My 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot
“Sports writers, in my opinion almost never use statistics to understand baseball. They use statistics to decorate their articles.”-Bill James.
I found this quote while reading Brian Kenny’s book “Ahead of the Curve.” Kenny puts quotes in the heading of every chapter under the chapter title; this quote starts up the 10th chapter. That quote really hit me in the face because of what Kenny’s book is about and what I have grown up on with baseball writing. When I was young, I would always check to see if Sports Illustrated came in and would always run to ESPN.com to see what baseball article was published that day. Even though I enjoy football and basketball I am a baseball guy through and through. I understand baseball enough to hold a conversation with Brian Kenny on MLB Network or anyone from Baseball Tonight on ESPN, but I have a lot to learn. I know why slugging percentage is important and when to bunt (if you want) or not to bunt. Growing up like every other baseball nut, I collected baseball cards and know why certain stat categories are more important than others. Granted, I don’t know much about OPS+ or ERA+, but there is time to learn and expand on my baseball knowledge.
With the sabermetrics generation coming and challenging what us baseball fans have come to believe as fact, the baseball writers (as a whole) has raged a war on the sabermetrics people. Instead of looking at the numbers and just entertaining baseball in a new light and picking and choosing where you cut off looking at the numbers — because you have to stop looking at the numbers and just enjoy the game at some point. (For the record, I have always cut off somewhere around the Win Probability) Even with Bill James and Brian Kenny being the public figures for the sabermetrics people they still sit back and enjoy the game that we have come to love.
Like many baseball fans (including Brian Kenny) look forward to this time of year because this is the time of year where the Hall of Fame columns come out that show how the writers around the country feel about the upcoming class. This class in particular is close to me because it has a lot of players that I have seen play. It also, for me, should have more players going in than normal.
There is no question that the Baseball Hall of Fame is the most prestigious Hall of Fame in all of sports being that you need 75% of the baseball writers to get in. For 2018, I think there should be four players getting their names forever edged in baseball history. Those four players are Vladimir Guerrero, Edgar Martinez, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome. I’ve seen all these players play and dominate baseball in some form — with the exclusion of Edgar Martinez because I started watching really paying attention to baseball in 2003 and I don’t remember the final two years of Martinez’ career.
There are a select few guys who should be a 1st ballot guy, and the fact that Guerrero wasn’t a 1st ballot guy is just a shame on all the baseball writers didn’t put the Vladdy Daddy in last year. Guerrero had 449 career homers, 1,496 RBI’s, scored over 100 runs in a season six times, a career .318 batting average, a .553 slugging, and a .931 OPS.
Usually it stops there but Guerrero was one of the best right fielder arms the game has ever seen. He played 150+ games in nine of his 16 seasons, Guerrero has 126 outfield assists, a fielding percentage of .963, and 3,169 putouts from right field. Guerrero also is an eight-time All-Star, a nine-time Sliver Slugger, and a MVP (while finishing in the top five for the MVP four times). Other than Francisco Rodriguez and Mike Trout, name me another Los Angeles or Anaheim Angel that has had more of an impact on that franchise in the history of the team? Vladimir Guerrero is arguably the 2nd or 3rd best Angel of all-time and arguably the best Montreal Expo of all-time. Guerrero needs to be in the Hall of Fame this year, he got 71.7% of the vote last year, so he is a shoe in for Hall this year… right? (I mean Guerrero also is a 59.3 win player compared to Trout’s WAR of 55.2.)
The fact that Edgar Martinez is entering his ninth year on the ballot and hasn’t got in yet is an absolute sin and all the baseball writers should write an apology letter to Martinez for being blind to his statistics and impact on baseball. There are many instances in sports that I don’t understand, like why Dwight Howard didn’t win the MVP in 2011, why the Seahawks didn’t run the ball four times with Marshawn Lynch in the Super Bowl against the Patriots, or why the Jets keep passing on franchise players year in and year out.
