The BBWAA HOF Ballot (1st Years)
Talking about Hall of Fame Ballots, this year has 14 newcomers to the list. Today we talk about the non-Yankee first timers.
The BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot Overview:
An undisclosed number of members of the BBWAA every year get the honor and privilege of voting for who could make up the latest class for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
This year there are 28 players who have been selected to the ballot. 14 of these players are 1st timers, of whom 2 were Yankees. Of the 14 returning players, 5 were Yankees.
For a player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, they must be on 75% (or more) of the ballots submitted by the voting members of the BBWAA. These votes will be cast from now until January, after which the results will be announced live on MLB Network on Tuesday, January 24th.
The 1st Year Players:
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates (2000-02), Boston Red Sox (2003-05), Cincinnati Reds (2006-13; 2017), Arizona Diamondbacks (2014)
Statistics: 16 Seasons, 419 Games, 148-137 Record (.519 WP%), 4.28 ERA (101 ERA+), 2435.2 Innings Pitched, 1571 Strikeouts, 1.301 WHIP, +23.4 bWAR/+21.6 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (6/40), Gray Ink (63/185), HOFm (15/100), HOFs (15/50)
Honors: 1 time All-Star, 1 time Gold Glove, 1 time World Series Champion
A World Series Champion pitcher with the Boston Red Sox in 2004, Bronson Arroyo was a solid pitcher who was known for his straight-leg kick during his pitching motion and his ability to hit his targets. His best season came during his first as a Cincinnati Red in 2006- his lone All-Star season- during which he led the MLB in both games started (35) and innings pitched (240.2) to the tune of a 3.29 ERA and a +6.8 bWAR/+4.6 fWAR. A solid pitcher and innings eater during his time (he had 8 seasons with 200+ IP and one other with 199.0 IP), an injury that led to Tommy John surgery in 2014 nearly cut his career short, but after taking 2 years to recover he made his return in 2017 to play MLB for the Reds.
In 2017 after landing on the disabled list in June, the Reds offered him a chance to pitch one final inning in September after his recovery, but he declined the offer as he'd rather see a younger pitcher get a chance. On September 23rd, the Reds then honored Arroyo before the game and after the game Arroyo and his band played a concert on the field for the fans. He announced his retirement the next day.
Teams: San Francisco Giants (2005-17)
Statistics: 13 Seasons, 342 Games, 104-118 Record (.468 WP%), 3.68 ERA (108 ERA+), 2085.2 Innings Pitched, 1694 Strikeouts, 1.228 WHIP, +29.1 bWAR/+28.1 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (3/40), Gray Ink (81/185), HOFm (26/100), HOFs (14/50)
Honors: 3 time All-Star, 3 time World Series Champion, 2012 Perfect Game
Matt Cain was a pivotal member of the real most recent "dynasty" in baseball as a long-time member of the San Francisco Giants leading up to and through their "Even Year Baloney (and) cheeSe" in 2010, 2012, and 2014. His best season was likely his 2009 campaign, where he pitched into his first of 3 All-Star games and had a 2.89 ERA with 217.2 innings at seasons end including an NL-high 4 complete games and a +6.1 bWAR. (By Fangraphs, his best season was 2011 where he had a +4.6 fWAR.) Interestingly, his best seasons weren't when the Giants won it all. However, Matt Cain will also always be remembered for pitching the 22nd perfect game in MLB history on June 13th, 2012. Cain would retire in 2017 after a few years of injury-riddled seasons as one of the best pitchers for the Giants since moving to San Francisco while finishing 2nd in starts, 3rd in Innings Pitched, and 3rd in Strikeouts.
Teams: Texas Rangers (2001, 2003-06), Seattle Mariners (2008), Minnesota Twins (2009), New York Mets (2010-12), Toronto Blue Jays (2013-16), Atlanta Braves (2017)
Statistics: 15 Seasons, 400 Games, 120-118 Record (.504 WP%), 4.04 ERA (103 ERA+), 2073.2 Innings Pitched, 1477 Strikeouts, 1.300 WHIP, +23.7 bWAR/+18.5 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (13/40), Gray Ink (60/185), HOFm (25/100), HOFs (11/50)
Honors: 1 time Cy Young, 1 time All-Star, 1 time Gold Glove
The last true notable knuckleball pitcher in the MLB, R.A. Dickey was the first (and still only) to win a Cy Young Award, which came during his incredible- and obvious career best- 2012 season. That year he pitched to a 2.73 ERA and won 20 games while leading the National League in games started (33), complete games (5), shutouts (3), innings pitched (233.2), and strikeouts (230). The following two years (2013 & 2014) he led the American League in games started (34 in both years). This was R.A. Dickey's peak, which interestingly came during his age 37-39 seasons and after a long journeyman career that started in 2001 and featured 3 different stints making it to the MLB (2001, 2003-2006, 2008-2017). R.A. Dickey proved what Jim Bouton showed in the later parts of his career: the knuckleball will keep you in the game.
Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers (2006-17)
Statistics: 12 Seasons, 1455 Games, .285/.359/.463/.822 (122 OPS+), 1367 Hits, 162 Home Runs, 687 RBI's, +21.5 bWAR/+24.2 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (0/27), Gray Ink (12/144), HOFm (21/100), HOFs (18/50)
Honors: 2 time All-Star, 1 time Gold Glove, 1 time Silver Slugger
A solid and consistent hitter during his day (of his 10 full seasons seasons, 6 of them came within 10 points of his career OPS+ with 3 others being within 15 points), Andre Ethier was a career Dodger whose career ended early because of injuries. His standout season likely came in 2009, where he hit 31 home runs while playing in 160 games (both career highs), though his All-Star nods came immediately afterwards in two similarly solid but less powerful seasons in 2010 and 2011. It's interesting that his spot as the 4th player on this list was the same as Don Mattingly's on my post yesterday: another player whose career was spent with one team and whose back injuries ended their career too soon. Ethier isn't the same caliber player as "Donnie Baseball" but he does deserve to be remembered as a good player.
Teams: Milwaukee Brewers (2005-09), Minnesota Twins (2010), Baltimore Orioles (2011-17)
Statistics: 13 Seasons, 1561 Games, .256/.305/.408/.714 (91 OPS+), 1488 Hits, 188 Home Runs, 688 RBI's, +28.1 bWAR/+27.6 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Blank Ink (0/27), Gray Ink (5/144), HOFm (18/100), HOFs (19/50)
Honors: 2 time All-Star, 3 time Gold Glove, 1 time Silver Slugger
I think that humility and recognizing mistakes is something that is important. That isn't to say anything about J.J. Hardy, but about me. I could've sworn that he was a lifelong Baltimore Oriole. How he spent neatly half his career playing elsewhere is surprising to me. He's also the first player on this list to really be a defense-first guy. He had a handful of positive offensive seasons (3 with OPS+ at or above 100, 2 more at 95 or above) but held most of his value as being a solid shortstop with the glove. He actually holds the Orioles record for most doubles in a career and was a key piece in their getting back to the postseason in 2012.
Teams: Los Angeles Angels (2002-09), Boston Red Sox (2010-11, 2013-14), St. Louis Cardinals (2014-15), Chicago Cubs (2016-17)
Statistics: 15 Seasons, 448 Games, 188-147 Record (.561 WP%), 3.92 ERA (110 ERA+), 2840.1 Innings Pitched, 2294 Strikeouts, 1.295 WHIP, +37.3 bWAR/+43.2 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Blank Ink (8/40), Gray Ink (82/185), HOFm (48/100), HOFs (28/50)
Honors: 1 time All-Star, 3 time World Champion
John Lackey is going to get more support for the Hall of Fame than his stats would otherwise indicate. Of all the first time players, his statistics themselves play most favorably towards gaining the "give him another year on the ballot crowd" which also doesn't count his winning the World Series with 3 different teams. I'm going to consider him the Mark Buehrle of this ballot. He's an interesting candidate compared to the other non-Yankee first-timers, but that's just to be nice with a career that falls comfortably short of true Hall of Fame consideration.
Teams: Los Angeles Angels (2006-10), Texas Rangers (2011-12, 2015, 2017), Boston Red Sox (2013-15), Cleveland Indians (2016)
Statistics: 12 Seasons, 1392 Games, .246/.346/.475/.821 (117 OPS+), 1125 Hits, 267 Home Runs, 744 RBI's, +26.3 bWAR/+21.0 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Blank Ink (0/27), Gray Ink (11/144), HOFm (17/100), HOFs (25/50)
Honors: 1 time All-Star, 1 time World Champion
Yet another member on this list that was on the 2013 World Series team. Napoli is remembered (by me at least) as mostly a catcher, yet interestingly enough he played more games as a first baseman (678) than as a catcher (539) during his career. He was a bat-first player who hit for 30+ home runs twice in his career, including his career-best 2011 season as he hit to a .320/.414/.631/1.046 (173 OPS+) line with 30 homers...though over just 113 games. He's still involved with baseball, being hired as a coach for the Chicago Cubs in 2020 and mostly recently being their first base coach this past season.
Teams: Cleveland Indians (2003-10), Detroit Tigers (2010-13), St. Louis Cardinals (2014-17)
Statistics: 15 Seasons, 1798 Games, .267/.329/,.423/.752 (102 OPS+), 1761 Hits, 202 Home Runs, 873 RBI's, +30.4 bWAR/+28.7 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Blank Ink (0/27), Gray Ink (11/144), HOFm (34/100), HOFs (24/50)
Honors: 3 time All-Star
Does anyone else have a player who you can't really remember any specific memory about, but you irrationally makes you angry? That's me with Jhonny Peralta. How frustrating that he spells his name with the 'H' as the second letter in his first name. Apparently he was a shortstop? Shows how much I cared to remember him. Let's wrap this up quickly. He was a solid shortstop with some power who also happened to serve a PED suspension during the 2013 season...during one of his two best offensive seasons, after a season ended early by injury, which came after the other of his two best offensive seasons. He's not going to see another ballot.
