Baseball’s Hall of Fame Needs To Fix Their Selection Process

Tuesday marked the ninth time no players were selected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame since the first class was inducted back in 1936. The BBWAA also set a record with 14 blank ballots because of the controversial Curt Schilling and steroid tied candidates.

Baseball is the only Hall of Fame among the four major sports where only the writers are the judge, the jury, and the executioner. This flawed process allowed writers with bruised or exacerbated egos to severely damage the voting process’s integrity.

Election rules state, “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” Some voters stick to the rules provided while others insert “did I like him?” to the end of that sentence. This year’s fiasco heightens the need for change in the selection process.

By no means is this a rebellion against the writers, considering that I fall into the same category. The issue is that people who never spent a day playing, coaching, or working in the front office of a Major League Baseball team hold the fate of all-time great players in their pens. 

If writers do not have egos, then explain why Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, or Greg Maddux never got 100% of the vote or why certain biases against first-ballot players exist?

Enlist a Committee

It is not a matter of kicking writers off the vote; it is about bringing in the perspective of people who had to play and manage against the considered players. Committees already exist for separate eras, but it should encompass the entire Hall of Fame. The other three major sports use a committee filled with writers, executives, Hall of Famers, and other experts in their respective sports.

Earning a spot on these committees is a thorough process and eliminated the current situation in baseball. Plenty of current voters do not deserve their vote, and plenty of former players have different opinions that would allow deserving players to get their moment in Cooperstown.

Holding a vote from Schilling is reasonable due to his support for a terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol. There are plenty of gray areas for the rest of the ballot. It has been a struggle for “steroid era” players to enter the Hall even though MLB did not implement PED testing until 2004.

Bud Selig was the commissioner during this era and did next to nothing to solve the problem quickly. Selig got his day in Cooperstown, while the players who kept baseball alive might not get theirs. During Selig’s era, taking steroids was as normal as drinking Gatorade in between innings. Even players who did not have the special talents of the potential Hall of Famers were juicing.

It is impossible to describe baseball’s past without these names in the Hall of Fame. When they are enshrined, the steroid conversation does not fade away. It will never be engraved on their plaques, but it will always be attached to their names. Post-2004 abusers like Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano deserve to miss out on enshrinement. They tested positive in an era where mainstream cheating comes in the form of technology.

Players See The Game Differently

Most players and managers would tell you Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens belong in the Hall. If you are against steroid users, ask about Billy Wagner or Jeff Kent; you would get the same results. Instead, all four of them, along with much more, are polling at numbers that will keep them out for the rest of their time on the ballot.

There are plenty of great media members who deserve to keep their vote, but others have egos as large as the players they despise. Some voters are not even covering the sport at the moment. Replacing media members with other baseball voices will bring back lost integrity from the most historic and illustrious sports Hall of Fame.

Seven Former New York Mets are on the Hall of Fame Ballot

It’s officially MLB Hall of Fame voting season, and seven Mets will appear on the 2020 ballot.

The Mets are not well represented in the MLB Hall of Fame. They only have two players enshrined wearing their cap, Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza. That’s the whole list of Hall of Fame worthy players who will forever be remembered for their time with the Mets.

That’s not likely to change in 2020. Of the seven former Mets who are on the ballot four of them only played a single year with the team. So, even if they are enshrined they won’t be wearing a Mets cap.

Of the three who played multiple years with the franchise, none of them are likely to go in as Mets either. All three of them made much larger impacts with other franchises.

Still, It’s important to look back and honor these players. Even if it was only for a short while all of these players made a mark for the Mets.

Billy Wagner

Wagner played three years with the Mets. In those three years, Wagner had a 2.40 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 10.8 K/9, a 180 ERA+, and 101 saves. Wagner was phenomenal with the Mets. He appeared in two all-star games for the team and placed sixth in Cy Young voting in 2006.

Wagner is the most deserving member on this list. He should be in the hall of fame. He is one of the most dominant relievers in MLB history.

Wagner has seven seasons with 50 or more appearances and an ERA+ of 170 or better. Only two other relievers in MLB history have done that, Mariano Rivera and Goose Gossage. Both of them are in the Hall of Fame. Wagner also has the highest K rate of any reliever in MLB history, the sixth most saves, and the seventh highest WAR. Lastly, he has more strikeouts and a lower BAA then Mariano Rivera who made it in on his first ballot.

There is no statistical argument for Wagner to not be in the Hall of Fame. Yet, he was only on 16.7% of ballots in 2019. He also doesn’t appear on any of the five known ballots for 2020. It doesn’t seem likely that he will make the cut this year.

