If you’d like to see who I did select and how I selected them, click here.
Here I will discuss the players that didn’t make my ballot because they did not meet the Hall of Fame bar under my assessment. I won’t cover everybody, just the ones that I think are the most interesting.
Like in my last post, I will link each player’s name to an in-depth write-up by SI’s Jay Jaffe. If I were to do the same thing, this post would be 10,000 words.
Just Missed My Ballot
These players were close, but ultimately I felt that they did not meet the Hall standard. There is obviously some subjectivity behind where you place that line. Because of that, and how close I believe they are, I have no problem if they ever get inducted. If you feel that there’s something I’m completely missing, please feel free to share.
- 17 seasons, .290/.356/.500, 123 wRC+
- Best seven seasons combine for a 137 wRC+
- 377 HR is the most ever by a 2nd baseman
- Career .500 SLG is the 2nd highest ever by a 2nd baseman
- Postseason track record of .276/.340/.500 with 9 HR in 189 PA
- 55.2 WAR/ 35.6 WAR7/ 45.4 JAWS
- Ranks 18th all-time among 2nd basemen by JAWS
Kent delivered a lot of offense for a 2nd baseman. He had the most home runs ever for somebody at the position with 377, and his .500 career slugging percentage at the position is second only to the great Rogers Hornsby. That kind of power coming from a 2nd baseman makes for a good Hall of Fame case, but I believe that if you put that power in the context of the era he played in and take into account his deficiencies, he falls short of Hall worthiness.
When looking at Kent’s power, which is the biggest strength of his Hall case, you see that it didn’t truly blossom until he arrived in San Francisco in 1997. His prime came during one of the most high-powered eras for offense in baseball history. I’m not saying that what he did wasn’t impressive, especially for a 2nd baseman. What I’m saying is that context matters, and his power came at a time when it was never easier to hit for power because of the small strike zone.
When it came to fielding, Kent was a below average defender, which is unusual for a 2nd baseman making a case for the Hall. Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg, and Roberto Alomar were all excellent at fielding their positions. Lou Whitaker was an excellent defender and he should be in the Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio didn’t field his position as well as those guys, but he was far better than Kent.
Kent’s .356 OBP, which again, is great for a 2nd baseman, is underwhelming given the era in which he played. Joe Morgan, Roberto Alomar, Lou Whitaker, and Bobby Grich all have higher OBPs than Kent, and all of them save for Alomar played in more offense suppressing eras. They were also all way better defensively. Way better.
Kent is clearly an inferior candidate to Whitaker and Grich, and neither one of them are in the Hall of Fame. However, Whitaker and Grich are worthy Hall of Famers who were not given enough credit when they were eligible.
I’m surprised that Kent doesn’t fare better in the JAWS system. When you take into account that he struggled defensively at a position where other Hall of Famers excelled, and that his offense was boosted by the era in which he played, then it starts to make more sense.
Kent only got 16.6% of the vote this time around. I’m sure he would’ve done better if not for the 10-man limit. He’s not going to get in via the writers. Because of his offense, I like his chances of getting in though the Veterans Committee.
- 22 seasons, .292/.393/.514, 141 wRC+
- Best seven seasons combine for a 169 wRC+
- 509 HR
- 8 seasons with an OBP over .400
- 3 seasons with a SLG over .600, 10 seasons over .500 in years he played over 100 games
- 60.3 WAR/ 37.9 WAR7/ 49.1 JAWS
- Ranks 23rd all-time among right fielders by JAWS
I put Sheffield on my fake ballot last year, but changed my mind this time around. This is where I erred: I failed to compare Sheffield to other right fielders historically. Right field, like center, is stacked, and includes all-time greats like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Stan Musial. Even outside of those behemoths, Sheffield doesn’t compare well to other right fielders historically1.
Offensively, Sheffield does compare quite well among right fielders. His wRC+ ranks eighth all-time among right fielders with at least 7,000 PA. What kills his Hall of Fame candidacy is his defense. He was absolutely terrible, and it took a huge chunk out of his value. His -28.6 dWAR is second-worst only to Adam Dunn among players who primarily played in a corner outfield spot.
The Hall of Fame has its fair share of shoddy fielders who raked, but Sheffield is an extreme case. His dWAR is even worse than that of Frank Thomas! That’s the biggest reason why he doesn’t rate very well historically by JAWS.
Sheffield only got 11.6% of the vote. Like Kent, I’m sure the 10-man limit is hurting him. Unfortunately, what is likely hurting him more are the steroids suspicions.
- 18 seasons, .273/.344/.534, 124 wRC+
- Best seven seasons combine for a 150 wRC+
- 609 HR
- Hit over 60 HR in a season three times
- 58.4 WAR/ 43.7 WAR7/ 51 JAWS
- Ranks 17th all-time among right fielders by JAWS
My problem with Sosa is that he was kind of a one-trick pony. He was elite at hitting home runs, but couldn’t really do anything else above an average level.
