Analyzing the Hall of Game ballot is one of my favorite annual posts. This year, though, the crop of newcomers is underwhelming. So don’t blame me if this exercise leaves you a bit uninspired.
Carlos Beltran leads the way of players appearing on the ballot for the first time. Lots of people thought he was a shoe-in for the Hall on his first try (and possibly even wearing a Mets hat on his plaque!), but that was before the cheating scandal in Houston. That will cost him induction this year, and could harm him in future elections. I never saw him as a slam dunk Hall of Famer anyway, so him not being honored as a first-ballot guy is fine with me.
Another former Met, Francisco Rodriguez, also makes his first appearance on the ballot. He has an intriguing case — his numbers are very similar to Billy Wagner’s (what’s with all the ex-Mets?!), who is climbing the ladder towards induction. K-Rod had 437 career saves to Wagner’s 422. 1,142 strikeouts in 976 innings to 1,196 strikeouts in 903 innings. The ERA is a stark difference, though — Rodriguez’s was an excellent 2.86, but Wagner had a magnificent ERA of 2.31. To put that in perspective, Mariano Rivera’s was 2.21. Of course, Rodriguez has the record for saves in a season with 62, so that could help his case. Still, K-Rod will not get in, but I predict he will get the 5% to live another day, in part because there are so few players for whom to vote.
The rest of the familiar names who have no chance include old pal R.A. Dickey, Matt Cain, John Lackey, Jered Weaver, Bronson Arroyo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier and Jayson Werth.
With Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens finally off the ballot (that was a long 10 years!), the biggest names include Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Wagner and Andruw Jones. All have been increasing their vote total in recent years and are poised to make big jumps with the big PED guys absent. Rolen (63% last year) is the closest to getting in. Helton (52%), Wagner (51%) and Jones (41%) still have a long way to go.
There are a couple of PED guys left on the ballot — Alex Rodriguez. Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield. A-Rod garnered 34% in his first year on the ballot last year, but if Bonds and Clemens didn’t get in, Rodriguez never will. Same for Ramirez. Sheffield, whose PED connection is weaker than the others, has seen an increase in his vote tally over the years, receiving 40% the last time around. With two ballots remaining, it would be a tall order for the former Met to make up the difference to get to 75%.
And then there’s Jeff Kent, in his final year on the ballot. I’ve never seen a viable candidate like Kent garner such apathy from voters. Maybe it’s because the one-time Met was apparently a jerk. He’ll do better than last year’s 32%, but not enough for a trip to Cooperstown. Maybe the Veterans Committee (or whatever they’re calling it these days) will view him differently.
So will anyone from this group be elected? I predict Rolen gets in, even though I do not think he is worthy. Boy, this is a weak ballot.