The BBWAA HOF Ballot (Returners)
Continuing to talk Hall of Fame Ballots, this year has 14 returners to the list. Today we talk about the non-Yankee veterans to the ballot.
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 Returning Players:
Mark Buehrle: (3rd Year)
Teams: Chicago White Sox (2000-11), Miami Marlins (2012), Toronto Blue Jays (2013-15)
Statistics: 16 Seasons, 518 Games, 214-160 Record (.572 WP%), 3.81 ERA (117 ERA+), 3283.1 Innings Pitched, 1870 Strikeouts, +59.1 bWAR/+52.3 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (12/40), Gray Ink (116/185), HOFm (52/100), HOFs (31/50)
Honors: 5 time All-Star, 4 time Gold Glove, 1 time World Champion, Perfect Game, No-Hitter
Not all Hall of Fame players get their number retired by their team. On the flip-side of that, not all players with their numbers retired are in the Hall of Fame. Some players mean more to an individual team than they do for the sport, that's just how it is. And that's just how it is with Mark Buehrle. A very good pitcher during his time and someone who is one of very few to pitch a perfect game AND a no-hitter, I just can't see a way for him into the Hall of Fame. Any borderline case needs something, some milestone, or great peak, or great sustainability, or something. Mark Buehrle was a great pitcher. He had just 1 Top-5 Cy Young finish. He did pitch a ton of innings (14 of his 16 seasons he pitched 200+ innings, not counting his final 198.2 inning season). Maybe that's it? Make your case, but Buehrle to me is quintessential "Hall of Very Good".
Todd Helton: (5th Year)
Teams: Colorado Rockies (1997-2013)
Statistics: 17 Seasons, 2247 Games, .316/.414/.539/.953 (133 OPS+), 2519 Hits, 369 Home Runs, 1406 RBI's, +61.8 bWAR/+54.9 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (16/27), Gray Ink (143/144), HOFm (175/100), HOFs (59/50)
Honors: 5 time All-Star, 3 time Gold Glove, 4 time Silver Slugger
After Larry Walker became the first "Rockie" (though he had 8 of his 17 years outside of Colorado) it seemed like the narrative that players who played in Coors Field would get a better judgement during the BBWAA voting. Todd Helton has made steady progress and has plenty of time left, and it's time to really push his case. Now, I am a notorious flip-flopper on Todd Helton's Hall of Fame case, but with a weaker class coming in and a number of strong players (Bonds, Clemens, etc.) off the ballot, his numbers stick out more. He beats out 2 pure Hall of Fame metrics (HOFm and HOFs) and is nearly there on Gray Ink. He had 12 seasons with a batting average over .300, 9 seasons with an OBP over .400, and 8 with a SLG over .500. Maybe he didn't play enough games, or get enough hits, or have enough home runs, but I also think his career triple-slash with a AVG over .300, OBP over .400, and a SLG over .500 makes up for his lower accumulation of numbers. At the very least, Helton's is a serious case to consider going forward.
Torri Hunter: (3rd Year)
Teams: Minnesota Twins (1997-2007), Los Angeles Angels (2008-12), Detroit Tigers (2013-14), Minnesota Twins (2015)
Statistics: 19 Seasons, 2372 Games, .277/.331/.461/.793 (110 OPS+), 2452 Hits, 353 Home Runs, 1391 RBI's, +50.7 bWAR/+43.0 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (0/27), Gray Ink (29/144), HOFm (58/100), HOFs (34/50)
Honors: 5 time All-Star, 9 time Gold Glove, 2 time Silver Slugger
There is another player who has the same case as Torii Hunter, while also being the better player across his offensive and defensive play, as supported by both standard and advanced metrics. That isn't to say Torii Hunter wasn't a great player. He was. I know I stress this a lot with these non-Hall of Fame types, but I ever want it to seem like I enjoy putting down a players career. Torii Hunter was a top center fielder in the league for many years. However, he just doesn't hit any of the borderline considerations for me. He's close. but his case would have to much "what if" for me to see a future in Cooperstown. Book him for the "Hall of Very Good".
