If I Voted For The Hall Of Fame 2024

Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP

The polls are closed. The votes are in. And the ballots have been counted.

And so we wait. Until Tuesday, when the official announcement is made, and someone’s life, or several lives, will be changed forever…or not.

We’ll tune into the MLB Channel on Tuesday evening, when they declare who, if anyone, has received enough endorsements by the BBWAA to warrant induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown.

In New York, we wonder if this year’s ballots will be tinged in orange and blue, as ten of the 26 men who qualified to be eligible have spent time in at least one season as a New York Met, and several spent the bulk of their careers in Flushing.

Good luck to (in alphabetical order): Bobby Abreu, Jose Bautista, Carlos Beltran, Bartolo Colon, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Reyes, Francisco Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Billy Wagner, and David Wright.

Will they all make it? No. Will some of them make it? Possibly. Will some at least get close? Likely.

You know the routine. Some 400-plus beat writers, as members of the BBWAA, have submitted their ballots weeks ago, and if a player is named on at least 75% of ballots cast, they are welcomed into immortality, and will be formally inducted in ceremonies on Sunday, July 21, in that mythical community in upstate New York.

The writers can vote for up to ten players on their ballots. Some writers fill their ballots. Some endorse just a handful. Some turn in blank ballots.

It’s often a head-scratcher when you hear the results for who you think might be automatics, and the Hall’s history includes years when there were writers who did not vote for the likes of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, or Willie Mays, sometimes just out of principle! And there’s still some mystery as to which “genius” did not endorse Derek Jeter when he was eligible in 2020.

For nearly the past two decades, ballots have been filled with controversies, as writers juggle with their consciences over the steroids era. Did they, or didn’t they, and in some cases, individuals admit they did.

The stage at this year’s ceremony already could have had a Mets influence with the results of the Veteran’s Committee which was announced this past December. But the 16 baseball lifers who were entitled with judging were as stingy as many members of the BBWAA, and out of eight qualified candidates from what they labeled the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee for Managers, Executives, and Umpires, only Jim Leyland was deemed worthy.

Honorees needed at least 12 of the 16 to endorse their induction.

Candidates who will now have to wait for some future Veteran’s Committee: Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella, Bill White, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, and Joe West.

Really, now? Only Jim?

This year’s “judges” included: players – Jeff Bagwell, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Bud Selig, Ted Simmons, Jin Thome, and Joe Torre; executives – Sandy Alderson, Bill DeWitt, Michael Hill, Ken Kendrick, Andy MacPhail, and Phyllis Merhige; media – Sean Forman, Jack O’Connell, and Jesus Ortiz.

And all they could agree on was Jim Leyland?

While it’s always difficult to evaluate umpires who do not hit or pitch, or manage, and perhaps some could even argue that umpires deserve separate recognition, maybe their own wing and different plaques, but hey, Joe West ruled in more games – 5,460 – than any other umpire in baseball history, and among other accomplishments, worked three All-Star Games, ten LCS, and six World Series. Sure sounds plaque-worthy to this longtime fan.

Montague also umpired for decades and called four All-Star Games, seven LCS, and six World Series.

Peters spent 42 years as a baseball executive, most famously as the architect of the World Series Champion Baltimore Orioles in 1983.

And what did Bill White not do in baseball? He was an All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman, was a longtime baseball exec, President of the National League from 1989-94, and a highly respected broadcaster for many years.

Someday, the Hall of Fame has to create a category of Baseball Lifer to be worthy of a plaque on their hallowed walls. But they continue to pinpoint candidates for specific roles.

You could make a case for all of the managers they evaluated.

Gaston managed 12 seasons, was the first black manager to win a World Series, and actually led back-to-back titles with the Blue Jays in 1992 and ’93.

Johnson managed 17 seasons, and his .562 winning percentage ranks 13th among all-time managers with at least ten years of service. And of course, you know what the two-time Manager of the Year accomplished in 1986.

After a stellar 18-year playing career, Piniella managed for 23 seasons, and his 1,835 wins rank 17th all-time. He sprayed the champagne with the Reds in 1990, and in 2001, his Mariners won a record 116 games in the regular season.

Head-scratchers, indeed.

This year’s ballot of recent retirees may induce some head-scratching, and often the results produce multiple disappointments. The writers are tough voters.

You’ve heard about the 1%. There are now 343 members of the Hall of Fame, but only 270 players. The rest are managers, umpires, executives, and pioneers.

To date, there have been 23,114 major league baseball players, and this does include a number of Negro Leaguers who properly joined the ranks several years ago. The calculator then confirms just one percent have been honored in the plaque room. Just .01168 for you mathematicians.

