Bonds of pitchers, obviously.

Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards. In those seven years, Clemens amassed (Baseball Reference figures) 57.3 WAR. In all his other seasons combined, he had about 81 WAR. Either of those by itself would be a deserving Hall of Famer. There are a dozen pitchers, at least, in the Hall of Fame who don’t have 57 WAR.

Octavio Dotel

The only player in major league history named either “Octavio” or “Dotel.” He didn’t make the ballot but I wanted to mention that.

Freddy Garcia

Freddy won 17 games in his rookie season and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting; two years later, just 24 years old, he won the ERA title and 18 games. He then pitched until he was 36 and never again had a season as good as either of those.

Jon Garland

Garland was (well, presumably still is) a huge man, 6’6”, but he was one of the softest tossers in the major leagues who wasn’t a knuckleballer; I’m pretty sure he could never throw 90. He only struck out 4.8 men per nine innings, an extremely low number, and it’s kind of amazing he lasted as long as he did. He’s not a Hall of Famer, but my hat’s off to anyone who can win 136 games pretty much entirely through guile and trickery.

Travis Hafner

Hafner was a pretty scary hitter for about four years, but he was made of glass.

There are four kinds of injury-prone players:

  1. Fat guys, like Prince Fielder
  2. Guys with a particular physical ailment they can’t beat (most pitchers are like this)
  3. Guys who are just clumsy
  4. Guys who just seem snakebit, like Paul Molitor in the first half of his career

Hafner was type 3. He could hit, but had the grace and smooth elegance of a building collapse, and found a way to hurt more or less every part of himself.

Roy Halladay

A no brainer. Halladay’s turnaround in 2001 is without any other modern equivalent, that I can tell. In 2000 he was the worst pitcher in the major leagues, and for the number of innings he pitched maybe the worst ever. Toronto sent him to single A ball, he changed his delivery, and when he returned on June 2 he got the crap kicked out of him… and then starting with his next start he was one of the best pitchers in the world for ten years.

Todd Helton

Todd Helton put up some truly astounding numbers; for six or seven years he was just killing it. There are two problems with his candidacy;

  • His career is relatively short for a Hall of Famer, and
  • His numbers are way inflated by context.

Context means not only that he played in a time of big hitting numbers but, of course, he played in Coors Field, which bloats a guy’s statistics.

That said, Helton would not be a terrible choice – he isn’t the right choice, because there are better players ahead of him who aren’t yet in, but even if you adjust for context he really was an outstanding hitter, and he was a fine defensive player. His teammate, Larry Walker, is a very similar case.

Andruw Jones

Jones came up at the age of 19, in 1996, and hit two home runs in a World Series game. From that point to age 29 he was on track to be not a Hall of Famer, but an inner circle Hall of Famer. He was a spectacular defensive center fielder, one of the best of my lifetime, and hit a lot of home runs.

Then at age 30 he was done. He was bad, Atlanta got rid of him, and he bounced around for a few years being bad before finally giving up. I don’t know why, to be honest.

Jones was so good in his run that he is still an outer ring candidate for the Hall of Fame; I’d rank him as equal to Todd Helton, I guess. Jones won’t ever get in, and I’m fine with that. He is the best player ever born in Curacao, so that’s something.

Jeff Kent

Kent was a Blue Jay rookie in 1992 and played really well backing up Kelly Gruber. Late in the year the Jays traded him to the Mets for a couple of months of David Cone. Kent ended up having a hell of a career but as Cone helped them win the World Series that year it wasn’t a bad trade.

Prior to his arriving in Toronto I’d never heard of him; he was not a highly regarded prospect. Although he was a second baseman, he was weirdly stiff and not very agile looking as an infielder – statistically he did a decent job out there, he just didn’t look like it. Kent was drafted in the twentieth round, the point in the draft when teams are just grabbing whomever they can to ensure their low minor league teams have enough players… I don’t even think twentieth round picks get signing bonuses. Kent became an MVP, though, and played drafted lower than that have become Hall of Famers.

