MLB Hall of Fame Ballots from PTST Experts

MLB Hall of Fame Ballots from PTST Experts

by January 26, 2021 1 comment

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2021 class on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. EST on the MLB Network. With that in mind, a few of our baseball writers came together to give their favorite picks that should be voted into Cooperstown this year.

You can find arguments for and against each player’s inclusion right here.

B.J. Martin, Beat Writer – Los Angeles Angels

Curt Schilling

He was a late-bloomer, having his first of six All-Star seasons at the age of 30 years old in 1997. He quickly became one of the most dominant pitchers of the game for the next seven seasons. Schilling’s 3.46 ERA, 216 victories, and 3,116 strikeouts during his 20 regular seasons are enough to earn him consideration for the HOF but his postseason career makes him a slam dunk. He had an astounding 11-2 win/loss record and a 2.23 ERA in 19 playoff games, including a 4-1 record and 2.06 ERA in six World Series starts. This speaks for itself. Put the politics aside and vote Schilling.

Barry Bonds

According to sworn testimony, Barry Bonds began enhancing his workouts in 1998 as the Sosa and McGwire home run chase was stealing the attention of the sports world. Heading into that season, Bonds had already won three MVP awards and earned seven Gold Gloves. He accumulated an impressive .288/.408/.551 lifetime hitting slash with 378 home runs and 417 stolen bases during his first 12 seasons. Whatever you think of Bonds’ career beyond 1997, he had earned Hall of Fame induction before entering the final stage of his career.

Roger Clemens

Clemens went into the 1998 season with a 213-118 lifetime record that included 2,882 strikeouts. He was already coming off the fourth Cy Young season of his career. Like Bonds, the PED allegations suggest he began taking these substances during the 1998 season and one could argue he already had a Hall of Fame career under his belt. Clemens was shoulder-to-shoulder with Greg Maddux, The “Big Unit” Randy Johnson, and Pedro Martinez as the best pitchers of this era.

Sammy Sosa

609 career home runs, 1,667 runs batted in, 234 stolen bases, an MVP award, and seven All-Star appearances. Sosa hit 35 or more home runs for ten consecutive seasons between 1995 and 2004. Unlike his home run chase opponent, Mark McGwire, Sosa was a multi-dimensional player that offered more than just dingers. While the eyeball test and common sense would indicate he was participating in PED use, he was never formally charged nor tested positive during the testing era. If Pudge Rodriguez is in the Hall, Sosa deserves a spot.

Jeff Kent

Kent has likely remained below the 75 percent voting needed for induction in part to his nomadic career playing with six different clubs and his sour attitude towards writers at times. Kent’s 377 career home runs are still the most lifetime by any second basemen, and he was a solid .276 hitter with 9 homers and 23 runs batted in during his 49 postseason games. Overshadowed by playing at the same time as the slick-fielding Roberto Alomar, the 2000 National League MVP was just as big of an overall threat at the position as the other second basemen in the game.

Billy Wagner

Wagner’s 422 career saves are ranked sixth all-time but it was his overall dominance out of the bullpen in the 16 years that were the peak of the ‘steroid era’ that defines him as a Hall of Fame pitcher. If his 2.31 career ERA isn’t impressive enough, consider he only finished one season with an ERA greater than 2.85. He surrendered just 82 home runs to the opposition and he struck out 11.9 per 9 innings through 903 career innings pitched. 

Scott Rolen

The premier defensive third basemen of his era, Rolen earned eight Gold Gloves while totaling a .281 average, 316 home runs, and 1,287 runs batted in during his 17 major league seasons. The seven-time All-Star appeared in two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting .421 with 3 doubles and a home run in the 2006 Fall Classic championship against Detroit. Rolen spent his career playing in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Toronto and one has to believe if he had played in New York or L.A., he would already be in the Hall of Fame.

Omar Vizquel will not get my vote until middle infielders Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker get more serious consideration by Eras Committee.

Gary Sheffield, Todd Helton, and Bobby Abreu will get my vote once Fred McGriff, Dick Allen, Dale Murphy, and Lance Berkman get more consideration from the Eras Committee.

Andruw Jones would not get my vote when Jim Edmonds and Murphy are not in the Hall yet.

I would not vote for Manny Ramirez or any subsequent players to arrive on the ballot that were suspended by Major League Baseball since they officially made it illegal and worthy of suspension.

Alex Kielar, Beat Writer – New York Yankees

Barry Bonds

Simply one of the greatest hitters to have ever graced the Earth, Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he ever juiced up. He was suspected of taking enhancements starting in the 1998 season as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire took center stage during their home run chase. To be fair, who wasn’t taking steroids at that time? To fault an already Hall of Fame-worthy player for doing the same is gatekeeping at it’s finest. Prior to that season, Bonds had taken home three MVP awards while accumulating a .288/.408/.551 lifetime slash with 378 home runs and 417 stolen bases during his first 12 MLB seasons.

Roger Clemens

Just like Bonds, Clemens was already a Hall of Famer before enhancing himself. He had a 213-118 lifetime record, 2,882 strikeouts, and was coming off the fourth Cy Young season of his career going into the 1998 season. Like Bonds, he was suspected of starting his steroid use that year. Despite there not being much concrete evidence he took performance-enhancing drugs, the voters have not seemed to care. One of the best pitchers in baseball history needs a spot in Cooperstown. 

