Hello ballers! We are here once again, as the completed end of year 2022 ballot list for the HOF 2023 induction class was just released to voters today. This includes primarily first timers retiring in 2007 who landed on the Baseball Writers' list supplemented by holdovers surviving the minimum 5% vote from last year, all to be decided in early January 2023. It also includes the renamed Veterans committee short list of players to be voted on December 4 in San Diego, at the Annual Baseball Winter meetings, oddly a congregation mostly for GM's and reporters.
After some questionable inductees the last few years, the MLB HOF "Small Hallers" put their foot down. The old time Veterans Committee four era voting rotation for players shrunk to two, the number of eligible candidates on the ballots decreased from 10 to 8, and allowable votes per ballot sliced down from 4 to 3. Eleven senior reporters hashed out the list; 16 others including former players, executives, and other writers will vote to see who crosses the magical 75% line. This 2023 ballot, named by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee includes 8 players whose greatest impact was before 1980; so will the 2026 ballot. In 2025, the Classic Baseball ballot is for players before then [eg Tommy John, Dick Allen, Dave Parker]. The intervening third year in the trienniel selection is for non players, and provides a sanity break for all of us next December 2023.
The 8 selections this year are an odd consortium of the tainted and the insufficient.
1- The tainted Four Horsemen are deserving by overall performance: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are top 4 players All Time at their positions; Curt Schilling and Rafael Palmeiro top 20. Effectively grandfathered into an 11th year in a row vote since this year would have been the prior Today's Game format anyway, the first three names connected with stench of steroids us or vile character has weighed down on everyone for too long; the writers invoked the character clause. But we all need a break. For Rafael Palmeiro - whose pointed finger and Pinocchio nose overshadow the fact that he is an elite group of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Eddie Murray to hit 500 HR among 3000 Hits, the writers brutally scraped off his candidacy by year 4. If one assumes that old timers are more strict in advancing pristine purity of America's pastime, none of the first three will muster enough votes for selection, and Palmeiro has zero shot. Worse, they form a firm ball and chain on any prior or new candidates moving forward.
Whatever you think of his xenophobic social media platform, during his playing years, he was a respected presumably saner teammate, and posted HOF credentials. While at the short end of volume compared with prior generations, his numbers [ by multiple criteria] minimally surpass the average standard: 14-9 205/185/43/200/3.36/1.11. ERA- 76; n ERA 3.04/WAR-5.3. That's TOP 35-45 ALL TIME. Throw in 3 2nd place CY. 6 AS, and excellent post season work. We're used to outrage and conspiracy comments now, and at 71%, it's only a few more votes. Time to move him over the hump.
Bonds: 469/118/44/109/23/.315 and 9 WAR/Y; 200 WRC/Y; OPC/WRC+ 200!!! Yep, that's 2x production of the average player per PA; N BA/OPS .312/1.108, 7 MVP, 14 AS, 8 GG. Even before purported clear and cream use after 1998, it was 108/33/97/34/.294, 7.5 WAR;122 WRC;OPC/WRC+ 170;
Yep, he was great; TOP 5 POSITION PLAYER ALL TIME. A HOF before purported use of steroids.
Clemens: 17-9 238/196/74/231/2.94/1.13; ERA- 65;7;n ERA 2.60;WAR-7; 7 CY.
Yep, he was great; TOP 5 SP ALL TIME. A HOF before purported use of steroids
Schilling: 14-9 205/185/43/200/3.36/1.11. ERA- 76; n ERA 3.04/WAR-5.3.
Yep, he was great That's TOP 30 ALL TIME.
Palmeiro: 587/100/37/111/.6/.291 and 4.5 WAR/Y; 120 WRC/Y; OPC/WRC+ 137; N BA/OPS .283/ .875 3X Top 10 MVP, 4 AS, 3 GG.
2- The incomplete are the 4 Musketeers opposite to the Horsemen; lesser formidable stars in cleaner garb. Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Albert Belle, and Don Mattingly seem insufficient in comparison to the giants above. Not enough length overall, fewer eg 6 great seasons with steep dropoffs for Murphy, Belle, Mattingly, and in Belle's case bad fielding [and attitude]; or in McGriff's case, bad fielding and bad luck [missing 50 games from 1994 players' strike that almost certainly would have pushed him over the 500 HR, 2500 hits milestone threshold. They all have reasonable cases for induction, but 75% given that some of the tainted will receive votes. No way.
