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Hok’s HoF ballot

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Who would make it into the Hall of Fame if you were in charge?

Billy Butler chugs around the bases
HoF snub Billy Butler doing what he was known best for.
Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Let’s talk about the Hall of Fame, shall we? Everyone does ballots, though. Ballots are, by their very nature, a construct. Not every player who would otherwise be eligible makes it onto the ballot; Billy Butler could have been on this year’s ballot for the first time but will never even have an opportunity for BBWAA writers to choose whether to vote for him. But, even beyond that, each voter is only allowed to select a maximum of 10 candidates to vote for. Why? Arbitrary round numbers! So, instead of doing a ballot, I’m going to go through all 30 players on the ballot and decide whether they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

I’m using Baseball Reference’s list and they’ve chosen to sort it by the percentage of ballots that player was chosen on in the previous year and then by bWAR for those who are on the ballot for the first time this year. That seems like an entirely reasonable way to approach this so let’s go. Remember that players can only be on the ballot for a maximum of 10 years, must receive 75% of the votes to be elected to the Hall of Fame, and will be removed from the ballot if they ever receive fewer than 5% of the vote.

Curt Schilling - Years on Ballot: 10 - Previous %: 71.1%

Already I regret my ordering choice. We’re starting with a pretty controversial guy right here. The thing is, Schilling is an awful human being. There is no need to celebrate an awful human being who happened to be really good at his job in the Hall of Fame.

Verdict: No

Barry Bonds - Years: 10 - Previous %: 61.8%

Another controversial pick! Well, that’s OK. I was never the biggest fan of Barry Bonds. For one thing, I rooted for Mark McGwire to break the home run record so when Bonds broke McGwire’s record a few years later it was disappointing to me. That said, he’s one of the very best to ever play the game. I know people like to take some kind of moral stand about the steroids. However, by now I think we should be able to admit that cheating has existed in baseball since the beginning and that hasn’t stopped. Steroids, greenies, spitballs, spider tack, cameras in centerfield.

Punish guys as you catch them, sure. But it’s not a valid reason to keep them out of the Hall of Fame. Especially since, as we saw this year with Spider Tack, etc., the best players are still unbelievably good even when prevented from cheating. There is certainly a discussion to be had about how the bubble cases may have benefited from cheating in earning roster spots, but it’s not germane to the Hall of Fame discussions and so we’ll save it for another time.

Verdict: Yes

Roger Clemens - Years: 10 - Previous %: 61.6%

Clemens is in much the same spot as Bonds. One of the very best to ever do it, not particularly likable, credibly accused of cheating. Only the first thing matters to me.

Verdict: Yes

Scott Rolen - Years: 5 - Previous %: 52.9%

Rolen’s is the first case I have to actually investigate before delivering a verdict. Over 2000 hits and more than 300 home runs. He won Rookie of the Year and earned seven All-Star Appearances along with eight gold gloves and MVP votes in four years, once finishing as high as fourth. He also has a ring for the 2006 Cardinals championship.

Rolen is one of those in a long line of players in the Hall of Fame conversation that ended up in St. Louis after making a name for themselves elsewhere. I always wonder why the Royals can’t be the destination for those kinds of players. He has lots of big moments to his name which isn’t normally a factor for me, but since his case was borderline I’ll allow them to shove him over the line.

Verdict: Yes

Omar Vizquel - Years: 5 - Previous %: 49.1%

I’ll pass, thanks.

Also, like, he doesn’t have a great case even just going by the numbers. He was a defensive wizard but he couldn’t hit.

Verdict: No

Billy Wagner - Years: 7 - Previous %: 46.4%

Wagner has 422 saves in his career and was one of the most dominant closers of his generation. He struck out approximately four batters for every walk he issued. Interestingly, he accrued 19.8 bWAR in his seven-year peak out of a total of only 27.7 bWAR for his career. He pitched for 15 years and accrued an ERA over 3.00 only once, during his injury-plagued 2000 campaign.

He is sixth on the all-time saves leaderboard and everyone above him had to pitch at least two years’ more playing time to get there except Francisco Rodriguez. Let him in.

Verdict: Yes

Todd Helton - Years: 4 - Previous %: 44.9%

He was one of the best to ever play first. He could hit and he actually matched his defensive reputation. Criminally underrated because of his home ballpark, which is dumb.

Verdict: Yes

Gary Sheffield - Years: 8- Previous %: 40.6%

More than 500 homers, more than 250 stolen bases - including 22 in his age 38 season - and more walks than strikeouts. Forget the specious steroid case, put him in!