Only 136 of those 270 have been accepted by the BBWAA. So that’s an easy calculation of roughly half by the writers, the rest from various Veteran’s Committees. And that translates to just half of one percent of the overall body. Half a point!

So welcoming more than a handful or even any on Tuesday is far from a sure bet.

This fan does not warrant a vote. No fan does. Years ago, this fan suggested the Hall should conduct some sort of sponsored fan voting contest where the millions of baseball fans could lend their voices and opinions as to who they deemed most worthy. It’s not unlike what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland does every year. The fans still don’t make the final decisions. But they carry influence.

The same could be done for Cooperstown. Fans would not cast the final vote. But maybe collectively they could either influence the writers or perhaps earn a collective notation in the process.

Baseball is constantly trying to come up with ways to get the fans more involved, especially as their attention is splintered in so many directions. Plus, it’s a money-making proposition. Sponsored! Hello! Anybody out there listening on Park Avenue?

If I had a ballot, here’s what I would check…

ADRIAN BELTRE – He’s the closest thing to an automatic. He surpassed the magic number of 3,000 hits (3,155). First year eligible. 21 seasons. .286 BA. 477 HRs. Five Gold Gloves. 4X All-Star. Top Ten MVP six times. Yes, he’ll be with Leyland on the stage in July.

BILLY WAGNER – He’s got my vote. Ninth year on the ballot. Hit 68.1% last year. Been trending well on the Ryan Thibodeaux HOF vote tracking site. Pitched in 16 seasons. Sixth all-time in Saves (422). Best strikeout ratio (11.9 per nine innings) ever among pitchers with at least 800 innings pitched. Got that? Best! Ever! Also, best 33.2% strikeout rate (1,196 Ks). Second best ERA (2.31) all-time among relievers with only the great Mariano Rivera ahead of him.

TODD HELTON – This guy wore the thorns of “but he played in Colorado” his whole career. And it’s true his home numbers were much better than on the road (.345 at home, .287 on the road), but when he led the league in RBIs with 147 in 2000, they certainly weren’t all in Coors Field. Overall, he batted .316, with 369 home runs and 1,406 RBIs, and 2,519 hits. The five-time All-Star first baseman was a three-time Gold-Glover, four-time Silver Slugger, and a Top Ten MVP three-times. Yes, it can be debated, but he’s got my vote. Also trending well, Helton garnered 72.2% of the vote last year. Needs just a little more support to push him over the threshold

GARY SHEFFIELD – He’s got the numbers – 509 HRs, 2,689 hits, 1,676 RBIs, 1,636 runs, 253 stolen bases, .514 slugging. Nine-time All-Star. Five-time Silver Slugger. Six-time Top Ten MVP. But he also has the affliction of being from the Steroids Era, and has been accused, and was named in the Mitchell Report. But he has always denied using PEDs, never failed a drug test, and was never suspended. He has admitted using a cream on his knee to repair stitches, and it was later discovered that cream included steroids.

However, count me among those who say, that even if he did use steroids in this way, or arguably in any way, if you can tell me how many pitchers he faced during the Steroids Era who also were using PEDs, then maybe you’ve got a case. Was it five? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? More?

Without a conviction, he combatted on an even playing field.

Yes, I have friends who don’t agree, but the Steroids Era needs to be re-qualified as an era where an undefined quantity of both pitchers and hitters were sometimes using PEDs.

ANDRUW JONES – Hate to admit it, after seeing this guy flag down so many balls in centerfield against the Mets, but he stood out as a way-above-average defensive centerfielder – some say, as good as Joe DiMaggio, and that’s really saying something – so there’s that overwhelming recognition. He earned 10 Gold Gloves in centerfield. Wow!

At the plate, the Curacao native hit 434 HRs, with 1,289 RBIs. And in the playoffs and World Series – he had the good fortune of being with the Atlanta Braves when they showed up in the postseason every year – he hit .273, with 10 homers, and 34 RBIs in 76 games.

Jones was tabbed with just 58.1% of the vote last year, but I would put him in.

ANDY PETTITTE – Boy, oh, boy, what a tough case this is…Do you reward a player for being so great in the postseason, or do you eliminate him because the man of faith told the truth and admitted he used PEDs one time to help heal an injury.

He’s got great numbers – 256 wins against 153 losses during the regular season, 3.85 ERA. The three-time All-Star was even more exceptional in the postseason, a major reason why the Yankees won so many rings in the ‘90s and the beginning of the 21st Century – 19-11 in 44 starts, 3.81 ERA.

