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  • Running Down the Hall (of Fame Ballot): 2021 Edition

    Cody Christie

    Every year, there is plenty to debate when it comes to baseball who should or shouldn’t be elected to Cooperstown’s hallowed halls. Last year, there were two players inducted from the BWAA ballot, Derek Jeter and Larry Walker. This year’s ballot is full of a lot of question marks and there is a chance that no players are inducted when results are announced in the coming days.

    Image courtesy of © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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    Over the last handful of years, there has been an unclogging of the ballot, especially since voters are limited to 10 names per ballot. This has allowed the writers to take a longer look at some of the other top candidates that remain. If I were lucky enough to have a ballot, this is how I would vote:

    Class of 2021

    I usually predict the players to be elected in any given voting cycle, but this year, it doesn’t appear any candidate will cross the 75% threshold. At last check, Curt Schilling was the closest candidate, however, his off the field behavior will likely keep him from reaching that mark in 2021. Many players are making big jumps this year, but they all will likely have to wait until 2022 to get the famous call from Cooperstown.

    Future Inductees

    Scott Rolen (2020 Results: 35.3%, 4th Year)

    Rolen is a new addition to my ballot this year and I added him for a variety of reasons. He might have been the best third base defender of his era and he had the offensive skills to warrant consideration for baseball’s highest honor. His case is similar to last year’s inductee, Larry Walker, who was helped by strong defensive numbers since he didn’t have the offensive counting stats that usually lead to induction. His career WAR, Peak WAR, and JAWS are all higher than the average of the current HOF third basemen. With the current ballots revealed, Rolen has made a big jump which should put him close to being elected on the 2022 ballot.

    Billy Wagner (2020 Results: 31.7%, 6th Year)

    Baseball is constantly evolving, and relief pitchers have been a group underrepresented when it comes to HOF election. Wagner is the best reliever not yet elected to Cooperstown and he put up numbers better than some of those already enshrined. He holds the record for highest strikeout rate of any pitcher with a minimum of 800 innings pitched. However, his innings total is well below other enshrined relievers, so he is going to have to rely on rate stats. He does have the most strikeouts among left-handed relievers. Former Twin Joe Nathan will be paying close attention to Wagner’s case in the coming years.

    May Never Get In (But Still On My Ballot)

    Andrew Jones (19.4%, 4th Year), Roger Clemens (61.0%, 9th Year), Barry Bonds (60.7%, 9th Year)

    These three players are tough pencil in for a variety of reasons. Jones was one of the best defensive players of all-time and he has gained a lot of support during the current voting cycle as he will likely end with around 40% of the vote. There’s no question that Clemens and Bonds are two of the best players to ever play the game. However, steroid use is part of their story and some voters have not been able to ignore that fact. Outside of baseball, Bonds and Jones have been accused of domestic abuse while Clemens is accused of having an affair with a much younger woman. Bonds and Clemens are trending at over 70% of the vote so far, but it would take a big jump on the remaining ballots to clear 75%.

    To provide transparency, I removed Omar Vizquel from my ballot this year as MLB continues to investigate some of his off-field behavior including domestic abuse. He was a borderline candidate, and these issues were enough to take him off.

    To see the full 2021 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot, CLICK HERE. On January 26, the BBWAA will announce the results of the 2021 Hall of Fame balloting. Any players chosen will be inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend starting on Sunday, July 25 at 12:30 pm CST. This would also include last year’s class of 2020.

    Who makes your Hall of Fame ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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    I think I would go


    Bonds. Best plate discipline we will ever see.

    Clemens. Awful human being, but an incredible pitcher.

    Schilling. Similar to Clemens, but slightly worse stats and no roids.

    Rolen. Great two way player, and was a key part of a World Series winner.

    Helton. Yes, Colorado, but great career.

    Andruw Jones. Great defender AND slugger? (How is this guy so underappreciated!?!)

    Billy Wagner. Just remember his 100+ fastball... with that delivery...... unhittable.

    Sheffield. Never got suspended, and somebody has to make it from that Marlins team!

    Sosa. What a fun player to watch. Again, never suspended by MLB.


    Kent and Pettitte are only other contenders for me

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    It really is a poor list compared to the last few years.  No one on this list jumps out at me.  I am not a Clemens and Bonds supporter.  When I look at Rolen I think Ken Boyer who never made the hall, but deserved it as much as Rolen.  There are a lot of good players not in the hall, but I am not sad about that.  


    Once in the hall players tend to be forgotten and we move to the next list.  None of the players get the annual attention of Bonds, Clemens, Rose, Jackson.  Controversy feeds the headlines.


    I would be content to see no one added.  In many ways I am more interested in the 


    However many of these will get in.  I looked ahead at the next ballots and 2022 will be interesting because Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz will get the attention and Joe Nathan will slot quietly behind them.  If those two go in Clemens and Bonds have to as well.


    2023 headliner is Carlos Beltran - he sealed his fate in Houston and no one else is interesting so it is a good year for those like Rolen to get the call. 


    2024 has Adrian Beltre - sure thing and Joe Mauer.  Boy am I curious how Mauer will be perceived. 


    2025 has CC Sabathia and Ichiro Suzuki - they have to make it. 


    2022 could actually have a very large induction number because of the era committees, ""In view of these concerns, the board of directors has decided that the Golden Days Committee and the Early Days Committee will instead meet during the winter of 2021."

    Both the Golden Days (candidates whose most indelible contributions came between 1950-69) and Early Baseball (contributions prior to '50) Era Committees were scheduled to vote this winter on potential Hall of Fame candidates who were not previously elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America or a different veterans committee. Those two committees will now vote in the winter of 2021, with the Today's Game Era (1988-present) Committee's vote postponed until the winter of '22 and the Modern Baseball Era (1970-87) Committee moved to the winter of '23." mlb.com  


    There will be three eras being considered at the same time - go Tony Oliva!


