The 2019 Hall of Fame ballot is out and it’s Fred McGriff’s last chance to gain election. Does this year’s slate offer him any better chance than the previous 9?
There are 20 new names on the newest Hall of Fame ballot this year. There are 15 carryovers, for a total of 35 names. Atlanta Braves fans will be watching for signs that a few of their favorite sons might break through this year… but let’s see how realistic that might be.
Fred McGriff has one more chance – this is his 10th year on the ballot. This is Billy Wagner‘s 4th appearance. Andruw Jones gets his 2nd trip through the gauntlet. Gary Sheffield will have a 5th attempt.
Here’s the list of newcomers – starting with those having no shot whatsoever:
- Rick Ankiel, Juan Pierre, Darren Oliver, Jon Garland, Michael Young
- Jason Bay, Travis Hafner, Ted Lilly, Vernon Wells, Freddy Garcia
Now those who might garner a smattering of votes… perhaps even enough (5%) to remain on the ballot next year:
- Derek Lowe, Kevin Youkilis, Placido Polanco, Miguel Tejada
These next players start to get more interesting… guessing they will be with us for a while:
…and finally, those with a real shot, although only one will actually be elected in 2019:
The Other Carryovers
All of these 15 were interesting enough to get a repeat invite to the ballot, of course, so each of them represent former players that will have some support from voters this year, and potentially splitting candidacy votes among themselves:
- Sammy Sosa (7)
- Scott Rolen (2)
- Jeff Kent (6)
- Manny Ramirez (3)
- Larry Walker (9)
- Omar Vizquel (2)
- Curt Schilling (7)
- Barry Bonds (7)
- Roger Clemens (7)
- Mike Mussina (6)
- Edgar Martinez (10)
(Years on ballot as of this round are in parentheses)
Of the former Braves’ players who are holdovers, McGriff had the highest vote total last year… at just 23.2%. Andruw Jones – who probably has the best overall case of any of them players based on stats alone – brought up the rear of this hopelessly flawed process with 7.3%.
Mariano Rivera will be elected… with something close to a unanimous vote. Edgar Martinez will finally be enshrined as well: at 70% last year, he is in prime position to be pushed over the 75% threshold.
Clemens and Bonds will once again receive their now routine 55-ish% tally. Curt Schilling will be at roughly the same figure. Roy Halladay could garner something around 30-40% or so.
That may be the extent of the Class of 2019 – 2 inductees.
Voters do tend to suddenly tend to develop some sentimental attachments to players in their last year of eligibility. While that will work for Edgar Martinez, there is no precedence for a player suddenly jumping from 23% to 75% as Fred McGriff requires.
I won’t belabor the point with discussion of McGriff’s or Jones’ qualifications or anything like that here – we’ve done that at length in years past.
As noted, this is a flawed process, and it always has been. Sure – I prefer a Hall of Fame that is meaningful: one that has room for only the best of the best in this game – and those who are at least not known to have cheated.
But this process also has the effect of omitting many who would seem to have met that standard.
My Own Take
If I had a ballot (more on that in a bit), my votes would probably go to the following players for 2019 (maximum 10 votes):
- Mariano Rivera – best closer ever
- Edgar Martinez – best DH ever
- Fred McGriff – most feared hitter before Bonds
- Billy Wagner – perhaps the best lefty closer ever
- Andruw Jones – best CF ever (I have some concerns about him, but no proof)
- Mike Mussina – highly underrated; 6 Top 5 Cy votes; often a bridesmaid
- Curt Schilling – as big a big game pitcher as there was during his era; 4 Top 5 Cy’s
- Larry Walker – the epitome of the professional hitter; MVP, 3 Silver Sluggers
- Roy Halladay – another dominant starter with 2 Cy Young awards and 7 top 5’s
- Jeff Kent – one of the best ever at his position
Of those not getting my “vote”:
- Those I would eliminate without a second glance: Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Ramirez
- Those I would want to investigate further for another year: Sheffield, Pettitte
- Those on the cusp, but not quite there for me: Rolen, Vizquel, Ozwalt
- Those who would have to wait for another year: Helton, Berkman
But part of the problem with this process is that writers should not have a vote in the first place. Just the notion that Ken Rosenthal or Peter Gammons – people who have observed, but did not play the game at that level – would have the arrogance to declare ‘who I would vote for’ is almost laughable.
So even as I expressed an opinion above, I am telling you that it’s rubbish… the Hall of Fame should be decided by those who play the game: they know beyond a doubt who they feared to see in competitive matchups. They know who the game-changers were.
But alas… another year will roll by and there will be another year of hand-wringing about the process with no meaningful changes whatsoever.
And the Crime Dog will be dropped off the ballot forever – sloughed off into the hands of a ‘veterans committee‘ that somehow doesn’t improve the process either.