The Apple's Hall of Fame Ballots
Throwing our votes in the hat with Tuesday’s announcement on deck...
It’s that time of year, again. The BBWAA announces their ballot voting results for the 2023 National Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
If you’ve been following along with Ryan Thibodeaux and his team operating the [invaluable, for those who keep track of such things] Hall of Fame Ballot Tracker, you know the score.
Former Rockies first-baseman Todd Helton and hot-corner extraordinaire Scott Rolen are currently the only two tracking above the 75 percent of votes necessary for induction (79.0% and 79.5%, respectively).
As more ballots are counted, generally, these numbers trend down. It’s entirely possible we may not see anyone elected this go-’round. We shall see. That doesn’t mean we can’t have our own brand of fun here at The Apple.
For your Cooperstown consideration….
Ryan Schlachter’s Ballot:
Bobby Abreu - Amassing 2,470 hits over 18 seasons and one of the best strike zone recognitions I saw live, Abreu should be in the Hall.
Carlos Beltran - My favorite Met position player of all time and one of the most under-appreciated players of the 2000s, Beltran had a stellar career. One of five players with 400 home runs with 300 stolen bases, only the fourth switch-hitter to have 400 homers and over 2,700 career hits to compliment his three gold gloves – Beltran is a no-doubt Hall of Famer.
Todd Helton - I thought he’d be the one to hit .400 because he was that good. 2,500+ hits is an accomplishment in and of itself, but a career .414 OBP, .539 SLG, and .953 OPS are absolutely elite.
Torii Hunter - Him throwing the ball back at Danys Baéz after getting plunked is worthy alone for entry, but 353 career home runs, 2,452 hits, and nine Gold Gloves made Hunter a premier center fielder during the 2000s.
Andruw Jones - There are only two outfields in baseball history with more Gold Gloves: Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. He’s a World Series champion, has 434 career home runs, and is one of the best gloves in history.
Manny Ramírez - In addition to being one of the most entertaining personalities in the sport, Ramirez was a nightmare for pitchers in his career. His career line is outrageous: .333/.411/.585/.996 - not to mention his 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs.
Alex Rodriguez - Was he likable? Meh. Would it have been a disaster if he bought the Mets? Definitely. Is he one of the most talented players to ever play? Absolutely. With three MVP awards, two Gold Gloves, 14 All-Star appearances, 696 home runs, 3,115 hits, and 2,086 RBIs, the only reason to not vote for A-Rod is a personal preference.
Scott Rolen - A career filled with 2,077 career hits, 313 home runs, and eight Gold Gloves made Rolen one of the best third basemen of his era. This shouldn’t even be a discussion.
Gary Sheffield - Call me a traditionalist, but if you reach the 500 home run benchmark, you should be in the Hall. Let’s also not forget that Sheffield probably has the most imitated stances in the history of the game.
Billy Wagner - Sixth all-time in saves with 442, sixth all-time in strikeouts for relievers with 1,196 - not putting Wagner in the Hall is egregious at this point.
Eric Belyea’s Ballot:
As someone who is not a *Big Hall Guy*, this year’s ballot was seemingly underwhelming. However, I found myself giving four guys the nod to Cooperstown in 2023. I also made one of the most obvious changes on the ballot, for selfish reasons.
Carlos Beltrán - You could argue #15 is the best centerfielder in Mets history, and the best center fielder of our generation prior to Mike Trout. Beltrán’s numbers speak for themselves, as do his accolades (AL Rookie of the year (1999), 9x all-star, 3x Gold Gloves, 2x Silver Slugger). The only stain on his career is the Astros cheating scandal back in 2017, but that shouldn’t tarnish the overall player he was.
Jeff Kent - It is pretty scary that Craig Biggio got in before the all-time home run leader amongst second basemen, but alas here we are. In his last year on the ballot, Kent boasts a 2000 MVP award with the San Francisco Giants, and the aforementioned 377 long balls. Kent shouldn’t have had to wait this long, but I give him the nod in 2023.
