2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Final Summary

Final Summary

Whew.  A grand total of 35 players over 28 articles.  To give a quick summary, here they all are, listed in order of their Hall of Fame Ratings:

 

Player HOFR
Barry Bonds 95.57 Yes
Roger Clemens 83.09
Curt Schilling 65.65
Andruw Jones 65.39
Mike Mussina 64.16
Roy Halladay 63.06
Edgar Martinez 62.78
Scott Rolen 62.18
Manny Ramirez 61.30
Mariano Rivera 60.42
Todd Helton 59.02 No, but could someday be swayed
Larry Walker 57.70
Lance Berkman 57.60
Gary Sheffield 55.30 No, good, but just not good enough
Sammy Sosa 55.28
Roy Oswalt 55.19
Fred McGriff 55.14
Jeff Kent 54.97
Andy Pettitte 52.86
Miguel Tejada 50.83
Kevin Youkilis 48.38 No
Billy Wagner 48.01
Placido Polanco 45.19
Vernon Wells 44.38
Derek Lowe 44.21
Freddy Garcia 43.00
Omar Vizquel 42.96
Travis Hafner 42.58
Jason Bay 41.81
Michael Young 41.33
Ted Lilly 39.99
Juan Pierre 38.81
Jon Garland 37.83
Darren Oliver 37.20
Rick Ankiel 31.40

 

I guarantee that there will be disagreements, particularly with one player, but that’s pretty much how I see it.  Thanks for reading . . .

Advertisements

The 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XVIII

Kevin Youkilis (48.38 Hall of Fame Rating) and Michael Young (41.33 Hall of Fame Rating)

Kevin Youkilis was born and raised in Cincinnati, much like Pete Rose and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.  He played his high school ball at Sycamore High School and his college ball at the University of Cincinnati.  As a young Jewish boy his idol was the same as many young Jewish men and another UC alum, Sandy Koufax.  At UC he was an OBP machine.  Youk’s coach at UC Brian Cleary once said of him “He had a great eye” and if he took a called strike three, “[Y]ou knew the ump missed the call.”

 

He holds the Bearcat record with a career .499 OBP.  He also set the career records for homers (56), walks (206), and slugging percentage (.627).  Even then, he was only an eighth round pick by the Red Sox in 2001.  He maintained the patient approach at the plate as he started in the minors.  He posted a .504 OBP in A and Low-A ball his first year.  He had a .442 OBP in the minors when Boston called him up in 2004.  He continued to pile up walks and limit outs.  Injuries eventually got the better of him as so often happens to players, so his major league career was only 10 seasons.  He tried one last shot in Japan, playing 21 games there, but was done at age 35.

 

Michael Young was a California kid, originally drafted out of high school, he opted to go to college and attended UCSB.  Three years later the Blue Jays took him in the fifth round.  Before he got to the majors he was traded to the Rangers for Esteban Loiaza.  In 2003 he got his first 200-hit season.  He would get 200 hits six times for the Rangers.  Twice he led the league in hits and in 2005 he won the AL batting title.  He made seven All-Star teams and even won a Gold Glove in 2008.

 

Michael Young also has one of my all-time favorite stats.  We always round off hitting rate stats to the thousandths spot, for reasons unbeknownst to us all, but the fact remains that two guys with a .349 OBP are not tied; one guy is more likely ahead when you move further down the decimal.  Well, Young’s 2,375 career hits in 7,918 career at-bats is a .299949482 batting average, which is the closest any hitter is to .300 without actually reaching .300.  And unfortunately a .299949482 hitter with limited power, few walks, and some speed has a short shelf life, especially when the legs go out.  He was retired by age 36.

 

As readers may well know, I’m a big fan of secondary average.  The biggest reason is because secondary average is what changes the scoreboard.  Michael Young had a career .225 secondary average while Kevin Youkilis had a career .348 secondary average.  That puts Youkilis ahead, but another problem is that both careers were short.

