Ex-Yankee Newcomers (Potentially) on Next Year’s Hall of Fame Ballot
By Patrick Gunn
January 30, 2022
Hall of Fame season has come and gone, with Red Sox legend David Ortiz the lone inductee amongst the main ballot. Former Yankee Roger Clemens leaves the group, along with one-and-done candidate Mark Teixeira.
Now, there are several former Yankees still alive for next year’s ballot. Álex Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu, Andy Pettitte, and Andruw Jones all return to inspire more debate. Plus, they’ll be joined by a slew of new players who have created some phenomenal memories. Granted, this ballot has only one or two candidates guaranteed to warrant serious consideration, but there are a few eligible ex-Bombers worthy of discussion. Here are the four ex-Yankees Baseball-Reference lists as being Hall of Fame eligible for next year.
(Note: being eligible does not necessarily guarantee a player will make the ballot).
Beltrán has the best case of any player on this ballot, and arguably the most controversial of any candidate. The switch-hitting outfielder hit consistently across his career, posting 13 seasons with an OPS of at least .800 in his 20-year career. He also had some pop, evident from his 435 career long balls and .207 career ISO, per FanGraphs. Coupled with his high contact rate (only struck out in 16.3% of his at-bats) and strong playoff performances (.307 BA/.412 OBP/ .609 SLG) made him a lethal presence at the plate.
Defensively, Beltrán started his career in center field with the Royals but moved around afterward. His defense worsened with age, but he roamed the outfield with ease in his early years. Such led to a 67.9 career FanGraphs WAR and 70.1 Baseball-Reference WAR. His JAWS rating of 44.4 puts him ninth amongst center fielders and the only player in front of him to not yet be elected is Mike Trout who should be an easy first-ballot inductee whenever he’s eligible.
As a player, Beltrán is a tad borderline but easily good enough to make it in. Character-wise, he presents one of the more challenging candidacies ever. His dilemma is best represented by two words: trash cans. Beltrán has been seen as the leader of the Astro’s sign-stealing scandal. He resigned from his post as Mets’ manager before the season started because of his involvement.
He is the first player from the Astros’ scandal to reach the Hall of Fame and he should inspire an ugly debate. The players from the Black Socks and Pete Rose offer some comparison, but the circumstances are very different. Who knows how the writers will judge his career. Worth noting that his stint in the Yankees’ broadcast booth could help him earn some goodwill going into the vote. Even with the sign stealing, I still think Beltrán is worthy of inducting for everything else he did for the game.
Ellsbury is one of many potential one-and-done candidates on this ballot. Look past his awkward finish to his career in Pinstripes and Ellsbury had a solid career.
He nearly won an MVP back in 2011, when he hit 32 home runs to go with 39 stolen bases, 150 WRC+, and 9.5 FanGraphs WAR. He also played a key role in Boston’s 2013 Championship run, stealing 52 bases, and posting another strong 4.6 WAR. Even his first year in the Bronx Ellsbury played well, with a 3.6 WAR and 39 steals. Not to mention he played a solid center field throughout his career.
Ellsbury does have the “what if” caveat attached to his name. He missed so much time due to injuries and ended his Yankees’ career sitting out his seven-year contract. He played good defense, stole 343 bases, and only struck out 13.7% of his at-bats. Yes, his Yankees’ contract was a bust, but Ellsbury still had a career worth putting on the ballot. His low 30.3 FanGraphs WAR and low counting stats will only take him so far, though.
Drew may or may not land on the ballot. He never had a WRC+ over 113 and had a low WAR (14.9) and counting stats (123 home runs, 1,109 hits, 524 RBIs). Not to mention Drew never made an All-Star team or put himself in the awards conversation.
With that said, Drew still had a solid career mostly with Arizona had his moments. Like Ellsbury, he helped the Red Sox win the 2013 title with 108 WRC+ and a 3.6 WAR. He had sneaky power and played good enough defense. Oh, and he was a part of a rare trade between the Yankees and Red Sox. Yankees fans should remember the 17 home runs he hit for the 2015 Wild Card team along with a low batting average. So, not a Hall of Fame career by any means, but still a good career.
Qualls only spent eight games of his 14 year-career in Pinstripes. He also may not make the ballot, but he deserves to be mentioned for his service as a solid journeyman reliever.
Qualls helped Houston win the 2005 NL Pennant with a 3.28 ERA in 77 appearances and only allowed one run in 5.1 innings in their loss to the White Sox. A decade later, he had a 3.33 ERA and 19 saves for the AL-Astros in their 2015 playoff team (although he only pitched in 58 games and didn’t appear in the playoffs).
In-between, Qualls bounced around teams going from Arizona to Tampa Bay to San Diego then a three-team season with Philadelphia, New York, and Pittsburgh before a solid season in Miami (2.61 ERA, 3.32 FIP). He ended his run with two seasons in Colorado.
All-in-all, Qualls lacks the superior strikeout numbers (18.4%, 7.0 K/9) of other relievers from this period, along with a higher ERA (3.89) and a low WAR (5.6). Not to mention he doesn’t even rank within the top 300 relievers in terms of JAWS.
Qualls could still sneak onto the ballot in a light year of newcomers (Ellsbury has the fourth best JAWS amongst potential newcomers behind Beltrán, John Lackey, and Jered Weaver). Ballot or not, Qualls had a consistent career of putting out fires in relief and helping teams win. Not to mention the video of him falling after celebrating a strikeout is priceless.