Alex Rodríguez - Yeaaaaaaaaaahhh… Personally, I find myself putting him in the “he was a Hall of Famer before the PED situation occurred” category, ala Barry Bonds (he should be in too). Fourth-most homers in the history of this game, a three-time MVP award winner, and countless Silver Slugger awards, A-Rod should be in.
Billy Wagner - One of the best relievers of all time, the former Met closer deserves to have a spot in Cooperstown. Over his 903 IP out of the back end of every bullpen, Wags averaged over a strikeout per inning. His SO/9 is at a whopping 11.9 for his career, and he boasts a 2.31 career ERA.
The seven-time All-Star is sixth all-time in saves. With a better 15-year career than current Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, minus the save number, the fireballing southpaw should 100% be in.
Tim Ryder’s Ballot:
Oh, I’m definitely a *Big Hall Guy*. And you already know we’re using all 10. Let’s go…
Bobby Abreu - Over the course of Abreu’s peak seasons (an elongated 1998-to-2009 span), he hit .301/.406/.497. His on-base percentage over that stretch was 13th among all qualified MLB hitters. His 56.7 fWAR was eighth, just below Scott Rolen. His 472 doubles ranked second, behind only Todd Helton. As noted, both are currently above the threshold. Next!
Carlos Beltrán - Beltrán was the cream of the outfield crop for pretty much the duration of his career. We won’t skate around his troubles in Houston, though being the only player named in the league’s report of their transgressions did seem a bit peculiar… and targeted. Anywho, a .282/.357/.501 line over a 17-year stretch (2001 to 2016; 1998 to 2017, full career), nine career ASG appearances, et al should make him a shoo-in. Hope it comes to fruition.
Todd Helton - Much has been made—and this is going back to his playing days—about Helton’s success in the hitter-friendly, thin-air confines of Denver, CO. Fortunately for us, we have statistics to comb thru that stuff. His career 132 wRC+, which includes park adjustments, ranked 43rd (1997 to 2013). From 1998 through 2007—his “peak”, in the thick of the Steroid Era—that number jumped to 143 and ranked 17th among the same group. In.
Andruw Jones - To be honest, I’ve been convinced of Jones’ candidacy over the years. To me, he was an outstanding player but not a Hall of Famer. I’ve chosen to defer to smarter baseball minds. A glove like the one he carried doesn't come along often. Plus, this doesn’t actually matter. Onward!
Jeff Kent - Before Robinson Canó’s career arc was tainted, Jeff Kent was arguably the greatest offensive second-baseman in the history of the game, even if he eventually moved to third. Funny how these things work. Last year on the ballot, sure, why not.
Manny Ramírez and Alex Rodriguez - Lumping these two together. Both are undoubtedly Hall of Fame talents. Both experienced Hall of Fame off-the-field downfalls. Both are beyond respected as a couple of the greatest hitters of their or any other time. They get my vote.
Scott Rolen - We’ve already discussed his value as an offensive and defensive player over his career above. I’m honestly just curious how he hasn’t been elected yet. Hopefully, this is the year.
Gary Sheffield - Here’s a curious one. Five-hundred home runs are nothing to scoff at (509, actually). Neither is a career .292/.393/.514 batting line. Or a 153 OPS+ from 1992 through 2005 (!!!!). Do you get where I’m going with this? And if you haven’t already noticed, I’m wholly unaffected by PED attachments. It was a part of the game. Can’t escape that. And we certainly shouldn’t gatekeep. I choose to embrace it. All of it.
Billy Wagner - Actually wrote about this at length last year! Obviously, Wags is a Hall of Famer. Trevor Hoffman, who is a Hall of Famer, doesn’t even have the resumé Wagner does. Get it done.
This was fun! Drop your votes below and check out MLB Network on Tuesday night to watch the announcement.
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