The baseball draft is a crapshoot. In hockey and basketball, there are guys drafted in the first round who become All Star literally right away. Basketball doesn’t even have a third round of the draft; if you aren’t picked by then everyone knows you’re not an NBA player. In baseball, any number of first round picks never make the majors, and guys picked as an afterthought become stars.

Kent is in that bunch of players with Todd Helton who wouldn’t be the worst pick ever but I wouldn’t vote for them.

Ted Lilly

Had some good years but isn’t even half a Hall of Famer. He was on the All Star team in 2004 for the Blue Jays not because he deserved it but because no one else on the team was any good, and the rules says every team gets at least one All Star.

Derek Lowe

Lowe was a relief pitcher for Boston for a number of years, and he was a pretty good relief ace. In 2002, for reasons I don’t recall, they decided to make him a starting pitcher. He wasn’t a kid – he was 29, halfway though most players’ careers, and had been a relief pitcher for years. He was amazing, winning 21 games, and was a good starting pitcher for years more. He’s not a Hall of Famer, but that was pretty cool.

Edgar Martinez

Edgar was just barely short of election last year, so the odds are he’ll make it this year, which will make him the first player ever who was largely a designated hitter to be elected to the Hall of Fame. I guess he deserves it.

Fred McGriff

A tall, elegant first baseman who came up with the Blue Jays at a time they were awash in first basemen, and they traded him to the Padres in the famous trade that got them Roberto Alomar.

The Blue Jays in eight years produced an astounding number of first basemen. Around 1985-1986 they came up with Fred McGriff and Cecil Fielder, and they had to trade Cecil, and then later they replaced McGriff with John Olerud, who was terrific, and then in 1993 they came up with with Carlos Delgado, who leads the Blue Jays in fifty career statistics.

McGriff had a 30-homer season for five different teams; the Jays, Padres, Braves, Rays and Cubs. I am pretty sure that’s a record. He ended up just seven homers short of 500, a statistical marker that used to mean certain Hall of Fame election but no longer does. He’s a marginal candidate.

Mike Mussina

Mussina was just a sensational pitcher; he is long overdue to be in the Hall of Fame, but he’ll get in this year or next. He finally won 20 games in his last season and then he retired. Gotta love a guy going out on top.

Darren Oliver

Oliver pitched for nine teams over the course of twenty years. He was a starting pitcher and when he was no longer good enough to do that he became a left handed specialist relief pitcher and did that for like 500 games. At the end, at the age of 42, he was still pitching pretty well, but was apparently tired of being away from his family.

Roy Oswalt

Oswalt for his first ten years was just awesome. In his first six seasons he finished in the top five in Cy Young voting five times. He did everything well, but then his arm died and his shot at the Hall of Fame went with it; he needed another three solid years. Pitching is brutal on the arm.

Bill James once wrote that there are more pitchers who’d be in the Hall of Fame if they hadn’t gotten hurt than there actually are pitchers in the Hall of Fame. It’s true.

Andy Pettite

Andy Pettite is my personal odd choice for the Hall of Fame. His career ERA is 3.85, which is superficially not very impressive – good, but it’d be the second highest of any Hall of Fame pitcher, exceeded only by Jack Morris, and since he mostly pitched for the Yankees, people assume he won a lot of games just because he got a lot of offensive support.

I think he gets a bit of a bum rap. Pettite’s ERA was accumulated during an age of very high scoring. If you adjust it to league norms it’s as good as dozens of Hall of Famers. He had a reasonably long career by modern standards and won more playoff games than any other pitcher. Honestly I think he’s a clearly qualified choice but he probably won’t get in. He also admitted to using PEDs, which doesn’t help.

Juan Pierra

Juan wasn’t very strong but he could run like the wind, and that was basically his game; he only hit 18 career home runs in almost 2000 games, but he stole 614 bases and hit a lot of triples. He was a big part of Florida winning the World Series in 2003.

