Three locks for Hall of Fame, with five a possibility

Polling above 90 percent, Jim Thome won't have to sweat out tonight's announcement

The Hall of Fame’s newest class of inductees will be announced at 5 p.m. tonight, and Jim Thome will not have to sweat it out.

Thome is running at 93.1 percent with 55 percent of ballots logged in Ryan Thibodaux’s tracker, giving him plenty of room to spare above the 75 percent threshold. A three-player class is a lock, and I’d guess there will be a fourth when the smoke clears.

I’d bet that Hoffman clears the bar by a few percentage points while Martinez is left on the doorstep. Hoffman has the “all-time saves leader” sheen that plays well among voters who don’t make their ballots public. He came out slightly ahead of his public ballot percentage after all votes were counted, while Martinez and Mussina took big hits from those unimpressed by the lack of milestones.

Here’s what my ballot would look like, in order of how much I’d enjoy voting for them.

1. Chipper Jones: A .300/.400/.500 switch-hitter who logged most of his defensive reps at third base but moved to the outfield when needed. That’s a no-doubter.

2. Jim Thome: Had to produce a lot to overcome defensive limitations, but 612 homers and a top-10 walk total will do the job. Provided both peak and career value, making key contributions to contenders up until age 40.

(Aside: Back in 2008, Thome went to Cooperstown with his dad to drop off his 500th home run ball. I covered the story for my day-job employer. Thome was thrilled to be in the museum — he used the word “magical” multiple times — and his dad got all choked up at the prospect of his son getting inducted. It should be a special ceremony.)

3. Vladimir Guerrero: He’s a borderline candidate by his career WAR total (59.3), as he wasn’t much of a defender. Logging all that time on Montreal’s turf didn’t help his legs, but he earns points for being a helluva hitter and a memorable figure. Read Jonah Keri’s Expos book to see why his plaque should have the nickname “Baseball’s Bill Brasky.”

4. Barry Bonds: He doesn’t deserve a whole lot of sympathy, but think about how much fun you’re going to have explaining his 2001-04 run to people who weren’t around then. They won’t be able to comprehend it.

5. Roger Clemens: He doesn’t deserve a whole lot of sympathy, but he basically had Pedro’s run in Boston, he successfully defended himself in court, and he’s still throwing against college teams. I respect the desire.

6. Mike Mussina: 270 wins with the supporting peripherals while spending an entire career in the AL East from 1991 to 2008, which is damned difficult. He went 20-9 with a 3.37 ERA in his final season, so he had stat-padding left in the tank.

7. Scott Rolen: One of the game’s best-ever defensive third baseman with a consistently potent bat. Third baseman have too difficult a time getting into the Hall given the demands of the position.

8. Edgar Martinez: Another .300/.400/.500 hitter, who was one of my favorites to watch. He wasn’t a regular player until 26, partially due to injuries, partially because the Mariners blocked him, but did just about everything he could through age 40.

9. Curt Schilling: I’d have a lot more fun making his case if he weren’t such a pathetic figure, and it’s all self-inflicted.

10. Andruw Jones: I’m not entirely sold on his case because he could’ve done more to control his decline phase, but the Atlanta portion of his career was incredible and center fielders don’t get the respect they deserve. Kenny Lofton and Jim Edmonds were both one-and-done, and it’d be just as unfair for Jones.

Victims of the 10-man limit:

11. Gary Sheffield: I’ve “voted” for Sheffield before, and Jason Lukehart made a strong case to put Sheffield ahead of Martinez.

12. Sammy Sosa: His existence is going to be difficult to explain to future generations, but you can fill up a plaque with his accomplishments — 600 homers and the only player with three 60-homer seasons — and I’ve grown sympathetic to the way the Cubs used him and losed lost him.

13. Larry Walker: I’ve waffled on him because he only had one season with more than 150 games, and only three seasons where he played in 90 percent of team games. He was an incredibly gifted player, but that’s a lot of missed time teams had to account for. I think I’d put him on the ballot if it weren’t so loaded, but I’m comfortable putting him outside the top 10.

