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Revealing my Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2023

 

 

The National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the results from voting for the Class of 2023 on Tuesday, and there’s a chance that no one will appear on at least 75 percent of ballots from eligible voters from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Newcomer Carlos Beltran could fall short, with his candidacy tainted by the Astros cheating scandal. Alex Rodriguez’s campaign is hindered by two positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs. Manny Ramirez tested positive three times.

None of the three got my vote, even though I voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. They never failed a test, because MLB didn’t test for PEDs during the height of their careers. It wasn’t a rule.

MLB made a lot of money on those steroid guys, so they got my vote.

With testing in place, any player who tests positive won’t get my vote because he is breaking a written-in-stone rule.

It’s a fine line, but I’m OK toeing it.

With the steroid guys and Curt Schilling off the ballot, that cleared up a lot of room. However, I didn’t vote for the maximum of 10. I wanted to save one spot for a certain Rangers Hall of Famer who will be on the ballot next year.

Here are the eight who received my vote, in alphabetical order.

Todd Helton: It’s not Helton’s fault he played in Coors Field. He broke through not long after in the expansion area, while in the thick of the steroid era, and benefited from some watered-down pitching. Again, not his fault.

Yes, he has some pretty significant road/home splits, but it’s not like he was hanging around the Mendoza Line when not at elevation (.298/.387/.449). His power numbers faded late in his career, but he also dealt with injuries in five of his final six seasons.

Helton won three Gold Gloves, so he wasn’t just all bat.

Andruw Jones: Fred McGriff will join Chipper Jones and the three great Braves starting pitchers this year in the Hall of Fame, where manager Bobby Cox also has a home. Andruw Jones had a hand in all of their success, producing at the plate and playing some of the best center field in baseball history.

He faded quickly at the end of his career, including the 2009 season with the Rangers, but his Hall of Fame resume was already complete.

Jeff Kent: One of the most productive second baseman in baseball history, Kent is enjoying a surge in balloting this cycle with the suspected steroid users off the ballot.

I’ve checked his box every year I’ve had a vote. He’s the all-time leader in home runs (377) by a second baseman and collected eight 100-RBI seasons. Kent, along with Hall of Famer Ryan Sandberg, helped redefine the position, where production is now a necessity for teams that want to contend.

Francisco Rodriguez: Baseball created the closer, and not enough of them are in the Hall of Fame. Pitching at a time when Mariano Rivera hogged the entire ninth-inning spotlight, Rodriguez set the single-season record for saves in a season and is fourth all time in saves (437).

The three guys ahead of him — Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith — are in the Hall of Fame. Rodriguez’s numbers are strikingly similar to those of another closer on the ballot. I voted for both.

Scott Rolen: Simply put, Rolen is one of the best third basemen in baseball history.

He won eight Gold Glove Awards, fourth all time at the position, and he’s the primary reason Adrian Beltre won only five Gold Gloves as the went head to head in the National League.

Rolen finished with a .855 career OPS, which is a little better than middle of the pack among Hall of Fame position players. His career bWAR of 70.1 is 10th all time among third baseman. Eight of the nine ahead of him are in the Hall, and the other, Beltre, soon will be.

Jimmy Rollins: One of the best shortstops of his era, Rollins was a complete player. He hit for power, stole bases and was a Gold Glove winner. He won the MVP in 2007, and he led the Phillies to the world championship in 2008.

His is a borderline candidacy. Rollins’ career bWAR ranks of 47.6 ranks well below the 67.7 average WAR of the 23 shortstops in the Hall of Fame, and some of his career numbers say that he was a below-average offensive player. But I’m a big era guy, and Rollins passes that test.

Gary Sheffield: There is a steroids link with Sheffield, who admitted to taking the infamous “cream” from Balco Laboratories under the belief that it was cortisone, that Bonds also used,. It was before MLB cracked down on the juice, and he never had the monster power seasons that others who allegedly used steroids did.

Sheffield put up Hall-worthy numbers — 509 homers and a .907 OPS. He also walked 304 more times than he struck out. That’s pretty refreshing these days, isn’t it?

Billy Wagner: The second closer to receive my vote is Wagner, a hard-throwing left-hander whose numbers aren’t too far off from the great Rivera. Wagner didn’t have nearly as much work in the postseason, though, and maybe that’s why he has been overlooked.

Wagner is sixth all time in saves with 422, struck out 1,196 hitters in 903 innings, and held opponents to a .187 average. Bonds was only 3 for 14 against him.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com

Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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6 Comments

  1. Lee Schafer January 22, 2023

    Hall of Fame is always in the eye of the beholder. So when someone gets the 75% of votes, that person is truly a HOFer. But unfortunately there are far too many guys left out of the HOF because of some sportswriter’s biases and not because of a player’s performance.

    I understand that many think that the taking of steroids was cheating, yet those same writers readily vote for a Carlos Beltran, a Whitey Ford, Gaylord Perry or a George Brett, all guys that broke established rules in the game and cheated. Evidently, sportswriters see different degrees in cheating. If you took steroids so that you could work harder and improve you are cheating. But if you sat on your butt and let some one flash you illegally stolen signs so you can cheat your way to a WC, that’s OK we will over that.

    I thought your approach to the steroid users is very fair and exactly the way the problem should be approached. If the player failed drug tests they should not even be eligible to be on the ballot, but if not, it is only speculation that the person was a user. The time factor also should be at work here, there was no testing prior to 2003. I hope you will also take the high road when it comes to voting on Carlos Beltran in the future, or ever voting for any hitter that played for the Houston Astros in 2017, 2018, or 2019. These players did not even have the curtesy, to a least work harder to be better players, they all took the lazy way of cheating by having it handed to them.

    Reply
    1. Jeff Wilson January 22, 2023

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Lee. Beltran is a tough case. He’s borderline to begin with, and the cheating doesn’t help his case. Next year’s ballot has Adrian Beltre and Joe Mauer. The Class of 2025 has Ichiro, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia and Francisco Liriano. Beltran is going to get squeezed.

      Reply
  2. deGrom Texas Ranger January 22, 2023

    No Arod or Bonds makes it wasteful to read

    Reply
  3. Hasleek January 23, 2023

    FYI Rollins won the MVP in 2007 (not 2008)

    Reply
    1. Jeff Wilson January 25, 2023

      The years all run together. Thanks for pointing it out. I fixed it.

      Reply
  4. Kreg January 26, 2023

    DoIIn’t see how you can leave off Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez and yet have Gary Sheffield. Otherwise, I think you have a good ballot although your logic, whatever it might be makes no sense to me. I would like to see Sheffield, Ramirez and Rodriguez all in the HOF.,

    Reply

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