T.R.’s Memoirs: Unveiling my Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2023
(AP photo/LM Otero)
Editor’s note: T.R. Sullivan covered the Texas Rangers over 32 years for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and MLB.com and is sharing his “memoirs” with this newsletter. In this latest installment, Sullivan reveals his 2023 Hall of Fame ballot.
First of all, we know Fred McGriff is going into the Hall of Fame this summer, having been elected by the Veteran’s Committee.
He deserves to be there, whether by the Veteran’s Committee or the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Secondly, we know those players tainted by steroid suspicions aren’t going into the Hall of Fame anytime soon. That was shown again in December when the Veterans Committee failed to elect Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens or Rafael Palmeiro.
All three have already run out of chances with the BBWAA and now must hope some future form of the Veterans Committee will think better of them than the current one did.
That’s probably going to be the case with Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield. All three have 500-plus home runs and 1,600-plus RBI in their careers, but are falling short in the BBWAA voting.
To review, a player must be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast. Lasr year, 394 ballots were cast.
The 2023 ballot will be announced Tuesday.
This is the 24th year I have voted for the Hall of Fame. Here are the players I have checked off this year.
Alex Rodriguez: Yes, I am voting for him even though he is up to his ass in the steroids scandal, having been nailed not once but twice.
I have always declined the honor of sitting in judgment of the steroids era because I strongly don’t believe we have a true idea of who actually used them and who didn’t. So, basically, I vote for the best of the best from that group. Right now it’s Rodriguez. Ramirez and Sheffield aren’t getting in if Rodriguez isn’t elected.
And A-Rod ain’t getting elected, either with or without my vote. That’s just the way it is right now.
Scott Rolen: He is one of two guys I really feel strongly about on this year’s ballot. One of the top dozen or so third basemen in baseball history.
Billy Wagner. He is the other. Quite comparable to Mariano Rivera without the extensive postseason resume. Rich Gossage is another Hall of Famer who’s a decent comparison to Wagner. His numbers reflect an overpowering closer.
Then we have four guys who are borderline. I have gone back and forth on them in the past. None were on my ballot last year. I don’t think my vote is going to make a difference, but I am giving them all the benefit if the doubt this year.
Todd Helton: He has solid Hall of Fame credentials if you overlook the fact he played his entire career at Coors Field.
Jeff Kent: A second baseman who got a late start putting up Hall of Fame numbers. He was 29 before he had the first of eight 100-plus RBI seasons. That kept him from putting up no-doubt career numbers, and he wasn’t that good defensively at a premium defensive position.
Andruw Jones: The opposite of Kent. He fell off as an offensive hitter after turning 30, which cost him no-doubt career Hall of Fame numbers. But 10 Gold Gloves is tough to ignore with any player.
Jimmy Rollins: Kind of surprised he doesn’t get more support.
Anyway, I know writers aren’t supposed to go back and forth on guys. But we do. All I can tell you is I try to give everybody a fresh review every year, and there are legitimate arguments for each of the four guys above. They just aren’t completely convincing arguments. I have gone back and forth on all of these guys in past years.
This year all four are getting my vote. So are these players:
Torii Hunter: I suspect he is not long for the BBWAA ballot. You need to get at least 5 percent or get dropped off the ballot. Carlos Beltran, who is in his first year of eligibility, is probably the better candidate. But I have a high opinion of Hunter, and it won’t hurt for Beltran to wait a year or two after all the Houston Astros World Series shenanigans from a few years ago.
R.A. Dickey: Already wrote about him earlier.
Huston Street: He is not a Hall of Famer, but the native Texan should get at least one token vote as recognition for his character, competitiveness and pretty decent career.