Other cases of note:

Trevor Hoffman: I don’t expect every reliever to get the kind of postseason opportunities Mariano Rivera received, but closers are so limited in role that I think I need them to show up in big games to consider them. Hoffman didn’t pitch all that well in October, and that doesn’t count his ugly blown save in Game 163 in 2007, either. It’s the same reason Billy Wagner does little for me.

Johan Santana: I’ve seen the Sandy Koufax comparisons, and he sure looked like Koufax against the White Sox, but without the 300-inning seasons of Koufax’s time, I don’t think we’re going to see such a romanticized peak-based case for a pitcher again.

Who’s on your ballot?

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3793
67 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jasper Roos

For our site, I went with:

Bonds
Clemens
Guerrero
Hoffman
Chipper
McGriff
Mussina
Manny
Thome
Walker

I was really torn on Andruw, who I desperately want to make the cut to stay on the ballot. Maybe I should have voted for him over Hoffman or McGriff (for whom I just have a soft spot. Dude got a rough deal, with all the dopers around him). Probably should have.

Voting for Thome to me means also voting for Manny, as the latter was (dare I say) a more complete hitter than Thome. Jim was pure power, which was awesome and he’s a Hall of Famer, no doubt. But… Manny produced similar if not better numbers across the board: higher AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, more RBI’s, the list goes on.

I felt bad leaving out Edgar, but he has a shot anyway, this year. If he’s on the ballot again in 2019, I’ll vote for him. Rolen is on my list for next year, when the dust has settled and the ballot has been freed up a bit, with all the guys going in this year. Same for Sheffield, who (honestly) I had overlooked a bit.

I’m having a hard timing voting for Sosa. Between the dope ánd the cork, I have to wonder how many of his 600 homeruns were hit while cheating in some way. To me, that outweighs the Bonds/Clemens/Manny stuff, who (as far as we know) did not start doping until substantially later in their careers.

katiesphil

Posted a few days ago on SSS, but for those here snooty and stuff to go back over there anymore, and because I like it here and there, both:

Bonds*
Clemens*
Vlad
Hoffman
Chipper
Edgar
Moyer**
Mussina
Manny*
Thome

*I’ve finally made my peace with the steroids. Much as I disliked Bonds and Roger when they were playing, and as much after, they were both great players and I’m personally done penalizing them. Manny I always rather liked anyway. Call me a hypocrite, but a charming personality goes a long way sometimes. Walker’s got another year or two, so with these yahoos out of the way, I’ll check his box next year.

**No, all said and done, Moyer probably doesn’t belong in the Hall, but its my goddam vote and I’m casting one for a guy I respected and admired for embracing what he was and doing it well for a long, long time.

Jason.Wade17

Regarding Bonds: “think about how much fun you’re going to have explaining his 2001-04 run to people who weren’t around then. They won’t be able to comprehend it.”

Do you typically find yourself in a lot of situations where you have to explain the HOF and the intricacies of its inclusion/exclusion?

Jason.Wade17

This is actually the reason I don’t get worked up over players one way or the other.  It’s a discussion for a few weeks out of the year, but doesn’t impact any of the conversations I have in baseball circles much.  Whether a player like Mussina gets the HOF tag on his baseball reference page or not, doesn’t impact his accomplishments or numbers.  It’s a silly label for the sake of a museum.

Jason.Wade17

Ha, well your very specific situation proved me wrong that nobody would need to have that conversation.

andyfaust

I know I’m in the minority, but I don’t want to see Edgar Martinez voted in.  He’s generally agreed upon by many writers as the first great DH, to which I disagree. There is a collective void in everyone’s memory regarding Harold Baines.  And at the same time, there is a strange romanticism with Martinez that baffles me.  I don’t want to argue numbers, because I do concede that Edgar wins that argument when you look at career avg/OBP/slugging etc, but Harold was an incredibly impressive and consistent force at the plate during his long career.  The pitiful number of votes that Harold got in comparison to Edgar pisses me off.  His bronze statue is easily my favorite at the park.

katiesphil

Voting for Edgar should not be viewed as a slap at Harold. My vote to elevate one does not diminish the other. I hold Harold in great esteem and would’ve voted for him, too, at least a couple of times.