Placido Polanco

A contact hitter, and a pretty good one, with little power.

Polanco has the highest fielding percentage of any third baseman in baseball history, and that kind of undersells it. He is just completely off the charts better than anyone else, 9.1 points above second place (Mike Lowell.) There is more of a difference between Polanco and Lowell than there is between Lowell and thirtieth place.

Of course, Polanco played less than half his career at third. He played most of his career at second. Would you like to know who the all time leader at second base is for fielding percentage? Why, that’s right. Placido Polanco.

I wouldn’t suggest Placido should be in the Hall of Fame but he was probably the most sure handed fielder who ever lived. He won Gold Gloves at both second and third. If you count outfield as one position (which for years the Gold Glove Award did) the only other player I can think of to win a Gold Glove at two different positions is Darin Erstad.

Manny Ramirez

Manny was of course known as being a kind of daffy-headed flake, but he took his hitting very seriously indeed, and my God he was good at it. If you want to show a kid how to swing a bat, get videos of Manny Ramirez hitting. His swing was as technically excellent as anyone who ever lived.

He played outfield like he’d just learned it the day before; he was as terrible an outfielder as he was great a hitter, but the overall package was great and he should be in the Hall. Manny hit 29 home runs in the playoffs, the all time record.

Mariano Rivera

The greatest relief pitcher of all time and the best player of all time in the playoffs, at any position. If Mariano Rivera isn’t in the Hall of Fame, there’s no point in having one.

Scott Rolen

According to the Wins Above Replacement measure, Rolen is probably a Hall of Famer, and I can see that argument statistically; he was a very good hitter and a very good fielder at a hard position.

Nonetheless he only got 10% of the vote last year and he’ll probably never get in. Weirdly, I’m okay with that, and I can’t exactly tell you why. He just never seemed like a great player at any one time. He won the Rookie of the Year Award and a bunch of Gold Gloves but never led the league in any offensive category and only once made the top ten in MVP voting. There are better candidates.

Curt Schilling

Schilling was a hell of a pitcher in the regular season, and was one of the five greatest postseason players who ever lived. Statistically he is a no brainer.

Since retiring, Schilling has earned a reputation as one of the biggest dickheads in the history of ex-pro-athletes. He started a video game company that failed after taking a lot of government money from the State of Rhode Island, and has gone from being a loudmouthed conservative, which is okay, to being a raving, bigoted Trumpist, which is generally not a way to earn respectable friends. His Hall of Fame support last year was 51%, which makes him a dubious shot – he is only on the ballot three more years – but if he wasn’t a colossal dick he’d be in already.

Should the voters disregard his being an asshole and elect him? Logically, they should. Schilling was not enough of an asshole as a player to make his teams unsuccessful; he played for two World Champions. His being a shitstick since then is not especially relevant. I’m not shedding any tears for him though. It’s a privilege, not a right.

Gary Sheffield

Sheffield was a Hall of Fame hitter all the way, just a pure hitter. Unlike most power hitters today. Sheff, as he was unoriginally known, didn’t strike out much. He never struck out 100 times in a season, and in fact never came close. That is something you can say about literally no power hitters anymore, none I can think of. He just had a talent for putting the bat on the ball.

He moved around a lot. He started with Milwaukee but they sent him early on to San Diego and he hit great there. Then he went to Florida and he hit great there for years, and then he went to Los Angeles and hit great there. He then spent a couple of years in Atlanta and hit like crazy, then signed with the Yankees and he kept on hitting. He was with the Tigers for a few years and hit, then finished his career with two thirds of a season with the Mets, still hitting.

Sheffield is a long shot because

  1. He is reputed to have used steroids,
  2. His career doesn’t really have a clear peak or narrative because he moved around a lot – he played over 2500 games but didn’t even play a quarter of them with any one team, which is, I am sure, a unique accomplishment in baseball history, and
  3. He had a reputation as a terrible fielder, a reputation supported by the numbers.
    I don’t care about 1 or 2 and think 3 is a bit exaggerated, so I’d vote for him.

