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The Royals Review 2022 Hall of Fame ballot

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Who should be in Cooperstown?

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2022 class of inductees on January 25 on MLB Network. Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz are the biggest names among the first-time Hall of Fame candidates. This will be the last Hall of Fame ballot for controversial candidates Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling who all received over 60 percent of the vote last year. Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker suggests they may have a chance to get in this year, and there is growing support for candidates like Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, and Andruw Jones.

You can look at the stats for this year’s class over at Baseball-Reference. I asked our writers who they would vote for if they had a hypothetical ballot for the Hall of Fame.

Alex Duvall: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Billy Wagner

Ryan Heffernon: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa

This is it. This is the voters’ final chance. If Bonds doesn’t get into the Hall of Fame, we burn it down. Babe Ruth is the only player in baseball history with a better WAR. He was on a Hall of Fame trajectory before he started eating healthy breakfasts. He needs to be in.

There have been eight 60-home run seasons in Major League Baseball history. Nearly 40% of them belong to Sammy Sosa. In fact, Mark McGwire is the only other player to do it twice. Sosa was an iffy defender who didn’t walk nearly as much as his other home run-hitting peers. But there are few players who have hit home runs more prolifically than Sosa, and his run from 1998-2002 where he hit 66, 63, 50, 64, and 49 home runs will never be matched. You can’t tell the story of baseball without Sammy Sosa.

I arrange my ballot based on need. The four preceding players are all in their last season of eligibility. And while Jones is only in his 4th year of eligibility, he needs help. Among eligible players with at least five years on the ballot, Jones ranks 4th in WAR7, which measures a player’s peak seven seasons, 5th in JAWS and 6th in WAR. However, among those same 11 players, only Jeff Kent and Manny Ramirez got fewer votes in 2021. And Manny’s lack of support is surely due to his steroid usage and not his ability. Jones is underrated and needs to start gaining support to have a shot in coming years.

Hokius: No one.

I submit an empty ballot. These are just men doing a job. Who are any of us to decide where the line is between those who did their job well enough to be remembered forever and those who weren’t? Between those who had high enough quality of character and those who didn’t? Those who had the good fortune to stay healthy enough and those who didn’t? Not I.

Josh Keiser: Bobby Abreu, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Billy Wagner

I’m submitting the same ballot I sent in last year for the same reasons. I think those guys should be in, plain and simple. And since I’ve already swallowed the glass that is voting for Curt Schilling, I might as well include the second most unlikeable candidate in ARod. I mean he’s the guy that Bobby Witt Jr was compared to post-2019 draft, and if he’s going to be ARod, we might as well set the stage and make ARod a Hall of Famer now, right? RIGHT?!!??!?

Matthew LaMar: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa

Bonds, Rodriguez, and Clemens are absolute no-brainers. All three are head and shoulders above the rest, and it’s a shame that the chances of all three being inducted in real life is practically zero. They are some of the best ever at their positions, and the Hall will be worse off without them.

After that very big gap is a bunch of excellent players. Sosa hit over 600 home runs in his career, a huge feat that’s worthy of the Hall. Helton has the highest career batting average and OBP out of anyone on the ballot. And, in my opinion, post-season play does matter. That’s why I gave the nod to Ortiz, whose postseason heroics are the stuff of legend. As for Schilling, well, he too has some serious postseason heroics to his name in addition to a great career. Sure, he’s a jackass, but he won’t be the first of his kind in the Hall.

Sean Laughlin: Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens, Todd Helton, Andrus=w Jones, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Billy Wagner

Bonds is a top-three player ever. Ignore the Colorado hate when it comes to hitters. Helton is an all-time great, don’t punish him because he was loyal to his team. Andruw Jones was a transcendent talent on one of the all-time dominant time periods for a team in MLB history. Ortiz was a top-five clutch player of all time that changed a position forever. Ramirez is a surefire top-ten right-handed hitter of all-time. Alex Rodriguez is 12th in WAR, the easiest way to prove he belongs. Curt Schilling - worse pitchers are in. Gary Sheffield has 500 home runs. Compare Billy Wagnerto Trevor Hoffman without the saves stat.

Bradford Lee: Billy Wagner

I’ve really been struggling with this HOF ballot. How does one account for the PED years? Steroids, though not outlawed by baseball at the time, are still considered a controlled substance and are illegal to possess without a doctor’s prescription. Did they enhance performance? Absolutely. Barry Bonds does not hit 73 home runs (at the age of 36 no less) if he’s clean. Now Bonds was a spectacular player before steroids, a surefire Hall of Famer. His jealousy of the attention that Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were receiving during their steroid fueled home run orgy, drove Bonds to indulge himself. It was entertaining to watch, but it made a mockery of the game. Between the ages of 35 and 39, Bonds clubbed 258 home runs, an average of 52 per year. Between the ages of 35 and 39, Henry Aaron hit 203 home runs. Babe Ruth hit 192 in those age seasons. Willie Mays? 123. If we’re going to allow cheaters in the Hall, let’s start with Pete Rose and Joe Jackson. No?

Okay then. On this ballot, I see three players who should have been slam dunks: Bonds, Clemens and ARod. All three were or were reputed to be steroid cheats. I can’t in good conscience vote for that. After those three I see a lot what I would call “The Hall of very, very good”, players like Schilling, Helton, Rolen, Kent, Jones and Rollins. All terrific ballplayers, but just a notch below what I deem a true Hall of Famer. Maybe I’m being too much of a hard ass.

Shaun Newkirk; Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa

It says a lot about a guy who is Hall of Fame worthy and basically didn’t play an ounce of defense for 90% of his career. If you like clutch, David Ortiz was clutch. If you like fun, he was fun. If you like great hitters, well, you get the bit.