Trooper Galactus

Edgar was a much better hitter than Harold was, even adjusting for the eras they played in (Baines peaking in the 80s and Martinez in the 90s).  Let me put it like this: Harold’s best single-seasons of OPS+ were 144, 143, and two with 142.  Edgar’s CAREER OPS+ was 147, with five seasons over 160.  That’s not just a force at the plate, that’s a destroyer of worlds.

Ted Mulvey

For some reason, this year in particular has been a fun year to think about for HoF guys. Some interesting cases on there that lend a variety of different perspectives and arguments. Also, I’ve been looking forward to this week/weekend for awhile now, as I’ve been sitting on a Sporcle idea for the last several months. That said, my list (in no particular order):

Bonds
Clemens
Thome
Guerrero
Chipper
Mussina
Edgar
Manny
McGriff
Sheffield

I’m with Jasper in that I’ve got a soft spot for the Crime Dog. Also, man…Andruw Jones. What a defensive highlight reel. This particular catch has always stuck with me:

Patrick Nolan

Vlad is the one that I just don’t understand. I wouldn’t put him in my top 10.

His WAR is low because he wasn’t much of a defender, but he seems to get credit for being placed in the field to play poor defense (despite that arm) rather than getting slotted at DH.  From a value perspective, his peak was good, but not otherworldly so.  I’m on my phone and can’t flip back easily, but I believe he only had 2 seasons over 6 WAR and didn’t have the accumulation that comparable players did.

He wasn’t a postseason hero or anything either. He was just a consistently pretty good player who is admittedly memorable because he was one of the best bad-ball hitters ever. I guess it just goes to show you that hitting for a really high average and having a good reputation with the media will take you far. That he’s skating in and Mussina is fighting an uphill battle every year is a heinous crime.

katiesphil

Ditto

Greg Nix

There’s a lot that’s compelling about Vlad’s story, what with coming from abject poverty (using milk jug gloves as a kid) and being the last great Expo.

Personally, I think the Hall always needs fun players. It’s why I’m glad Vlad’s getting in and wouldn’t mind seeing Vizquel in some day.

Reindeer Games

I think fans just love him.  There was something amazing about watching him hit a ball that bounced to the plate for a ground rule double.  Dude was legit one of my favorites as a kid, just a tier down behind the Frank Thomas/KGJ god status.

Patrick Nolan

But which of the players being left off that legitimately deserves to be in the hall is legitimately not “fun”?

Was Schilling (the player) not fun? How about Andruw Jones? Larry Walker? Rolen? Sosa?

One guy I’m sorta looking ahead to is Dustin Pedroia. If Vlad Guerrero is a Hall-of-Fame player, Dustin Pedroia absolutely has to be. Yet, I have a feeling that few think that way, and that his is going to be one of those cases that might not get enough support. But if you look at their two careers and postseason performance, they’re pretty damn close (and Pedroia probably has a leg up on the latter).

It’s not that I find putting Vlad in the Hall of Fame objectionable, it’s that there’s far more deserving candidates struggling to get in every year — whether they have a steroid stink or not — and guys like him and Trevor Hoffman are having a much easier time because they were great with lovers of traditional stats. I guess the big positive of him (and possibly Hoffman) getting in is that it reduces the logjam on the ballot for the future.

katiesphil

There’s something to be said for style and élan.

 

Though whether or not that ought to be taken into consideration is another matter.

Patrick Nolan

I think it should. The Baseball Hall of Fame should help to tell the story of the history of baseball, so to the degree that a player’s style is particularly memorable, I’m fine taking that into account.

melidoperez

I agree with a lot of what you’re saying pnoles, and Vlad has probably more random variables than pretty much anyone. He has the entertainment value, but unfairly or not, he might get a little sympathy because people remember young, electric Vlad and write off him doing a Fred Sanford impersonation out in the field the last 6-7 years because of his legs. I think DP is a HOF also for the record. I also agree with you others being more deserving, but don’t chalk up as much to old school stats, given he had an 8 to 10 year peak with a 145-150 wRC+. I have a harder time with someone like Andre Dawson and his career .323 OBP.

