The 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. ET. Will Larry Walker and others join Derek Jeter?
The Baseball Hall of Fame vote is always the most disagreeable moment of the offseason. Fans from across the world are brought together by their distaste for writers’ ballots. Fanbases are united against a common enemy, those who keep their favorites from reaching baseball immortality.
Things have only become more controversial since the steroid era players have been added to the ballot; specifically, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. It’s started a whole new argument of what baseball history should look like.
Old-school writers see the pair of steroid users as undeserving of entry into the hall. They see a couple of cheaters who played the game wrong. Not to mention their dishonesty and overall off-the-field trouble.
Younger writers tend to think the opposite. They see an era where the large majority of players were using steroids, Bonds and Clemens were just the best players of that era. Not enshrining them would be erasing a part of baseball history.
Then came the sabermetric crowd. They look at things through a new advanced analytics lens that wasn’t around when these players played. It’s something that younger voters tend to rely on more than older voters.
All in all, the process of writing out a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot has become incredibly difficult and tenuous. With that in mind here’s how the ESNY writers would have voted given the opportunity.
Kyle Newman, Editor, Mets columnist
These are the 10 best players on the ballot. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are controversial picks due to their steroid use, but it shouldn’t matter. They played in an era when nearly everyone used steroids. They aren’t the greatest players of all-time like their numbers suggest, but they deserve to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were easy picks.
Jeter is one of the greatest offensive shortstops in history and his longevity was amazing. He was one of the worst defensive shortstops of his era, despite what the five gold gloves say, but that can be overlooked.
Larry Walker should have been in years ago. He’s one of the greatest players in baseball history. He was elite offensively and defensively during his time and won countless awards to prove it. Playing in Coors Field shouldn’t have any effect on his candidacy.
Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones are similar in a lot of ways. Both were elite defenders, arguably the best to ever play their positions. That said both of them have flaws.
Rolen was never an elite offensive player. That said, Rolen is 10th all-time in rWAR among third basemen. Nine of the top 11 are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, only Rolen and Beltre aren’t. Beltre hasn’t even been on a ballot yet.
Meanwhile, Andruw Jones had one of the best 10-year spans in MLB history. From 1998 to 2007 Jones was an all-time player both offensively and defensively. His issue with voters is his longevity, but that shouldn’t matter. 10 years as one of the best players in baseball history is enough to earn enshrinement.
Jeff Kent is one of the elite offensive second basemen in baseball history. Yes, his defense was bad, but so what. Jeter gets a pass for his offensive dominance and so does Kent. Especially since Kent did something Jeter never could: win an MVP.
Manny Ramirez was an elite offensive player. That’s all that anybody needs to know about him. He’s being left off the ballot for his attitude and off-the-field antics. That was just Manny being Manny. His play on the field is all that should matter.
Todd Helton’s career .316/.414/.539 slash line should tell anyone all they need to know about him offensively. Thrown in three gold gloves and you got an elite first baseman all around. Like with Walker, Coors Field should not have any effect on Hall of Fame status.
Billy Wagner is the second-most dominant closer in baseball history. His strikeout numbers are staggering, his career ERA of 2.31 is astonishing and his .184 BAA is absurd. Hitters couldn’t touch him. Baseball Hall of Fame voters have an issue with relief pitchers that stems back decades. Wagner should not be another one of their victims.
Aaron Gershon, Staff Writer
Ballot: Derek Jeter and Curt Schilling
There are just two Hall of Famers that belong in the 2020 class, Derek Jeter and Curt Schilling.
Jeter is a no-doubt, first-ballot Hall of Famer. In his 20 year career, all with the New York Yankees, he helped the Bombers win five World Series, was named an All-Star 14 times and won five gold gloves. The shortstop finished his carer with 3,465, which ranks sixth all-time. Though nothing is more impressive than his postseason carer batting average of .321.
Schilling deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown. In his 20 MLB seasons, Schilling recorded 3,000 carer strikeouts, which is normally an automatic bid for the Hall of Fame. Of current 3,000 strikeout club members, only Roger Clemens (steroid use), CC Sabathia (not yet eligible) and Justin Verlander (still active) are not in Cooperstown.
