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Tracking Former Twins on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Twins Daily Contributor

Next week, Major League Baseball and the National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results from this year's voting cycle. Plenty of former Twins are on the ballot, but do any of them have a chance at Cooperstown?


To be elected to Cooperstown, a player must be named on 75% of the ballots submitted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Players remain eligible for ten years as long as they continue to receive a minimum of 5% of the vote. Some former Twins players are sitting dangerously close to falling off the ballot. 

David Ortiz, DH
Cooperstown Case
Ortiz is currently one of three players trending at over 75% of the known ballots, and he has the highest vote total with 83.5% of the vote. Twins fans are well aware of Ortiz and his case for Cooperstown as he went on to a legendary Red Sox career after Minnesota released him following the 2002 season. Entering this voting cycle, Ortiz's first ballot election wasn't guaranteed because his transition from Twins castoff to legendary slugger came under a cloud of steroid suspicion. It doesn't seem like those suspicions will keep him from being elected as it has with other players on the ballot. 

Joe Nathan, RP 
Cooperstown Case
Nathan is one of the best relievers in baseball history, but relief pitchers are highly unrepresented in Cooperstown. It also means Nathan is dangerously close to falling off the ballot because of a slew of other worthy candidates on the ballot and a 10-vote limit. Through 170 ballots, Nathan has four votes (2.4%) which means he likely needs another 16 votes to reach the 5% threshold to stay on the ballot for 2023. Billy Wagner, another reliever, has comparable numbers to Nathan, and he is tracking at over 47%. Nathan has a Hall of Fame resume, but he may have to wait for a committee vote in the years ahead. 

Torii Hunter, OF
Cooperstown Case
Hunter's case is unique because of how he started and ended his career. He was an elite defender who won nine straight Gold Glove awards as a younger player. In his career's second-half, he became an improved hitter as he posted a 120 OPS+ from 2006-2013. Hunter received 8.1% of the vote in 2021, his first year on the ballot. This season, he has three votes (1.8%), and he will need 17 more votes to reach the 5% threshold. Hunter's closest comparison on the ballot may be Andruw Jones, also known as an elite defender, and he is tracking at over 48% of the known votes.

Justin Morneau, 1B
Cooperstown Case
Morneau collected many accolades throughout his big-league career, including an AL MVP Award and an NL Batting Title. Those accomplishments likely will not be enough to keep him on the ballot past 2022, as he currently has one vote, and he will need to be listed on 19 other ballots to reach 5%. Morneau had some great moments throughout his career, but there's no question that one slide in Toronto changed the course of his career.

AJ Pierzynski, C
Cooperstown Case
Pierzynski is best known in Twins Territory for being part of one of the most famous trades in team history. He'd go on to have a long career at a grueling defensive position, and some writers may consider this as part of the voting process. Like Morneau, he has one vote so far, and he would need a significant boost in the remaining ballots to reach 5%. 

Are the results playing out as you expected? Do you think Nathan or Hunter deserves to stay on the ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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I couldn't (and wouldn't) say which of them deserves to be in the Hall, I can only vote my conscience.  This isn't meant that any of these players who I would not place a vote for weren't amazing baseball players.  They were, and their careers showed just that.

Here's who I would list a vote for if I was Sports Writer Talking Head King for a Day :) :

  • Ortiz: Yes
  • Nathan: Yes
  • Hunter: No
  • Morneau: No
  • Pierzynski: No
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There's a new standard: if Harold Baines made the Hall, X should go in. OK, that's not my standard, but whaddya gonna do? It's a thought experiment.

X definitely includes Nathan and Hunter. Not AJ, and not Morneau. I'm only sorry about one of those last two. If you take Morneau's talent and put it in AJ's games played you'd have a surefire HOFer.

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Yes to Ortiz. 

Yes to Nathan based on the changes of the game the last 10-20yrs and how good he was and how dominate and how he ranks against some other RP in and being considered. At worst, he should get enough votes to remain on the ballot for a while for further consideration. 

Maybe to Hunter. There was a tremendous OP about his consideration and value about a month ago that really gives pause when you look at awards, numbers and accomplishments and how he ranked  vs CF's already enshrined. Seems like an obvious choice. Then you look at things like career BA and OPS and you just aren't as sure. I do enjoy the "if Harold Baines deserved it" argument and there's something to be said for that. I think he's worthy, but he might be a "just worthy" candidate who may need a couple years on the ballot for voters to reflect and appreciate his career more.

No to Justin and AJ. 

AJ had a long, productive and excellent career. I think he was often undervalued. And maybe I'm wrong, but it didn't appear "special" enough to warrant the HOF.

Justin is a HOF guy, teammate, representative of MLB, etc. He WAS "special" on the field. He was probably on his way to a potential HOF type career before he/it was curtailed by his concussions. The "what could have been" mantra is well known to even younger Twins fans when you reflect on Oliva, Puckett, Koskie, Mauer and the recently retired Liriano. We should probably also include Santana in the conversation. Now, Puckett made it. Oliva finally did. And if Morneau had been a catcher, SS, CF, or even a quality RF the discussion of a career shortened due to injury might be different. But I think his being  1B ...and a damn fine one...will exclude him from the "what if" worthy of consideration formula. It may not be fair, but it's reality. 

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Ortiz and Nathan. That is it. 

Ortiz is only hindered by the obtuse roid thing. And not that much.  Soon, the younger voters will vote all the roiders in if they are on a ballot. The younger the fan, the less they seem to care about cheating. I still like the Hall of Shame room in the Hall of Fame (Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, Rose, Shoeless Joe, etc), and a transitional hallway for the unconvicted/unconfessed, but head that swolt twice normal size (ala Bonds)

Nathan flat out deserves it. When Starters don't start, what is the Hall to do then. Great Relievers flat out win and save games, in the regular season and playoffs. They need to be recognized and inducted in, too. Nathan is one of those.

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The writers are getting alittle softer on the criteria of voting players into hof ... Great players deserves the hall of fame , not good ... 

Rose as a PLAYER  ( Charlie hustle ) deserves hall of fame  or shame as someone put it  ,, he got caught cheating after a great career 

the writers  follow their divisions or league more closely and know the players better  , fans do the same thing ... they either follow a American league or national league venues ,,,  heard it many times in my travels  , I don't know that player that well I only follow players in my division or league 

Are writers true fans of the game , do they have a passion exclusively  to baseball , are they professionals  or just sports writers that have been given the prestigious honor to vote ballots for hof .

If Nathan and hunter do not  get the 5 percent  for next year ,,, that's enough to prove my point ,,, 

Hunter has gold gloves ,,  that should receive some recognition  ..

Nathan was good but how great I'm not sure but he still deserves to be on the ballot ...

They both should be recognized  for a few years at least on the hall of fame ballot in my opinion ...

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This is a long but fascinating comparative exercise regarding Nathan's suitability, or not, for HOF, along with a closing segment on Johan Santana. Great stuff, history, anecdotes, stats, and overall HOF voting principles. Food for thought. For me, Nathan's abysmal post season numbers, though small volume, moves the needle against HOF.



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