Curt Schilling

Putting politics aside, Schilling was one of the most dominant pitchers of his time, specifically when the lights were brightest in the postseason. He was one of the most consistent pitchers in history, having the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio (3,116-711) of any pitcher in the 3,000 strikeout club and is one of four pitchers (Fergie JenkinsGreg MadduxPedro Martinez) to reach 3,000 strikeouts without 1,000 walks. He retired with an 11-2 career record, 2.23 ERA, and a 120 to 25 K/BB ratio in the playoffs.

Andruw Jones

Jones was one of the best defensive center fielders in the history of the game. He won ten career gold gloves, putting him in a group with only four other inducted Hall of Famers (Roberto ClementeWillie MaysKen Griffey Jr.Al Kaline) and future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki as the only players to win double-digit gold gloves. His bat was also solid, especially during a ten-year stretch from 1998-2007 in which averaged 34 home runs and 103 RBI per season.

Gary Sheffield

The Tampa, FL native was linked to steroids as well but was a premier hitter without them, too. One of his best seasons came in 1992 with the San Diego Padres pre-steroids. In that season he had a .330/.385/.580 slash line and placed third in National League Most Valuable Player voting. He collected a career 509 home runs while never striking out more than 85 times in a single season. He never won an MVP but had six top-10 finishes and made nine All-Star Games.

Todd Helton

Jeff Kent

Scott Rolen

Omar Vizquel

Billy Wagner

Sam Schneider, Beat Writer – Cincinnati Reds

Gary Sheffield

It is an outrage that this is even a debate.  Sheffield played through a pre-steroid era and was the closest thing to a triple-crown winner year in and out in his prime. He hit 509 homers and rarely went down swinging at strikes. For years, he was the player one would build a franchise around, regardless of how his career shaped up from team-to-team. After Ken Griffey, Jr., Sheffield had one of the most beautiful swings in baseball and used it to put him at the head of his class. This is open-and-shut, in my opinion.

Scott Rolen

Rolen had the longevity and was extremely productive for the majority of it. After opening his career with a six-year stint with the Phillies, he became a household name and leader in St. Louis and Cincinnati (with a pretty decent showing in Canada in 2008 and 2009). At the ripe young age of 35, he still clocked 20 homers and logged a .854 OPS as the leader of a juvenile Reds team that finished 91-71. The 17-year veteran put up solid numbers but is also one of the all-around “good guys” to ever play the game, if the committee needs another reason to push him over the hump. His stats speak volumes, though, including a career .968 fielding percentage at the hot corner. In his day, balls did not just go over the fence.

Billy Wagner

Where is the love for non-starting pitchers? Wagner was dominant at a time when the long ball was becoming key and still held batters to a .135 average in 1999. In 16 years in the majors, he saved 422 games and recorded a 2.31 ERA. That is absurd. Even the best pitchers hit a downward slope at some point during a career that spans nearly two decades. Wagner has more strikeouts and a better ERA in 16 years than Trevor Hoffman did in 18 seasons. Smash the “YES” button.

LaTroy Hawkins

As long as we are on the “non-starters don’t get the love” train, I will never understand why writers do not give any recognition to arguably the most pivotal position in baseball: The middle reliever. It is well understood that home runs, wins, and saves are sexy… but what about the workhorses that get you there?

Hawkins pitched for 11 teams in a career that spanned a whopping 21 years. As middle relief (mostly), he was called upon in jams often and was a tremendous specialist, tossing 1,467.1 innings. You cannot win every matchup, so a 4.31 career ERA is not exactly getting a fan out of their seat, but since 1999 (when he led the league in earned runs allowed), he gave up over 30 runs in a season just twice, covering well over 1,000 innings. Oftentimes a reliver ends up in the middle not because he is not capable of being something else, but rather because he is so invaluable in that capacity.

Let’s get a 20-plus year workhorse some love.

Andruw Jones

Arguably the best center fielder of all time, Jones needs to go in. What began as a spark at the plate eventually fizzled, making him an afterthought for many voters, but he should not be. Jones still managed 434 homers in his 17-year career, but it was the outfield highlights that put him head-and-shoulders above his contemporaries. The man ended his career with a .990 fielding percentage and consistently climbed the wall as a bastion of the diamond’s defense.

At the plate he eclipsed the 100-RBI plateau five times, and the five-time All-Star put an exclamation point on his career early: In 2005, he knocked 51 balls out of the park while driving in 128 runs as the runner-up for the MVP award. Jones played 17 seasons. His 10 Gold Glove awards alone should get him enshrined.

Barry Bonds

Manny Ramirez

Omar Vizquel

Curt Schilling

The official announcements will occur Tuesday at 6 p.m. EST on MLB Network.

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  1. George Grey
    #1 George Grey 26 January, 2021, 20:01

    Bonds pre-steroid supposedly HOF numbers didn’t work for Lance Berkman who got 1.5% of the votes.
    Check it out Bonds .288/.408/.551 378 hrs. Berkman .293/.406/.537 366 Hrs. PS Schilling should be in!

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