Ethan’s IBWAA 2021 Hall of Fame Ballot:
In what was a pretty weak rookie class being added to the ballot this year, I had more time to reflect on the cases for some of the long-term players and have adapted my philosophy on voting for the Hall of Fame.
A Simple Philosophy Shift:
Last year my ballot included 9 players, of whom 2 would go on to be elected in Derek Jeter and Larry Walker. It’s important to note that both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were not on the IBWAA ballot as they have been previously elected. This left 7 hold-overs and up to 5 open spots available to reconsiderations and rookies. Again, it is important to note the IBWAA allows up to 12 selections for the Hall of Fame.
This go-around, as you’ll see, I shifted my philosophy on voting very minorly and this led to very few changes on my ballot and my considerations on players. I believe the emphasis on award voting and WAR are overly indulged by writers to boost unworthy players and diminish worthy players. That doesn’t mean I’ll discredit either metric, but I’m not going to weigh as heavily on them as other people would.
Combine this with my laissez-faire approach to the character clause (as you’ll see I don’t mention it once) as I’m honoring the baseball efforts of these men not (for some) their troubles off-the-field. And with that my thinking about letting players who used steroids into the Hall of Fame (under an enshrined commissioner who allowed it, respected managers who played them and ignored it, and other suspecting players who used and are in the HOF, etc.) and my ballot is quite literally one player off from last year.
Let’s get into it:
My IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot (2021):
(See: Baseball-Reference 2021 Official Hall of Fame Ballot Statistics Table)Embed from Getty Images
Last year I made the “advanced-metrics” case for Helton, citing how his WAR7 was one of the highest on the ballot along with his eclipsing 60 bWAR. While they show Helton had a number of great years in his career, they seem to make the case on the surface. While Helton misses the shoo-in benchmark of 2800 hits, of which every player to get that or more (without extenuating circumstances) has made the HOF, he did get over 2500 hits. And while he missed 400 HR’s, he did achieve a career .316/.414/.539 triple-slash which is remarkably high given the lower HR number. Helton’s case did fall a lot for me this past year, but he still makes it for me.Embed from Getty Images
If players like Bill Mazerowski, Kirby Puckett, and Jack Morris can make the Hall of Fame on the backs of historic moments in the World Series then there is no reason Pettitte does not deserve the same treatment. I’ll always concede that he is a Yankee-homer pick first, but I’ll hold strong that his regular career numbers hold enough merit that makes him a borderline candidate before considering his postseason success in the most high-leverage and stressful innings. He passed 250 Wins (256), had a great ERA in a hitting-powerhouse AL East (3.85), and does have high advanced metrics to boot (60.2 bWAR). He will make it eventually.Embed from Getty Images
Last year Manny made my ballot as a way to show that I’m not a hypocrite. This year he made so on merit. Even beyond the PED’s, Manny had a 14-year stretch where he missed 100 RBI’s just twice. He had a nearly 1.000 OPS in his career (.996) along with a dominant triple-slash of .312/.411/.585. Add 555 HR’s and 2574 hits before his 69.3 bWAR and his case is clear and only getting clearer. Bagwell, Pudge Rodriguez, and many others who also probably juiced are in the Hall of Fame with worse numbers. It’s time to let Manny be Manny and get him in the HOF.Embed from Getty Images
He’s another candidate that originally for me got boosted largely from advanced metrics as I pointed to his 70.2 bWAR and 56.9 JAWS but again when you take another look he is still deserving of a spot. Historically, third baseman are incredible under represented in the HOF to the point where the “bar to reach” has been incredibly skewed towards an extremely small HOF threshold. Unfortunately, people fail to recognize a great 3B has to be both a good batter and excellent defender to hold the hot corner for so long. Rolen was that with being a great hitter in a hard ERA to do so (122 OPS+) who earned a large part of his value on defense as well. The advanced metrics just put the icing on the cake.Embed from Getty Images
If Andy Pettitte gets into my Hall of Fame, then it’d be ridiculous for me not to also vote for Schilling who had better numbers across the board along with his own success in the postseason. His only failing behind was his 216 Wins, but he had a much better ERA (3.46), WHIP (1.137), and passed 3k strikeouts (3116). Add in the highest bWAR (79.5) by a player yet to be inducted from those who have gone through the system (besides Pete Rose). Under my system, Schilling is a slam-dunk candidate.Embed from Getty Images
While I dropped Gary Sheffield this year (truthfully, he’s likely to make my ballot again in 2022) I do like the traditional ways of looking at the Hall of Fame and acknowledging that 600 Home Runs is an incredible impressive and historic benchmark. Sosa’s one of 9 to ever do so in the MLB, that alone is honestly enough for me. Add in one of the most memorable moments in recent MLB history and I’m comfortable with the pick.
Article By: Ethan Semendinger
Date Published: December 20th, 2020