When choosing the players, my goal was to look for players that left some sort of legacy. This ranges from what they could do with the bat, the glove, or both, as well as career statistics and for some players, their postseason legacies. Here’s who I voted into the Call to the Bullpen’s Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
Torii Hunter is the first guy for me on the list. Five all-star appearances, two silver sluggers, and nine gold gloves, which is the third most of all time for a centerfielder behind Ken Griffey Jr., Andruw Jones (both tied with ten), and Willie Mays with 12. Don’t sleep on Hunter’s offense either, as. from 2001 to 2011, Hunter recorded at least 500 plate appearances and hit at least 20 home runs. He also had a slugging percentage of .450 or higher 10 consecutive years and in 12 of 13 seasons. With 2,452 hits, 353 home runs, and 1,391 RBIs, Hunter’s offense is borderline, but the elite defense sets him over the top.
It baffles me that Andruw Jones is not in the Hall of Fame, as he arguably had one of the best ten-year peaks by any baseball player. In a ten-year stretch from 1998 to 2007, Jones was easily one of the best players in baseball, period. His WAR from that stretch was 57.6, which was third in all of baseball behind Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds. From 1998 to 2007, Jones won ten gold gloves second all-time for a center fielder, only behind Willie Mays, and also hit at least 25 home runs and 84 runs batted in every season in that span.
2005 was the icing on Jones’ career, in which he led the National League with 51 home runs and 128 runs batted in, won a gold glove and silver slugger, and finished second in the MVP race. Even during his decline, he still had an OPS+ at least 100 each year from 2009-to 2011. Jones also has over 400 career home runs, and while he has less than 2,000 career MLB hits at 1,933, Jones’ ten-year peak to me solidifies his Hall of Fame case.
He was a great Survivor candidate, but Jeff Kent is also arguably the greatest power-hitting second basemen the game has ever seen. His best years especially were with the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros, in which hit at least 22 home runs each year from 1997 to 2005 and drove in at least 100 runs each season except 2003 during that span. His eight seasons of 100 or more runs batted in is more than Hall of Famers such as Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, Charlie Gehringer, and Paul Molitor. Kent also has the most home runs ever hit by a second baseman at 351, and although people thought of him as a poor defender, he actually sits right around MLB average, with a 1.2 career defensive WAR.
Kent also has the most career home runs as a second baseman with 354, and to top it all off, he won the MVP in 2000, which is even more impressive considering Barry Bonds was his teammate. Overall, Kent is the best power-producing second baseman in MLB history, and the man known for his hard work, gritty style of a career deserves a trip to the hall.
Big Papi, the greatest clutch and designated hitter the game has ever seen, made him the easiest yes putting together my ballot. 541 homers, 632 doubles, 1,768 RBIs, a .380 on-base percentage, and a .552 slugging percentage, and one of three players ever with at least 500 homers and 600 doubles. If those are not Hall of Fame numbers, then I do not know what is. On top of all that, Ortiz would always elevate his game on the biggest stage in the postseason.
First, he won the 2004 ALCS MVP after helping the Red Sox come three games to none against the arch-rival Yankees. Then proceeded to win three World Series titles in 2004, 2007, and 2013, being named the MVP of the latter of the titles. Peak never seemed to be a thing in Ortiz’s career either, as in his farewell season at the age of 40, he finished sixth in MVP voting and won the American League Hank Aaron award. Sure, there are questions about a 2003 positive steroid test, but there are also issues about the legitimacy of it, and he got tested hundreds of times since then and remained clean. Boston and the Hall will forever be his “f***ing city.”
Whether you love him or you hate him, Alex Rodriguez is an all-time baseball great. A three-time MVP, he is eighth all-time in runs scored with 2,021 and fourth in runs batted in, with 2,086. Only Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth are the only other players with at least 2,000 runs and runs batted in. He also has 696 career home runs, which is fourth all-time, over 3,100 hits, a 40/40 season, and is 12th in WAR all-time with 117.5. Of course, steroids are forever going to be stained on his legacy, as he admitted to using and was even suspended for them for the entire 2014 season after his involvement in the infamous Biogenesis scandal. The way I see it though is that if the Hall of Fame is already letting guys who have knowingly taken PEDs in, then A-Rod, who was doing things that even steroid users could not do, should be a no-brainer.
Scott Rolen is the definition of underrated. It is certainly hard to stand out when you are playing on a stacked St. Louis Cardinals team during the majority of his prime, but he was such a key piece to their success. He was a wizard at the hot corner has eight career gold gloves at the position, which is fourth all-time behind Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt, and Nolan Arenado, and is one of 15 infielders ever with at least eight gold gloves. He also ranks among the top 15 third basemen with home runs (316), RBI (1,287), and slugging percentage (.490).