 

Because of those short careers neither were able to get any milestone numbers.  You can have a low secondary average if you have, say, 3,000 hits.  Neither were particularly close.  And while Youkilis had the better peak – from 2008-10 his OPS was second in baseball to only Albert Pujols – his career was only 10 seasons.

 

Both were good players who approached things differently; Young hit for the better average while Youkilis had more power and more patience.  Unfortunately neither did enough long enough.  NO NO

The 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XXVII

Larry Walker (57.70 Hall of Fame Rating)

In the Todd Helton piece I mentioned the concept of park effects.  In the Scott Rolen piece I wrote about all around skills.  Larry Walker fits in both of them.  Let’s start with the all-around part first.  Joe Posnanski did this last year in his take on Larry Walker.  Over at baseball-reference.com they have lists of batting runs, fielding, runs, and baserunning runs.  In baseball history there are three players who rank in the top 100 of all three categories.

 

One is Willie Mays, arguably the greatest player ever*.

 

Another is Barry Bonds, and we know enough about Bonds.

 

The third is Larry Walker.

 

Walker was born in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, and originally wanted to be a goalie.  Think about that.  I’m not sure how many people realize the reflexes and flexibility it takes to be a hockey goalie, knowing that the puck is coming at you at about 105 miles an hour and you are constantly stretching and going into crazy positions.  He was that good of an athlete.

 

He pursued hockey until he found conditions to be unfavorable and decided on baseball.  We benefitted having Larry Walker because a Canadian hockey league had substandard conditions.  Such is the joy of sports.

 

The Expos signed Walker as an amateur free agent at age 18 in 1984.  The Expos of the 1970’s and 1980’s were amazingly good at finding young talent.  Look at the Expos in the Hall:  Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, and Vlad Guerrero.  Pedro went is as Red Sox, but he cut his teeth in Montreal.  Randy Johnson got his start in Montreal as well.  If they would have had ANY postseason success I believe they would still be in Montreal (the only postseason series the franchise has ever won was in 1981 when the strike led to a split season and the Expos beat the Phillies in the first ever Division Series, 3-2.  The Nationals have not won a postseason series despite their enormous talent.  Is there something we are all missing?).

 

But anyway, Walker came to the Expos after the big stars of the 80’s were gone.  He started slowly but by 1991 Walker was a known name.  In 1992 he made his first All-Star team.  At this point the Expos were building what should’ve have been their next great team.  After coming up short to the eventual World Series champions in 1979, 1980, and 1981 the team started to fade and a rebuild was in order.  They would remain competitive throughout the 80’s and early 90’s, and by 1993 were contenders, finishing just three games behind the eventual NL Champion Phillies.  When 1994 opened the realignment in MLB put Atlanta in the East after 25 seasons in the West.  The Expos started off steady and then just kept getting better and after taking six out of seven on the West Coast against the Dodgers and Padres they had a one game lead at the All-Star break.  A 12-2 stretch gave the Expos a six game lead over the Braves in the NL East. Then disaster struck.

 

Everyone was to blame for the 1994-95 strike.  At a time when everything was going great everything was suddenly stopped.  Despite the excitement created from the realignment and new blood rising in different cities there was no postseason.  No World Series.  And soon, no more Expos.  Within 10 years the Expos would be in Washington, D.C., but right after Major League Baseball was back in business, Marquis Grissom was sent to Atlanta, Ken Hill was off to St. Louis, and Larry Walker was off to the recently formed Colorado Rockies.  What happened next is the perplexing side to the Larry Walker case.

 

Walker came out to the Mile High City and immediately was the team’s best player.  In 1995 he had a 131 OPS+, scoring 96 runs and driving in 101 while the Rockies reached the playoffs in just their third year of existence.

 

Injuries limited Walker in 1996 to just 304 plate appearances, but he still had a .912 OPS.  In 1997 he was amazing again.  He collected 208 hits, 99 of them for extra bases.  He scored 143 runs and drove in 130.  He had a 178 OPS+, over 400 total bases and won the NL MVP Award.