Sammy Sosa

Slammin’ Sammy was a humongous star there for a few years but now gets little Hall support because, again, steroids.

It’s also partially just that the home run totals were inflated in general. He was a great player at his peak but there are a lot of better players available to vote for.
When I was a kid, I knew the career home run leaders off by heart. The top five were Hank Aaron (755) Babe Ruth (714) Willie Mays (660) Frank Robinson (586) and Harmon Killebrew (573) and in my teens Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt moved into sixth and seventh. Seven more guys had 500. It was assumed 500 homers meant automatic Hall of Fame inclusion, and 600, well, only three guys had done that.

Since then, six more players – Bonds, A-Rod, Griffey, Pujols, Thome and Sosa – have passed 600, and now 27 players are above 500. If you’d told me back then a guy would hit 609 homers and not be a clear Hall of Famer I’d have thought that nuts, but here we are.

Miguel Tejada

Tejada was a hell of a player but has maybe a twenty percent shot at the Hall.

In 2002 Tejada won the MVP Award, though he should not have. Two years later he actually had his best season, but finished fifth in the MVP voting even though, honestly, he should have finished ahead of all four guys ahead of him in the vote. The MVP award is stupid.

Omar Vizquel

I wrote about Omar’s candidacy at length last year and don’t feel like doing it again. To make it short; he is usually compared to Ozzie Smith, and so he’ll get in eventually, but he was not nearly as good as Ozzie. That said, most players like him – excellent defensive shortstops with very long careers – are in the Hall of Fame, so what the hell.

Billy Wagner

Wagner was an absolutely terrifying relief ace who threw about a million miles an hour. In fifteen years he was dominant every year except one bad season he was hurt. He was an objectively incredible pitcher.

The problem with his Hall of Fame candidacy is that he only pitched 903 innings, a number which roughly approximates four seasons of a good starting pitcher. It’s just impossible for me to think a guy like that is worthy of the Hall of Fame. If he pitched literally twice as much, he’d be a marginal candidate. Joahan Santana actually DID pitch twice as much and got dropped off the ballot because it wasn’t considered a long enough career.

Wagner might, relative to his regular season performance, be the worst playoff performer of all time. He gave up 13 runs in just 11 innings, an incredible run of ineptitude.

Larry Walker

See Todd Helton. The second best Canadian player of all time. Walker will not get to 75% before he drops off the ballot in 2020. It’s a shame, as he really does deserve it.

Larry became a major league regular in 1990 and retired after the 2005 season. In those sixteen years, he missed a significant amount of time to injury (or the 1994 lockout) in every single one of them except one, that being 1997, when he won the MVP Award. In every other season he missed at least 19 games, and on three occasions he missed half the season. If he’d been just a little less injury prone he’d have another 250 games or so, at least, and might well have gotten in.

Vernon Wells

Wells became a star in Toronto and still holds some team records. After a huge year in 2003 he spent the rest of his time in Toronto alternating mediocre years with good ones and he never quite became the MVP candidate everyone was hoping.

After the 2008 season the Blue Jays gave him a gigantic contract, I believe still the biggest a Blue Jay has ever gotten. After a couple of years that deal wasn’t looking great so they wanted to trade him, and to the absolute amazement of everyone, the Angels agreed to take him and take on his entire contract. It saved the Blue Jays ninety million dollars. Immediately upon arriving in California, Wells just fell apart; he was a total disaster there for a few years, was traded to the Yankees, was terrible there for a year, and retired.

Kevin Youkilis

Youkilis is the subject of a chapter in “Moneyball” in which Billy Beane goes to enormous but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to fool the Red Sox into giving him to the A’s; they keep calling him “The Greek God of Walks.” He was right to try, as it turned out; Youkilis turned into exactly the kind of player they expected him to, a pretty solid righthanded hitter who did everything well except run.

