Coming to Senses With My IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot
It took a long while, as I spent most of my evening last night attempting to cut down a roster of 30 players eligible to be voted on from the IBWAA for their Hall of Fame.
Now that I’ve been able to relax my brain from the endless hours of studying the intricacies that are neurobiology and biochemistry, I instead dived into the stats- both traditional and advanced- as well as trying to discredit my own personal biases as I attempted to put forward the best ballot I could.
As a note beforehand: both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens did not appear on my ballot, as they have already been inducted into the IBWAA Hall of Fame. Additionally, IBWAA voting rules allow up to 12 players to be listed on each ballot.
Here is an alphabetical listing explaining why I voted for who I did:
My IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot (2020):
(See: Baseball-Reference 2020 Official Hall of Fame Ballot Statistics Table)Embed from Getty Images
Todd Helton: (1997-2013)
Key Stats: 61.2 bWAR, 46.5 WAR7, 53.9 JAWS, 316/.414/.539 (.953 OPS); plus negating Coors Field
A player who gets in predominantly because of how advanced metrics are looked at in modern baseball. While he eclipsed 2500 hits (2519), he failed to reach 400 home runs (369) even while playing his entire 17-year career in Colorado. However, he did have an incredible slash-line, hitting each of the desired “three starting numbers” of .3XX/.4XX/.5XX, as well as the 3rd best peak (WAR7) of players I could vote for- remember, no Bonds or Clemens- and had a JAWS just under what a typical HOF 1B would have (54.8). He also had a decent amount of hardware with 5 All-Star appearances, 4 Silver Sluggers, and 3 Gold Gloves.Embed from Getty Images
Derek Jeter: (1995-2014)
Key Stats: 72.4 bWAR, 3465 Hits, 337 HOFm; plus being Derek Jeter
I don’t think I have to make much of a case as to why Mr. November should be on my Hall of Fame ballot, and will be elected into Cooperstown- especially because this is a Yankees blog. If hitting 3000+ hits, 70+ bWAR, having a .300+ career batting average, along with being a 14 -time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, 5-time Gold Glove, 5-time Silver Slugger, and not to mention being a 5-time World Champion aren’t enough to get a vote, then that Hall of Fame would almost have no players enshrined and not tell the story of baseball.Embed from Getty Images
Andy Pettitte: (1995-2010; 2012-2013)
Key Stats: 60.2 bWAR, 59.1 WAA, 256 Wins; plus the postseason success
Andy Pettitte on the surface is my Yankees-homer pick, but he does have a legitimate case even regarding only his regular season statistics. He ranks as the 42nd most winningest starting pitcher, 64th highest in bWAR, and 70th highest in WAA (Wins Above Average). His 3.85 career ERA with a 1.351 WHIP is also nothing to sneeze at, even though they aren’t historic numbers. Add in his postseason successes and 5 World Series rings, and I think there is more here than some people want to acknowledge.Embed from Getty Images
Manny Ramirez: (1993-2011)
Key Stats: 555 Home Runs, .312/.411/.585 (.996 OPS), 69.4 bWAR; plus A-Rod’s career
While driving home from college with my Dad, we were talking about this post idea and who I’d vote for. I said there was no way I could vote for Manny because he failed two drug tests and delegitimized the sport…but my Dad then asked, “What about A-Rod? Would you vote for him?” Me being a 21-year old who has to rebuttal his father said, “Obviously not, then I would be a hypocrite.”
