Monday, the ballot for the Class of 2023 for the National Baseball Hall of Fame was revealed and there is plenty of New York flavor.
Bobby Abreu, (Limited time Mets, Yankees) Bronson Arroyo, Carlos Beltran ( Mets), Mark Buehrle, Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey ( Mets), Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees), Andre Ethier, J.J. Hardy, Todd Helton, Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones (Yankees), Jeff Kent (Mets), John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Johnny Peralta, Andy Pettitte (Yankees), Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez (Yankees), Francisco Rodriguez (Mets), Scott Rolen, Jimmy Rollins, Gary Sheffield (Limited time Mets, Yankees), Huston Street, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner (Mets), Jered Weaver, Jayson Werth
I don’t have that opportunity to check names on the ballot. The select few (I am not one of those) get that opportunity as members of the Baseball Writers of America, though there are reasons as to why I choose to not be a member of that group.
Former players will await their word into possible enshrinement at ceremonies in Cooperstown, NY, Sunday July 23. Ballots are due by the end of the year and results announced January 24, 2023. Names on the ballot will need 75 percent of the vote for induction.
They are all in that category with qualifications, though I always laid out my criteria for induction. A player hitting 500 home runs and a pitcher compiling 300 career wins is an automatic cinch for first ballot consideration as far as I’m concerned. But there are circumstances with 500 home run hitters who have that stigma as being a part of that steroid era that gave baseball a dark eye.
And that also pertained to certain pitchers who were under scrutiny. For example, Roger Clemens. As baseball continues to expand their interest and gain revenue from online wagering, there remains a question about Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader and his continued punishment of not being enshrined or even put up for election because he wagered on his team as a manager and player.
Though, Rose paid his dues, it’s time to get his fame despite the controversy. One of those committees that make these decisions are destined to do the right thing. You can’t continue to deny the numbers and history that Rose accomplished on the field.
Focus here, first two names of prominence, Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez. Also look into Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) the first timer with a 16-year career, fourth all-time in saves with 437, six All-Star selections, sixth in AL MVP voting in 2008 after a record breaking season of 62 saves with the Angels.
K-Rod is not in the category of those who have been bypassed on the ballot because of alleged or implications of using PEDs and should receive a fair share of votes but coming up short for the first time.
Carlos Beltran- He has the numbers and should be considered that first ballot name, though being on that Houston Astros roster in their 2017 scandal scarred championship year will have implications. Beltran was the main player on a team found guilty of illegal sign stealing and a central focus on an MLB investigation.
All of that won’t be bypassed, though Beltran in 20 big league seasons had the numbers: 435 home runs, 1,587 RBI, 312 stolen bases, nine All-Star selections, three Gold Gloves, 1999 Al Rookie of The Year.
Despite never getting a suspension from MLB, Beltran was appointed manager of the NY Mets and was readily dismissed because of the scandal. Regardless, he is considered one of the all-time baseball greats from Puerto Rico. He would get my vote if I had one. Again, I view this as a case for a further cause to open the doors at Cooperstown for Pete Rose.
The Denial for Alex Rodriguez- Make no mistake about it, A-Rod was a great hitter when he did it the proper way, then again it can be argued that he wasn’t alone when it came to using illegal performance enhancing drugs. But an era that thrived on the home run ball, and a commissioner negligent because home runs put people in the seats, caught up to a tarnished career.
I can never consider A-Rod, or Barry Bonds as all-time home run leaders, regardless of those who continued to hit huge home run balls at a record pace and were never under scrutiny or implicated.
Fact is, Alex Rodriguez is ranked fourth on the all-time career home run list. Despite all of his athleticism and persona, he was caught red handed. He received 34.3 percent of the vote on his first ballot and this stigma will always remain with his name.
Eventually the name of Alex Rodriguez will no longer be on the ballot. Unless the Hall of Fame designates a special wing for those who had the numbers, but were denied their shrine because of scandal, A-Rod will never see his name up in Cooperstown.
R.A. Dickey- First time on the ballot, Dickey also pitched for the Rangers, Mariners, Twins, Blue Jays, and Braves. The knuckleball became his success and awarded him a Cy Young Award with a 20-6 record, league leading 230 strikeouts (2013-2017) while finishing that season with a 2.84 ERA, 7th best in the National league. Distinction of being the first knuckleballer in MLB history to win the Cy Young Award. Not a cinch for a first timer but will be on the ballot again next year.
Jeff Kent- This is his 1oth and final opportunity on the ballot. Chances are the 377 career home runs and most for a second baseman will come up short again. He will await his turn with the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee.
Gary Sheffield- A member of the 500 home run club (509) and #500 came in New York with the Mets. The All-Star outfielder and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, in his ninth year of eligibility is the only player to record 100 RBI in a season for five different teams, He will fall short again as mentioned in the Mitchell Report and implicated in the 2004 BALCO scandal regarding the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs.
Jacoby Ellsbury- First-timer more known for a conspicuous career with the Yankees (2014-17) because of injuries after success with the Red Sox as a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award winner. First Red Sox player to be a member of the 30-30 club. The numbers though will keep him on the ballot next year and perhaps until his eligibility concludes.
Billy Wagner- Received 51 percent of the vote in first year of eligibility and could get a higher number this time around. His 400 career saves is one of six MLB relief pitchers to accomplish that milestone.
Andy Pettiitte- 18 seasons and most with the Yankees. Won five World Series championships with the Yankees and back on the ballot after a dismal percentage of votes in his first year of eligibility. Though the all-time postseason wins leader with 19 will fall short again. Then again, a 256-153 career record, 3.85 ERA and 2,448 strikeouts are good numbers but not in that 300-win category.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network..