You can argue that he had a Hall of Fame caliber peak. It’s more difficult to say the same thing about his career as a whole. Like with Kent, his career .344 OBP is underwhelming given the era in which he played. Coming from a lower value position like right field weakens his case even further. The effect of his OBP is evident in his career 124 wRC+. The offensive bar in right field is high for the Hall of Fame, and that just doesn’t cut it.
His defense is an interesting story. He was a plus defender before he hit his prime. When his bat peaked, his glove plummeted. Overall, his defense is a wash.
Sosa’s power was Hall of Fame caliber, but his OBP, the most important part of a player’s offense, was sub-par. He was not able to add any extra value via defense or baserunning. Also, like Kent, his power blossomed in an era when it was never easier to hit for power. He was a great player, but not a Hall of Famer.
He ranks better than Sheffield among right fielders historically, but his career as a whole falls shy of the Hall standard.
Sosa is not getting in anyway. He’s in danger of falling off the ballot, and it’s doubtful that the Veteran’s Committee puts him in.
Hall of Very Good
These are the players who do not have good Hall cases. They were great, immensely talented players. Unfortunately, they fall well short of the Hall of Fame standard.
- 19 seasons, .284/.377/.509, 134 wRC+
- Best seven seasons combine for a 153 wRC+
- 493 HR
- Twice led the league in HR
- Very good postseason performer: .303/.385/.532 with 10 HR in 218 PA
- 52.4 WAR/ 35.8 WAR7/ 44.1 JAWS
- Ranks 29th all-time among 1st basemen by JAWS
The offensive bar at 1st base is incredibly high, and despite having hit 493 home runs, McGriff falls short. His offensive numbers area actually pretty low for a Hall of Fame 1st baseman. To make matters worse, McGriff was poor defensively, provided no value on the base paths, and grounded into 226 double plays. In his prime, he only had two seasons above 6 WAR and four seasons above 5 WAR.
There are some strong proponents for McGriff’s inclusion in Cooperstown, but I just don’t see it. His offensive numbers, while impressive, need to be put in the context of the era in which he played. Once you look past his home run total, his Hall case falls apart pretty quickly. McGriff isn’t going to get in via the BBWAA and I can’t see the Veteran’s Committee putting him in either.
- 14 seasons, .313/.361/.521, 124 wRC+
- Best seven seasons combine for a 137 wRC+
- Good defensive shortstop
- .208 ISO is the highest ever for a player whose primary position was shortstop[^2].
- 44.2 WAR/ 43 WAR7/ 43.6 JAWS
- Ranks 23rd all-time among shortstops by JAWS
The greatest shortstop in Red Sox history certainly had a Hall of Fame peak. During his prime, he was a complete player and one of the best in baseball.
Unfortunately, Nomah’s career was plagued by injuries after he left Boston. He just doesn’t have the longevity and overall career numbers to merit Hall induction. It’s a shame, because had he been able to stay healthy he might’ve compared to Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter.
Nomah got more support than I thought he would, but has just fallen off the ballot. The Red Sox did put him into their own Hall of Fame, and that was well deserved.
No, Just No
I covered this topic extensively in my post about why relievers not named Mariano Rivera are no where even close to Hall of Famers.
I’m overall pleased with the Hall of Fame results, as the culling of a chunk of the voters seem to have improved the results. Unfortunately, for as far as the writers have come in dismissing useless stats such as pitcher record and the RBI, they still put weight in the worst stat of them all: The Save.
The fact that Hoffman got 67.3% of the vote and seems destined to get in next year or the year after is disgraceful. What’s worse is that he got 66 more votes than Schilling , and a whopping 103 more votes than Mussina. Schilling and Mussina were far more valuable to their teams than Hoffman, and with out a doubt could’ve done Hoffman’s job far, far better than he could. Hoffman, on the other hand, couldn’t even crack the starting rotation, let alone be a Hall of Fame-caliber starter.
The relievers on this ballot aren’t even that special when compared to their peers historically. Check out how they compare by WAR here. They rank behind older pitchers who pitched more innings and have Hall cases that are just as good, if not better than, the relievers on the current ballot. They just weren’t lucky enough to have pitched when the role of closer became a thing.
If you go by ERA- and FIP- among relievers with at least 900 IP, they look much better, but the pitchers who rank close to them pitched way more innings.
The electorate has made great strides in understanding player value, but this is a colossal failure. This is worse than Jack Morris. At least he was good enough to start.
I won’t be writing anything on the Veterans Committee ballot. Bill Dahlen is worthy, but the era in which he played is over-represented compared to other eras. There’s no point in revisiting that era when there are other eras with more worthy Hall of Famers who aren’t in yet. Joe Posnanski does an excellent job of discussing this here.