The 2017 Major League Baseball Hall Of Fame Class Debated

On January 18th, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA) will announce the 2017 inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As the ballots were due by December 31, 2016, the inductees have essentially already been chosen, and, unlike in previous years, as the ballots are received by the Hall, a running vote tally is being released to the public, revealing some interesting trends. Among those trends is an increasing acceptance of the so-called “steroid era” players, as can be noted by an uptick in support for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Stance on the “Steroid Era”

While it is unlikely that either Bonds or Clemens will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, their names should end up on ballots in the low 60% range, a notable increase from the 44.3% for Bonds and the 45.2% for Clemens last year. Some have speculated that the induction into the hall by the Veterans Committee of former commissioner Bud Selig, who presided over the “steroid era,” has somehow given writers license to set aside their trepidations about voting for players from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

If the commissioner who ignored the issue at the time is in, then the players who took the performance enhancing drugs under his watch should get in also, or so the argument goes. The logic behind such supposition is flawed at best, but given that many writers don’t seem to apply logic to their ballots in the first place, it is not entirely surprising.

The real question here seems to be whether or not you think that Cooperstown is a place to immortalize good and virtuous men who played America’s Pastime, or whether you simply think the Hall of Fame is a museum that chronicles the history of the game of baseball by highlighting the important players, managers, executives, and historical moments. If you believe in the former, you’re deluding yourself a bit, but you’re likely to fall in the no PEDs camp. If you believe the latter, you’re probably less likely to be hung up on whether someone did or did not use PEDs in an era when it’s still not certain who did or didn’t use.

it does seem ridiculous, no matter which camp you find yourself in, to have a Hall of Fame that doesn’t include the greatest left-handed hitter of all time not named George Herman Ruth, who also happens to be the all-time leader in home runs, and that doesn’t include the greatest right-handed pitcher of the modern era wo trails only Cy Young – there’s an award named for him by the way – and Walter Johnson in WAR for pitchers. Now, it’s also ridiculous that the all-time hits king isn’t in the Hall of Fame either, but that’s ridiculous for an entirely different reason.

Rather than leaving players out of the Hall of Fame – such as Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose for gambling or suspected PED users – and letting important eras in the history of baseball fade out of memory, it seems it would be better for the future of the game to induct the players and then have the forum to explain why their induction was controversial. Let the visitor to the hall decide on their own, rather than hiding players they arguably should know about. What’s that line Winston Churchill borrowed from the philosopher George Santayana about history?

Railing Against Relievers

There are currently five relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame – Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Dennis Eckersly. Using the metric called JAWS, that was developed by Jay Joffee at Baseball Prospectus, which attempts to quantify both a player’s seven most productive seasons and the longevity of his career (a combo of WAR7 and WAR, essentially), only Dennis Eckersly has a JAWS over 40 – 50.4 to be exact – with the average for the five HOFers falling at 34.4.

To put these JAWS numbers for relief pitchers into perspective. Here are the leaders in JAWS and the average JAWS by position for Hall of Famers.

  • C is 61 for Johnny Bench with an average of 43.4
  • 1B is 90.0 for Lou Gehrig with an average of 54.2
  • 2B is 100.2 for Rogers Hornsby with an average of 56.9
  • SS is 98.2 for Honus Wagner with an average of 54.8
  • 3B is 82.5 for Mike Schmidt with an average of 55.1
  • LF is 96.2 for Ted Williams (Bonds has 117.6) with an average of 53.3
  • CF is 115.0 for Willie Mays with an average of 57.8
  • RF is 123.9 for Babe Ruth with an average of 58.1
  • SP is 127.5 for Walter Johnson with an average of 62.1

As you can see, the greatest relief pitcher currently in the Hall of Fame possesses a JAWS lower than the average of every other single position, with the exception of catcher. The very best relief pitcher isn’t worth as much in peak wins or in career wins as an average HOFer at every other position on the diamond, except catcher.

The notable relief pitchers, obtaining votes, on this year’s ballot are Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner. Both Wagner and Hoffman have JAWS of 24.0, ten points lower than the average for worst positon represented in the Hall. Each ranks slightly higher than Fingers and slightly lower than Sutter. Grouped together with them in that window between Fingers and Sutter are such names as Kent Tekulve and Dan Quissenberry with their submariner deliveries, and let us not forget Jeff Fassaro. Oh, you already did?