Youkilis had a truly bizarre batting stance where he would hold his bat way above his head and slide the top hand up the barrel of the bat and, rather than holding it with the top hand, just kind of lay the bat on his thumb, and then he’d point the bat horizonally out towards the second baseman, like he was trying to hit the guy with a T-shirt cannon. He held his feet really close together and kind of turned his ass away from the pitcher. He looked like a man about to fight a cobra while walking a tightrope. It was really weird.

At the height of his powers, Youkilis was, or was close to being, a Hall of Fame level player. The height of his powers didn’t last very long, though.

Michael Young

Michael Young, superficially, has Hall of Fame numbers. There aren’t a lot of shortstops with six 200-hit seasons, career .300 averages.

That said, Young’s numbers are heavily inflated by context. He played in the highest offensive era since the Second World War, in a ballpark that was relatively friendly to hitters. He was a really good player but not a Hall of Famer.

Barry Bonds? I’d vote for Rose (whom I despise) before I’d vote for “Chemical man”.

Oh, and HENRY AARON is the all time homerun king as far as I’m concerned.

Mo Rivera & Roy Halladay are absolutes.

I’m going to think about the other 3.

Could you expand on this? Why doesn’t “the most sure handed fielder who ever lived” deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

(How does his case compare to, say, Ozzie Smith, a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer whose renown is largely due to his defensive value?)

Martinez, Moose and Mo.

I don’t want to, nor feel the need to honor Clemens or Bonds, despite the fact that they were two of the best players at their positions. Being a cheater is one thing, but do you have to be an asshole while you do it? I could be talked into Clemens, on the other hand, because his shiftiness didn’t start until after his playing days, and his contributions to those two ridiculous World Series runs along with his numbers work.

Guys like Halladay, Sheffield, Pettite and Jones(roughly in that order,) I’d all be fine with being in the hall. I don’t really see a case for the rest of these guys. Well, except for Omar. But I think we’ve worn the rubber pretty thin on that discussion.

Mariano Rivera: Yes, Yes, Yes, just no question yes. The greatest at his position and greatest postseason pitcher ever.

Roy Halladay is actually kind of borderline but I think his run if greatness and postseason work puts him in and his tragic death get my vote now. I think Halladay and I think Hall of Famer.

Mike Mussina should get in and would get my vote this year.

Edgar Martinez got my vote this year and gets it again this year.

I kind of hate giving him the vote but I guess I’ll give #5 to Curt Schilling is an asshole but has the numbers to support the HOF vote. His postseason work really adds to it.

Lance Berkman, Jeff Kent, Todd Helton & Fred McGriff are below the borderline. Hall of the Very Good, not Hall of Fame.

Larry Walker is very borderline and benefited greatly from 10 years in Colorado. I would leave him out.

*Andy Pettite *sorry Andy, I want to vote for you, but even with your postseason work, you fall short.

Barry Bonds & Roger Clemens No, probably never get my vote. Too much the assholes, too much the poster children for steroids.

Sammy Sosa and his Steroids is a no vote for me this year at least. And I liked Sammy.

Manny Ramirez has the number but also the steroid bust and lots of other odd issues.

*Gary Sheffield *is below the borderline and was always kind of a jerk.

Omar Vizquel eventually should make it.

Miguel Tejada is not a hall of famer, not really that close either.

Ankiel - Thought he was trying to make a comeback? I’ve said it before, never seen an athlete’s career turn on a dime right in the middle of the field like his did. Amazing story. Not a HOFer.

Bay - Will always be remembered by me as the guy the Red Sox got for Manny Ramirez. Had a handful of solid years. Not a HOFer.

Berkman - I’d agree he’s at best 2/3 of the way there. Not a HOFer.

Bonds - Yeah, 'roids. Ten years ago I never thought I’d say it but it’s time to get over it. He’s a no doubt HOFer.

Clemens - See above. HOFer.

Dotel - Didn’t make the ballot? He was a nice bullpen arm for a lot of teams. Not a HOFer.

Garcia - Nice pitcher for a lot of years, only very good for a few. Not a HOFer.

