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Andy Pettitte. Imagine via Wikipedia.

Evaluating the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Some of the best MLB players of the recent past will be vying for induction into the Cooperstown shrine

Andrew Martin
Nov 23, 2020 · 5 min read

The 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was recently released for the consideration of voters. Results will be unveiled on January 26th. With candidates needing to obtain at least 75 percent of the vote to gain induction, and no more than 10 players being able to be selected by any one voter, it’s a tough row to hoe to find baseball immortality in Cooperstown. Taking a look at the list of eligible former players, there are some with compelling cases and others who shouldn’t get their hopes up too high.

Curt Schilling, Pitcher: Although his behavior off the field can be offensive and off-putting, his resume on the mound, including 216 wins and a reputation of being perhaps the best postseason pitcher of all time (11–2 with a 2.23 ERA) makes him worthy of the honor. YES

Roger Clemens, Pitcher: With 354 career wins and seven Cy Young awards on his resume, the only thing keeping the right-hander out is his connection to PEDs. With so much murkiness surrounding who did what, and what impact it all had, he needs to be in. YES

Barry Bonds, Outfielder: Despite hitting .298 with an all-time record of 762 home runs, the left-handed slugger has the same taint as Clemens. However, there is no denying his talent and impact on the game. Put him in. YES

Omar Vizquel, Shortstop: The slick fielder may not have actually been quite as good as his defensive reputation suggests, but he was still an all-time great with the glove. He collected 2,877 hits in 24 seasons, but hit just .272 with 80 home runs, which just isn’t quite enough. NO

Scott Rolen, Third Baseman: He’d be a slam dunk if injuries hadn’t robbed him of many games of his 17-year career. However, he still hit .281 with 316 home runs, while playing dazzling defense, making his resume better than a number of third sackers already in the Hall. YES

Billy Wagner, Pitcher: With a 2.31 ERA, 422 saves and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings, there’s a reasonable argument to make that the lefty is the second greatest closer of all time, behind Mariano Rivera. YES

Gary Sheffield, Outfielder: Despite being a liability in the field, he was a terror at the plate. In 22 years, he hit .292 with 509 home runs and 1,676 RBIs. Those are Cooperstown numbers. YES

Todd Helton, First Baseman: In 17 seasons, he hit .316 with 369 home runs and 1,406 RBIs. However, his star production lasted for only the first 10 years of his career and he played half his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field (he hit .287 on the road for his career). NO

Manny Ramirez, Outfielder: Episodes of poor behavior and PED suspensions cloud his reputation, but with a .312 career batting average to go along with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs, he was one of the best hitters of the past half century in between the drama. YES

Jeff Kent, Second Baseman: With a .290 batting average, 377 home runs and 1,518 RBIs, he has one of the best offensive resumes of any player at his position of all-time. Throw in being a better than usually credited defender and he should be a no brainer. YES

Andruw Jones, Outfielder: At his peak, the right-handed batter was the best defensive outfielder in baseball, and perhaps the best at his position of all time with the leather. Unfortunately, his days of being an impact player ended before he hit the age of 30. Still, with strong peak of a decade and 434 home runs, he is deserving of being inducted, a la Ozzie Smith. YES

Sammy Sosa, Outfielder: Another player associated with PEDs, he hit .273 with 609 home runs (ninth all time) and 1,667 RBIs. He was also one of the most popular players in the game during his career and played a large role in helping bring fans back after the damaging 1994–95 player’s strike. YES

Andy Pettitte, Pitcher: He had 256 wins in 18 years, but he also had a 3.85 ERA and 1.35 WHIP; neither of which was anything special. He is a first-ballot Hall of Very Good player. NO

Bobby Abreu, Outfielder: A very underrated offensive force, he got on base 24 more times in his career than the legendary Tony Gwynn in 151 less plate appearances. His counting totals of a .291 batting average, 288 home runs, 1,363 RBIs and 400 stolen bases are more of a reflection of today’s game than a lack of production. Just not enough room for him this year. NO

Tim Hudson, Pitcher: With 222 career victories to go along with a 3.49 ERA and 1.24 ERA, he has a sneakily good case; perhaps even better than Pettitte. He would be a low-end candidate if he got in eventually, but it won’t be this time around. NO

Mark Buehrle, Pitcher: The lefty won double-digit games in each of the final 15 years of his 16-year career. It might have been a perfect run except he only tossed 51.1 innings during his rookie season. He was never viewed as one of the top handful of pitchers in the game, yet still tallied a 214–160 record with a 3.81 ERA. NO

Torii Hunter, Outfielder: In 19 seasons, he hit .277 with 353 home runs and 1,391 RBIs. He was also known as one of the best defenders in the game, although that reputation may have been a little overblown due to his penchant for climbing walls for balls. It’s hard to justify him gaining induction, especially in his first time on the ballot. NO

The remaining players under consideration, Dan Haren, Barry Zito, Aramis Ramirez, Shane Victorino, A.J. Burnett. Nick Swisher, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer, all had excellent careers but have no reasonable path to Cooperstown outside of purchasing a ticket.

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Andrew Martin

Written by

Dabbler in history & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about diversity, culture, sports and education.

SportsRaid

Original reporting and curated sports data journalism. Actively looking for additional writers.

Andrew Martin

Written by

Dabbler in history & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about diversity, culture, sports and education.

SportsRaid

Original reporting and curated sports data journalism. Actively looking for additional writers.

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