This is my “I’m not a hypocrite” vote. If there is no reason as to why I wouldn’t vote for A-Rod- of whom I would vote for- then there is truly no reason not to vote for a player with 500+ Home Runs, an aforementioned desired slash-line of .3XX/.4XX/.5XX, over 2500 hits, and almost 70.0 bWAR, on top of 12 All-Star games, 9 Silver Sluggers, and 2 World Series rings. Tough ethical call, but I ultimately arrived here.Embed from Getty Images
Scott Rolen: (1996-2012)
Key Stats: 70.2 bWAR, 56.9 JAWS; plus having a little bit of (almost) all the hardware
Easily my biggest analytic vote would go to Scott Rolen. The average batting Hall of Famer has a bWAR of 69, if you exceeded that during your career, you played better than the average Hall of Famer- a number greatly enhanced by outliers like Babe Ruth (162.1), Wille Mays (156.4), and Ty Cobb (151.0) who effectively count for almost 7 players collectively. Rolen was more than a better than average hitter with an OPS+ of 122 over his career even though he was better known as a defensive player with his 8 Gold Gloves. He won a Silver Slugger, got a World Series Ring, the Rookie of the Year, and was a 7-time All Star, which means he collected a little bit of everything.Embed from Getty Images
Curt Schilling: (1988-2007)
Key Stats: 79.5 bWAR, 3.46 ERA, 1.137 WHIP; plus Andy Pettitte
Take everything I said for Andy Pettitte, but make it more extreme and you get Curt Schilling. He was the 26th best pitcher by bWAR (79.5) while having a sub-50 peak (48.6 WAR7), which means he was consistent for a long time. Add in the 28th best JAWS (64.1), the 45th best ERA+ (127), and 12th best WAA (106.8). showing his legitimacy against fellow Hall of Famers and during the important games. Nothing in his career would point him away from the Hall of Fame. My job here isn’t to endorse or rebut what he has done after his career, but to take his baseball career and see if it was worthy of being in the Hall of Fame, of which he undoubtably was.Embed from Getty Images
Gary Sheffield: (1998-2009)
Key Stats: 509 Home Runs, 60.5 bWAR, .907 OPS; plus his cool batting style
Gary Sheffield was a player I loved to watch swing the bat during his years in pinstripes. There was something magical about how his bat flew from shoulder to shoulder, and was the go-to stance and style to mimic during games of whiffle ball…even though I was a lefty. Regardless, Sheffield’s case gets helped because of one main traditional statistic: Only 27 players in MLB history have hit 500+ home runs. It’s simple as that…and having a bWAR over 60, with over 2500 hits, a World Series ring, 5 Sliver Sluggers, 9 All-Star game appearances, and a batting title. He was also extremely close to my desired .3XX/.4XX/.5XX slash line with a .292/.393/.514.Embed from Getty Images
Sammy Sosa: (1989-2005; 2007)
Key Stats: 609 Home Runs, 58.6 bWAR; plus this memorable trot in Chicago
Sammy Sosa actually has a worse case for me than Gary Sheffield, which before looking at the numbers just sounds wrong, but is true. Sosa didn’t get to 2500 hits (2408), or have an OPS over .900 (.878). He didn’t have a career batting average that close to .300 (.273), but he did have 609 Home Runs. Again, it’s a traditional metric that 10 years ago would’ve had him be a shoo-in, but one that I believe still holds true, as only 9 players have eclipsed 600 Home Runs in the MLB. He also won an MVP which helps his cause.Embed from Getty Images
Larry Walker: (1989-2005)
Key Stats: 72.7 bWAR, .313/.400/.565 slash-line, 141 OPS+; plus embodying a little of everybody else from this list
Again, like with Derek Jeter, I think the case for Larry Walker’s induction to Cooperstown is quite simple to see, and shouldn’t need to be elaborated on to extreme precision. Like with Derek Jeter, he eclipsed 70 bWAR- something that the average HOF batter failed to do. And, like Manny Ramirez, he achieved the ultimate slash-line that was at or above .3XX/.4XX/.5XX. Like Todd Helton, he negated the go-to debate that Coors was his savior, with a OPS+ of 141- which considers park values. He was a great defender, like Scott Rolen with winning 7 Gold Glove Awards- on top of 3 batting titles, 3 Sliver Sluggers, and 5 All-Star appearances. Plus, he won an MVP, just like Sammy Sosa.
Close Calls and Wrap-Up Notes:
I tried very hard to justify adding players like Bobby Abreu (60.0 bWAR) and Andruw Jones (62.8 bWAR)- both of whom I had blurbs originally written about- but in the end found it very hard to justify giving them a vote. They had excellent careers, but ultimately lacked a defining traditional stat to push them over the edge. Others like Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel, and Billy Wagner, are to me, another step behind.
As my ballot was 9 players long, if I had the option, I obviously would’ve voted for both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, as I would’ve had room given the 12-player limit from the IBWAA. If it was a hard-cap at 10 players, including these two would’ve ultimately meant kicking out either Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, or Sammy Sosa from my ballot.