Garland - Had one really good year and it happened to be the year the White Sox won the World Series. Not a HOFer.

Hafner - Garnered MVP votes in three consecutive seasons then fell off the face of the earth thanks to injuries. Forgot he spent his final season with the Yankees. Not a HOFer.

Halladay - Two Cy Young awards and eight All Star appearances. Doc was great for a long time. Shame he didn’t live to see his induction. HOFer.

Helton - Finally, someone we have to think about. Never won an MVP and I never considered him the best in MLB at first base. Not a huge power guy, but hit a metric shit-ton of doubles. Like, WOW, look how many doubles he hit! 592. Averaged 35 doubles a year over his entire career. But I think Larry Walker and/or Fred McGriff are both as deserving if not more so and for that reason I’m out. Not a HOFer.

Jones - When I hear the name Andruw Jones I think “that dude was good for a brief period; not long enough to be a HOFer.” But when I look at the numbers and add defense into consideration, one could argue that Jones has a stronger case than Helton. Helton was very good defensively too, by the way, but CF is more important than 1B. So it’s pretty close, but that cliff he fell off post-Atlanta is just too harsh. Not a HOFer. Not yet. Ask me again next year.

Kent - Known to be one of the biggest assholes in the game. Played his best baseball from age 30 onward while teammates with Barry Bonds…hmmmm. But, he put up big numbers. He’s very borderline, right there with Helton and Jones. For my vote, not a HOFer.

Lilly - Was a slightly above average pitcher. Not a HOFer.

Lowe - Cost Pedro the 2002 Cy Young award by cannibalizing votes. In 1999 I went to a Sox game in Detroit and sat right behind the visitor’s bullpen. And I mean those bullpen guys were *right *in front of you at old Tiger Stadium. Lowe was talking to people in the stands throughout the whole game. Cool guy. He’s in the Red Sox HOF, and that’s as far as he’ll get. Not a HOFer.

Edgar - Best DH ever until David Ortiz. I think he has a stronger case than Helton and company. For quite a string of years you could count on him to hit .320+ with around 30 homers. HOFer.

McGriff - The Crime Dog. I don’t know how much it matters, but I’m not aware of any steroid allegations against McGriff. As I said above, I don’t think Helton can get in before McGriff. I really want to vote for him, but he’s not gonna make it. In nine years he has never garnered a quarter of the votes. It pains me to say it (more from nostalgia than anything else) but not a HOFer.
Mussina - Hated him because he dominated the Red Sox. Always thought he was a little overrated, though. He pretty much never led the league in anything. But he strung together soooo many good seasons, his career WAR is actually pretty good at 82.9. Compare that to Tom Glavine’s 72, for example, who got a lot of love because he always won 20 games. Now we know wins don’t mean that much for a pitcher. So yeah, I guess Moose is a HOFer.

Darren Oliver - Wow, made a living playing baseball for 20 years. Not a HOFer.

Oswalt - Dude was really good for almost a decade and believe it or not, it wasn’t quite enough. Had a really brutal end to his career. That last year in Colorado, yikes. Not a HOFer.

Pettite - I’m going to counter RickJay’s arguents for Pettite. His 2nd season sums up his career for me. It was his highest finish in Cy Young voting (2nd) because it was the '96 Yankees, he led the league with 21 wins and his ERA as 3.87. 3.87! He won a lot of playoff games because the Yankees were always in the playoffs. His playoff record is 19-11 and his postseason ERA is a very Andy Pettite-esque 3.81. So it’s not like he dominated October. Not a HOFer.

Pierre - Led the league in caught stealing attempts more than twice as many times as he led the league in steals. Did lead the league in hits twice, though. Not a HOFer.

Polanco - Looking at the numbers, he is better than I remembered. And his defense kind of flew under the radar for me. Still, not a HOFer.

Manny Ramirez - Could mash like nobody. Red Sox fans didn’t care if he didn’t hustle. And I think his defensive ineptitude is a little overplayed. Don’t get me wrong, he was not great or even very good. Although his effort lacked, he knew how to play the green monster. I think he led the league in outfield assists one year. HOFer.