Andruw Jones might be a Hall of Famer based off defense alone, but he was still an 11% above average hitter for his career and 25% above average during his peak. Todd Helton was not just a product of Coors, he was a great defender (at a position it doesn’t matter much to be fair) and also walked more than he struck out for his career while being a 30%+ better than average hitter even after adjusting for Coors.

I’m not sure how you can tell the story of baseball without talking about Sosa/McGwire in 1998.

Gary Sheffield - Did Gary Sheffield play for 25% of the teams in the league in order to hit 500 home runs? Yes. Was he a terrible defender? Also yes. But Sheffield could hit and had an absolutely bonkers 160+ OPS+ during his peak plus the third most iconic batting stance behind Bonds and Griffey.

Max Rieper: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Kent, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Curt Schilling

There is a push for Scott Rolen this year, which is great, I think he’s borderline, but I don’t know why Jeff Kent isn’t getting more love. Their offensive numbers seem pretty similar, with Rolen getting the huge edge on defense. But Kent had a much higher peak, and while Rolen only finished top ten in MVP voting once, Kent did it four times, wining the 2000 MVP award. Kent didn’t make his MLB debut til age 24, but his 377 home runs are the most-ever by a second baseman and he has the 12th-best OPS+ by any second baseman with at least 5,000 PA (and Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano could fall behind him as they age).

Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield and Scott Rolen are on my “let’s think about it” list. They don’t feel like Hall of Famers to me, but their numbers are pretty impressive.

Clint Scoles: Bobby Abreu, Barry Bonds, Mark Buerhle, Roger Clemens, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Billy Wagner

Bonds is the greatest player in the history of the game and was a first-ballot hall of famer before he started taking steroids. If he played football or basketball and used HGH or spun his blood there wouldn’t be a conversation about his use of HGH or whatever he used because it’s quickly brushed aside in those sports. Maybe if he had ADHD this wouldn’t be a big deal today like it was back then but let’s still look at his numbers when he used an advantage. He didn’t become an All-Star like Robinson Cano or perform at an MVP level like Ryan Braun when he used something. No, he put the game in his rearview, hitting at a 256 OPS+ level over a four-year span. He’s a Hall of Famer in every era and to me I’m glad he did it if he did it because for a five to six-year stretch he was remarkable to watch and must-see TV. Oh and did I mention he was already a Hall of Famer before he became a Giant? Yea he was unreal and this isn’t a real conversation.

Jones is likely one of the two or three greatest defensive centerfielders in the game’s history. Unlike fellow stellar defender on this ballot Omar Vizquel, Andruw’s bat was better than average with 434 home runs and a ten year stretch that saw him average 34 home runs per season. Rolen like Jones is an elite defender for his position and adds even more bat than Andruw though at a lesser defensive position. His numbers compare well to George Brett’s with 316 home runs (317 Brett), a .364 OBP (.369) and a .490 career slugging percentage (.487) but I doubt any wouldn’t compare George’s glove to Rolen’s. Philadelphia doesn’t love their players at the same level KC does and that probably hurt Rolen’s perception. He’s a legit Hall of Famer.

A-Rod is a Hall of Famer but he’s also a puke of a person like Schilling so for his first ballot I’d skip him. I’d likely leave Ortiz off because it’s his first ballot and a DH. Just doesn’t have the all around game I prefer for the Hall of Fame for first ballot inclusion but I’d vote for him in further years I’m sure. Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield entertained me as much as any when they played but I can’t help but think that steroids gave them the ability to be in the Hall as their number could fall short without them. If it was the Hall of best hitters to watch then they’d be locks.

sterlingice; Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Sammy Sosa, Billy Wagner

I’m voting for the seven holdovers I had from last year except, at Curt Schilling’s request (lol), I left him off the ballot. Bonds, Clemens, and Rodriguez are all no-brainers statistically whose Inner Circle cases are, of course, complicated by PEDs. Helton has HOF numbers if you don’t let Coors Field or 1B bias cloud your judgment, Wagner is the third best closer since the role was redefined, and Rolen is a HOF level 3B. Ramirez and Sosa both have HOF numbers and fame, again, complicated by PEDs. I went back and forth on Ortiz - he’s like a slightly worse, more famous, and PED tainted Edgar Martinez and Martinez had to wait a long time to get his invite. But I think I was letting my DH bias and overrated large market adjustments keep him out. He should be in. So my ballot includes the seven from last year plus the two big name newcomers.

So here are our ballots:

Royals Review Hall of Fame ballot

Player Alex Duvall Ryan Heffernon Hokius Josh Keiser Matthew LaMar Sean Laughlin Bradford Lee Shaun Newkirk Max Rieper Clint Scoles sterlingice Total
Player Alex Duvall Ryan Heffernon Hokius Josh Keiser Matthew LaMar Sean Laughlin Bradford Lee Shaun Newkirk Max Rieper Clint Scoles sterlingice Total
Bobby Abreu x x 2
Barry Bonds x x x x x x x x x 9
Mark Buerhle x 1
Roger Clemens x x x x x x x x x 9
Todd Helton x x x x x x x 7
Andruw Jones x x x x x x x 7
Jeff Kent x 1
David Ortiz x x x x x x 6
Manny Ramirez x x x x x x x 7
Alex Rodriguez x x x x x x x x 8
Scott Rolen x x x x x x 6
Curt Schilling x x x x x x x 7
Gary Sheffield x x x 3
Sammy Sosa x x x x x 5
Billy Wagner x x x x x x 6

Players need to be on at least 9 of 11 (over 75 percent) of ballots, so we would elect just Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Who would you vote in the Hall of Fame? You can see their career numbers here.