Jeff Kent: (10th Year)
Teams: Toronto Blue Jays (1992), New York Mets (1992-96), Cleveland Indians (1996), San Francisco Giants (1997-2002), Houston Astros (2003-04), Los Angeles Dodgers (2005-08)
Statistics: 17 Seasons, 2298 Games, .290/.356/.500/.855 (123 OPS+), 2461 Hits, 377 Home Runs, 1518 RBI's, +55.4 bWAR/+56.0 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (0/27), Gray Ink (71/144), HOFm (123/100), HOFs (51/50)
Honors: 1 time MVP, 5 time All-Star, 4 time Silver Slugger
The career leader (amongst second basemen) for home runs and with an MVP there is a serious case for Jeff Kent out there. Add in some understanding about being a supposed "clean" player during the steroid era and the lack of Black and Gray ink can be explained. (To be fair, this would've also dropped his ability to accumulate WAR.) He falls much into the same consideration for me as Todd Helton (above). There's lot of things in his favor, but there is also a lot going against him. He's also in his last year on the ballot, so the time to make a decision on Jeff Kent is really at its last breath. Much like Helton, he may see a nice bump in numbers now that other more prominent players (Bonds, Clemens, etc.) are off the ballot...and might also get the "pity" 10th year vote for lasting. For a "big hall" guy, he's a surefire candidate. For a "small hall" guy, he's right on the border. What to do...what to do...
Manny Ramirez: (7th Year)
Teams: Cleveland Indians (1993-2000), Boston Red Sox (2001-08), Los Angeles Dodgers (2008-10), Chicago White Sox (2010), Tampa Bay Rays (2011)
Statistics: 19 Seasons, 2302 Games, .312/.411/.585/.996 (154 OPS+), 2574 Hits, 555 Home Runs, 1831 RBI's, +69.3 bWAR/+66.3 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (21/27), Gray Ink (154/185), HOFm (226/100), HOFs (69/50)
Honors: 12 time All-Star, 9 time Silver Slugger, 2 time World Champion
Will baseball and the writers ever give in on the PED persecution? Maybe, maybe not. On one end, it makes sense not to forget- the players cheated the sport. On the other end, for the players who served suspensions they served their time as decided by the league. (And further, the commissioner who allowed rampant steroid usage to go on is in the Hall of Fame.) Personally, I think steroid users should be given a chance, but because they used performance-enhancing drugs to improve their numbers, they must have a higher bar to reach in order to get into the Hall of Fame. Manny Ramirez has the stats. The question comes down to how the writers, as a whole, feel about his multiple suspensions.
Scott Rolen: (6th Year)
Teams: Philadelphia Philies (1996-2002), St. Louis Cardinals (2002-07), Toronto Blue Jays (2008-09), Cincinnati Reds (2009-12)
Statistics: 17 Seasons, 2038 Games, .281/.364/.490/.855 (122 OPS+), 2077 Hits, 316 Home Runs, 1287 RBI's, +70.1 bWAR/+69.9 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (0/27), Gray Ink (27/144), HOFm (99/100), HOFs (40/50)
Honors: Rookie of the Year, 7 time All-Star, 8 time Gold Glove, 1 time Silver Slugger, 1 time World Champion
What is the most underrepresented position in the Hall of Fame? All together now, just like Abbott and Costello: "Third Base!". Now, why is that? It's a combination of factors of it historically being a defense-first position, thus low offensive output from great third baseman , and how great players not spending a lot of their career at "the hot corner" (instead mostly playing shortstop). Even with all that, however, Scott Rolen is getting shafted. He's a comfortable tier above being an average hitter- even through the steroid era, and without any accusations against him- as well as being one of the top third base gloves during his time. As we can explain with Jeff Kent, the lack of "ink" isn't necessarily a negative against Rolen. In some cases, as a clean player, it is a moot point even. He gets better and better voting each year and soon he should get in officially.