Mariano Rivera - Blew the 2004 ALCS. Not a HOFer. Just kidding. He’s a no doubter, of course. HOFer.

Rolen - One of the best defensive third basement of his time and a very good hitter, too. A better hitter than Brooks Robinson, but not quite the same glove. He’s a tough call, but I think his case is better than Helton’s, who has somehow become my measuring stick. HOFer.

Schilling - Look, I love what Schilling did for the Red Sox. His post career antics aside, I’m not sure the stats are definitely there. I mean, he has a stronger case than Pettitte for sure. Now that I look, yes the stats are there. Better than I remembered. HOFer.

Sheffield - I guess he’d wear a Marlins hat if he were inducted? Nobody whipped the bat around like Sheff. Nobody. Who didn’t try to emulate that swing playing whiffle ball in the backyard? If exit velocity was a thing when Sheff played, he’d be off the charts. As much as I like him, I think his case is only slightly stronger than McGriff’s. I’m gonna say not a HOFer.

Sosa - What this guy and McGwire (who was off the ballot last year, by the way) did for baseball in 1998 was important. He’s not gonna get in. But looking at the numbers, he deserves it. HOFer.

Miguel Tejada - His MVP gift in 2002 was a joke. The thing is, he beat out ARod in a landslide. That would not happen today given how much weight people put on WAR. That said, he was an awesome player for a little while. But not a HOFer.

Omar Vizquel - Eleven total gold gloves is nothing to sneeze at. His offensive numbers were OK. I think I have one vote left if I stay within ten, and I’m gonna use it later. Not a HOFer.

Wagner - Don’t even talk to me about Billy Wagner while Lee Smith is on the outside looking in. Not a HOFer.

Walker - I think he has a better case than Helton. Larry was really good in Montreal, too. I say put him in. HOFer.

Wells - I remember when the Jays overpaid him like a maniac. And I remember when the Angels traded for him and thought, what the hell are they doing? Then the Angles turned around and gave Pujols an insane contract. Anyway, Vernon had 3 or 4 years that were really good. Not a HOFer.

Youkilis - Unlike Sheffield, Youk’s stance was not fun to emulate because it was damn uncomfortable. How can a guy hit like that? Youk had a couple awesome seasons in Boston. He famously did not get along well with Manny Ramirez because Youk was the anti-Manny, always hustling, always taking everything very seriously. Like Lowe, the Red Sox HOF is as far as he’ll get. Not a HOFer.

Michael Young - Had a string of like eight really solid years. Better numbers than I remembered. Not a HOFer.

Whew, I’m glad I had some time to kill on bbref today. That was fun.

Barkis - if I counted right, you named eleven people as Hall of Famers. Just curious - since the ballot is ten, who would you leave off this year?

Personally for me, my ballot would be (in rough order):
Bonds, Clemens, Rivera, Manny, Mussina, Halladay, Walker, Edgar, Rolen, Kent.

Pettite is clearly behind the 10 I named in my eyes. Same with Andruw. Not sure if I’d include either if I had room.
Sheffield is probably behind those two.
Helton, Sosa and Berkman all fall clearly short for me.
And once again because of a full ballot I can not include Schilling, probably my least favorite player of all time. He’s somewhere between 11th and 999th on my list.

Helton, Halladay, Rivera, Rolen, and Walker. I’m fine with adding five this year :slight_smile:

Berkman was the best player ever to play for Rice University (by a wide margin; the second best is maybe Norm Charlton?); he batted in the .400s and hit about a home run a game in his best year. I was incredibly excited when he was drafted by the Astros, and he didn’t disappoint. They tried him at centerfield for a couple years but that didn’t go so great.