If that isn’t enough, Schilling is also a three-time world series champion, six-time all-star and member of both the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox’ Hall of Fame.
It seems as if the only reason he’s been left out of the hall is his right-wing political views. A player’s politics shouldn’t be a deciding factor in evaluating their baseball carer.
Max Greenfield, Staff Writer
Ballot: Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Scott Rolen, Andy Pettitte, Bobby Abreu, Todd Helton, Gary Sheffield, Billy Wagner, and Jeff Kent
Bonds or Clemens didn’t receive votes not because they took steroids, but because what they’ve done off the field is not worthy of recognition into the Hall of Fame. That’s the same reason Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling are also not on this ballot. If the BBWAA has the character clause, those people do not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
Jeter, Walker and Rolen are all slam dunk picks. There’s no valid reason to keep them out of Cooperstown. Jeter’s 11th in oWAR since 1947.
Walker’s career 140 wRC+ is more than enough to put him into the Hall of Fame. He was also a fantastic glove, making his Hall of Fame case all that more convincing.
Scott Rolen has a higher fWAR than Tony Gwynn and did so in fewer games. He was an excellent hitter and one of the best defensive 3rd basemen ever.
Pettitte, Abreu and Helton are in the next tier. All three of these players deserve more of a look then they are going to get each year.
Pettitte was a mark of consistency and has a higher WAR than Tom Glavine. Abreu was a power and on-base threat that the new age metrics have come to appreciate. While, Helton, like Pettitte, was incredibly consistent and one of the best hitting 1st basemen ever.
Sheffield, Wagner and Kent are all close. Sheffield was just as good a hitter as Walker and that’s enough to squeeze onto the ballot. He was historically bad defensively, but his offense makes up for it.
Wagner isn’t Mariano Rivera, but he’s the closest thing to him. His strikeout ability is worthy of this honor alone.
Kent is a coin toss. Arguably one of the best hitting second basemen of all time, but wasn’t good defensively. He’s worthy due to his all-time offense at second base.
James Schapiro, Staff Writer
Ballot: Bobby Abreu, Todd Helton, Derek Jeter, Jeff Kent, Scott Rolen, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker
Bobby Abreu was an underrated player. A career .291/.395/.475 slash line is extremely impressive. Add to that his almost 300 career home runs and stole 400 bases and the bones of a Hall of Fame case are there. He’s a borderline case, but the combination of power, speed and getting on base should get him in.
Todd Helton is another tricky case. He was a first baseman, so he has a higher offensive bar to clear, but he clears it easily. His career .316/.414/.539 slash line is incredible, which means unless he was absolutely atrocious on defense, he belongs in the Hall. He wasn’t a great defender, but his offense more than makes up for it.
Jeter was the only obvious vote on this ballot. He doesn’t look great according to advanced metrics, but he got 3000 hits and was the face of multiple World Series teams, which makes him automatic.
Jeff Kent gets a position bonus: he’s one of the best offensive second basemen of all time. 377 home runs and a .856 OPS. There just aren’t many second basemen in the history of baseball who come close.
Scott Rolen’s defense seals the deal. He hit 316 home runs with a .855 OPS in his career, which on its own is really good but not Hall of Fame-worthy for a third baseman. However, he was worth more than 21 wins above replacement on defense in his career. That’s a Hall of Fame number.
Honestly, Billy Wagner is an easy call. He’s probably the second-greatest reliever of all time. He has the highest strikeout rate ever. Besides Mariano Rivera, there certainly hasn’t been a better closer in the last 40 years. He’s a Hall of Famer.
Larry Walker was another surefire vote on this ballot. He’s a career .313/.400/.565 hitter. Those numbers belong in Cooperstown. It seems like he’s getting punished for playing at Coors Field, but A) it’s not his fault the air is thin in Denver, and B) he’s a career .278/.370/.495 hitter on the road. Those road numbers are better than some Hall of Fame outfielders hit in their entire careers.