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    Saturday, January 19, 2019

    2019 Hall of Fame Ballot and 50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame

    I realized the other day that it’s been 3 years since the last time I did a “50 Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame” piece, and even that was a reduced 25-player ballot. The last proper 50-player list was five years ago. It seems Graham Womack had ceased work on the project, but I still find the subject interesting, so I wanted to pick it up again and see what my list today would look like.

    After all, with so many players going in over the past few years (18 inducted over the past five cycles, with likely another five or six joining them this year), there must be a lot of turnover, right? Let’s start by looking at my list from last time (sorted by Hall Rating); as a reminder, players are eligible even if they’re on their first ballot this year and haven’t gone through a election cycle yet:

    Barry Bonds, 364
    Roger Clemens, 293
    Greg Maddux, 221
    Curt Schilling, 172
    Jeff Bagwell, 165
    Mike Mussina, 165
    Larry Walker, 152
    Pete Rose, 151
    Tom Glavine, 149
    (10) Mike Piazza, 148
    Bill Dahlen, 145
    Lou Whitaker, 145
    Alan Trammell, 144
    Bobby Grich, 141
    Frank Thomas, 140
    Kevin Brown, 138
    Rick Reuschel, 137
    Edgar Martinez, 136
    Kenny Lofton, 133
    (20) Jack Glasscock, 131
    Joe Jackson, 130
    Luis Tiant, 130
    David Cone, 129
    Tim Raines, 129
    Craig Biggio, 128
    Graig Nettles, 127
    Rafael Palmeiro, 126
    Reggie Smith, 126
    Buddy Bell, 125
    (30) Mark McGwire, 125
    Willie Randolph, 125
    Dwight Evans, 124
    Bret Saberhagen, 122
    Sal Bando, 118
    Ken Boyer, 118
    Sammy Sosa, 117
    Dick Allen, 116
    Keith Hernandez, 116
    Dave Stieb, 115
    (40) Wes Ferrell, 113
    Ted Simmons, 113
    Kevin Appier, 112
    Bobby Bonds, 112
    Sherry Magee, 112
    Joe Torre, 112
    Jim Wynn, 111
    Darrell Evans, 107
    Tommy John, 106
    Thurman Munson, 102
    (50) Minnie Minoso, 101

    There are a decent number of people on that list who are now in the Hall of Fame! But less than I initially thought. As it turns out, only nine names have been cleared out: Maddux, Bagwell, Glavine, Piazza, Trammell, Thomas, Raines, Biggio, and Torre (although as a manager).

    How is it we’ve had 18 inductees but only nine open slots? Well, not every inductee was on my previous list, between first-ballot (or other early) inductees who weren’t eligible last time (Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Ken Griffey Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome) or player who I just didn’t pick (Jack Morris, Harold Baines, Lee Smith).

    Meanwhile, a number of good players have come onto the ballot since then. By my count, these are all of the players with a Hall Rating of over 100 who have joined the ballot since 2015, but aren’t yet in:

    Scott Rolen, 143
    Roy Halladay, 139
    Manny Ramirez, 130
    Mariano Rivera, 130
    Andruw Jones, 127
    Jim Edmonds, 122
    Todd Helton, 120
    Gary Sheffield, 116
    Andy Pettitte, 108
    Johan Santana, 108
    Roy Oswalt, 106
    Lance Berkman, 101

    That’s actually too many names, so we can’t slot all of them in. I think everyone from Sheffield and up is an easy enough pick to slot in, leaving me with one more opening. But I might actually end up dropping someone else rather than deciding between Pettitte and Santana, who were like inverses of the traditional “high peak/sustained excellence” Hall debate. Minoso, Munson, and John are all close, but have other factors going for them in my mind, making Darrell Evans my drop.

    Between another hopefully-large class this year, and a relatively-weak group of first-timers next year, I might be able to add people in instead of making cuts in 2020, which is nice given all the abundance of candidates I’d like to add to the bottom of the list (I’ve mentioned John Olerud and Jeff Kent in years’ past; I’ve come around of Will Clark and Curt Flood as candidates; I really like Berkman’s case, which I covered over at The Crawfish Boxes).


    Also, there’s the matter of this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. If I were a BBWAA voter, I would of course be tracking the early results to inform my decision, since there are still more deserving candidates than ballot slots. Helping the top candidates get in would probably be the first priority, since that will do the most to clear out the ballot. That means Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina (who looks like he’ll be teetering right at the 75% line up to the announcement).

    That also means Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Larry Walker. Getting them closer to 75% sets them up well for future years, even if most probably won’t make it this year (although Walker’s climb from 34% last year to likely over 60% this year is amazing).

    I’m also inclined to give a vote to Scott Rolen, who’s also seen his numbers tick up quite a bit in his second year. He could be another beneficiary of more ballot spaces next year, and some strong early-growth numbers could set him up well for down the road.

    My last space comes down to I think Andy Pettitte, Andruw Jones, or Todd Helton, since that’s where I think it could do the most good. I think Jones and Pettitte deserve to stay on the ballot, and both are near the 5% line. Helton isn’t in danger of falling off, but like Rolen, a strong 2019 could have him picking up even more votes down the line. Ultimately, I think Helton’s need is less urgent, since he will undoubtedly be around next year.

    Pettitte versus Jones is difficult, though. Jones is a little closer to hitting 5%, but I think Pettitte will do better with the voters who don’t reveal their ballots (having a lot of pitching wins, postseason success, and seasons with the Yankees). I could also leave Rivera off (since he’s still at 100%) and vote for both if I wanted to try and game things, but instead I’ll just include Jones and hope my gut instinct on Pettitte is right.

    2019 Ballot:

    Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Andruw Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker

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