Wednesday November 23, 2022
That Problematic 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot
The last few years have been a slog—and not just because of Covid. Trump before that and family matters before Trump. I've felt stuck. Time kept not moving.
Except of course it kept moving.
I think that's why, when I read Tyler Kepner's article on the new arrivals to the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, I was surprised that half these guys had retired long enough to be on the ballot. "Wait, didn't I just seeing Jayson Werth in the postseason? Wasn't Jacoby Ellsbury just stealing home?
No, Erik, that was 10 years ago.
Here's the overall ballot, including holdovers from previous years, as ranked by bWAR. It's not a list that's going to result in a lot of new members. The best players have some taint against them: PEDs (A-Rod, Manny), cheating scandals (Beltran), Coors Field (Helton). There are two .300/.400/.500 guys (Manny, Helton), two pitchers who threw perfect games (Buehrle, Cain), and two of the best defensive players to ever play their positions (Omar, Andruw), and none of them will make it.
|Player||YOB||'22 %||bWAR||Blk Ink||Gray Ink||HOF Msre||Xtras|
|Scott Rolen||6||63.2%||70.1||0||27||99||ROY 8xGG|
YOB = Years on the Ballot
'22% = Their percentage for last year's vote: 75% or better and you're in
Blk Ink: The so-called “black ink” numbers, or how often do they lead the league in important stats: 27 is a HOFer for hitters, 40 for pitchers
Gray Ink: Top 10 in same: 144 for hitters, 185 for pitchers
Hall of Fame Measure: 100 is a HOFer
Does that just leave Scott Rolen, who got 63% last year, and has generally good numbers, good d, not a whiff of PEDs, and played a position, third base, that's underrepresented in the Hall?
I could make arguments for others. I don't know if I'd vote for them but here are the arguments.
- A-Rod. I know, I know, but look at those numbers. He's top 10 all-time. Without PEDs he would've been ... top 25? Top 50? It's basically the Bonds/Clemens argument—they would've gone in anyway—but for some reason I have more sympathy for A-Rod.
- Manny: .300/.400/.500, and the crazy joy of him.
- Gary Sheffield. I almost feel like he should get the Jim Rice vote. No one wanted to see him at the plate. Like Rice, he was feared. Except Rice passes the black ink test (33) and Sheffield doesn't (4).
- Francisco Rodriguez. Fourth all-time in saves. Plus he made his name early as a Yankees killer during the 2002 postseason. For that, I'm forever grateful.
- Omar. He deserves his own graf.
I should dig into WAR sometime because sometimes I don't quite get it. Omar Vizquel has the ninth-greatest defensive WAR of all time, 29.5, and a 32.9 offensive WAR, and you add them together and you get ... 45.6? So something else is done. Someday I'll look into it.
But let's ignore that 45.6 for a second. By both advanced measures (dWAR) and traditonal ones (11 Gold Gloves), Omar is one of the greatest defensive shortstops of all time. He was also a not-bad hitter: .272 lifetime batting average, 2,877 career hits, 44th all-time. Think of that: Only 43 players in MLB history had more hits than Omar. Plus he walked nearly as often as he struck out: 1028/1087. My point: This isn't Mark Belanger, a great defensive shortstop who couldn't hit. Omar could hit. Mostly singles, sure, but he could hit. And he was beautiful to watch. I know that's not supposed to count but what are we—animals? Let's count beauty. It doesn't come around often.
If I had a vote, I'd vote A-Rod, Rolen, Manny and Omar. That's not a bad class. But it'll either be nobody or Rolen.