Reindeer Games

I would argue that Curt Schilling is the anti-thesis of fun and I can no longer separate out post-baseball Schilling from baseball Schilling.  Since I am not voting for the hall my opinion is meaningless and therefor it is 100% OK for me to be incredibly biased against a dumb racist, pedophile defending douchebag.

The_Outfield

I hope E Mart gets in. Off topic, is there really no way to buy day passes, with one at the kids rate, to Sox Fest on Sunday, w/o buying a hotel package? It seems crazy to me. Want to take me and my son just to meet some of the players, but as I live in town there’s no way I’m springing for a hotel, and $40 for a 4 year old is too much.

rhubarb

I’m glad to see you consider Rolen.  He is way underrated.  As a third baseman, I had a lot of respect for his game.

melidoperez

Ditto. Well rounded consistent guys get the shaft a lot when it comes to voting compared to guys who did one thing spectacularly well or had a few monster seasons. Rolen, Walker, Bobby Abreu in a couple years will get a fraction of what Vlad did despite a nearly identical WAR.

Trooper Galactus

Yup, though Bobby always struck me as an underappreciated player in his day.  He was no worse a defender than Vlad, but didn’t have the arm to help him pass the eye test.  Playing for the Yankees probably also put some unfair scrutiny on him.

ObsidianXIII

The 10 who got my vote on the SSS ballot:

Bonds
Clemens
Guerrero
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Martinez
Mussina
Rolen
Santana
Thome!

My “would have voted, but limited to 10” section:

Hoffman
Kent
Manny Ramirez
Sheffield
Sosa
Walker

My “would have to think about their borderline case” section:

Damen
McGriff
Moyer
Vizquel

 

My votes were done quickly by the gut as I had to fill it out on mobile.

Voted for Andruw Jones because he was a superb center fielder with a good bat during his peak. While he didn’t produce or last as long after his peak as you’d hope, he still contributed in part time roles, plus his WAR puts him on the right side of the borderline imo.

Johan Santana had the peak and that he fell off a cliff because of injuries is a damn shame. This is where my lack of access to a true computer messed up my ballot, because apparently his peak wasn’t as long as I remembered it. But 2 Cy Young Awards in 3 years (which should have been 3 in a row) is still pretty darned impressive.

ObsidianXIII

If I were filling out the ballot today, I’d probably drop Santana down to my “questionable” list and vote for either Hoffman or Manny Ramirez. Manny if I’m going by deserves it more and Hoffman if I want to make sure he clears out for next year.

PauliePaulie

1) Hoffman

2) Chipper

The rest are tainted.

katiesphil

Thome (for example) is tainted?

PauliePaulie

IMO- Yes.

Carefully cultivated image. Same pink, puffy skin as McGwire and Canseco in the early 2000’s. Same career arc as the other enhanced guys.

Nice guys juiced too.

katiesphil

Then you’re suggesting that no one who played a significant chunk of their career in that era / timeframe can be considered. Unless they were skinny.

Fair enough, but that seems an awfully grim view.

PauliePaulie

The steroids utilized from the ’60’s to the mid ’00’s gave users a very distinct look. “Not skinny” wasn’t that look.

I was the same age as these players, and had many friends forced to make difficult decisions on what, or how much, to put into their bodies in order to compete in their sport of choice. I saw first hand what it does to people no matter what that decision ended up being.

Cynical? Yes. Irrational? Possibly. Jaded? For sure.

katiesphil

I may have inferred too much from your use of “the rest,” which I read as everybody else on the ballot, up to and including say, Moyer, Omar, Mussina, and McGriff, etc.

craigws

I believe the phrase you are looking for is ‘country strong’.

Trooper Galactus

Same career arc?  Thome didn’t suddenly have the best years of his career in his mid-30s.  His decline was not really altogether abnormal, and the last three years of his career he was only a part time player as a DH.