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    I think it’s time for HOF to consider steroid types who would have made it without the ‘roids”(Bonds and Clemons) as well as reinstating Pete Rose - so in that context consider this -

    Schilling’s “behavior” is merely the fact that he is an unabashed conservative politically and the sportswriters tend to lean left. OK - Curt is beyond a mainstream Rob Portman/Marco Rubio type of conservative. He recently posted comments that seemed to border on support for the crazy nuts who attacked the Capitol. He owns WW2 memorabilia which includes Nazi stuff (SS uniforms etc), which is not a popular hobby. If his claim is true that AIG canceled his insurance over his “social media profile” (cancel-culture run amuck), then it is unlikely that liberal-leaning sportswriters will overlook him. His baseball career stats, however, are HOF caliber, and he’s still a much nicer guy than HOFers Ty Cobb, Cap Anson, Tris Speaker ...(and by the way don’t purge the past either). Hope that rant doesn’t disturb the more pure of heart.

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    I'd vote for Rolen; he was a truly great player, despite the injuries. He was a better player than Ken Boyer (who I do think is a fringe Hall candidate who hasn't gotten the consideration he deserves). Rolen was a better hitter, even in the context of their eras and arguably a better defender too. Rolen wasn't just a good defender, he was a great one, the standard by which everyone else was measured by during his time. The only knock against Rolen is he played at the same time as Adrian Beltre, who was significantly healthier. Rolen was the better player IMHO (thought not by all that much), but Beltre's ability to stay on the field gave him much more overall value. Health matters, but Rolen was so good when he was on the field that he's worth induction. And it's not like Rolen didn't have a long and productive career: he played 17 seasons, he played over 2000 games. Elite glove man, excellent hitter, just a great player. 3B is underrepresented as it is, we should leave out a great 3B like Rolen.


    I've come around on Billy Wagner in recent years. Relief pitching is a position in baseball, we've enshrined relievers before, so why not one of the best in Wagner? It's not really his fault he pitched in the era of "the closer pitches the 9th" and he was absolutely dominant. The WHIP, the ERA+...he was destructive out there. He basically had one bad year once he became a closer...one! He was still dominant at age 38 in his last season. He was better than Lee Smith. He was probably better than Trevor Hoffman. I'm in on Wags.


    Andruw Jones is a tough one for me...he was so good in Atlanta. A spectacularly great CF. From age 20-30 he's a no-doubt Hall of Famer...and then just evaporated. The last 5 years of his career are just kind of sad.  1 ok year in Chicago surrounded by 4 awful ones as he bounced from team to team. But those early years...I think he did enough to ignore how fast he collapsed. The peak is too good to ignore, and it's not like he was only great for 3 years; he deserved every all-star game he made and probably should have been tapped for 2-3 more. And that defense was so ridiculous. 


    I wouldn't vote for Omar regardless of the allegations against him; he was a wonderful player to watch, one of the most beautiful players to watch on defense...but a rotten hitter and his elegance on D almost certainly is overrating his good (and often great) play, but he's not Ozzie Smith and never was. He played forever but there's a good reason he was only a 3 time all-star.


    I'm out on Schilling, a great pitcher who I have no interest in giving a Hall of Fame platform to spew vitriol and hatred. He's not being penalized for being "conservative", or even supporting Trump (Mariano Rivera is well-known for his conservative beliefs and support of Trump was elected unanimously, and many other players and hall of famers are similar; baseball is very republican-leaning), it's because he's taken things far beyond anyone else, using his position and platform to spur hatred and violence, with no remorse or understanding, and believes he should be free of consequence for his actions. Some committee can reassess him after he'd dead as far as I'm concerned. We are not required to grant him this honor, despite his skill on the field.


    I'm still on the "get more distance" train for the steroid guys. There are a lot of good arguments for and against putting them in or keeping them out; we should have them all. But I'd age them off the regular ballot and let a later committee hash it out on these guys as we get further removed from those wild wild west times.

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    Im in on Schilling, Clements and Bonds. Yes they are not perfect people but they did great things on the field. Would represent 2020/ 2021 very well. I am not as sold on Andrew Jones. Vizquel is a tossup. I would like to see top defensive people make the Hall Of Fame. He came close to 3000 hits and score 1406 runs I think. Not hall of fame but close but his defense was hall of fame. Rolen I am also on the fence. I do like him.but the injuries hurt him. Wagner should be in. He was so Dominant compared to his peers in his playing days.

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    I get the steroids issue for Clemons and Bonds, but until there reported use, they were HOF players.  They may not have put up the numbers late in their careers like they did, but even if you take away a couple of late years they are still HOF players.  Also, if roids were as wide spread as expected, late in their careers with everyone else they were essentially on same playing field.  I am not defending their use, but they should be judged by their peers at the time they played and they were two of the best at that time. 


    If Hall wants to make an example of them, then put them in a special wing that says they used roids.  I mean if you want to eliminate all that used you will be taking a lot of guys from 90's and early 2000's era that were best of their era.   

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    JLease.......SPECIFICALLY, what hatred and violence are you talking about?

    "I'm out on Schilling, a great pitcher who I have no interest in giving a Hall of Fame platform to spew vitriol and hatred.   It's because he's taken things far beyond anyone else, using his position and platform to spur hatred and violence."

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    MODERATOR WARNING: This is a baseball forum, and not a forum to discuss Schilling's politics. It's enough to say 'I don't want him in the hall because of it' or 'Eh, that shouldn't matter, no matter what. He should be in the hall for his baseball record.' That's pertinent. But don't take the next step as we are not here to get into the specifics of a political debate.

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