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2021 IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot


Ted Schwerzler

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While having until January to cast my annual IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot, I decided to get it in before the holidays this year. Once again, the IBWAA is not part of the Official BBWAA vote to enshrine players in Cooperstown but with a large voting body this is a fun process to partake in each season.

The IBWAA selection process allows for 12 candidates to be voted. My previous ballots can be found here:

2018
2019
2020

I didn’t hit the 12 max but did decide to open up my restrictions a bit. I’ve never been a “Small Hall” type but keeping out those on the border doesn’t make much sense to me considering there’s always going to be more worthy players.

After Larry Walker and Derek Jeter were inducted last cycle, I have just three holdovers this time with seven new candidates. Let’s get into it:

Alex Rodriguez 113.7 fWAR

Arguably one of the best to ever play the game, Rodriguez rubbed plenty the wrong way, but his numbers are otherworldly. I’m still mad he missed 700 homers by just four, but the career .930 OPS is beyond impressive. Rodriguez also racked up three MVP awards and was a 14-time All-Star. He’s remade his image a bit after his playing career while being an analyst, but regardless of what you think about him, the talent was something that doesn’t come around often.

Curt Schilling: 79.7 fWAR

Bloody sock nonsense aside, Schilling is a three time Cy Young runner-up, and six-time All Star. He struck out 3,116 batters in his career and owns a 3.46 ERA while totaling more than 200 wins. Three World Series rings, an MVP, and a 2.23 postseason ERA do him favors as well. Since voting for him last year, Schilling has made plenty of splashes in the media. He's not well liked off the field, but the character clause is among the most dated pieces of inclusion into the Hall of Fame. On baseball merit alone, he's worthy of the nod.

Scott Rolen 70.1 fWAR

Vastly underappreciated, Rolen started as a Rookie of the Year winner, and went on to tally eight Gold Glove awards. He was a seven time All Star and among the best to ever field the Hot Corner. With an .855 career OPS, his bat more than does enough to supplement what was an exceptional defensive career.

Andruw Jones 67.1 fWAR

Jones's 17 year career is often going to be questioned as he held on for five uninspiring seasons to closer out his time as a big leaguer. That aside, the 10 year stretch from 199-2007 was one for the ages. With 10 Gold Glove's and five All Star appearances, he was easily among the greatest in the game for a decade.

Manny Ramirez 66.3 fWAR

In 2002 Manny Ramirez picked up his only batting title with a .349 average. He’s a career .312 hitter and has a .996 OPS. He’s a member of the 500 home run club with 555 and picked up MVP votes in nine-straight seasons. Ramirez won nine Silver Slugger’s and was a part of two World Series championship teams. One of the best pure hitters to ever step on the diamond, Ramirez is worthy of induction.

Gary Sheffield 62.1 fWAR

Sheffield grabbed his batting title with the San Diego Padres in 1992 with a .330 tally. His .907 OPS is borderline for induction, but the 509 career home runs is enough to get it done for me. Sheffield picked up nine All-Star appearances and won the Silver Slugger five times. He was part of the 1997 Florida Marlins World Series team and was consistently a middle-of-the-order hitter.

Sammy Sosa 60.1 fWAR

Giving baseball one of the best home run chases in history, Sammy Sosa tangled with Mark McGwire during the amazing 1998 season. Sosa won his MVP that season hitting 66 homers and finished his career with 609. Sosa’s .878 career OPS isn’t all that special, but I can’t continue to ignore the career home run tally.

David Ortiz 51.0 fWAR

It took a while for the Hall of Fame to make room for designated hitters, but David Ortiz is among the best of them. He’s been both an ALCS and World Series MVP while picking up three rings. His career 541 home runs is beyond impressive, and the fact that he finished his career at 40 with a 1.021 OPS continues to be among the best seasons ever.

Billy Wagner 24.0 fWAR

Relievers are very under-represented in the Hall of Fame and Billy Wagner is another good one to get in. His career 2.31 ERA is impressive, and the 11.9 K/9 was ahead of his time. Saves are an overrated metric, but Wagner has 422 of them. A seven-time All-Star, put him in.

Joe Nathan 19.5 fWAR

Not far off from the man above him, Nathan falls into the category of relievers needing to make their way to Cooperstown. He posted 377 saves and owned a 2.87 ERA. Nathan’s K/9 of 9.5 wasn’t spectacular, but he was named to six All-Star games of his own.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz 

Edited by Ted Schwerzler

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On 12/13/2021 at 2:05 PM, strumdatjag said:

Some of the dislike for Schilling is based on his conservative politics.  Gary Sheffield had a bad attitude, but that isn’t noted. 

Sheffield has the PED tag. So does Ortiz, and Sosa. To me, disliking media/journalists (Schilling) and using PED's (A-Rod, Sheffield, Ramirez, Ortiz, Bonds) should not be viewed similarly. Schilling's statements after his playing days are keeping him out, which seems patently unfair. 

If you're a "clean hall" type guy, this year I would vote for Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Todd Helton, Schilling, and perhaps Clemens, because there's no real evidence Clemens used Ped's. I'd maybe vote for Beuhrle and Hunter to keep them on the ballot another year, but neither are HOF worthy to me. 

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If I had a ballot, I think it would look like this:

1 Curt Schilling x
2 Barry Bonds x
3 Roger Clemens x
4 Scott Rolen x
5 Billy Wagner x
6 Todd Helton x
7 Andruw Jones x
8 Manny Ramirez x
9 Joe Nathan x
10 David Ortiz x
11 Alex Rodriguez x
12 Tim Hudson x
13 Omar Vizquel  
14 Jeff Kent  
15 Sammy Sosa  
16 Andy Pettitte  
17 Mark Buehrle  
18 Torii Hunter  
19 Bobby Abreu  
20 Gary Sheffield  
21 Carl Crawford  
22 Prince Fielder  
23 Ryan Howard  
24 Tim Lincecum  
25 Justin Morneau  
26 Jonathan Papelbon  
27 Jake Peavy  
28 A. J. Pierzynski  
29 Jimmy Rollins  
30 Mark Teixeira  
 
 

On the bubble, but no - Sammy Sosa, Jeff Kent, Bobby Abreu, Gary Sheffield. These guys were all steroid era players who rapidly declined when testing was implemented. If players show that kind of pattern, they're going to need more than the bare minimum to get in.

On the bubble, and yes - Tim Hudson, Joe Nathan, Billy Wagner. Hudson's career 56.5 bWAR is in that 50/50 historical category, but he was dominant to start his career and managed to have a couple really nice years after his prime to pad out the stats. Nathan was arguably the best closer in baseball for 6 years from 2004-2009 and returned to back it up for a couple more years with the Rangers. Wagner wasn't as dominant as Nathan, but he pitched a more innings and managed to have a peak bWAR of 19.8 across 7 seasons. Show me a reliever averaging nearly 3 WAR per season for 7 years and I'll tell you they're a Hall of Famer. 

If a player was so far above the threshold as to be automatic, I don't care about the PED usage during the steroid era. Clemens and Bonds needed those PEDs to more than double their value in order to not be basically automatic. I've changed and softened my stance on the issue. The fact is we don't know who used and MLB allowed it to happen and then leaked confidential testing documents. The NFL, NHL and NBA have all handled their PED issues far better.

Rodriguez initially gave me some pause. He cheated during the testing era, but you know what, he paid the price. A huge price for cheating. If a player wants to cheat now, that's fine. When they get caught and suspended and lose $40MM and a year of playing time, that's good enough for me.

 

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