Result: SHUTOUT ON THE CONTEMPORARY ERA BALLOT.
Post script: By adding the Four Horsemen to this year's list, the pendulum swung way too far in the opposite direction. The Musketeers by comparison have no shot, stuck in limbo, and in this setup, merging the post 1980 pre steroid era and the post steroid era, with fewer voters and votes, may never have. Worse, the three best other worthy candidates, Kevin Brown, Dwight Evans, and Lou Whitaker remain invisible unconsidered, snapped away by the HOF management Thanos' like finger decree. Unless the former are all elected, this vicious cycle leaves at least 7 worthy candidates on the sidelines. Bad management decision HOF. Very bad.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and the Horsemen joined by Sammy Sosa [an alternate Horseman], leave a gaping hole on the Baseball Writers' ballots. 821 votes have been released from prison. and some are going to find new names. Unfortunately, the incoming freshmen class doesn't deserve many. Only one player is HOF worthy...Carlos Beltran. And he brought some heavy baggage.
1- Carlos Beltran Over 20 years and 11,000 PA [39th All Time], Beltran used his 5 tool kit to amass 435 HR, 312 SB, and 1580 R and 1580 RBI, 9 AS selections, a ROY win, 2 top 10 MVP votes, and 3 GG. On an absolute basis, he is 8th All Time in WAR for CF, behind no brainers Mays, Cobb, Speaker, Mantle Griffey, Trout , and DiMaggio, and ahead of Lofton, Snider, Edmonds.
My Analysis: AB/R/HR/RBI/SB/BA 536/94/153/27/93/21/.285; OPS/WRC+ 128; WRC/Y- 98; WAR/Y- 5.0. n BA/OPS .281/.834. By JAWS and HOFs systems, this is a Hall of Famer.
Now comes the luggage. Reported as a main driver in the Houston Astros' Sign Stealing Scandal, the stain of a different sort couches his career. A savvy sign stealer by conventional means, his skills were harvested on the video recording and transmitting mess of 2017 and 2018. Many in the profession feel the stain of this form of cheating is worse than that of performance enhancers, though the impact on Beltran's career numbers was minimal if at all. My guess is that if Bonds' first year in the ballot garnered 30% of the vote, Beltran in a noncompetitive year will get around that; but it might be less.
2- Francisco Rodriguez He was one of the best relievers of his time, with 6 AS selections and even 3 top 5 CY votes. He fits in somewhere between Trevor Hoffman and John Franco statistically, borderline HOF. But relievers get no love, and a better candidate Player B is still on the ballot and still only receiving 50% of the vote. My analysis IP/H/BB/K/SV; ERA and ERA- with lower better eg ERA- 50 is half runs of avg pitcher
KRod 68/50/27/79/30 WITH 2.74 ERA [ERA- = 65]
Player B 60/40/20/80/28 with 2.31 ERA [ERA- = 53]
Comments on these players are extracted from my prior 2022 HOF analysis. Given the vacuum, they will receive some helium of freed votes.
1- Scott Rolen- This is tough. The bat was very good [hit like Aramis Ramirez], the glove outstanding [fielded like Mike Schmidt], the volume good but not great. But its clear, playing 3b a long time is difficult...the least represented type of Hall position player. He's shy of studs like Beltre, and HOF Brett, Chipper, and even that of his best comp Santo.
Rolen-480/82/21/85/.284/4.5 WAR; WRC 90; WRC+/OPS+ 124
Like Santo, I think he'll get in. And given the helium and his 2022 proximity at 63%, this might be the year.
2- Todd Helton I have a soft spot for guys playing the entire career with one team. But his case is good enough by merit. His glove was excellent [3 GG] and so was the bat for 3/4 of his career, 3 Top 10 MVP, 5 AS.