I hope that the question of “why Edgar Martinez isn’t in the Hall of Fame” ends this year. If Edgar Martinez didn’t play baseball we might not have DH’s like Frank Thomas, David Ortiz, or Jim Thome. There was DH’s before Edgar Martinez, but nobody impacted the game more than Martinez and made baseball look at how they should look at DH differently. Martinez has been hit with the statement that “DH’s only have to hit, they shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame.” Well, David Ortiz, who is considered the greatest Designated Hitter of All-Time only has a 55.4 WAR compared to Martinez’ 68.3, and Martinez had a short stint at third while Ortiz’ stint at first was more a mistake than a position decision. Martinez’ has a .933 OPS, .515 slugging, 2,247 hits (514 doubles), 309 homers, and 1,261 RBI’s. Martinez also has a .318 career batting average — which contributed to making him a two-time batting champion. In both seasons Martinez won the Silver Slugger along with the batting title. He is also a seven-time All-Star to put the cherry on top of the sundae that is Edgar Martinez’ career. With the way that writers minds changing in recent years, if the writers drop the ball on Edgar Martinez, it will continue to go down as one of the most head scratching sports questions. Oh yeah, and he had the hit that eliminated the Yankees with Don Mattingly in the 1995 playoffs…
Growing up as a Yankee fan throughout the 2000’s I had the pleasure of watching one of the All-Time great shortstops in Derek Jeter. Atlanta Braves fans had a similar pleasure while watching Chipper Jones. Jones isn’t at the level of an All-Timer because he never won a gold glove, but he has everything else.
From a Batting Title, to an MVP, and of course a World Series ring, there isn’t much that Chipper Jones hasn’t accomplish in the game of baseball. Jones had a .529 slugging, an .930 OBS, 2,726 hits (549 doubles), 468 homers, a .303 batting average, and was a game shy of playing 2,500 games over his 19-year career. Jones was the safety blanket that Braves fans could fall back on every year just like the Yankees could with Derek Jeter.
Chipper Jones also had a stretch of eight years where he played 150+ games which adds to his career WAR of 85 games. Oh, and by the way Jones had a .287 batting average, a .456 slugging, and an .864 OBP in the postseason with 13 homers and 47 RBI’s during those postseason runs. Jones might not be an All-Time third baseman, but he is for sure a 1st ballot Hall of Famer.
The last man on my 2018 Hall of Fame ballot is as my grandmother puts it “the original Yankee killer.” The reason why my grandmother calls Jim Thome that is because in 129 games against the Yankees, Thome has a .511 slugging, .880 OBP, 26 homers, and 72 RBI’s. So, basically in a season for some guys Thome killed the Yankees every time he stepped to the plate against them.
Now, just because you destroy one team doesn’t get you in the hall, and Thome has much more than the title of “original Yankee killer.” Thome has a .554 slugging, .956 OBP, a career WAR of 72.9, and the automatic golden ticket to enter the hall — 612 homers (without being linked to steroids). Thome is 8th on the All-Time home run list with those 612 homers while also has more RBI’s than Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken Jr., and Chipper Jones — while also being six RBI’s from both Reggie Jackson and Frank Thomas.
Thome is also tied with George Brett in runs scored with 1,583 and has more runs scored than Reggie Jackson and Tim Raines. Thome never won a World Series, and doesn’t have the personal awards like the others have but, you can’t seriously hold that against him when he had guys like Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, among others that were juicing to get the competitive edge to push Thome in the back seat of MVP talks and Silver Sluggers.
As we get into the “Steroid Era” gaining quickly with guys becoming eligible for the hall, Thome is one of the last people who has been marked clean with all the tests and is one of the connecting links from “old baseball writers” to these sabermetric writers.
Some Honorable Mentions for me: Mike Mussina, Scott Rolen, and Fred McGriff.
Baseball season is closer than you think with it being New Year’s Day 2018. Endure the cold and keep dreaming of warm summer days watching future Hall of Famers, but in the meantime, you can start having arguments about who gets into Cooperstown.