KenWo4LiFe

Bonds, Clemens, Thome, Andruw, Chipper, Sosa, Sheffield, Vlad, El Caballo, Manny

Eagle Bones

Here it is: The Top 30 White Sox Prospects, Pre-season 2018. Loads of talent in one of the deepest farms in MLB: https://t.co/MBYA0HK5rC pic.twitter.com/rtvD58KmqY— FutureSox (@FutureSox) January 24, 2018

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Greg Nix

I tried to slot all the outfielders into levels while reading this. Here’s my best guess:

Birmingham: Fisher (LF), Polo (CF), Jimenez (RF), Booker (4th/DH)
Winston-Salem: Basabe (LF), Robert (CF), Adolfo (RF), Call (4th/DH)
Kannapolis: Dedelow (LF), Gonzalez (CF), Rutherford (RF)

Does that seem about right? For an ideal development path, Fisher, Booker, Call, and Gonzalez should all probably be at Winston-Salem, but obviously the development of Robert, Adolfo, and Basabe takes priority.

Josh Nelson

That looks right.

andyfaust

You think LouBob skips Kanny and goes to Winston Salem?  Has Getz or someone else already talked about that?  I had actually typed (but never sent) a PO Sox question asking who you and Jim believe will land where to begin 2018. Forgive me if this has already been discussed.   I’m trying to project Kannapolis’ roster because my local club (Charleston  class A Yanks affiliate) begins their home schedule against Kanny in April and I’ll be bringing my 1 year old to his first sort-of-sox game.

Eagle Bones

Replying to andy above, I think they’ve just said one of the A ball affiliates likely.  Starting him at Kanny would actually seem to alleviate some of the logjam, but they probably shouldn’t make a decision on his development based on getting a couple of fringe guys a few more ABs.

PauliePaulie

Thank you for this, G. Although I’d prefer to see Robert start at Kann, this looks more realistic than the alignments I’d been coming up with.

Patrick Nolan

I love their list and analysis. I quibble with the order in places, but probably everyone else does too.

I’m nowhere near as high on Zack Collins, for example, as they are. I guess the upside is there, but there’s enough legitimate questions on both sides of the ball — whether he’ll make enough contact as a hitter or frame well enough for a catcher — that I think his ranking belies the level of risk in his profile.

Future Sox does great work and everyone should read their list, if they haven’t already.

Josh Nelson

I had the opportunity to be on a conference call with Keith Law this morning (Coming to a future podcast!), and I asked Law about Zack Collins.

Based on his conversations with scouts, the one thing to pay attention to with Collins is the hitch in his swing. I’m glad FutureSox calls that out in their analysis because I remember the many debates if White Sox fans should be worried about Collins swing. We’ll know for sure once AA season starts.

Oh, and Law still doesn’t think Collins sticks as a catcher. Better suited at first base. Again, this will be on a future podcast (2/5) for everyone to listen.

Eagle Bones

Even if his new mechanics end up helping in the long run, this seems like the type of situation that could get worse before it gets better, no? Like it could take him a half season to get used to this new swing and find his groove.

Eagle Bones

Ditto on Collins.  I’d move him down below Dunning at least.

My quibble with them is they always seem to be a little too high on the just drafted college players that beat up on the lower levels, but they seem to have restrained themselves better in that regard this year.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I’m still not convinced he’s the best catcher on the farm.

Reindeer Games

Does Chipper thank the Hooter’s waitress in his acceptance speech?

jorgefabregas

Baseball America White Sox prospect podcast:

[audio src="http://media.blubrry.com/baseballamerica/media.baseballamerica.com/mp3/free/180124.mp3" /]

PauliePaulie

Thanks!

Interesting to hear Sox seem to see Jimenez in LF.

Becoming more and more excited about Robert and Hansen.

Brett R. Bobysud

Perhaps they see Jimenez in LF because they’re considering keeping Avi around in RF if he follows-up his All-Star appearance last year with another strong season.

