in my last post, I reviewed the returning players on the ballot. This will discuss the players on their first HoF ballot. The obvious headliner is, of course, Derek Jeter—to whom I will give proper re2pect of course. However, it needs to remembered every player on the ballot had good careers, played at least 10 years in the majors. I will address each individually and include how I think they will fair in the voting.
Derek Jeter. He built up 72.4 bWAR, 3465 hits, slashed .310/.377/.440 with a 119 OPS+. He was the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, had 14 All Star nods, and 5 Silver Slugger awards. He also rather notoriously has 5 Gold Gloves. In defense of his defense, he actually did have a pretty good glove; unfortunately he also had a very limited range for a shortstop. He also received the 2005 Roberto Clemente Award. “Captain Clutch” also hit very similarly in the postseason as he did in the regular season—taking into account that’s against better overall competition, that nickname is not unearned. In 650 postseason at bats, he hit .308/.374/.465 with 20 homers and was the 2000 WS MVP. Really, the question is not whether he will be elected, it’s whether he will join Mariano Rivera as the second unanimous selection. During his career he managed to be simultaneously overrated and underrated. Some really seemingly thought he walked on water. Others, at least partly in reaction to over the top fans, sold him short. I could see one of the latter maybe withholding a vote, or maybe someone who doesn’t like him now because of how he’s handled the Marlins. He’d get my vote—his entry is a no brainer. I expect a unanimous vote, but will be unsurprised if he “only” gets 99%.
Bobby Abreu. He has 60 career bWAR, the only new player on the ballot with at least 60 other than Jeter. He slashed.291/.395/.475 with a 128 OPS+. He made two all star teams, and earned one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger. Always thought of as very good, generally not thought of as great. I expect he will garner some votes, maybe enough to stay on the ballot for next year…but no chance of getting elected. I would not vote for him; this is going to be a familiar refrain, and I’m a “big Hall” guy.
Jason Giambi. The 2000 AL MVP had 440 homers in his career and hit .277/.399/.516 with a very good 139 OPS+. He received 5 All Star nods and two Silver Slugger awards. He was the 2005 AL Comeback Player of the Year. He was also outed as a PED user. That will decrease his support; I’m guessing he comes in the Sammy Sosa range: 5-10% of the vote but never gets elected. My vote? His admitted steroid use came out as part of the BALCO scandal in 2003. Actual rules against steroids with penalties only started in 2004, so I don’t hold it against him. That said, he’s the definition of a borderline candidate anyway. Using JAWS, his 7 peak years are about average for a Hall of Fame first baseman, but the average HoF 1B also has 66.8 career WAR to his 50.5. I’m a “no,” but it’s closer than I thought before prepping this article.
Cliff Lee. He went 143-91 for his career with a 3.52 ERA, 118 ERA+. He made 4 All Star teams and won the 2008 AL Cy Young. A really excellent pitcher, his career just didn’t last long enough. He played parts of 13 seasons, but the first two and the last one weren’t full seasons. To get into the HoF with a short-ish career, a pitcher needs to be Sandy Koufax good. That seems unfair in a way, but that’s how it is. I think he stays on the ballot—he deserves it, but he’s not getting elected. If he had two or three more average-for-him seasons, I’d be on totally board the Cliff Lee for the Hall bandwagon.
Rafael Furcal. He played 14 seasons, but 4 with less than 100 games, making him a what-might-have been player. He was the 2000 NL Rookie of the Year and made 3 All Star teams. He hit .281/.346/.402 with a slightly less than league average 96 OPS+. He might get a few votes, but not 5%. Those just aren’t HoF numbers.
Eric Chavez. He earned 6 Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. He slashed .268/.342/.475 with a 115 OPS+. I expect him to get some votes but not 5%. He’s a slick fielding third baseman. Third base is underrepresented in the Hall. I want to say I’d vote for him. I can’t.
Josh Beckett. He went 138-106 with a 3.88 ERA (111 ERA+). He made 3 All Star teams and won the 2003 WS MVP with the Marlins. He too might get a few votes, but I expect him to be one-and-done for Hall consideration. I would not vote for him but would have happily shared beer and fried chicken with him in the bullpen.