 

He hit a ton in Denver.  Three straight years he had a batting average over .360.  He had six seasons with an OPS over 1.000.  The writers didn’t hold it against him with MVP vote, but somehow this is the sticking point for him.

 

Unfortunately, his 10 years in Colorado are the biggest case – as it should be – but here are the sticking points:

 

At Coors Field Walker hit .381/.462/.710

Everywhere else Walker hit .282/.372/.501

 

That seems to be his lasting legacy.  Of course he didn’t hit like he did in Colorado when he was traded to the Cardinals.   He was 37 at the time.  He played one more year in St. Louis then hung them up for good.  Spending your prime seasons in Colorado is not an ideal way to get to Cooperstown.  His rating is close enough that one could really add enough points (the MVP, the All-Star appearances, etc.) to put him in.  I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but I already have 10 on my ballot and one can only vote for 10 on the BBWAA ballot.  It’s a shame because he should be remembered for the all-around player that he was, not because of where he played.  NO

The 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XXVI

Billy Wagner (48.01 Hall of Fame Rating)

Is anyone else at least a little intrigued at the low number of left handed closers?  If you look at the top 50 in all-time saves 44 of them are right handed.  Maybe it’s just me, but with all of the left handed hitters in baseball I would expect to see a few more than six lefties on that list.  It seems that left handed pitchers have only two roles:

 

  1. Starter
  2. Lefty One Out Guy (or LOOG-Y)

 

Billy Wagner didn’t fit in either group.

 

Wagner was the 12th overall pick in the 1993 draft by the Astros, one of the better first rounds of all time.  In that same draft A-Rod went first overall, Trot Nixon went seventh, Chris Carpenter, Derrek Lee, and Torii Hunter all went in that same round.  Ironically he was a full time starter in the minors.  The problem was that he was wild.  While he struck out more than a hitter an inning, his walk rate was terrible.  In Auburn of the New York-Penn League he walked 7.8 batters per nine.  At Quad Cities he got that down to 5.4 per nine.  Between Tucson and Jackson he walked 4.2 per nine.  He did all of this as a starter.  At the big league level, though, he never started.  By 1997 Astros manager Larry Dierker had decided that the lefty was going to be his closer.  Wagner struck out 14.4 hitters per nine.  The next year he struck out 14.6.  The next year he struck out 14.9 per nine, racked up 39 saves, made his first All-Star team, finished fourth in the Cy Young voting and received a few MVP votes.

 

In July of 1998 he to a line drive back up the box right behind the ear.  He was concussed and missed nearly a month afterwards.  He returned in time for the playoffs, but the Astros were in run of struggling to get over the hump, so a first round knockout was the norm.

 

He would make a couple more All-Star appearances for the Astros, then after the 2003 season he was traded to the Phillies for three marginal guys.  He continued to strikeout hitters in Philly, then signed with the Mets for $42 million over four years.

 

That year looked to be the Mets’ best shot at a World Series championship.  The left side of the infield was patrolled by a pair of 23-year olds, David Wright at third and Jose Reyes at short.  Carlos Delgado posted a 131 OPS+ at first, Carlos Beltran posted a 150 OPS+.  A 40-year old Tom Glavine led the rotation and the 34-year old Wagner was there to slam the door as the Mets had the league’s best record at 97-65, nine games ahead of everyone.  They swept the Dodgers in the NLDS, but the Cardinals – who were underwhelming in the regular season at 83-78 – made a series out of the NLCS, eventually taking the Mets out with Yadier Molina’s homerun and Adam Wainwright famously making Carlos Beltran’s knees buckle on strike three.

 

Wagner would continue to strike hitters out – even in his final season he averaged 13.5 K/9 – but never really achieved the heights a closer is really looked upon for when discussing Hall of Fame credentials.