GrinnellSteve

Harper in right.

PauliePaulie

I hope that’s not the case, but it’s certainly possible.

IMO- Jimenez, Robert, Rutherford, Adolfo, Basabe, Call, Cordell and Delmonico make Avi the most obvious trade piece on the 25 man.

Trooper Galactus

Might depend on if Rutherford can start realizing some of his potential.  If he becomes a concrete part of the future, he’s a left fielder who can spot Robert in center on occasion, which would push Eloy to right field.  If Adolfo is able to have a breakout year, he’s probably going to push Eloy to right field which makes Rutherford the fourth outfielder (unless they decide to DH Eloy, I guess).

35Shields

I find it immensely satisfying that Bonds didn’t get a single extra vote compared to last year

katiesphil

Power of attrition.

Reindeer Games

I love how people hate Bonds for using steroids in an era everyone used steroids, but are oddly silent on all the players who used Greenies during their tenures to help them compete.

craigws

I honrstly think he’d be in by now if he hadn’t broken the records of Ruth & Aaron.

The single season record was already ruined by the time he came along, but the career records really pissed everybody off given he was so clearly (excuse the pun) cheating.

craigws

*honestly.

katiesphil

I honrstly think that while there’s more to it than that, I do agree that Aaron’s record does play a part in it. I clearly (pun intended) remember being outraged at the time. Aaron was one of my childhood heroes, someone I consider a great man, and it seemed like an insult to see his record broken by someone so obviously cheating.

It doesn’t change Bonds having been a great player, but, jeebus, just writing about it now, it’s kind of pissing me off all over again.

ParisSox

Yeah, I remember almost feeling like it was a shame that Bonds was breaking all those records because it was so tainted.  A shame in the sense that Bonds was such a great player before he asked the question “how are Sosa and McGuire doing that?”   The melancholy was feeling like, dammit, he was one of the all time greats, but now he will be penalized and not looked at in the same light.

As for greenies – man, I don’t think you can even compare the effect of greenies with the effect of steroids.  Sure guys could “compete” more with greenies, but it didn’t affect their ability to hit bombs.  I still remember Brady Anderson’s 50 HR season.  No way he does that on just greenies.

 

Reindeer Games

Don’t get me wrong, I love Hank Aaron, but the dude has admitted to taking Amphetamines during games.  It’s still a performance enhancing drug and if you don’t believe it is, see Chris Davis.  The year he didn’t take Ritalin he hit 26 homers sandwiched between 53 and 47. It absolutely helps you hit homers. Baseball shouldn’t get this both ways shit.  You don’t get to encourage these dudes to use steroids and then cast them aside when there’s a PR backlash.  The Cubs treating Sosa the way they do is a fucking disgrace.

katiesphil

RG – this is why I finally sighed and put Bonds on my SSS ballot this year. Or at least part of it. I’ve come to terms with it, within myself. I don’t care for Bonds, it still annoys me that he broke Aaron’s record, I still think Aaron is a wonderful human being, but Bonds was a great player, before and after PEDs, and I’m tired of splitting hairs. Which one do I want to have dinner with? Not even close. Which one belongs in the Hall? Both.

Trooper Galactus

RG, those years for Davis were his age 27-29 seasons, and he hit 33 and 38 dingers the years before and after.  That’s supposed to be the prime of his career, and while I’m sure ritalin was a big factor in his being able to have those big seasons, they didn’t provide him the ability to hit bombs so much as unlock the toolbox.  When he’s 35 years old, no amount of ritalin or greenies is going to make him a 50+ home run hitter, nor are they going to make him more effective in the gym.

And that’s the huge difference when it comes to steroids.  Guys whose bodies should no longer be able to handle the grind of a 162 game season are suddenly bigger, stronger, and at peak capability for the full season.  They’re able to put in more hours at the gym than should be possible.  Give that same guy greenies or amphetamines and, yeah, he might be more locked in and focused, but that won’t allow him to overcome the basic physical hurdles of aging.

Reindeer Games

I think you are thoroughly underrating the effect amphetamines have on play.