It’s that time of year again where I lay out who I’d vote for if I had a Hall of Fame ballot towards the 2018 election. Standard rules apply with from the BBWAA form, where I can select between zero and ten players on the current ballot. For the BBWAA, a player must receive at 75% or more of the 442 ballots being sent out.
New to this year’s ballot: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Johan Santana, Jamie Moyer, Andruw Jones, Livan Hernandez, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Chris Carpenter, Orlando Hudson, Aubrey Huff, Jason Isringhausen, Carlos Lee, Brad Lidge, Kevin Millwood, Scott Rolen, Billy Wagner, Kerry Wood, and Carlos Zambrano
Returning players include (% votes received for 2017): Trevor Hoffman (74%, 5 votes short in ’17), Vladimir Guerrero (71.7%), Edgar Martinez (58.6%), Roger Clemens (54.1%), Barry Bonds (53.8%), Mike Mussina (51.8%), Curt Schilling (45%), Manny Ramirez (23.8%), Larry Walker (21.9%), Fred McGriff (21.7%), Jeff Kent (16.7%), Gary Sheffield (13.7%), Sammy Sosa (8.6%)
Let’s get the PED thing out of the way right now…I don’t care. We can’t be sure of who was and wasn’t on anything first off. Second, ever hear of amphetamines or greenies? How about gamblers, drinkers, drug users, domestic abusers? You will find all of these in the Hall already, so I’m not going to preach out the ground of morals why a player can’t be in.
On to my vote…
Jim Thome, 1B – To me, Thome was a throwback power hitter to the ‘50’s and ‘60’s and with 612 career home runs (8th all-time), a first ballot guy. Add in a 2,328 hits, 451 which were doubles, 1,699 RBI, 1,747 walks, and OPS of .956 and there are very few holes to be made In the case of Jim, outside of never winning a ring. Thome also did it in the playoffs with the power, as he hit just .211, but banged out 17 more home runs over 71 postseason games.
Thome was an All-Star five times, named on an MVP ballot 9 times, won a Silver Slugger, and had a WAR of 72.9. All Hall of Fame indicators on Baseball-reference have Jim above HoFer average and ranking 10th all-time amongst First Basemen. Jim ranks closest in similarity scores to Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, and David Ortiz
Chipper Jones, 3B/OF – One of my favorite players of all-time, was on my second favorite team in baseball and did a lot of everything. Although not a 500 homer guy, or a 3,000 hit guy, Chipper has the numbers I believe to be a first ballot guy. Jones is a .303 career hitter, with .930 OPS, 2,726 hits, 549 doubles, 468 homers, 1,623 RBI, 150 steals, and 1,512 walks. Factor in an 85 WAR, being the on-field leader for the team of ’90’s, and having a World Series ring and there’s a great case for Larry Wayne Jones.
Chipper also played in a whopping 93 postseason games, where he hit .287, with a .864 OPS, and had 41 extra base hits and 47 RBI. Jones was the 1999 MVP, appeared on 12 more MVP ballots, appeared in eight All-Star Games, won two Silver Sluggers, and won the 2008 batting title.
Baseball-Reference indicators show Chipper as a lock and have him ranked (JAWS) as the 6th best third baseman of all-time. Players that Jones compares closest to are Gary Sheffield, Miguel Cabrera, and Carlos Beltran
Trevor Hoffman, RP – Being 5 votes away from last year’s induction, I believe Trevor gets what he needs to get in for 2018. Hoffman was the NL version of Mariano Rivera, as he dominated over his career with a .287 ERA and collected 601 saves over 18 seasons.
Vladimir Guerrero, OF – Vlad’s chances at the Hall would be much better I believe if he had played longer, but still a 16-year career led to 449 homers, 477 doubles, a .318 career average and a .931 OPS.
Vlad’s WAR adds up to just 59.3, but with little doubt he impacted the game both with his bat and with his arm as he won the 2004 MVP, won 8 Silver Sluggers, was an All-Star nine times and had led the league in RF assists 3 times.
When looking at Guerrero’s Hall of Fame indicators, they all point to the Hall of Fame as they are above average, but this one will be a battle as he rates out as the 21st best Right Fielder all-time. In comparison, Vlad rates closest to Miguel Cabrera, Jeff Bagwell, and Larry Walker for hitting
Mike Mussina, RHP – How can a guy be in the 80’s for WAR (83) with no PED implications, pitching at home in two of the best hitters ballparks and only get 51.8% of the vote? I can only point to two things and that he was never considered the best pitcher in the league as he was consistently overshadowed by guys like Pedro Martinez, Rocket, and others and not getting close to 300 wins (270).