 

His last game was in the 2010 NLDS.  He gave up a single and a sac bunt (11 points), and was pulled in favor of Kyle Farnsworth.  His 422 career saves are two fewer than John Franco for the most ever by a lefty.

 

The Wagner vote depends heavily on what you think about the save as a statistic.  Most people think of the save as a bad statistic, yet many managers to manage to the save.  Even with that said, he’s well behind the all-time leaders, my system has him well behind those that are in ahead of him.  He never garnered much more Cy Young support or MVP support, either.  He has received very little support from the BBWAA and may not last much longer on the ballot.  Regardless, he was a rare breed.  A lefty who came in to shut the door.  NO

The 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XXV

Omar Vizquel (42.96 Hall of Fame Rating)

In Cleveland we love to compare Omar to Ozzie.  It’s a bad comparison:

 

Ozzie had a lifetime 87 OPS+, Omar 82

 

Ozzie had a lifetime 90 wRC+, Omar 84

 

Ozzie stole 680 bases, Omar 504

 

Ozzie was caught 147 times, Omar 166

 

Ozzie led his league in fielding percentage eight times, Omar six

 

Ozzie led his league in putouts twice, Omar once

 

Ozzie led his league in assists eight times, Omar never

 

Ozzie led his league in range factor six times, Omar once

 

Ozzie led his league in double plays five times, Omar once

 

Ozzie led his league in total zone runs 10 times, Omar three

 

Ozzie made 15 All-Star teams, Omar three

 

Ozzie received MVP votes six times, Omar once

 

Ozzie led his league in defensive WAR six times and is the all-time leader, Omar never led his league and is ninth all-time

 

Ozzie made about nine percent more plays per nine innings than the average shortstop of his time; Omar is right at the league average

 

Ozzie’s fielding percentage was 1.27% above the league average for his time; Omar’s was 1.20%

 

Omar played 1175.0 more innings at short than Ozzie, made 98 fewer errors and turned 144 more double plays.  This leads to 242 more plays made in Omar’s favor because when an infielder makes an error it is assumed that they should have made the play, therefore an additional assist or putout, and when one turns a double play they get an extra assist or putout.  No matter, because despite the advantages, Ozzie had 147 more putouts and 699 more assists.

 

Ozzie’s teams won three pennants and one World Series; Omar’s won two pennants

 

Ozzie had eight seasons in which he earned 20+ Win Shares; Omar four

 

Ozzie had 10 seasons in which he earned 5+ bWAR; Omar one

 

Ozzie had 10 seasons in which he earned 4+ fWAR; Omar one

 

But it’s not just Ozzie that does that to him.  Especially in my ranking system, which takes Win Shares, bWAR, and fWAR, and through total, per 162 game, best 5-year streak, and All-Star level seasons (the criteria used in the last three Ozzie notes) I come up with my comparisons.  Just to name a few:

 

Dick Groat (4 20+ Win Shares, 2 5+ bWAR, and 2 4+ fWAR)

Jhonny Peralta (5, 2, and 3)

Rafael Furcal (5, 1, and 3)

Maury Wills (6, 2, and 2)

Rico Petrocelli (5, 1, and 4)

Tony Fernandez (9, 1, and 5)

Bert Campaneris (6, 4, and 6)

Miguel Tejada (9, 3, and 4)

Dave Concepcion (5, 1, and 4)

Mark Belanger (2, 2, and 3)

Edgar Renteria (2, 1, and 3)

Michael Young (7, 0, and 1)

 

I can go on.  Those are just a few of the non-Hall of Famers.  I have Omar ranked 53rd in my SHORTSTOP rankings, and that’s before I quit adding names because I started writing these pieces.  How about a few other comparisons to his contempories:

 

Dave Concepcion’s teams won four pennants and two World Series

 

Bert Campaneris’ teams won three pennants and three World Series

 

Maury Wills’ teams won four pennants and three World Series

 

Edgar Renteria’s teams won three pennants and two World Series

 

Three times Concepcion received MVP votes, twice finishing in the top ten

 

Maury Wills received votes eight times, winning one MVP and finishing in the top ten three other times

 

Maury Wills made seven All-Star teams

 

Concepcion made nine All-Star teams

 

Bert Campaneris made six All-Star teams, eight times received MVP votes and finished in the top ten once

 

I won’t even go into the Derek Jeter files.