Teams: Los Angeles Angels (2002-08), New York Mets (2009-11), Milwaukee Brewers (2011-13, 2014-15), Baltimore Orioles (2013), Detroit Tigers (2016-17)
Statistics: 16 Seasons, 948 Games, 677 Games Finished, 437 Saves, 52-53 Record (.495 WP%), 2.86 ERA (148 ERA+), 976.0 Innings Pitched, 1142 Strikeouts, 1.155 WHIP, +24.2 bWAR/+16.3 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Blank Ink (10/40), Gray Ink (29/185), HOFm (124/100), HOFs (16/50)
Honors: 2 time Reliever of the Year, 6 time All-Star, 1 time World Series Champion, MLB Single Season Saves Record (62)
If it wasn't for Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman- two undoubtedly Hall of Fame relievers- pitching during his time, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez may have earned more praise for his work out of the bullpen. He is the lone member of this list to have reached any of the Hall of Fame metrics, doing so by comfortably beating out on HOFm. Add in him being the single-season leader for saves as well as having 6 seasons with 40+ saves and another 2 with 30+ saves. He is 4th All-Time for Saves in his career too- all the 3 above him are in the Hall of Fame- so his odds are pretty darn good to stick around for a while as people slowly make his case stronger and stronger.
Teams: Oakland Athletics (2005-08), Colorado Rockies (2009-11), San Diego Padres (2012-14), Los Angeles Angels (2014-17)
Statistics: 13 Seasons, 668 Games, 525 Games Finished, 324 Saves, 42-34 Record (.553 WP%), 2.92 ERA (141 ERA+), 680.0 Innings Pitched, 665 Strikeouts, 1.066 WHIP, +14.5 bWAR/+10.6 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Blank Ink (0/40), Gray Ink (12/185), HOFm (57/100), HOFs (23/50)
Honors: Rookie of the Year, 2 time All-Star
Players like Huston Street are the exact type of player that K-Rod (above) needs to be on the ballot each and every year. Street was another solid reliever for a number of years during his career. However, he is miles away from K-Rod's career stats. Street had an insane rookie season with a sub-2.00 ERA with over 20 saves and a 254 ERA+ as a 21-year-old. At this point he was pegged to be the next superstar relief pitcher in baseball, but he could never live up to that hype. He still pitched great with 5 seasons of 30+ saves, but he has far too much competition for the few voters that really value bullpen/closer arms.
Teams: Los Angeles Angels (2006-16), San Diego Padres (2017)
Statistics: 12 Seasons, 331 Games, 150-98 Record (.605 WP%), 3.63 ERA (111 ERA+), 2067.1 Innings Pitched, 1621 Strikeouts, 1.191 WHIP, +34.6 bWAR/+30.4 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Blank Ink (19/40), Gray Ink (99/144), HOFm (47/100), HOFs (30/50)
Honors: 3 time All-Star
A tier down from John Lackey (above), Jered Weaver had a very good career. He led the MLB in strikeouts in 2010, WHIP in 2012, and games started in 2014 while leading the American League in Wins in 2012 and 2014, Winning Percentage in 2012, and Games Started in 2010. He finished in the Top-5 for the Cy Young award in 3 straight years from 2010 to 2012, which was his career peak. He pitched 200+ innings just 4 times and started 30+ games just 7 times. Unfortunately, his short career and lack of hardware as an individual or team will ruin his chances to be considered a back-end ballot guy, even in this weaker class. However, he should be remember for the few years that he was a top pitcher in the MLB.
Teams: Toronto Blue Jays (2002-03), Los Angeles Dodgers (2004-05), Philadelphia Phillies (2007-10), Washington Nationals (2011-17)
Statistics: 15 Seasons, 1583 Games, .267/.360/.455/.816 (117 OPS+), 1465 Hits, 229 Home Runs, 799 RBI's, +29.2 bWAR/+36.0 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Blank Ink (2/27), Gray Ink (36/144), HOFm (19/100), HOFs (23/50)
Honors: 1 time All-Star, 1 time World Champion
A member of the Washington Nationals Ring of Honor, it took a while for Jayson Werth to find "his team" in parts due to injuries early in his career and some relatively poor performance. However, he found himself after getting to the Philadelphia Phillies and was a consistent 3.0+ WAR player for the great part of his prime seasons from 2007-2014. His career ended like it started, with injury, and after suffering a hamstring injury during an attempting to return to the MLB in 2018 he called it quits. He'll get some love for his time in Washington D.C. and there is an off-chance he makes it onto another ballot because of it, but I'd highly doubt that.