It’s probably questionable why any of the five current relievers got in the hall in the first place, with the possible exception of Eck, but until Mariano Rivera, with the best ERA+ of all time reaches the ballot, we can skip over relief pitchers.

Forget First Timers This Year

There are players with legitimate cases (and objections) for the Hall of Fame on the ballot for the first time this year. Most notably, those include Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Vladimir Guerrero. However, because the Baseball Writers Association limits the number of players any given writer can vote for to ten, (for some completely arbitrary and capricious reason), first timers need to be put on hold this year until the backlog of worthy HOFers is cleared out.

Who’s on the Ballot?

The players who have reached the 5% threshold in all previous years to remain on the ballot are as follows:

Lee Smith                           15th year on the ballot (last time)

Tim Raines                         10th year on the ballot (last time)

Edgar Martinez                   8th year on the ballot

Fred McGriff                       8th year on the ballot

Jeff Bagwell                        7th year on the ballot

Larry Walker                       7th year on the ballot

Curt Shilling                        5th year on the ballot

Roger Clemens                  5th year on the ballot

Barry Bonds                       5th year on the ballot

Sammy Sosa                      5th year on the ballot

Mike Mussina                     4th year on the ballot

Jeff Kent                             4th year on the ballot

Gary Sheffield                    3rd year on the ballot

Trevor Hoffman                  2nd year on the ballot

Billy Wagner                       2nd year on the ballot

Applying the relief pitcher caveat from above eliminates Lee Smith, Trevor Hoffman, and Billy Wagner, leaving twelve candidates for consideration in 2017. Of the remaining twelve candidates, a legitimate argument can be made for in or out, depending on the criteria applied – PED use and/or suspicion being the number one objection by some writers. Since that objection has already been addressed here, we’ll proceed by looking at performance on the field only.

Who’s In and Who’s on the Fence?

Of the twelve remaining returning candidates after the relief pitchers are removed, Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent are strong candidates who should be inducted. Fred McGriff, Larry Walker, Curt Shilling, Sammy Sosa, and Gary Sheffield are also strong candidates, but require a bit more analysis to determine in or out.

He’s In

Tim Raines

The objection historically to Tim Raines’ induction has been that while he had a very high peak to his career, he didn’t maintain that level of play over the course of his entire career. UM, ok. That peak period compiled a WAR7 of 42.2 which ranks 10th all-time among LF, with only Pete Rose and Barry bonds not in the Hall of Fame. His JAWS ranks 8th all-time among LF, with again only Rose and Bonds not in the hall. And his overall positional WAR also ranks 8th all-time among LF, this time behind Manny Ramirez (first time on the ballot this year), Rose, and Bonds as the only non-HOFers.

As a career .294/.385/.425 hitter, he accumulated 2,605 hits and walked 1,330 times. That’s right. He got on base 3,935 times. And what did he do when he got on base? Well, he stole 808 bases while only being caught 146 times. That’s an 84.45% success rate. His total stolen bases rank 5th all-time behind Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, Billy Hamilton, and Ty Cobb. (Billy Hamilton?)

In 1983, arguably Raines’ best season, he hit .298/.393/.429 with 90 SB and 133 R. An average Raines season was .294/.385/.426 with 52 SB and 102 R. Would you like even “average” Raines on your fantasy team next season?

For a more in-depth argument for Raines candidacy, Jonah Keri has been on a crusade this year. Check out his CBS Sports article – I’m in total agreement. Tim Raines deserves to be in Cooperstown.

Edgar Martinez

Just a DH. Most of the arguments against Edgar Martinez being a HOFer revolve around some variation of the premise that there are no DH in currently, therefore he doesn’t get in. Ask yourself if you can imagine any number of star-struck baseball writers making the same argument five years from now when David Ortiz’s name appears on the ballot.

So, let’s say you have Player A who played 18 years and hit .312/.416/.515 for his career with 147 OPS+, 68.3 WAR, 43.6 WAR7, and 56.0 JAWS, which ranks 11th / 13th / and 11th respectively all-time at the position he played most.

Player B played 20 years and hit .290/.388/.552 with 141 OPS+, 55.4 WAR, 35.0 WAR7, and 45.2 JAWS which ranks 27th / 34th / and 29th respectively all-time at the position he played most.