Verdict: Yes

Andruw Jones - Years: 5 - Previous %: 33.9%

He made his MLB debut at age 19. He won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves while making five all-star appearances and earning MVP votes five times - finishing as high as second. His raw offensive numbers don’t seem to meet the criteria, unfortunately. He was probably underrated during his time in the league but still not good enough for the Hall.

Verdict: No

Jeff Kent - Years: 9 - Previous %: 32.4%

If Jones can’t make it, Kent can’t either. In some ways his batting numbers are better but he still had fewer homers and stolen bases in more plate appearances. He also didn’t even have the defensive reputation of Jones.

Verdict: No

Manny Ramirez - Years: 6 - Previous %: 28.2%

On this list, only Barry Bonds’ numbers are more impressive. Do the right thing.

Verdict: Yes

Sammy Sosa - Years: 10 - Previous %: 17%

600 home runs has long been a benchmark of guaranteed enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. If you’re concerned that he was corking the bat, science shows that actually makes it harder to hit a home run. If you’re worried about steroids...we’ve already had that discussion.

Verdict: Yes

Andy Pettitte - Years: 4 - Previous %: 13.7%

The thing about Pettitte is that he was always very good, but he was never the best at anything except in 1996 when he led the league with 21 wins. Pitcher wins are not the stat that’s going to get him into my Hall of Fame.

Verdict: No

Mark Buehrle - Years: 2 - Previous %: 11%

Buehrle, on the other hand, was never quite seen as being as good as he was, but led the league in a variety of categories over the years. Twice he led baseball in innings pitched, four times he led baseball in the fewest hits allowed, once he led in WHIP allowed. He also won four consecutive gold gloves during his prime. Additionally, he threw both a no-hitter and a perfect game - one of only six pitchers to match that feat. His perfect game was part of a stretch of 45 straight batters retired, a then-record.

Verdict: Yes

Torii Hunter - Years: 2 - Previous %: 9.5%

I fail to understand how nearly 10% of HoF voters can feel he belongs in the hall with his numbers. He was very good, but never the best.

Verdict: No

Bobby Abreu - Years: 3 - Previous %: 8.7%

Bobby has the Pettitte Problem.

Verdict: No

Tim Hudson - Years: 2 - Previous %: 5.2%

Hudson wasn’t even as good as Pettitte.

Verdict: No

Alex Rodriguez - Years: First

Come on, what are we doing here?

Verdict: Yes

David Ortiz - Years: First

I’m not even going to look at his numbers. I’m just going to tell you that a world where Big Papi isn’t in the Hall of Fame is a world in which I don’t want to live.

Bonus: He once hit a home run against the Royals with a broken wrist.

Verdict: Yes

Mark Teixeira - Years: First

Would he even be on the ballot if he hadn’t been a Yankee?

Verdict: No

Jimmy Rollins - Years: First

Just didn’t hit well enough.

Verdict: No

Carl Crawford - Years: First

Also did not hit well enough.

Verdict: No

Jake Peavy - Years: First

Not even as good as Tim Hudson

Verdict: No

Justin Morneau - Years: First

Didn’t even hit as well as Abreu.

Verdict: No

Prince Fielder - Years: First

Career cut short.

Verdict: No

Joe Nathan - Years: First

Wagner had to scratch and claw his way in and Nathan is not on the same level.

Verdict: No

Tim Lincecum - Years: First

Multiple no-nos, but not great otherwise.

Verdict: No

Jonathan Papelbon - Years: First

Why is he even here?

Verdict: No

A.J. Pierzynski - Years: First

Didn’t even crack 200 career home runs.

Verdict: No

Ryan Howard - Years: First

When Ryan Howard was good, he was very good. But he wasn’t good for very long.

Verdict: No

Final Vote-getters:

Bonds

Clemens

Rolen

Wagner

Helton

Sheffield

Ramirez

Sosa

Beuhrle

A-Rod

Ortiz

So, in the end, I picked 11 guys. I guess if you put a gun to my head I’d flip a coin to drop Buehrle or Wagner to make the ballot official-sized. Baseball Reference has some cool tools to aid in the Hall of Fame debate, including the Bill James Hall of Fame Career Standards (HOFs) and Jaffe’s WAR Score System (JAWS) which allows you to compare players based on Hall of Fame standards. Here’s who would make it if we just went by these systems:

HOFs

Bonds

A-Rod

Clemens

Ramirez

Helton

Ortiz

Abreu

Sosa

Kent

JAWS (players with a higher JAWS score than the average HOF inductee at their position)

Bonds

Clemens

A-Rod

Schilling

Rolen

Ramirez

Alright, your turn! Who would you vote for and why am I wildly off-base?