 

And yes, Omar was fun to watch and he did earn a few of those Gold Gloves.  And he deserves credit for playing 24 seasons.  But he has no real counting stats of real value, no magic numbers despite all those years.

 

He was a nice player and I know in Cleveland I get heat for it, but he’s not a Hall of Famer.  He was good and he played a long time – longer than he should have.  NO

The 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XXIV

Miguel Tejada (50.83 Hall of Fame Rating)

The Dominican Republic has produced an astounding number of terrific baseball players over the years.  Miguel Tejada was the first one to bring home an MVP award.

 

That award came in 2002, when the 28-year old shortstop had an .861 OPS with 34 homeruns, 131 RBI, 108 runs scored, 204 hits, and helped the A’s to 103 wins and the AL West title.  He put up similar numbers in 2003 (seven fewer homers but a dozen more doubles), and the A’s won 96 games and another division title.  But they couldn’t get past the Division Series and contracts were coming up.

 

Tejada ended up signing with the Baltimore Orioles for $71 million.  His first year he led the league with 150 RBI.  In 2005 he led the league with 50 doubles.  The next season he hit .330.  But the next year he really didn’t do anything spectacular.  The Orioles were also 291-357 during that stretch and looked to be going nowhere so in December of 2007 he was traded to the Astros for five players, none of any serious consequence.

 

Because the Orioles are who they are they naturally signed the now 35-year old Tejada again.  He would bounce around for a couple of more years before finally hanging it up.

 

His peak was very good – his best 5-year runs in all three categories are All-Star worthy – but his career was 16 and there just wasn’t enough high impact seasons.  One stat that hurts him is GDP.  He grounded into 277 double plays in his career and five times led his league in GDP.  His career .571 postseason OPS won’t help him – and frankly wouldn’t hurt his cause because it’s not even 100 plate appearances.  His MVP season was his only 30-Win Share season, 2004 was the only year he cleared 6.0 in bWAR.  Those are the types of seasons that will put you over the top.

 

But that doesn’t eliminate the fact that of all the great names that have come out of the Dominican, he was the first to accomplish the MVP feat.  NO

The Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XXIII

Sammy Sosa (55.28 Hall of Fame Rating)

“It’s not the ‘Hall of Good’ it’s the ‘Hall of Fame’.”

  • Major League Historian John Thorne in an ESPN “Sports Century” documentary about Reggie Jackson.

 

He helped revitalize the nation’s interest in the sport with his homerun race against Mark McGwire.  He would take home the NL MVP, helping the Cubs win the wild card.

 

In his first home game at Wrigley after the 9/11 attacks, he proudly ran out with the Stars and Stripes.  He later homered in the game and carried her again around the bases.

 

He had become a hero in Major League baseball.

 

He’s the only hitter to clear 60 homeruns three times.  Ironically, he did not lead the league in any of those seasons.

 

In 2003 he was caught with a corked bat in June.  He served a suspension, came back, helped lead the Cubs to their first division title in 14 years and to Game 7 of the NLCS.  Not sure what happened that year, but I’m sure someone out there has an explanation.

 

He hit 609 career homeruns.

 

There are PED allegations.

 

His walk rate improved dramatically after the 1997 season.  Until 1998 his OBP was .308; from 1998-03 his OBP was .391, which also included two 100+ walk seasons.

 

He was a pretty good outfielder, record 104 Total Zone Runs Above Average.

 

So why does Sammy Sosa register short by my system?

 

I have made it clear that my take on PED’s is that it wasn’t against the rules and there was no formal form of punishment therefore it wasn’t cheating.  So that’s not it.