WAR aside, Moose had a .638 winning percentage (270-153) with a respectable 3.68 ERA in the homer era to go with 2,813 strike outs in comparison to 785 walks (3.58:1 rate). Mike wasn’t a big strikeout guy as the ball got put in play as he gave up 8.7 h/9, but the WHIP remained low at 1.192 with the art of pitching as he got the big out when needed.
The postseason numbers are just ok at 7-8 with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.103 WHIP with no ring. Mike appeared in 5 All-Star games, picked up Cy Young votes nine different seasons, and won seven Gold Gloves
The Hall of Fame indicators are just above HoF average and Mike ranks as the 28th best starting pitcher of all-time. Closest comparisons are Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, and Bartolo Colon. Sheesh, forget about it
Barry Bonds, OF – Not going to beat this one to death. I believe he was a Hall of Famer before PED’s and what he did after…
Roger Clemens, RHP – Similar to Bonds, Clemens was going to be a Hall of Famer in my opinion before the use of PED’s which we are sure when this all occurred. Back to back Cy Young Awards and the MVP in his first four seasons (first 2 full seasons), and his numbers were mostly better the year after his MVP/CYA season of ’87.
Manny Ramirez, OF – Manny is, well and idiot, but he is also one of the best right-handed hitters of all-time. Another multiple PED offender, ManRam was one of the most feared hitters in baseball for a long period of time and rightfully so. A career .312 average, 555 homers, 547 doubles, 1,831 RBI, and a .996 OPS to go with his defensively oppressed WAR of 69.2. This guy was clutch too, as he hit .285 in the postseason with a .937 OPS and hit 29, yes 29 home runs to go with 78 RBI.
Manny collected MVP votes 11 times, was an All-Star 12 times, won 9 Silver Sluggers, and is 8th all-time in slugging and OPS. Ramirez’s Hall of Fame indices are eye-popping and he ranks as the 10th best left fielder of all time according to JAWS. In comparison, Manny rates closest to Miguel Cabrera, Frank Thomas, and Jimmie Foxx from a batting standpoint
Curt Schilling, RHP – Schill was left off my “orignal” ballot, but thanks to reader Saulwizz, I realized my laziness on passing on Schilling because he’s just rubbed me the wrong way over the years (after retirement). That said, looking soley at performance I’ll cast my vote his way.
The 216 wins may disctract writers from voting, but with a career ERA of 3.46 and a 80.7 WAR with 3,116 strike outs, to go along with having 300 strike outs or more in a season three times(just missed a fourth), should help put these voters in a better spot for consideration.
Then looking at postseason performance, Schilling was one of the best clutch pitchers of his era. A 11-2 record, 2.23 ERA (2.06 in WS play) in 133.1 innings of work to go with 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, 120 K’s, a 0.968 WHIP, and THREE World Series rings, inlcuding the 2004 team that broke the curse and his bloody sock. Throw in a NLCS MVP in 1993 and a World Series MVP in 2001 and those lack of regular season wins mean a lot lessl.
Curt made six All-Star teams, received Cy Young votes four times (runner-up three of those) and also received MVP votes four times. The Baseball-reference Hall of Fame indicators are a mix however with one pointing to Curt blowing away the average, while the other has him just below HoF average and JAWS ranks Schilling as the 27th best pitcher of all-time. In comparison, Schilling’s career totals closest match those of Kevin Brown, Bob Welch, and Tim Hudson.
Now who is my prediction on getting in: Chipper, Thome, and Hoffman, which is a pretty nice trio!
So there you have it, but before I go, there were a few others that I wanted to consider and just couldn’t…
Gary Sheffield, 509 homers but took him 22 seasons to get there
Fred McGriff, was shocked to realize he hit 493 homers, but only an .886 OPS and 52.4 WAR. Fringe guy at best. Pretty much the cutoff I’d use for first basemen in the Hall.
Larry Walker, 72.6 WAR and .965 OPS, well…nah
Edgar Martinez, very good numbers, but thing David Ortiz is more deserving to be first DH elected
Jeff Kent, 377 homers as a second baseman is tough to pass up
Scott Rolen, Top defensive third baseman for a long time was just hurt too much
Andruw Jones, great power and defensive numbers, needed to play longer
Omar Vizquel, not a first ballot guy in my mind, but deserving of a second look next year