Helton- 539/102/27/99/3/ .328/ WAR/Y 4.8 ;WRC/Y 118;WRC+OPS+ 140; nBA/OPS .300/.873
Coors bias will hold him back for now, but while the benefits of high altitude are well recognized for hitters, the drawbacks heading to sea level for away games are not. He was a HOF even at the loaded 1b position. He was better than you thought.
It will be very close given the big boost, move up into striking range low 70's or just in.
IN/ NOT IN? - oh so close
3- Billy Wagner- The rate numbers as well as the eye test tell you this is a HOF. K/9 12 in an era when that was rare. 7 time AS. 2 Time top 10 CY, as a reliever. The volume is shy. And there is antireliever bias- see above Papelbon, Nathan, which is partly justifiable.
How's 900 IP of 60/40/20/80 with 2.31 ERA [ERA- OF 53]
You guessed it. This is Player B in KRod's notes. He won't get in now, but I suspect a big move up into the upper 60's.
NOT IN - almost, just not yet
4- Andruw Jones- Man, the crash hurt his case from wear and tear in CF. From age 20-30 the first half of his career, he was a HOF, factoring in the world class elite defense. 2/3 of his batting career was very good, but 1/3 was poor. He only batted over .277 once; his lifetime BA was well [10 points] below league average. Chicks dig the long ball, but he sold out for it, and didn't recover. And that glove tailed off too at the end.
Jones- 554/91/32/96/12/.263 WAR 4.0 WRC/OPS+ 114;WRC/Y 92
He died before the finish line after leading the race. Sometimes the tortoise wins. I suspect he winds up into same bin as predecessor and best comp Dale Murphy, or Jim Edmonds...the Hall of the Very Good/Just Missed. But of the 3 OF, he has the best shot to sneak in.
No change. Stays on the ballot, in decent position, but needs lots of marketing to move up above 50%.
7- Jeff Kent- The bat plays [most HR by 2b], the glove not so much, and he was petulant. But compared to all 2B, he is an average to slightly below HOF. It sucks to be in Barry Bonds' shadow.
Man, he is unheralded as was McGriff. He's in the same league as Biggio, and Sandberg with the bat. 4 times top 10, once MVP.
Kent- 539/ 87/25/99/.294/ 4 WAR; 98 WRC; WRC+/OPS+ 127.
Even with the last harrah, it will be a nearly impossible climb from 32%NOT IN -
He joins the Contemporary Era ballot mess for 2026 class.
9- Omar Vizquel- The glove played, the bat didn't. He wasn't quite good as Ozzie Smith, in either category, despite similar mold. Or was he? 12000 PA which is 16th all time, massive 24 years playing demanding SS would make any Veterans Committee voter salivate, and there are far more worse SS in the Hall eg Lindstrom, Bancroft .Yes, the bat was league average only in 2 years, OPS +90 doesn't scream HOF, and length is a poor excuse eg Baines shouldn't have been voted in either. But compare to the Player C OS
OV: 547/ 82/6/56/28/.282 2.7 WAR; OPS/WRC 90; WRC/Y 78
Player C, OS: 73/2/50/33/.273 4 WAR; OPS/WRC 97; WRC/Y 68
Yep, Player C is the Wiz Ozzie Smith.
The years of domestic abuse...that won't help his candidacy , but look what we're dealing with here this year?! Will stay on ballot, around 50%, and even though a borderline HOF for me, I suspect he'll get there by year 10.
NOT IN - not yet, and while the Veterans Committee will love him, the new rules won't.
14- Torii Hunter A classic Hall of the Very Good player. Did it all, just not to the HOF level, with only 1 time top 10 MVP. Great defense, but was the best of 5 tools. But a HOF nice guy with great smile while robbing those homers.
555/83/23/89/13/.282 3.5 WAR; WRC- 84 WRC/OPS+ 116
12- Bobby Abreu- One of the most underrated bats of his time. Five tool superstar, though glove was average.
Abreu- 574/105/22/97/28/ .302/ WAR 4.6 WRC 121; WRC/OPS+ 135
But the OBP in this time fame was .407, and he is one of the few players with a .300/.400/ .500 slash line over 7500 PA. Who are the few contemporaries with this- Bonds, Pujols, Cabrera, Bagwell, Chipper, Big Hurt, Thome - all easily HOF worthy!