Which one do you want? Player A is better in every single category except slugging. Different era. Different ball park. You guessed it. Player A is Edgar Martinez while Player B is David Ortiz.

The rebuttal to this argument (aside from you’re an egghead for using advanced metrics) is that Ortiz was “clutch” and that he hit 541 HR compared to 309 for Edgar. Well, as for “clutch;” there’s no such thing, but here are numbers against Mariano Rivera – .579/.652/1,053 in 28 PA for Edgar and .342/.500/.875 in 40 PA for Pappi. And as for the HR, I’m not going to discount those but I do think it would be interesting for Edgar to have played most of his home games in Fenway and Ortiz to have played all his home games in the Kingdome to get a little perspective.

In his eighth season on the ballot, the second Seattle Mariner should arrive in Cooperstown.

Jeff Bagwell

The awesome 1B for the Houston Astros and long-time member of the Killer B’s appeared on 71.6% of ballots in his sixth year of eligibility and should crack the 75% threshold and get in this year. Bagwelll ranks 5th all-time in WAR at 1B with 79.5, 5th in WAR7 at 48.2, and 6th in JAWS at 63.9. In each of those categories, only Albert Pujols who ranks 1st / 1st / and 2nd is not in the Hall of Fame and that’s because he’s still playing.

So durable that he played in 161 or 162 games in six of his fifteen seasons, his average season, therefore, is identical to his career totals, with a slash line of .297/.408/.540. Throw in 2,314 hits and 449 HR and Jeff Bagwell should be vacationing in upstate New York this summer.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens

I’m lumping Bonds and Clemens together here because they are together the most controversial of the “steroid era” candidates. It’s worth noting that neither ever failed a drug test and only one of them had their head grow to strange dimensions in his mid-thirties.

If one were to guess, Bonds probably started using something to grow his head around 1999, the year after Mark McGwire hit 70 HR. It has been rumored that Bonds didn’t like that McGwire, who he thought of as an inferior hitter to himself, getting all the attention and so he vowed to “show them.” Prior to 2000, Bonds had hit over 40 HR three times in his entire career. Starting in 2000, he hit over 40 HR for five consecutive years, including the ridiculous 73 in 2001.

But, as has often been pointed out, at the turning point in Bonds’ career, pre-1999, he was just shy of 2000 hits (1917) and had already joined the 400/400 club, of which there are exactly zero in the Hall of Fame because no one else has ever done that. He was on an arc for the Hall before the PED suspicion.  By the end of his career, Bonds would be the Home Run King and accumulate the second most WAR in the history of the game, ever so slightly behind Babe Ruth. Bonds is in.

As for Clemens, it’s essentially the same story. In two of his last four seasons in Boston (1993 and 1995) his ERA sails north of 4.0 and he fails to win more than 11 games in four straight seasons. What is interesting though is that his ERA+ never fell below league average. At age 30, the 4.46 ERA turned in by the Rocket was still good enough for a 104 ERA+. Perhaps the ballooning ERA had more to do with facing juiced hitters than any real decline in skill. But it’s also worth noting that we’ve seen elite pitchers drop off for a few years and then bounce back. Justin Verlander comes to mind as a recent example.

There is no denying the fact that Clemens bounced back pretty dramatically in his first season in Toronto in 1997 to win his fourth Cy Young Award. But he had won three and an MVP before the Toronto years. To put that in perspective, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, and Pedro Martinez “only” won three for the entire career. Similarly to Bonds, if you just take Clemens years in Boston, he’s well on the way to Cooperstown.

With career numbers of 354 Wins (9th all-time and more realistically 3rd in the modern era behind Warren Spahn and Greg Maddux), 4,672 K (behind only Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson), and an adjusted ERA+ of 143, or 11th all time, makes Clemens a slam dunk.

Mike Mussina

Standing at the head of the last class of pitchers to be covered almost exclusively by “old school” baseball writers, Mussina was often criticized until his last season for never winning 20 games. He won 19 twice and 18 twice and his average win total over the course of his career was 17, but he never achieved the magical round number of 20 until the year he hung up his cleats.

It can also be conceded that Moose was never the best pitcher in baseball, but then he pitched at the same time as Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson. Oh, and Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. That’s five Hall of Famers and Clemens, who’s already been discussed.

