February 02, 2018

#WayTooSoon hot take on 2019 Cooperstown eligibiles

Now that Chipper JonesJim ThomeVladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman have been voted into the Hall of Fame, with my take on that here, what lies ahead for those on the 2019 ballot? (If David Schoenfield can offer his take on next year this, so can I.)

Starting with returning players, first, let's take the "gold dust twins," or "roid shot twins," Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both were in the mid-50s this year, up just a couple of percentage points from last year. Don't expect either to break 60 percent next year.

Other returnees who had been on the ballot already?

Edgar Martinez, in his next-to-last year of eligibility, fell just 20 votes short. There will be a push for his name next year. Expect him to make it.

Mike Mussina approached 65 percent. With five years of eligibility left, he seems a good shot to make it, and possibly next year. I'll put 60-40 odds in his favor for 2019 and that may be conservative.

Now, let's look at who will be new on that ballot.

Mariano Rivera is a lock next year, but if you look at first-year candidates on next year's ballotRoy Halladay is the only other semi-possible one I see. Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte are the only two other players with 52 WAR or more.

Helton, like Larry Walker, may face anti-Coors Field bias even though WAR does park neutralization. Plus, he had an early decline for playing a "light" position like 1B.

Pettitte has never struck me as HOF material. But, if Jack Fricking Morris can get veterans to vote him in based on one game, and ignoring sabermetrics, maybe Andy can get voters to do the same because he's a Yankee with lots of postseason games. If he's above 37 percent, he's got a shot with the voters.

Speaking of?

Mr. 37 percent of this year, Omar Vizquel, has too much uncritical love from the aforementioned Schoenfield and other writers. I worry what that portends for a Hall candidacy that is little more worthy than that of Jack Fricking Morris.

Two other first-year players on the ballot will return for 2019. Former Cardinals and Reds third-sacker Scott Rolen barely broke the 10 percent mark. I think he suffers from three things — a direct comparison to/overshadowing by Jones, a relative lack of counting stats that ties into that, especially on the power issue, and a number of nagging injuries in his career that are part of why he doesn't have some of those big counting stats. (He had 2,000 fewer PAs than Chipper.)

Andruw Jones played some great defensive CF at his peak. But, is it enough? Just barely — he got just over 7 percent of the vote. With a weak class of 2019 first year players, he and Rolen will stick for another year. And, for people who question modern calculations of total zone runs and defensive runs saved, does he really have more than Ozzie Smith or Mark Belanger? (He's also hurt by playing his last full season at age 30 and having less career offensive value than the Wiz.)

Beyond Halladay, Helton and Pettitte, I don't see any other first-year players of next year breaking 5 percent. (Sorry Big Puma Lance Berkman.) If the gold dust twins stay steady, besides the trio I expect to enter Cooperstown, Curt Schilling likely benefits the most, possibly passing both of them to 60 percent.

And, on the alleged self-enhancers, otherwise?

Baseball purists will note that the Hall of Fame has a morals clause as justification for keeping them out.

Their defenders will note the morals clause is selective. Besides past players like Ty Cobb with less than stellar characters (although Cobb almost certainly was NOT the racist his first biographer made him out to be), three managers who ran teams with likely steroid users on them — the Joe Torre who managed Clemens, along with Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox — are already in the Hall. So is former Commissioner Bud Selig, who presided over the whole steroids era mess.

Ideally, I'd like to see Bud and the Three Managing Amigos all booted. In reality? Yes, the commissioner and managers overlooked this, but the players made their choices first. Big Mac was roiding, in all likelihood, well before the 1994 strike. And here's someone who agrees.

Per George Mitchell himself, the gold dust twin had their chance to try to clear their names when mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Both declined, and Clemens even went on to lie about that.


DSC said...

Schilling, Messina maybe, Walker, McGriff, Martinez a close no, no to PED players obviously, no to players who couldn't start/played less than 10% of the at-bats in a game. Rolen maybe, Vizquel yes, Andruw no, rest pretty much no.

Gadfly said...

I'm pretty much with you on everything but Vizquel, at least if you mean he deserves in rather than you expect him to be voted in.