Rolen was very consistent during his prime, never hitting below 25 home runs from 1998-2004, and had over 100 RBIs in five seasons during that run. There are only nine players in Major League history who have had a longer span with those stats. He also helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the 2006 World Series, and also has a career WAR of 70.1, which is the ninth highest amongst all third basemen who ever played the game. With an elite glove and an above-average bat, Rolen is well-deserving of a spot on my ballot.
If it was game seven of the World Series, and I am choosing any pitcher to win me that game, my money will forever be on Curt Schilling. A 79.5 WAR, a 127 ERA+, and being one of nineteen players ever to have over 3,000 strikeouts within his career show that Schilling has the stats worthy for the Hall.
Not to mention, he was twice named the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year for the National League. However, his legacy lies within the postseason, as he is 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA, striking out 120 and walking only 25 in his 19 games pitched in October. Who could forget the “Bloody Sock Game” either, when he took the mound with a torn tendon and helped the Boston Red Sox continue their 3-0 comeback against the Yankees? He won three World Series, and NLCS MVP in 1993, and along with Randy Johnson, was named the 2001 World Series MVP. Sure, there is the argument that he never won a Cy Young, or that he only has 216 career wins, but Curt Schilling was among the game’s finest and is plain and simple, a winner.
Known for his waggling batting stance and violent swing, Gary Sheffield was among the most feared hitters in all of baseball throughout the 90s and early 2000s. He had a long career of 22 seasons and had 2,689 career hits, 509 home runs, 1,676 runs batted in, a .907 OPS, and a 140 OPS+. He also had an exceptionally long peak as a player, with his best years coming from 1992 to 2005. During that span, he had at least 20 home runs in 13 of those seasons, over 100 RBIs in eight of those seasons, and had an OPS over 1.000 five times. In addition, his 153 OPS+ during that span was the fourth-best in baseball, only behind Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, and Manny Ramirez.
He also won a batting title in 1992 batting .330, had three top three MVP vote finishes, helped bring the Marlins their first World Series title in 1997, and was named the 1992 TSN MLB Player of the Year. While there is suspicion that he was on PEDs during the majority of his peak, he never failed a drug test, and even if he did take steroids, the Hall has already seen users voted in before. Sheffield was among the most feared hitters the game has ever seen, and his overall success with the bat deserves him a spot.
Slammin’ Sammy Sosa is among the best power-hitters the game has ever seen. You cannot tell the story of baseball without him, and his role during the “Summer of ‘98” quite honestly saved the game of baseball after the 1994 strike. His career was much more than that though, as he had a 30/30 season, led the league in homers and RBIs twice each, had seven top 10 MVP finishes, including winning one in 1998, and hit at least 35 homers for ten consecutive seasons.
From 1998 to 2002, Sosa had arguably one of the best five-year stretches we have ever seen from a major league player, hitting .306 with 292 homers, 705 RBIs, a 1.046 OPS, and a 167 OPS+. He hit over 60 home runs in three of those seasons and knocked in over 130 runs in four of those seasons. Of course, like a few others on this ballot, there are the steroid allegations, but if others can get in, Sosa should too. His power tool is among the elite with 609 career home runs and 1,667 RBIs, with one of the best primes we have ever seen, Sosa gets my vote.
Would you believe me if I said that a division three baseball player would be in consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame one day? Well, Billy Wagner is that guy folks. Arguably the best left-handed reliever the game has ever seen, he struck out 1,196 batters in 903 innings, or 1.3 strikeouts per inning, during his 16-year career. While his 422 career saves are a bit on the lower side for Hall consideration, Wagner has the second-best career ERA (2.31) and ERA+ (187) in the history of the game and is the all-time leader in strikeouts per 9 innings with 11.9, WHIP at 0.998, and batting average against at .187 (minimum 750 IP). Wagner was also named the Rolaids Reliever of the Year in 1999, was a seven time all-star, and was part of a combined no-hitter in 2003. Throughout his career, Wagner never had an ERA higher then 2.85 in any full season, and only blew 27 saves in 16 seasons. Consistency never was an issue for Wagner either, as he pitched 1.43 ERA, saving 37 games, and striking out 104, in his last season. He may not be the best like Mo, but he is one of the best, and that gives him my vote.
My criteria in creating my list included the use of voting for the maximum ten players. Looking at some of the public MLB writer’s ballots, it pains me to see when they only vote for three or four guys, and leave everyone else off, especially the type of players they choose not to vote for. I went through each player and made the decision to vote for the maximum of ten players.
I am so very excited that I was selected to have a ballot for the Call To The Bullpen Hall of Fame for the class of 2022 electees. I personally would like to thank David Payne and Brad Zsampar for giving me a ballot and helping to play a part in helping elect our newest class. It is an honor that I deeply appreciate, and spent hours putting together a list of ten potential electees that I deem are hall of fame worthy.