Ironically, those who dismissed Mussina for not winning 20 games in a season seem to have overlooked the fact that he racked up 270 of those suckers over 18 years in the majors. He is tied for 32nd all-time in wins, not gaudy but impressive given baseball’s 104-year history in its modern constitution. If inducted, Mussina’s 270-win total would rank 29th, just above Jim Palmer and Bob Feller and a full 17 wins higher than the average HOFer.

Another knock against Mussina is an ERA that by today’s standards seems high at 3.68 for his career. What that doesn’t immediately tell you, though, is that he pitched his entire career in the American League East during the most offensively prodigious period in the game’s history. As a member of the Baltimore Orioles he would have faced the Boston Red Sox 19 times a year and the New York Yankees 19 times a year. His move to the Bronx lightened the load some, but his old Orioles team wasn’t all that bad either.

In the midst of all that offense, Mussina’s ERA+ was 123, or roughly 18% better than the league (in ERA+, unlike ERA-, the pitcher is considered 100 and the comparison is to the league). Historically this makes him the 86th best pitcher at limiting runs all-time. To give some perspective, three pretty famous current pitchers also have an ERA+ of 123 – Madison Bumgarner, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander.

Throw in 2,813 K, which is 10 ahead of some guy named Cy Young and ranks 19th all-time, and you have yourself a Hall of Famer.

Jeff Kent

Let’s be clear on one thing. Jeff Kent was a terrible fielding second baseman. Over the course of his 17 seasons, his glove cost his teams 53 runs, according to defensive runs saved (Rdrs) at Baseball Reference. Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) over at Fan Graphs is a bit more forgiving, docking him only 30.6 runs. But then Jeff Kent wasn’t really known for his web gems, was he?

When he wasn’t “washing his truck” or feuding with Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent was usually mashing a baseball. In fact, he mashed a baseball more than any 2B in the history of the game, 377 to be exact. That’s 76 more than Rogers Hornsby, 86 more than Craig Biggio, and 95 more than Ryne Sandberg. One could argue that Jeff Kent was the prototype for power at second in a way that Cal Ripkin and later Alex Rodriguez would be at short. Just think Robinson Cano.

A lifetime .290 hitter, Kent also ranks 3rd all-time at second in RBI (I know, I know) and 12th in runs. Only Lou Whitaker has scored more runs at the position and not been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

On the flip side, the Sabermetric numbers really don’t support Kent’s candidacy. His 55.2 WAR is well below the 69.3 average for the positon in the hall. But that didn’t stop the Veteran’s Committee from inducting Bill Mazeroski with a 36.2 WAR, based largely on one home run in the 1960 World Series that propelled the Pittsburgh Pirates over the New York Yankees in walk off fashion in game seven. WAR7 is even less forgiving at 35.6 and a ranking of 27th among HOF at 2B. And as a result of the low WAR7 factor, his JAWS comes in 21st at 45.4.

Jeff Kent is one of the rare cases when I’m going to weight some of the more conventional numbers over the advanced stats, but I also wouldn’t expend too much energy arguing the point. I think Jeff Kent should be in, but I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep if he isn’t.

He’s on the Fence

Fred McGriff

Do you remember back when 500 HR automatically got you into the Hall of Fame? Well, Crime Dog Fred McGriff hit 493 in his career and the baseball writers have been very adamant about those missing 7 dingers. Ironic given that the addition of Gary Sheffield (509), David Ortiz (541), Manny Ramirez (555), Rafael Palmiero (559), Mark McGwire (583), Jim Thome (612), Ken Griffey, Jr. (630), Alex Rodriguez (696), and Barry Bonds (762) to the 500+ HR club are met with varying degrees of skepticism and/or acceptance as “legitimate” or “illegitimate.”

Anyway. McGriff’s counting numbers seem less impressive than those of Kent, mostly because of the positions he played. Kent played second while McGriff played first. Three hundred and seventy-seven homers puts Kent in first place at his position, whereas 493 HR places McGriff in 12th at his, admittedly slightly ahead of Jeff Bagwell who I have in.

The career line is very nice. He hit .284/.377/.509 with 2,490 hits and the aforementioned 493 HR. He hit 30+ HR in seven consecutive seasons between his age 24 and age 30 seasons. But even so, his WAR7 only ranks 31st among 1B. His WAR is very similar, ranking 29th at 1B with 52.4, a full 13.5 lower than the average HOFer at his position.