I would rank Abreu way above Hunter, but both are at high risk for falling off the ballot. Given the vacuum, that probably won't happen this year. But as voters stop filling ballots to the maximum, they will, possibly as soon as next year
5, 6, 8, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez
All DEFINITELY have HOF numbers. PED rules firmly in place will exclude A-Rod and Manny, who were caught and suspended twice. Character counts, and so does stupidity. Hopefully, videos of Manny's misadventures in LF are enshrined in the Hall. Sheffield more very good to excellent years, but the shroud is strong, and if Bonds didn't get in, these guys most certainly won't now as well. Sheffield's case is tied to being with Bonds at BALCO, so there is wiggle room here.
Sheff- 486/92/31/95/13/.304 WAR 4.8; WRC 113;WRC/OPS+ 153
Loved the wild swing. How did he make contact so often [only 62 K/Y]
ARod- 601/124/45/1217/21/ .303; OPS/WRC+ 151; WRC/Y- 135; WAR/Y -8. And the n BA/OPS .292/.816. Best SS ever? One of the best 20 position players of all time. 3 time AL MVP;10 time top 10 in MVP. 22 Years PT, amassed 12,000 PA, 16th All time! 8 years 700 + PA, 5 years 161 or 162 games. Able and available! And an all time EGO that led to all time BAD DECISIONS!
Manny- 545/105/39/121/2/.318 WAR 5.5;WRC 131;WRC/OPS+ 158. An all time bat, vying with ARod for number 1 on the Bad Decisions List. Actually probably number 1 there.
NOT IN - Sheffield takes a small step up, ARod barely inches up, Manny stays put
11- Rollins- A very good 17 year career. Very good in all phases. 1 MVP year, 4 GG. Analysis- 605/98/17/67/33/.268; OPS/WRC+ 98; WRC/Y- 86; WAR/Y- 3.5. n BA/OPS .264/.721.
We like to think of him as Barry Larkin or Alan Trammell, perhaps because he had the MVP year and played on some great Philly teams, but he's not [both Trammell and Larkin OPS/WRC+/Y ~120 and WAR/Y 4.5], and factoring in the steroid era he played mostly in, he was more like Edgar Renteria [87/10/68/23/.288; OPS/WRC+ 96; WRC/Y- 79; WAR/Y- 2.7. n BA/OPS .284/.703] than he was those guys. I liked Jimmy Rollins, and would have loved him as my teams' everyday [I mean every day] shortstop for most of those years, but he was not a HOF.
10,13, Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle- Basically the same stats
Pettitte 16-9/209/218/65/154/3.86/1.35/ ERA- 85;N ERA 3.42/3.9 WAR
Buerhle- 14-11/219/231/49/126/3.81/1.28/ ERA- 86;N ERA 3.42/4.1 WAR
Splitting hairs. Pettitte is an all time Yank, and Buerhle an all timeChiSox, but they are still borderline especially since both were hittable even despite steroid era work, with higher than average ERA's, lower WAR and IP than many HOF. This is going to be reevaluated going forward as SP pitch fewer innings; I suspect they will begin to look better and better as 200 IP SP disappear as a species. For now, they stay on the ballot, but in now...no way.
NOT IN - What applied to Abreu and Hunter applies here
So where are we? [yeah, yeah On the WS Forums.]
While there are many HOF worthy candidates, the shuffle caused by the 4 Horsemen [Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Palmeiro] to the Contemporary Era Board of the Veterans Committee, the subsequent vacuum for the Baseball Writers, and new voting rules has thrown prognostication to the wind.
I'm predicting the Veterans Committee takes a hard line stance for the purity of the game, but commits enough votes to the Horsemen, so they elect no one.
I'm predicting only two new players get enough ballots for next year's consideration, but Beltran's foray to the Dark Side in Houston keeps his votes low and n new player is inducted.
This all leaves the door open for the best of the holdovers. I think both Rolen and Helton squeak in, and Wagner moves way up and gets oh so close. Some others move up to near the 50% mark.
Everyone from Pettitte on down is at risk of falling off; it depends on whether voters want to fill up their ballot options or not. But, none them them will ever get in.
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