Garcia was part of the Randy Johnson deadline trade in 1998; Johnson pitched about as well as a human being can pitch for that third of a season, but the Astros didn’t give him any run support in the playoffs, and then he was off to AZ as a free agent. Garcia looked like an absolute stud in the minors that year and was basically the key to the deal. The Astros bargained down to Garcia from their then-top pitching prospect, Scott Elarton, who I see actually lasted 10 years in the majors and had a career WAR of -0.4.

I’d add 5. Jim Edmonds types who just overextend themselves.

Jeff Kent

Craig Biggio played a couple years in the outfield so the Astros could sign Jeff Kent.

Mussina will get in and he will deserve it.

Pettite will get in eventually, I think, because there’s going to be a long stretch after Halladay and before 5 years after Sabathia (maybe) or Verlander retires during which the best guy is probably Tim Hudson or Mark Buehrle? And the voters will get sick of not voting in any pitchers.

(That depends on how the PED issue plays out, and I have just no sense whatsoever of that kind of thing).

Curt Schilling

I figure Schilling gets in eventually as well, for similar reasons and because he eventually shuts up for a year or two. Steve Carlton is in, right?

Online Astros fans hated Billy Wagner. One board I frequented called him “the Gas Can”. I decided after seeing that that fans tend to badly overrate their team’s bench hitters but badly underrate their team’s relief pitchers, but I’m not sure why. The successes/failures tend to stand out in memory?

Baseball did not bother to test for steroids after the World Series was cancelled in 94 because they wanted more home runs to bring fans back.

They didn’t test as the union blocked testing. Maybe the Commish didn’t press hard enough for it, but it was the union that blocked it and not the league choosing not to test.

I guess that might depend on whether the Veterans’ Committee elects Harold Baines at the Winter Meetings first. (They shouldn’t, but they’ve elected quite a few who I don’t think they should have.)

See for example https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/0c6cd3b5.

I’d just like to say that virtually all of the little I know about the game has come from the SDMB - I’ve never even watched a game from start to finish - but I really enjoy reading these threads, especially the insightful, well-written analysis by the likes of RickJay - thanks.

Dammit, I do have 11.


I think I’m going to leave off Rolen in favor of Walker because the former has more years left on the ballot and honestly, they are about as equal as it gets in HOF worthiness perspective.

Is there any scuttlebutt around Baines possibly getting elected? He would be up there for weakest HOF player if he did. I say that as a big fan of Harold Baines.

The voting by the Today’s Game Era committee takes place Dec. 9th at the MLB winter meetings. The ballot:


Lee Smith
Orel Hershiser
Joe Carter
Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark


Davey Johnson
Lou Pinella
Charlie Manuel


George Steinbrenner

Without getting into how “deserving” he is, I’d like to see Lee Smith in the HOF.

Because he wasn’t that great a player. His specific skill set of not making errors did not make that much of a difference in his teams winning games. It’s a cool thing, but it’s not a huge part of a ballplayer’s skill set.

Polanco was a good fielder, but was nowhere near the fielder Ozzie Smith was. Fielding is about more than avoiding errors - in fact, you can be really good at avoiding errors and actually be a terrible fielder. My favourite example here is Adam Lind, who in his career played 249 games in the outfield and only made one error; he would have the highest fielding percentage of any left fielder in history if 249 games was enough to qualify. But he was a bad fielder, because he could only catch the ball if it was hit within twenty feet of where he was standing. Fielding is about making outs, not avoiding errors; a second baseman who makes ten more errors than Placido Polanco, but in doing so made forty outs Placido would not have made, has a lower fielding percentage, but is a better fielder. I’m not saying Placido was a bad fielder; he was way above average, but not like Ozzie or Brooks Robinson. He was similar in value to, say, Devon White.

Aside from being a better fielder - actually, in my opinion, the best fielder at any position, ever - Ozzie had a much longer career, a peak where he was a legitimate MVP candidate, and in his heyday was a more valuable offensive player than Placido was. Placido was a really good player but Ozzie is an unfair comparison.

Thanks, RickJay. No argument against anything you’ve said; I just wasn’t familiar enough with Polanco to know what he did and did not bring to the table.