 

No, the bigger problem is that his run of greatness was only six seasons.  Combined with the not so good start and the end you have a guy who fell just short.

 

But while he doesn’t get my vote, could he get in eventually?  Remember that quote at the top.  In 1998 the national news was opening with Sosa and McGwire and their pursuit of Roger Maris.  Those who didn’t know or care about baseball knew who those two were.  They had captured our imaginations.

 

Sosa played with a child’s joy.  That leap after making homerun contact, the smile, the gestures to the camera and to the fans.  The flag after 9/11.  That all matters, too.  Not 450+ points worth for my scale, but still those points eventually add up.

 

And eventually people will get over the PED issues.  Not completely, but people are sympathetic to the causes of Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe, both of whose crimes are far worse.  And people will look at those YouTube clips of him and McGwire capturing a nation and wonder why he’s not in.

 

I’m not saying that it will happen.  But it can happen.  It just won’t be soon.  NO

The 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XXII

Ted Lilly (39.99 Hall of Fame Rating), Darren Oliver (37.20 Hall of Fame Rating), Juan Pierre (38.81 Hall of Fame Rating), Placido Polanco (45.19 Hall of Fame Rating), Vernon Wells (44.38 Hall of Fame Rating)

Take a few minutes to think about this:  Who was the worst major league player you ever saw?

 

OK, now, just think about how good he was in college if he attended.

 

OK, now just think about how good he was in high school.

 

In other words, the worst major league player you ever saw was one hell of a player.

 

Darren Oliver pitched 20 big league seasons, at first as a starter but became a reliever living by the slogan “Have left arm, will travel.”  He was a rarity like Rickey Henderson – he batted right handed but threw left handed.  He pitched his first postseason game in 1996.  He pitched his second 10 years later.

 

Ted Lilly pitched 15 years and started 331 games.  He made two All-Star teams despite a career 106 ERA+.  He was drafted twice.  The first time in the 13th round.  The next year he went 10 rounds later.

 

Juan Pierre was a slap hitter who could run.  The 13th round would be the highest he was ever taken.  He wound up with 14 years, over 2,000 hits, and helped the Marlins to a World Series title in 2003.

 

Placido Polanco made two All-Star teams in his 16-year career:  One at age 31, the other at age 35.  He also recorded over 2,000 hits.

 

Vernon Wells made three All-Star teams in the American obscurity of Canada and five times had an OPS over .800.

 

None of these guys will receive significant (if any) support from the BBWAA.  My rating system supports that case.  But between These five guys you have:

 

6,153 hits

3,898.1 innings pitched

248 wins

99 postseason games

1 championship

 

You will find a lot of resumes that don’t compare to these guys.  And that’s the real point of this article.  These guys were good major league players.  They had long major league careers.  Sometimes I get mixed feelings about the ballot.  They are not Hall of Famers, but to see someone get little to no support doesn’t seem right, either.  The fact remains that the Hall of Fame is about the best of the best.  These guys were good, but just not the best.  NO NONONONO

The 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XXI

Gary Sheffield (55.30 Hall of Fame Rating)

To me, the most amazing fact about Gary Sheffield is that he never struck out 100 times in a season.  The constantly swaying bat, the violent swing, the big power (over 1,000 extra base hits, career .514 slugging) and the most he ever struck out in a season is 83 (twice, at ages 35 and 39).  I mean, how?  We are in an era where contact hitters strike out 100 times.  He walked 304 more times than he struck out, so it wasn’t like he was a constant first ball hitter, either.  For as out of control as the swing looked, he was well in control.

 

Sheffield was the sixth overall pick in the 1986 draft by the Brewers out of Hillsborough High School in Tampa.  He was just 19 when he made his big league debut against the Tigers in September of 1988.  I took him a few games but his first major league hit was a homerun off of Mark Langston.  He came up in the bottom of the 11th of that same game and singled, again off of Mark Langston, to drive in his second run, also the team’s second run as well as the winning run in a 2-1 victory over the Mariners. Happy moments were few and far between in Milwaukee, though.

