Last year, in the inaugural vote, our writers elected Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, and Manny Ramirez to the Call To The Bullpen Hall of Fame presented by CSMN.
First, a little background on how our ballot process works. The four players who we elected last year were removed from the ballot, although they remained on the BBWA ballot. It was also determined that this year any players who don’t receive 1 vote would be dropped from next year’s ballot. There are nine voters this year, compared to 13 last year. This year the number of votes needed to be elected was seven, or 77.8%.
I feel again it is my duty as the Host of Call To The Bullpen to make public and explain my selections. Once again, I voted for the maximum number of players allowed. I believe there are more than 10 deserving players on this ballot, but 10 is the limit. My selections were:
Bobby Abreu- Bobby Abreu played an 18-year career for the Astros, Phillies, Yankees, Dodgers, and Mets. Over those 18 years, he amassed 2,470 hits, 1,363 RBI, and a .291/.395/.475 stat line. He won a Gold Glove in 2005, a Silver Slugger in 2004, and was an All-Star in both of those years. On the surface, he is a borderline candidate. I tend to value a player’s peak when evaluating their Hall of Fame status, and Bobby Abreu’s peak years included 8 100+ RBI seasons, 6 years with a .300+ avg, and 13 years with 150+ games played. To me, this is a Hall of Fame career.
Tim Hudson- Tim Hudson is the Nick Markakis of pitchers. He was a guy who flew under the radar because of his quiet personality but was rock steady on the field for 17 years. Hudson was the definition of someone who played the game “the right way.” His career is nearly identical in numbers to surefire Hall of Famer Zack Grienke and better than likely Hall of Famer Jon Lester. He quietly made 4 All-Star teams while finishing top five in Cy Young voting three times and 15th in MVP voting in 2000. Hudson gave his team what they needed nearly every time he took the mound, posting a career 3.49 era, 1.239 WHIP, and 2080 strikeouts while winning 62.5% of decisions. I know others may not see in Hudson what I do, but he deserves the Hall of Fame and at the very least to stay on the ballot, so he gets my vote.
Torii Hunter- Peter Parker who? The Spiderman of the baseball world is Torii Hunter. Only Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Ichiro, Andruw Jones and Ken Griffey Jr. have won more Gold Gloves in the outfield than Hunter’s nine. Take some of the best outfield defense in MLB history and sprinkle in 2,452 hits, 353 home runs, 1391 RBI, and slash of .277/.331/.461/.793 and you have yourself a Hall of Fame ballplayer.
Jeff Kent- Jeff Kent was a great baseball player, and a pretty good Survivor player. Kent’s 377 home runs are the most ever by a second baseman. He also recorded 2,461 hits and 1,518 RBI in his 17-year career with the Giants, Mets, Dodgers, Indians, Blue Jays, and Astros. He had 12 seasons of 20+ home runs and won the 2000 NL MVP, 4 Silver Sluggers, and 5 All-Star nominations. He finished his career with a .290/.356/.500 batting line, and although it doesn’t count towards his Hall of Fame candidacy Jeff’s 6 challenge wins in Survivor after tearing his MCL on day 1 just exemplifies the kind of competitor he was in baseball and life. Jeff Kent belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Tim Lincecum- Lincecum is definitely the biggest stretch on my ballot, but allow me to make my case. Lincecum was an integral part of the greatest dynasty of the 21st century thus far. Although his prime was shorter than the typical Hall of Fame pitcher, it was so great that he accumulated everything you could ask of a Hall of Famer. The highlights of The Freak’s career include back-to-back Cy Young awards, four All-Star selections, two no-hitters, and three World Series titles. He led the league in strikeouts and SO/9 three consecutive years, and FIP twice. He was a star that fizzled out quickly but was so bright in his peak that you cannot tell the story of baseball without him.
David Ortiz- I voted for Bonds, Clemens, and Manny last year so you know I don’t have issues with steroid guys in the Hall. On top of that, there are lots of questions around Ortiz’s 2003 test, and he never failed another one in hundreds of tests after that. Ortiz was a 10x All-Star and the face of three Red Sox World Series championship teams while accumulating 541 home runs, 2,472 hits, 1,768 RBI, and a slash of .286/.380/.552/.931. The Home Run Derby champ and 7x Silver Slugger winner is a rare example of an athlete who hung up his cleats while playing at an elite level after an MVP caliber 2016 season.
Andy Pettite- Petite is another guy who was rock solid for his team on a consistent basis. His 18-year career for the Astros and the great Yankees dynasty included five World Series championships, 256 wins, 2,448 strikeouts, a 1.351 WHIP, and 3.8 ERA. He was a workhorse for his teams, starting 30 games in 13 of his 18 seasons, and had the greatest left-handed pickoff move in the history of the game.
Scott Rolen- Rolen’s 8 Gold Gloves at the hot corner has him tied for third-most all-time. He was known as an elite defender, but he could also swing the stick. Rolen hit 316 home runs, recorded 2,077 hits, and drove in 1,287 RBI in his 17-year career with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Reds. He was the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, winner of the 2002 Silver Slugger, and was selected for 7 All-Star games in addition to being a key piece for the 2006 World Champion Cardinals. Rolen’s superb defense and well above average bat earn him my vote for the Hall of Fame.
Gary Sheffield- I. Do. Not. Care. Gary Sheffield was a force at the plate and showed versatility in the field, appearing at right field, third base, and shortstop in his 22-year career. A member of the 500 home run club, Sheffield also recorded 2,689 hits and 1,676 RBI while posting a slash line of .292/.393/.514. He won the 1992 batting title, along with 5 Silver Sluggers, 9 All-Star nods, and the 1997 World Series title. He had 8 seasons of 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI, and 9 seasons of a .300+ average. Say what you want, Garry Sheffield is a Hall of Famer.
Billy Wagner- This was a tough one. Wagner’s 422 saves rank 6th all-time, and two of those above him are not Hall of Famers. What makes Billy Wagner different? Wagner was a 7-time All-Star who twice finished top 10 in Cy Young voting as a reliever. In his 16 year career, he had an ERA above 2.85 just once, including 6 seasons with an ERA under 2.00. He saved 30+ games 9 times and even finished in the top 25 for MVP voting twice. Calling a relief pitcher a Hall of Famer is tough, but Billy Wagner’s dominance more than qualifies him for the Hall of Fame.
There are three players on the ballot that I didn’t vote for that I believe had Hall of Fame careers. I didn’t vote for them because I believe there are more than 10 deserving players on the ballot and these players had circumstances that made me feel comfortable leaving them off this year in favor of other deserving players.
Andruw Jones- Andruw Jones had a rare combination of stellar defense and unbelievable power. Winner of 10 Gold Gloves, Jones is tied for the 2nd most for an outfielder in MLB history. He also accumulated 434 home runs, 1,289 RBI, 1,933 hits, and a 50+ home run season in 2005. Jones was a unique player who will be a Hall of Famer but has some disturbing issues with domestic violence. I voted for him last year, and will again in the future, but I felt comfortable leaving him off this year on a packed ballot.
Álex Rodríguez- A-Rod is one of the best players to ever play the game, and I believe our writers may vote him in before I have a chance to vote for him. Due to the fact that he failed not one, but two drug tests and was suspended an entire season I feel fine leaving him off on his first ballot in favor of other players. If he doesn’t get in this year I will vote for him in the future.
Sammy Sosa- Sosa is one that if I could go back, maybe I would vote for. He is a player who went from good to great due to steroids, unlike Bonds or Clemens who were great before juicing. However, Sosa saved baseball and you absolutely cannot tell the story of baseball without Sammy Sosa. This is the one that maybe I got wrong.