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  1. We can debate who should or shouldn’t be inducted into Cooperstown based on transgressions or the dreaded character clause. Still, there’s no denying that the Baseball Writers Association of America could vote in the single greatest class in Major League Baseball history. Let’s get this out of the way from the top. Steroid users cheated, yes. It’s impossible to understand when and how they used. There are other players in the Hall of Fame that used steroids. Players have been cheating for as long as the game is old. Arguably most damaging to any argument against PED users is Bud Selig, the Commissioner who oversaw the era and turned a blind eye. At the same time, the muscles that saved his post-lockout sport are enshrined in The Hall. If Cooperstown is considered a museum as is stated, it’s incomplete until all of the history is adequately accounted for. Alright, breathe. You can go back to the distaste saved for any players you want to be kept out. But, by the numbers...let’s take a look: Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, and Alex Rodriguez Look at that group. It’s arguably the greatest assembled collection of eight baseball players tied together at any point in history. Barry Bonds is 2nd All-Time in career fWAR while Alex Rodriguez is 13th. David Ortiz is undoubtedly the single greatest designated hitter ever to play the game. Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez both are members of the 500 home run club, while Sammy Sosa has 609 homers and an MVP to his credit. Curt Schilling has over 3,100 career strikeouts and finished runner-up for the Cy Young in three different seasons. Roger Clemens may arguably be the greatest pitcher to have ever played the game, and his seven Cy Young awards certainly don’t detract from that. On statistical merit alone, it’s hard to look at any one of these players and suggest they are not worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown. The BBWAA has been tasked with the impossible when needing to employ the character clause. Some writers choose to abide by it. Others have decided it doesn’t hold the same intended weight it once did. Others yet struggle with the gray area and completely exclude anyone that gets too close. What Cooperstown could do to help the process as a whole is to simplify it. Give every player on the ballot the ability to be voted for with a simple “yes” or “no” check-box. Make the voting criteria no more than a reflection of the accolades that took place on the field. If you cheated and got caught, you no doubt suffered time lost and an opportunity missed. If you were banned from the game while operating as a player or manager, your statistical accomplishments become invalidated in that particular realm. As fans, we should be clamoring for the greatest we have ever seen to be part of the footnote that is a museum where the dust settles. You can disagree with any number of players because of who they are as people or how you feel about them, but if the stats counted, then that’s where the decision needs to lie. Of course, we know my feelings don’t matter. This isn’t going to happen. If Bonds and Clemens are to be enshrined, it will likely come from a committee at a later date. Those with less percentage of the vote aren’t going to magically jump up either. It’s too bad that we’ll continue to tell only parts of the story deemed relevant today, but we can dream on the eight men out that would represent the greatest eight together. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Let’s get this out of the way from the top. Steroid users cheated, yes. It’s impossible to understand when and how they used. There are other players in the Hall of Fame that used steroids. Players have been cheating for as long as the game is old. Arguably most damaging to any argument against PED users is Bud Selig, the Commissioner who oversaw the era and turned a blind eye. At the same time, the muscles that saved his post-lockout sport are enshrined in The Hall. If Cooperstown is considered a museum as is stated, it’s incomplete until all of the history is adequately accounted for. Alright, breathe. You can go back to the distaste saved for any players you want to be kept out. But, by the numbers...let’s take a look: Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, and Alex Rodriguez Look at that group. It’s arguably the greatest assembled collection of eight baseball players tied together at any point in history. Barry Bonds is 2nd All-Time in career fWAR while Alex Rodriguez is 13th. David Ortiz is undoubtedly the single greatest designated hitter ever to play the game. Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez both are members of the 500 home run club, while Sammy Sosa has 609 homers and an MVP to his credit. Curt Schilling has over 3,100 career strikeouts and finished runner-up for the Cy Young in three different seasons. Roger Clemens may arguably be the greatest pitcher to have ever played the game, and his seven Cy Young awards certainly don’t detract from that. On statistical merit alone, it’s hard to look at any one of these players and suggest they are not worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown. The BBWAA has been tasked with the impossible when needing to employ the character clause. Some writers choose to abide by it. Others have decided it doesn’t hold the same intended weight it once did. Others yet struggle with the gray area and completely exclude anyone that gets too close. What Cooperstown could do to help the process as a whole is to simplify it. Give every player on the ballot the ability to be voted for with a simple “yes” or “no” check-box. Make the voting criteria no more than a reflection of the accolades that took place on the field. If you cheated and got caught, you no doubt suffered time lost and an opportunity missed. If you were banned from the game while operating as a player or manager, your statistical accomplishments become invalidated in that particular realm. As fans, we should be clamoring for the greatest we have ever seen to be part of the footnote that is a museum where the dust settles. You can disagree with any number of players because of who they are as people or how you feel about them, but if the stats counted, then that’s where the decision needs to lie. Of course, we know my feelings don’t matter. This isn’t going to happen. If Bonds and Clemens are to be enshrined, it will likely come from a committee at a later date. Those with less percentage of the vote aren’t going to magically jump up either. It’s too bad that we’ll continue to tell only parts of the story deemed relevant today, but we can dream on the eight men out that would represent the greatest eight together. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. 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. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Once again, it's that time of year and December 1 saw my inbox being hit with the yearly IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. Although this isn't part of the official BBWAA vote to enshrine players in Cooperstown, there's plenty of crossover between voting parties and many of the same principles are the same. At this time the IBWAA allows voters to select up to 12 candidates. You can find my 2018 ballot here, and my 2019 selections here. As was the case last year, I wound up with a ballot less than the maximum amount. The IBWAA has cleared a backlog of candidates already enshrining Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Although I could've included more players I had previously left off, I chose to stay the course. When sending my ballot back to the IBWAA I wound up with four holdovers and the expected unanimous selection who makes his first appearance. Here we go: 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. Derek Jeter 73.0 fWAR The Yankees Captain enters the ballot as a near-lock for unanimous selection. He had an incredible career with significant accolades in both the regular season and playoffs. Over-glorified in part because of the market in which he played, Jeter will go down as one of the best to ever play the shortstop position. What he lacked on defense he contributed with his bat. The 14-time All-Star and five-time World Series winner will forever be one of the most celebrated Yankees of All-Time. Scott Rolen 70.1 fWAR Vastly under appreciated, 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. Larry Walker: 68.7 fWAR Although he played the field plenty, Walker also turned in a nice run spending time in both the infield and outfield. He was the 1997 NL MVP and made five All Star games. His glove netted him seven Gold Gloves and his bat produced three Silver Slugger awards. Walker finished his 17 seasons with 383 homers and drove in over 1,300 runs. 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. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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