The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce its inductees to the Hall of Fame Class of 2023 on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
This year features one of the more interesting ballots after last year ended the candidacies of key controversial players. These players included Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, all of whom were hit with PED allegations. The BBWAA also left off Curt Schilling, mainly because of controversial comments he made.
With this being said, the fact that all of these players were left off certainly did not get rid of all the controversy. As a matter of fact, the only thing it did was create more controversy.
A lot of this drama stems from the fact that the BBWAA elected David Ortiz, who also has allegations of PEDs, into the Hall of Fame during his first year on the ballot. There are other players on the 2023 ballot who also have PED allegations, including Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez. Furthermore, the ballot features Carlos Beltran, who was one of the ringleaders in the 2017 Houston Astros cheating scandal.
As a result, is harder than ever to decide who should be on the average writer’s Hall of Fame ballot. Should players who cheated be allowed in the Hall of Fame? If so, should they be allowed in right away or wait a little longer than most? If so, how long? With 75 percent of votes being the requirement for induction, it’s always tough to predict who will get in.
Before I give my opinion, the Hall of Fame should be consistent. They should either bring them all in or keep them all out. There are undoubtedly players already in the Hall who have a history of PEDs, so it is a little hypocritical to leave out guys who are already in.
Here’s what my Hall of Fame ballot would look like if I had a vote.
Among all candidates, Rolen has the highest chance of getting in, one year after earning 63.2 percent of votes. Though most people realize Rolen was a great player, they do not realize how great he was. In his career, he was a seven-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove winner, a Silver Slugger, Rookie of the Year, and played for the 2006 World Series-winning Cardinals. He logged a .364 on-base percentage with 25 homers, 102 RBI, and an OPS+ of 122. Rolen should get in eventually, whether it be sooner or later.
Helton is probably the only other player besides Rolen who has a chance of getting in this year. While his stats took a hit on the road, they were still Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. In his career, he was a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver slugger, three-time Gold Glove winner, and won the batting title in 2000. He amassed a .414 OBP, .953 OPS, and an OPS+ of 133. Though these numbers are inflated due to playing at Coors Field, they are still crazy, and his OPS+ suggests he still would have been almost as good anywhere else. Just like Rolen, he will get in eventually, but probably not this year.
The fact that Wagner has not gotten in at this point is laughable. Yes, he was a closer and it’s harder for them, but Trevor Hoffman has been in for years now and Wagner was better in his prime. In fact, Wagner was a seven-time All-Star and Reliever of the Year in 1999. He averaged 34 saves, a 2.31 ERA, 2.73 FIP, and 187 ERA+ per season. At his peak, when he entered a save situation, the game was over. Wagner is in Year 8 on the ballot, so he still has some time to get in. With that said, he should have been inducted a long time ago.
Jones should have also been inducted a while ago. He is on a lot of shortlists for what players accomplished, including being one of four players who have at least 400 home runs and 10 Gold Gloves. The other three are Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mike Schmidt, who are all unquestionable Hall of Famers. Jones was a five-time All-Star and won the Silver Slugger in 2005. The main reason that he is not in yet is that his numbers were pretty brutal over his last six seasons, during which he had a 92 OPS+. Still, he is one of the defensive center fielders of all-time and was a great power hitter for a good amount of time.
This is Kent’s last year on the ballot. Though he probably will not get in this year, he might earn induction through the Veterans Association. Kent was a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and won the MVP award in 2000. He also has the most home runs of all second basemen with 377. The main thing holding Kent back is the fact that he was a very below-average defender. He is 19th among second basemen in career WAR despite his killer offensive numbers but still makes my ballot because of how great of a hitter he was for a very long time.
Rodriguez, also known as K-Rod, has an interesting case. He was a six-time All-Star, two-time Reliever of the Year, and an important part of the Angels’ World Series team in 2002. On average, he had 31 Saves, a 2.86 ERA, a 3.31 FIP, and an ERA + of 148. He also holds the single-season saves record with 62 in 2008. As dominant as he was, the reliever argument and the longevity argument both exist. Even though he was extremely dominant in his prime, he was not so great toward the back end of his career. With this being said, when someone is one of the best at his position, they get my vote.
Now, we get into the controversial ones. If we do not factor in steroids, A-Rod is undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He is a three-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger, two-time Gold-Glove winner, and was on the Yankees’ World Series team in 2009. For his career, he hit .295 with a .380 OBP, .930 OPS, and 40 home runs per year. He is also fifth all-time with 696 homers. The only thing keeping him out is the PED allegations, so it is going to take a while, but he’ll get in eventually.
Ramirez is one of the best power hitters of all time. He is a 12-time All-Star, nine-time Silver Slugger, two-time World Series champion, and 2004 World Series MVP. He also finished among the top 10 in MVP voting nine times from 1998 to 2008. On average, he hit .312 with a .411 OBP, .996 OPS, 154 OPS+, and 39 home runs per year. The only reason he is not talked about as much amongst the all-time greats? He was not as strong of a fielder. Just like A-Rod, he would easily be in by now if it weren’t for the PED allegations.
Sheffield is an under-discussed and under-respected player whose candidacy has been overshadowed by Rodriguez and Ramirez over the past few years. He was a nine-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and 1997 World Series champion with the Tigers. On average, he hit .292 with a .393 OBP, .907 OPS, 32 homers, and 105 RBI. He is also a member of the 500-home run club. Next year is Sheffield’s last year on the ballot, so it will be interesting to see if he gets the votes.
Until the cheating scandal came out, Beltran was universally loved and almost definitely a first-ballot Hall of Famer. In his 20-year career, he was a nine-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and two-time Silver Slugger. He hit .279 with a .350 OBP, .837 OPS, and 119 OPS+. He also made the SNY New York Mets All-Time Team as the center fielder. This is his first year on the ballot, so by Year 100, there is a good chance the stink of the cheating scandal will be gone and Beltran will get in eventually.
There is a very high chance that no one gets elected to the Hall of Fame this year. However, there are a good number of players on the ballot that deserve to be in. It will be very interesting to see how much these ballots change in years to come.
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