Brian Roberts. He made two All Star teams. He was a league-average hitter: .276/.347/.409, OPS+ 101. That’s actually really good when you think about, but certainly not Hall-worthy. I’m going to guess he gets no votes.
Alfonso Soriano. He made 7 All Star teams and won 4 Silver Sluggers. He led the AL in hits and stolen bases in 2002. Overall, he had 412 home runs, 289 stolen bases, hit .279/.319/.500 (117 OPS+). I expect him to garner some votes, maybe enough to stay on the ballot, but will never get elected. I wouldn’t vote for him.
Carlos Pena. I personally have been looking forward to writing his blurb. He played 14 years, 5 as a Ray. He was a key part of their 2008 AL pennant winning team. He was the 2007 AL Comeback Player of the Year, an All Star once, a Gold Glove winner once, and a Silver Slugger winner once…all as a Ray. He hit 286 homers in his career, 163 with the Rays and led the league once—again as a Ray. A prototypical “Three True Outcomes” player, he struck out a lot, walked a lot, and hit homers; thus his his slash lines might like odd at .232/.346/.462 with a 117 OPS+. I doubt he gets more than a couple HoF votes, if any. I couldn’t vote for him for the national HoF either, but consider him a slam dunk for the Rays’ Hall of Fame when they decide to have one. In an interview this week, he stated he was proud and happy to have made the ballot (not all eligible players do), and to be able to show it to his 9 year old son who was too little to remember seeing him play.
Paul Konerko. 6 times an All Star, he was also the 2005 ALCS MVP as the White Sox ended their World Series drought and won the 2014 Roberto Clemente Award. He smashed 439 homers, and hit .279/.354/.486 (118 OPS+). He will get some votes, might make the 5% needed to be on next year’s ballot, won’t get elected. He absolutely belongs in the White Sox Hall.
Chone Figgins. He was a All Star once. His career OPS+ is a below-league average 92. His batting average was fine at .276, but with little power (slugged .363). Honestly, I remember more how rapidly and steeply he declined after leaving the Angels for the Mariners than how good he was as an Angel. I doubt he gets any votes.
Raul Ibanez. He made one All Star team. He hit .274/.335/.465 with 305 homers (OPS+ 111). “Hall of Very Good” player, he won’t get the necessary 5% to stay on the ballot.
Brad Penny. He went 121-101 with a 4.89 ERA. That’s good for an about league average 99 OPS+. Twice an All Star and proud owner of a 2003 WS ring. No chance he gets elected, probably gets no votes, but still a career of which to be proud.
Adam Dunn. He hit 462 home runs. He also struck out 2379 times, leading his league in K’s 4 times. He hit .237/.364/.490 (OPS+ 129). Every time I see Adam Dunn, I think Dave Kingman. For the heck of it, I checked Baseball Reference’s similarity rankings for him, and sure enough…#1 on Adam Dunn’s list is…wait for it…Dave Kingman. Kingman is not in the HoF, and Dunn won’t be. He might get to 5% of the vote, maybe. I wouldn’t vote for him.
The last three are all relief pitchers. Each played 11 or 12 years. Each might get a “throw him a bone” vote or two, but none are getting selected. I wouldn’t vote for them.
JJ Putz. He was an All Star once, and the 2007 AL Rolaids Relief Award winner. He had a career 3.08 ERA, 138 ERA+, 189 saves, 9.5 K/9. He has one of my favorite names. Just thinking “Putz” makes me smile.
Jose Valverde. He made 3 All Star teams and won two Rolaids awards. He had a 3.27 ERA, 133 ERA+, 288 saves, 9.9 K/9.
Heath Bell. He made 3 All Star teams and won two Rolaids awards. He had a 3.49 ERA, 112 ERA+, 168 saves, 9.1 K/9.
My mythical ballot:
Gary Sheffield (over Manny Ramirez and Cliff Lee)