For all of those who think I’m being hypocritical for inducting Jeff Kent but leaving out the Crime Dog, feel free to flip them. Again, I don’t feel strongly either way, but I think Fred McGriff is borderline and 79.1% of the writers agreed with me in 2016. We’ll see what happens in 2017.

Larry Walker

The shortcut knee-jerk reaction to Larry Walker’s candidacy is one word – Coors – not the Rocky Mountain Spring Water Coors, but the mile high, thin air, pre-humidor, band box stadium sponsored by Coors. The quintessential example of the Coors-effect is, indeed, Walker’s best season, 1997, when he hit .366/.452/.720 with 49 HR, 130 RBI, 143 R, and 33 SB. Unreal and, in hindsight, ridiculous.

A quick glance at Walker’s career home and away splits confirms what many suspect and really validates the skepticism about whether or not Walker is Hall of Fame worthy. Walker played 15 ½ years of his 17-year career in Colorado. At home he hit .348/.431/.637 with 215 HR, 747 RBI, 789 R, and 121 SB. On the road Walker’s numbers drop to .278/.370/.495 with 168 HR, 564 RBI, 566 R, and 109 SB.

While the combination of 350+ HR and 230 SB is compelling, it’s hard to ignore a 70-point drop in BA and a 60-point drop in OBP and a 140-point drop in slugging when playing in a ball park at sea level. The advanced metrics are there – 72.6 WAR, 10th all-time for RF – but it’s difficult to shake out how much of that is real and how much of that is a ball park primed for offense in the middle of an offensive era.

Maybe we should treat the Coors effect the same way we tend to treat the steroid suspects, either all in or all out. Who knows? But, doubling Walker’s road numbers isn’t quite Hall of Fame worthy for an outfielder, so I’m going to say borderline at best, probably just out.

Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling’s career is assessed mostly on the basis of his post-season performance, helping the Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series and bringing the World Series Championship back to Boston for the first time in 86 years in the Fall of 2004. Who can forget the bloody sock in game six of the ALCS against the Yankees that same year?

Unlike Mike Mussina, Schilling won 20+ games three times within the span of four years – twice with the Diamondbacks and once with the Red Sox. But, also unlike Mussina, he recorded six seasons after becoming a starter for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1992 in which he failed to win double digits. He was never the best pitcher in baseball (but neither was Mussina), but also, after signing with Arizona, he wasn’t ever again even the best pitcher on his own team. Those accolades would go to one Randy Johnson and later one Pedro Martinez. And, for what awards are worth, he never won the Cy Young, although he was runner up three times, twice to the Big Unit on his own team.

His ERA+ is better than Mussina’s at 127, but Schilling spent the majority of his career in the National League, logging only those last four years in the AL East (not counting coming up with the Baltimore Orioles when he was not a starter). Yes, there are Hall of Fame pitchers with fewer career wins than 216 – most notably John Smoltz, who was a reliever for several years following Tommy John surgery, Don Drysdale, and famously Sandy Koufax – but not many.

One area in which Schilling excelled was in inducing the swing and miss. Schilling’s 3,116 K’s rank 15th all-time, with Clemens being the only one ahead of him not in the hall. He occupies pretty rarefied air with Bob Gibson (three times) and Sandy Koufax (twice), on the leaderboard of modern pitchers to strike out over 20 hitters in a World Series. So at his best, Schilling could be very, very good. The questions are whether or not he was at his best long enough and consistently enough.

Ultimately, and unfairly, it may come down to personality. A lot of people don’t like Curt Schilling and some of those people also have votes. For me, he’s borderline by the numbers, but should probably be in.

Sammy Sosa

Does anyone remember Dave Kingman? Remembered mostly as a Chicago Cub, he also played with the New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, and Oakland A’s in the mid-seventies to late eighties. Kingman hit over 30 HR seven times, including 48 in 1979, to then finish his career with 442. This was back in a time when a lot fewer folks had hit 400+. The thing with Kingman though, that was about all he could do. His career line is .236/.302/.478. He was terrible in the field and his lifetime WAR added up to just 17.3.

Dave Kingman may be the poor man’s Sammy Sosa, or maybe Sammy Sosa is a rich man’s Dave Kingman. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit. But what do we remember Sosa for? Homers.