Jimmy Rollins: (2nd Year)
Teams: Philadelphia Phillies (2000-14), Los Angeles Dodgers (2015), Chicago White Sox (2016)
Statistics: 17 Seasons, 2275 Games, .264/.324/.418/.743 (95 OPS+), 2455 Hits, 231 Home Runs, 936 RBI's, +47.6 bWAR/+49.6 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (14/27), Gray Ink (82/144), HOFm (121/100), HOFs (42/50)
Honors: 1 time MVP, 3 time All-Star, 4 time Gold Glove, 1 time Silver Slugger, 1 time World Champion
Consider me shocked (or with lack of any recollection when I did my ballot last year) that Jimmy Rollins had an actual case for the Hall of Fame. I completely forgot that he won an MVP award and am decently surprised that he had the metrics to get decently close on HOFs and passed on HOFm. That being said, I don't think Jimmy Rollins will get into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. He has some solid numbers across the board and he had a decently long career but he just doesn't have that feel of a Hall of Fame player. Now, Harold Baines got into the Hall of Fame and Jimmy Rollins seems like one of the "good guys of baseball" so I won't count out his eventual induction, but I can't see it coming now.
Omar Vizquel: (6th Year)
Teams: Seattle Mariners (1989-93), Cleveland Indians (1994-2004), San Francisco Giants (2005-08), Texas Rangers (2009), Chicago White Sox (2010-11), Toronto Blue Jays (2012)
Statistics: 24 Seasons, 2968 Games, .272/.336/.352/.688 (82 OPS+), 2877 Hits, 80 Home Runs, 951 RBI's, +45.6 bWAR/+42.5 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (0/27), Gray Ink (25/185), HOFm (120/100), HOFs (42/50)
Honors: 3 time All-Star, 11 time Gold Glove
There have been just 6 players with an 82 OPS+ or worse to make the Hall of Fame. One of them is Connie Mack (who got in as a legendary manager), another is Charles Comiskey (who got in as an exectuvie), another further is Bill McKechnie (who also got in as a manager), and Leo Durocher (another manager). So, really, it's 2 players who got in with an 82 OPS+ or worse. They are Luis Aparicio (who by all counts and measures was a much higher quality player than Vizquel) and Rabbit Maranville (who by many counts is the worst player in the Hall of Fame). Even the great defensive players of baseball history had better offensive numbers than Vizquel. You have to be a fan of a VERY BIG Hall of Fame to want Vizquel in there. His numbers are bottom of the barrel.
Billy Wagner: (8th Year)
Teams: Houston Astros (1995-2003), Philadelphia Phillies (2004-05), New York Mets (2006-09), Boston Red Sox (2009), Atlanta Braves (2010)
Statistics: 16 Season, 853 Games, 703 Games Finished, 422 Saves, 47-40 Record (.540 WP%), 2.31 ERA (187 ERA+), 903.0 Innings Pitched, 1196 Strikeouts, 0.998 WHIP, +27.7 bWAR/+24.0 fWAR
Hall of Fame Metrics: Black Ink (0/40), Gray Ink (31/185), HOFm (107/100), HOFs (24/50)
Honors: 7 time All-Star
(If you read my post yesterday, this part may seem familiar...) If it wasn't for Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman- two undoubtedly Hall of Fame relievers- pitching during his time, Billy Wagner may have earned more praise for his work out of the bullpen. By the HOFm standards, Billy Wagner is better than the average pitcher and should be in the Hall of Fame. He had 9 seasons with 30+ saves and 2 seasons with 40+ saves. He is 6th All-Time for Saves (the only 6 to ever pass 400 career saves). If there is a case for Francisco Rodriguez, there should be a case for Wagner as well. (Though, arguably, K-Rod was the better player.)