I may be a bit influenced by witnessing what he was able to do for the Yankees so often in October, but I would give him a vote. Pettitte received just 17% of the writer’s vote last year.

JOE MAUER – He didn’t have the power of a Mike Piazza at the plate in 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins – just 143 HRs with 923 RBIs, but Mauer could hit. Boy, he could hit. The six-time All Star led the American League in batting three times – as a catcher! He earned three Gold Gloves, won five Silver Sluggers, all as a catcher.

And he was named the AL MVP in 2009. He later moved to first base (603 games), and was deployed as the DH for 310 games.

This is his first year on the ballot, and I predict he won’t make it his first year, but come close, but should make it eventually. He’s got my vote.

Those are my choices. The rest of the field…

Carlos Beltran – Has great numbers as a switch-hitter, and might make it eventually. He turned one good postseason into a richly rewarding seven-year contract with the Mets, but he failed to deliver them to the World Series when they needed him.

David Wright – Sorry, David, love ya, but that damned spinal stenosis keeps you qualified as a great player, just not a Hall of Famer.

Jose Reyes – Same thing, love ya, Jose, and boy, could field, and run, but another great player, just not a Hall of Famer.

Omar Vizquel – Superb infielder, great All-Star, played forever (24 seasons). Maybe eventually re-evaluated, just not a Hall of Famer now.

Jimmy Rollins – Same as Omar, superb infielder, great team leader, a catalyst, an MVP, 3X All Star, 4X Gold Glover, Silver Slugger. World Series winner. Gotta take a closer look, but not this year.

Mark Buehrle – Also on the edge. 214-160 record. 3.81 ERA. 5X All Star. 4X Gold Glove. World Series winner. Close, but not this year.

Francisco Rodriguez – Also worthy of a closer look. Great closer. 437 Saves. 2.86 ERA. Led AL in Saves three-times. Set record with 62 in 2008. 1,142 strikeouts in 976 innings. Two-time Rolaids Reliever of the Year.

Did you know there are only nine qualified “relievers” amongst those 270 players in the Hall of Fame, and two of them – Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz, spent portions of their time starting games, not closing them.

Torii Hunter – Another great centerfielder. Also worthy of greater inspection. Nine-time Gold Gloves. Five-time All-Star. Two-time Silver Slugger. Batted .277 in 19-year career. 353 HRs. 1,391 RBIs. Batted .274 in 11 postseason series, with 4 homers and twenty runs batted in.

Amazing ebullient personality. Tremendously charitable. If a smile was a batting stat, he’d be a Hall of Famer already.

Chase Utley – another great infielder. Team leader. Probably could have been a good linebacker, too. Good numbers – .275, 259 HRs, 1,025 RBIs. Six-time All-Star. 4X Silver Slugger. Won 2008 World Series with Phillies (alongside teammate Jimmy Rollins).

Bartolo Colon – Another close examination needed. Probably will make it eventually. Good numbers – 247 wins. Became winningest Dominican pitcher, more than Juan Marichal. 4.12 ERA. Named Cy Young winner in 2005. All-time most lovable personality and owner of the most improbable home run in baseball history – right, Gary Cohen?

Matt Holliday – Another close one. Good numbers – .299, 316 HRs, 1,220 RBIs. One Batting title in 2007, in Colorado. 7X All-Star. 4X Silver Slugger.

But maybe we’re beginning to evaluate all of these numbers on a curve, as they certainly don’t compare with the elite of the greats – Willie, Hank, Mickey, Babe, etc.

Adrian Gonzalez – Case in point. Another excellent player. Batted .287 in 15-year career. 317 HRs. 1,202 RBIs. 5X All-Star. 4X Gold Gloves. 2X Silver Slugger. Led AL in hits with 213 in 2011.

Jose Bautista – Good All-Star numbers, just not Hall of Fame numbers – .247, 344 homers, 975 runs batted in. 6X All-Star. 3X Silver Slugger.

Victor Martinez – great feared hitter. Batted over .300 nine times in 16 seasons. 5X All-Star. 2X Silver Slugger. Batted .295 for career. 246 HRs. 1,178 RBIs.

James Shields – “Big Game” Shields. He earned his nickname winning a big game with Tampa Bay, but overall, in 11 postseason games, Shields was 3-6, with a 5.46 ERA.

Brandon Phillips – Another great infielder. But not quite HOF worthy.

Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez – Two PEDs in a pod. They have the numbers, but their PED-suspended brains put them in a whole other category. Maybe some future re-evaluation of the era will change that thinking, but for now, it’s a no.

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