 

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Sheffield was drafted as a shortstop out of high school.  As we all know, most of the best athletes of high school baseball teams are put at shortstop.  But when he came up the Brewers moved him to third base in order to play Bill Spiers at short.  As we’ll see in a bit this move makes some sense, but Sheffield at the time was not a big fan of the idea.  He resented the fact that despite being three years younger and clearly a better hitter, he was still at third while the white Spiers was at short.  The grumblings got to the point where after the 1991 season Sheffield was dealt to the Padres.  A wrist injury in his final season in Milwaukee, limiting him to 50 games, did nothing to slow down this deal.

 

Racism is a very sensitive subject and should never be treaded upon lightly.  I do not believe the Brewers were acting racist in any way.  Spiers was their first round pick the year after Sheffield, 13th overall, and one would like to believe that they did not screw up their first pick in the draft.  That being said, it was clear that Spiers wasn’t going to hit anywhere near as well as Sheffield, he was three years older than Sheffield, and a team is more likely to find a third baseman that can hit than a shortstop who can.  Within a few years Derek Jeter, A-Rod, and Nomar would show the value of having a hitting shortstop, much like the Orioles did with Ripken.  I just believe that the Brewers were stuck in an old-school mentality, not a racist one.

 

Anyway, Sheffield got to San Diego and was an instant success.  Right away he was the team’s best hitter*.  That season he made his first All-Star team and finished third in the NL MVP voting.  The Padres finished 82-80, a very distant third in the NL West, but highest for any team in the division west of the Mississippi**.

 

*-In an attempt to fire up Pat Langdon and other Tony Gwynn supporters, I present two facts that support my case.  First, modern math has Sheffield that season with a 168 OPS+, tops on the team, with Fred McGriff second at 165 and Tony Gwynn a distant third at 121.  The other is one that the old schoolers just can’t argue with.  Sheffield won the batting title at .330, Gwynn hit .317.

 

**-I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  No one in pro sports from 1965 through 1993 owned a globe.

 

Unfortunately, having a few good hitters was not in the Padres’ plans and they went into fire sale mode.  I have talked about the Fred McGriff trade many times before, but the Gary Sheffield trade, while a bad move early on, did get the Padres future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman from the Marlins.  The trade led to Sheffield being the answer to the trivia question “Who was the first player in Marlins history to play in the All-Star Game?”.  That game in Baltimore was more remembered for the home faithful booing Toronto manager Cito Gaston for his abundance of Blue Jays on the AL roster and for John Kruk’s famous at bat against Randy Johnson.  But in Sheffield’s first at-bat he homered to give the Senior Circuit an early 2-0 lead.  The AL would come back to win the game 9-3 – this was back when winning the game meant something.

 

Sheffield would continue to hit, but the acquisition of Bobby Bonilla would move Sheffield from third to the outfield.  Again, more on this in a couple.  In 1996 Sheffield led the National League in OBP, OPS, and OPS+, walked 142 times, hit 42 homers, drove in 120, scored 118, and finished sixth in the MVP voting.  His numbers dipped a bit in 1997, but he still drew 121 walks to keep his OBP well above .400 as the Marlins won the World Series.  Then he was once again a part of a fire ssale.

 

In May of 1998 the Marlins sent Sheffield along with four others to the Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.  The Marlins then dealt the future Hall of Fame catcher to the Mets just eight days later.  If anyone is looking for some last minute Christmas ideas for me, a Mike Piazza Marlins jersey would be awesome.

 

Anyway, afterwards Sheffield spent the next three plus seasons in LA before another trade sent him to Atlanta.  After two years with the Braves he signed with the Yankees.  After three years in the Bronx (the first year in which he finished second in the MVP voting), he was again dealt, this time to Detroit.  After being released by Detroit after the 2008 season he signed with the Mets, where he hit his 500th career homerun.  After the 2009 season he retired.  For his career he hit .292/.393/.514 with a 140 OPS+, 2,689 career hits, 509 homeruns, 1636 runs scored, 1676 RBI, 467 doubles, 1475 walks, and 1171 strikeouts.