Heath Bell

Heath Bell began his career with the Mets. He played his first three seasons with the team. In those three years, Bell had a 4.92 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 8.8 K/9, 87 ERA+, and no saves. He was a teammate of Wagner’s on the 2006 Mets team.

Bell’s poor performance with the Mets aside, he had a decent career. Bell went on to be the close for the San Diego Padres for years. He transformed into one of the elite closers in baseball with the Padres. However, Bell’s career came crashing down at the end with three horrific years.

His short five-year burst of dominance isn’t likely to get Bell many votes. He’ll likely fall off the ballot after one year.

JJ Putz

JJ Putz was a massive bust for the Mets. He was acquired in a huge three-team trade. Putz was expected to come in and be the Mets closer in 2009. He was supposed to be the replacement for Billy Wagner. It didn’t work out that way.

In his one way with the Mets, Putz had a 5.22 ERA, 4.19 FIP, 79 ERA+, 5.8 K/9 and BB/9, and just two saves. He was a disaster.

However, it was an anomaly of a year. Putz was an elite closer before he got to the Mets, and he was an elite reliever when he left. After leaving the Mets Putz had four straight seasons with an ERA under three, two of which he had an ERA under 2.20.

Like with Bell Putz was not dominant for a long enough stretch, and had too many bad years to garner many votes. He’s likely going to be off the ballot in his first year.

Jose Valverde

Jose Valverde played just one season for the Mets in 2014. It was the last season of his career, and it wasn’t pretty. At 36-years old it was a disaster. One that most saw coming after Valverde’s 2013 season was just as bad.

In his single season with the Mets Valverde had a 5.66 ERA, 4.87 FIP, 10 K/9, 62 ERA+, and just two saves. It was not a good season.

Valverde has a better chance of getting in than Bell and Putz did. Valverde finished in the top six of Cy Young voting on two occasions. He even got MVP voting twice. That likely won’t be enough for him as his career tended to be up and down, but at his best Valverde was one of the best relievers of his generation.

He just didn’t hit that ceiling enough to get real consideration for the Hall of Fame. Valverde likely won’t get enough support to stay on the ballot, but he should get more support than Bell and Putz.

Jeff Kent

Jeff Kent spent most of the beginning of his career with the Mets. He played his first four and a half seasons with the Mets. He was then moved in one of the most infamous trades in franchise history for Carlos Baerga.

In those four and  half years, Kent was a developing young player. He hit .279/.327/.453. That’s nothing like the player he would become for the Giants. Just one year after the Mets traded Kent he became an MVP caliber player, he placed eighth in MVP voting that year.

Kent is the best offensive second baseman of all-time. The stats speak for themselves. The only real ding against him is his sub-par defense at second base. Even that shouldn’t stop him from getting in. The numbers defensively weren’t so bad that Kent shouldn’t be allowed in.

Yet, he is denied year after year. He has never garnered 20% of the vote on a ballot despite his unbelievable numbers. The answer as to why is simple. The media doesn’t like Jeff Kent. He was a stand-offish player who disliked the media and handled them poorly. As such, the media has responded in kind, while lesser players like Sandy Alomar and Craig Biggio get enshrined.

Bobby Abreu

Bobby Abreu played just one year for the Mets, the last of his career. He came of the bench for the Mets in 2014 and played in 78 games. He was a decent bench bat for that team, he slashed .248/.342/.338.

Abreu has a hall of Fame argument. He was worth 60 career bWAR, and his offensive numbers are good. He accumulated a ton of numbers during his 18-year MLB career.

That’s really the issue for Abreu though. He was only a two-time all-star, a one-time silver slugger, and a one-time gold glove winner. He did garner MVP votes in seven seasons, but he was never a top-10 vote earner.

Abreu is a stat collector. He played a long time, which allowed him to accumulate stats, without being an elite player. That will impress some voters because his longevity is impressive. However, it won’t impress enough of them for him to get in.

Abreu will likely stay on the ballot after this year, but he’s not likely going to garner much more than that five percent needed to stay on.

Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield also played his last season with the Mets, it was his only one with the team. In that lone season, Sheffield was an often used bench bat, playing in 100 games and having 312 PA. He was one of the better bench bats in baseball that year slashing .276/.372/.451. It was a great end to a great career.

Sheffield was a nine-time all-star. He won 5 silver sluggers and was an MVP vote-getter in seven seasons. He finished top 10 in six of those seven seasons, and top 3 in three of them.

Sheffield was an elite player during his career who put up some eye-popping numbers. He should be in the Hall of Fame. Yet, like so many others he is denied his spot. He has never garnered 20% of the vote.

It’s because of a rumored connection steroids. Sheffield never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but he was named on the Mitchell Report. That’s enough for many voters to him completely. That’s enough to deny Sheffield spot in the Hall of Fame.