The baseball Hall of Fame added three new members yesterday. Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriquez will join the elite group of players in Cooperstown when they are inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame on July 30th.
I have no real issue with any of the players elected, but I will say that I’ve never been a Bagwell supporter. Bagwell got in on his 7th try while it took Raines the full 10 years to get elected. I have no idea why it took Raines so long to be elected, but he finally got in. Rodriquez was on the ballot for the first time in 2017. Rodriquez became the second catcher to be elected on his first ballot. The other was Johnny Bench.
I’d like to take a look at the players that didn’t get in. In his second year on the ballot Trevor Hoffman just missed getting in. Hoffman had 74% of the vote and missed getting in by five votes. With just a little bump he should find himself being inducted in 2018.
Vladimir Guerrero was on the ballot for the first time and also got very close to being elected. Guerrero got 71.7% of the vote and was just 15 votes short of getting in. Like Hoffman you think with a little bump next season Guerrero should be going in on the next ballot.
Edgar Martinez receiver his highest vote total since being on the ballot. In his 8th year Martinez got 58.6% of the vote and appeared on 259 ballots. Martinez has two year left on the ballot and you have to wonder if there’s enough time for Martinez to get the 73 votes needed to get into the Hall of Fame.
Interestingly in there 5th time on the ballot Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds made big jumps in the voting. Clemens went from 45.2% in 2016 to 54.1% yesterday while Bonds went from 44.3% in 2016 to 53.8% yesterday. No matter how you look at these two players it’s very clear that they both used performance enhancing drugs to help there game, but they continue to climb in the voting and have time to get elected. Now there’s no way I could ever support either of these guys, but with the crop of new voters now onboard it looks as though we’ll see Clemens and Bonds in the Hall of Fame eventually.
Rolling in 9th and 10th in the voting was Mike Mussina (51.8%) and Curt Schilling (45%). This was Mussina’s 4th year on the ballot and his vote total has increased every year. This was Schilling’s 5th year on the ballot, but his vote total dropped 7% from 2016 to 2017. Now I don’t buy either of these guys as Hall of Fame players. They where both very god and at times great, but neither of them sustained that greatness to the point where they should be in the Hall of Fame. With the path that Mussina is on it looks as though he’ll be voted in before his time on the ballot runs out. It was asked yesterday that if Schilling just kept his mouth shut would he be elected. It’s an interesting question as his vote total did drop this year and you have to wonder if voters will get back on board with him or if Schilling will say something else to turn more voters off.
Lee Smith was a hold over from the old rule and was in his 15th and final season on the ballot. Smith only received 34.2% of the vote and will now be moved to the old timers committee for consideration. Smith reached 50.6% back in 2012, but his totals dropped every year after that. Smith was a 7-time All-Star and won the at the time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year 3 times. Smith finished in the Top 10 of the Cy Young voting 4 times in his career. Smith led baseball in saves 4 times in his 18-year career. Smith was still a closer in the era when they had to pitch multiple innings to get a save and actually kind of led in to the specialization of the closers role. Being that Smith was a Chicago Cub for 8 seasons I always rooted for him to get in, but he just never got the support and I’m not sure the veteran’s committee will put him in.
Another first timer on the ballot was Manny Ramirez who received 23.8% of the vote. Ramirez is another interesting case as he has two failed drug tests on his record and part of the reason he retired was because he didn’t want to serve another suspension. Ramirez appeared on 105 ballots and I’d really like to know how these voters looked past not one, but two failed drug tests to vote for him. Ramirez has Hall of Fame numbers and if the new crop of voters decides that they don’t care if a player used a performance enhancing drug Ramirez has a very good chance to get into the Hall of Fame.
In his 7th year on the ballot Larry Walker got 21.9% of the vote. In his 8th year ion the ballot Fred McGriff got 21.7% of the vote. In his 4th year on the ballot Jeff Kent got 16.7% of the vote. While Walker and Kent each won an M.V.P. in there careers and McGriff was just 7 homers short of 500 I don’t think any of these three players will be getting into the Hall of Fame.
I need so much help understanding this next player and why his vote totals are so low. Gary Sheffield received just 13.3 % of the vote in his 3rd year on the ballot and it’s the first time his vote totals have went up. Sheffield is a 9-time All-Star, won a batting title and finished in the Top 10 of the M.V.P. voting seven times in his career. Sheffield is a career .292 hitter with 509 home runs and 253 steals. Sheffield did have some injury issues in his career, but he played in 22 seasons and 2576 career games. I have a difficult time understanding what a voter is looking at when they see Sheffield’s name on there ballot and don’t check it off. Sheffield was a better player than Walker, McGriff and Kent who finished just ahead of him in the voting and his career numbers are in line with what Ramirez did minus the failed drug tests. Take a look at how similar Sheffield’s numbers are to Vladimir Guerrero’s who looks like a sure bet to get elected next year. Sheffield is a Hall of Famer!
In his 2nd year on the ballot Billy Wagner receiver 10.2% of the vote. Wagner receiver 10.5% in 2016. I’m not sure Wagner will ever get the backing to get into the Hall of Fame, but he was a dominant closer for about an 8 year period. I’m not sure Hall of Fame voters know how to judge closers yet and with the new crop of voters being added it may change. I’m just not sure that Wagner will be on the ballot when that happens.
Another player that I’m not going to understand why his vote total is so low is Sammy Sosa. Sosa’s numbers jumped a little to 8.6%, but still far away from what he’d need to be elected. Now Sosa is someone who most if not all people believe took performance enhancing drugs, but he never failed a drug test and there was never the evidence brought against him like there was with Binds and Clemens. So why does Sosa struggle barely staying on the ballot while Bonds and Clemens have had a resurgence in there numbers? Sosa is still the only player on baseball history with three 60 home runs seasons. Think about that; not Hank Aaron, not Babe Ruth, not even Barry Bonds has three 60 plus home run seasons in his career. Sosa won an M.V.P. and has 609 career home runs, but yet he’s never receiver more than 12.5% of the vote for the Hall of Fame. Sosa has five more years on the ballot as long as he can stay above the 5% of the vote he needs to stay on the ballot. It’s a bit of a travesty that Bonds and Clemens have gained support while Sosa is still barely hanging on.
16 players didn’t receive the needed 5% percent to stay on the ballot. Jose Posada, Magglio Ordonez, Edgar Renteria, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Corey Blake, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Carlos Guillen, Derek Lee, Melvin Mora, Arthur Rhodes, Freddy Sanchez and Matt Stairs are the players who will come off the ballot.
There’s a quick recap of the Hall of Fame voting with some of my own opinion thrown in. I’d love to get your thoughts on the voting and who might or might not get into the Hall of Fame in the next few years.