 

Now to the fielding aspect of his career.  In his first year in San Diego he spoke of purposely committing errors in an attempt to get traded out of Milwaukee.  The second issue one should have with this (after the very thought of intentionally failing), is “when exactly did he stop intentionally doing that?”.

 

In right field he was worth -73 Total Zone Runs Above Average

In left field he was worth -39

At third he was worth -55

At short he was worth -15

 

That adds up to -182.  In simple terms that means he basically cost his team about 18 games with his horrific defense.  And this is what hurts him in my ranking system.  Using Win Shares and the two WAR’s means that defense is factored in and while his bat was great it wasn’t great enough.  There are PED allegations as well, And his postseason performance is not enough to jump him 400+ points, either, nor is his appearances in subjective things as MVP voting and All-Star appearances.

 

But still, 22 seasons and not once did he strike out 100 times.  Not once did he strike out 90 times.  Despite the defense, that’s still amazing.  NO

The 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot, Part XX

Curt Schilling (65.65 Hall of Fame Rating)

Back in 1994 Philadelphia Magazine writer Pat Jordan went out to the mountains in Colorado in search of Steve Carlton.  Carlton had just been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame but had also become somewhat of a recluse in his life after baseball.  The interview left many to think that maybe it was a good thing that Lefty didn’t talk to the press during his playing days.

 

For those of you who – like my friend Rick told me when I sent him that gem – couldn’t get past the “gamma rays” comment, understand that he believed that the previous eight presidents of that time were all guilty of treason (which takes him only up to Bill Clinton; science knows what he has thought of the three since).  He stated his belief that the AIDS virus was created in a war lab with the goal being to eliminate gays and blacks.  He also stated his belief that mass shootings are a result of people being hypnotized, much like the movie “The Manchurian Candidate” or, if we want to lighten things up, like Reggie Jackson in “The Naked Gun”.  He also had several theories about who runs the world:  a dozen Jewish bankers in Switzerland, a committee of 300 in Rome, the Elders of Zion, etc.  It’s really an amazing interview.

 

That being said, the writers still realized he was eligible and he was good enough to be inducted.

 

Curt Schilling has a big mouth.  Big deal.  I’m personally not a fan of his.  The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is not about whether I like the guy or hate the guy.  The Hall of Fame is about greatness.

 

By my method Curt Schilling sure doesn’t need any extra consideration, but if anyone needs it:

 

  • In his postseason career he logged 133.1 innings with a 2.23 ERA, 0.968 WHIP, 120/25 K/BB ratio
  • The only pitcher in baseball history with over 3,000 innings and a better K/BB ratio is Tommy Bond, who pitched from 1874 to 1884.
  • His 3,116 career strikeouts still rank 15th all-time
  • He and Randy Johnson taking down the Yankee dynasty in 2001.
  • The famous “Bloody Sock” game. Annoying as it is to hear about, it was an amazing single game performance.

 

And yes, he has said things since that he probably shouldn’t have said (and probably doesn’t regret; that’s his opinion and he’s entitled to it).  It was said about him that he was great to be around on game day but not on any other day, the exact opposite of teammate Randy Johnson. Yes, he is considered by many to be a jerk, and deservedly so.  He seems to actually take pride in it.  I can’t help him.

 

Hey, I’m opinionated myself.  I’m also very difficult to sway from my opinions.  I also try to be as informed as I can be about the backgrounds of my opinions – why would I think this person’s a Hall of Famer, what makes me believe this person is guilty of said crime, etc.  We can all try to be perfect, but we will all ultimately fail.

 

My vote here is theoretical, and I’m not sure if the writers will put him in.  But my vote is about his greatness on the mound.  YES