Sosa hit 609 HR and is the only hitter in history to hit 50+ in five consecutive seasons and the only hitter in history to record 60+ three times. Not Babe Ruth. Not Willie Mays. Not Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

His lifetime line is .273/.344/.534 with those 609 HR and 2,408 hits. He even stole 234 bases. But, his career WAR is 58.4, which ranks 23rd among right fielders and is 15.5 points below average for Hall of Fame members at that positon. His peak seven years (WAR7) puts him behind Larry Walker, Shoeless Joe Jackson and nine HOFers. His peak was historically high while his breadth (at least by the advanced metrics) may be a bit short.

The fact of the matter is that many current fans and writers have forgotten the images of Sosa sprinting in from right field at Wrigley Field or hopping around the bases after hitting yet another towering home run and have replaced them with memories of rubber balls bouncing all over the infield from a shattered bat or the man suddenly forgetting how to speak English before a joint session of Congress.

In 2016, Sosa had fallen to appearing on only 7.0% of ballots. He, maybe even more than Bonds or Clemens has felt the brunt of the writers’ wrath for supposed steroid use. Ironically, if he had hit ten fewer home runs each of those years, he might actually be on the cusp of election to the Hall. He’s not getting in this year, but if we’re going to stay truly PED neutral, he probably deserves to get in.

Sorry Dave Kingman. You don’t.

Gary Sheffield

There’s been an odd argument among pundits on television, in print, and on podcasts leading up to the revealing of the 2017 Hall of Fame Class. It goes something like, “was that hitter FEARED?” I mean, I guess I get it. Like in 2004 when Barry Bonds drew a walk (many of them intentional) 232 times at a 34% clip leading to an insane .609 OBP. That’s probably a little bit of fear. I’m just not certain how you measure the “fear factor.”

But if it could be measured at the point the hitter steps into the batter’s box, Gary Sheffield probably scored high on the fear scale. Bonds would waggle his bat. Sheffield would wave and then jerk and jolt his bad, not so much swinging as hurling the bat at the ball. Oh, if we only had Statcast then for exit velocity.

With a lifetime .292/.393/.514 slash line and 2,689 hits, 509 HR, and 253 SB, Sheffield has the resume that used to get a player into Cooperstown without a moments’ hesitation. But then there was BALCO and the cream and the clear and Sheffield’s friendship with Bonds and things aren’t so simple any more. Last year, Sheffield was only slightly more popular than Sosa, appearing on only 11.6% of the ballots.

To his credit, Sheffield ranks 19th in WAR among right fielders, a position with 24 members in the Hall and a skewed average by the likes of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, and Frank Robinson.

I tend to lean towards inducting Sheffield. He was certainly one of the more colorful players and he put up the numbers. He probably won’t get in though.

We’ll See on January 18th

MLB Network is planning a live show on Wednesday, January 18th at 3:00 p.m. est. for the Hall of Fame Election Announcement. Of the players I have as in, I’d be surprised if any besides Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell actually get in. I also wouldn’t be surprised if none of the borderline players go in either, with the possible exception of Curt Schilling. From the first timers who I didn’t consider, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Ivan Rodriguez are the most likely to garner the most votes. Oh, and Trevor Hoffman will probably get it.

It should be interesting.

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About Brian Hight 105 Articles
Brian Hight lives in Seattle and writes primarily about MLB and the local Seattle Mariners, with a focus on advanced analytics. Occasionally, he delves into the NFL and the NBA, also with an emphasis on advanced statistics. He’s currently pursuing a Certificate in Data Analysis online from Microsoft, where he hopes to create a prediction model for baseball outcomes for his capstone project.


  1. First, delete from the offerings all PED users: so no Clemens, no Bonds, no Sheffield, no Rodriguez, no Sosa, no Martinez, and maybe no Bagwell. Tom Verducci in Sports Illustrated explains very well how all arguments to support cheating are false. Selig argument false, they are good enough false, everyone cheats false, but others cheated false….

    WAR is false too. Would you measure a javelin throw by waling it off? That’s using WAR to evaluate how good a player is, or why.

    So go by averages, slashes, totals, game impact, playing style, character. Then votes are: Raines, Guerrero, then maybe Schilling, Mussina, Walker, Kent, McGriff, Hoffman/Smith (if you want Rivera in). Me, it’s Raines, Guerrero, Schilling, McGriff, Walker, rest I’d have to really think about.

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