Being a member of the Internet Baseball Writer’s Association of America means that it’s time for IBWAA Hall of Fame voting. This is my first year in the process and I’m excited about participating. The only thing that people need to know about my voting process is that I’m not someone who believes that only a player’s Major League Baseball career should count. I’m looking at a player’s career in totality, unaffiliated and affiliated, regular season and playoffs.
The rules are pretty simple, vote for up to 12 candidates. I’m not sure how long a player can remain on the IBWAA ballot, but otherwise, that’s all you need to know. Also, certain players aren’t on this ballot that are on the Baseball Writer’s Association of America ballot and that’s because they were already elected to the IBWAA Hall of Fame. With those caveats in mind here’s my ballot, players with the yellow X received my vote.
Hall of Famers
Todd Helton and Larry Walker both fall into the category of guys who are penalized far too much for where they played. Yeah, Helton spent his entire career in Coors Field while Walker spent his prime years there. Still, both put up numbers on the road that matched their Coors production. Helton put up a career slash line of .357/.467/.599 with a total of 63.8 bWAR. Walker was slightly lesser with a slash line of .305/.401/.553 and 63.2 bWAR. Add in that both players were great fielders, Walker was also a good baserunner, and I don’t see the argument that these two don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.
Derek Jeter is a no brainer. He was a terrible fielder and hurt himself at the end of his career by batting leadoff when he couldn’t get on base. The rest of his career was stellar, with both longevity, regular season, and postseason success that makes him a Hall of Famer without question. The same is true for Manny Ramírez and Gary Sheffield. They have Hall of Fame numbers that I don’t need to regurgitate for you. The only thing holding them back has been the performance-enhancing drug cloud. I’ll be honest, I don’t care if a player used PEDs. Of course, I would prefer that the players didn’t use PEDs. That being said, they still have to take the field and perform at a certain level regardless of what’s in their system.
Sammy Sosa has the shroud of PEDs just like Sheffield and Ramírez, but he’s further hurt by other factors. I can understand someone not voting Sosa into the Hall. He went from a guy who could hit and run to a guy who hit monster jacks and nothing else. He struck out far too often, and his peak years didn’t last anywhere near as long as they should have. Shortness aside, his peak years were monstrous and it’s on the back of those years, and some admitted Chicago Cubs bias, that I’m voting for Sammy.
Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones present similar cases. Neither man was ever thought of as being the very best when they played. Jones was considered the best fielder at his position, but far too often his prowess with the bat was overlooked. Rolen is hampered by being almost the best on a consistent basis. If he had won a Most Valuable Player award I think most would have no issue with viewing him as a Hall of Famer. As is, he’s still a Hall of Famer, with great peak production, and he is one of the best fielding third basemen to ever play the game. .257/.353/.484 isn’t the best slash line, but when it’s paired with a career bWAR of 60.8 and an eye-popping 176.2 FRAA I think Jones’s Hall of Fame picture becomes much clearer.
Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi are very close in my estimation and I’d like to spend more time looking over their numbers, impact, off the field stuff, etc. I could see both men getting my vote next year, but I’m not quite to the point where I feel completely comfortable giving them my vote this time around.
Curt Schilling is a piece of shit human being, as simple as that. I don’t care what stats he amassed throughout his career because who he is, and was, as a human being is far more important to me than his ERA or FIP. I’m not claiming to be perfect myself, or that maybe there are guys I would have voted for in the past, will in the future, or am now who also have checkered histories with racism, homophobia, transphobia, domestic violence, etc. If I missed something in a player’s character then I want to know about it and I want to own up to the fact that they shouldn’t have gotten my vote in the first place. I know all about Schilling’s misdeeds and I can’t vote for him and then try to claim that I actually care about my fellow human beings.
That’s it, that’s the whole list, I know you mainly think I’m wrong, except about the Schilling stuff. If you think I’m wrong about that then you’re probably wasting your time reading this site.
Lead photo courtesy of Internet Baseball Writer’s Association of America