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2019 South Side Sox Hall of Fame Ballot

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Cast your vote for someone more than mere Mariano!

Mariano Rivera
Enter Sandman: Nonsense talk of unanimous election aside, Mariano Rivera is a dead-set lock in the latest Hall class.

It’s that time of the year again! Now is the time and this is the place to cast your 2019 South Side Sox Hall of Fame ballot.

You have until January 8 to fill out your ballot, as we will announce our 2019 Hall of Fame results on January 9. And after that, you will be voting for the second SSS White Sox Hall of Fame class.

The rules here are pretty simple. Click on the ballot link below, enter your South Side Sox username, and select up to 10 names to be enshrined. Don’t vote more than once, because if you do, we reserve the right to publicly shame you, discount your votes entirely, or merely count only your first ballot submitted. If you don’t think anyone should be voted in, seriously, why are you reading this?

Here is the ballot!

Last year, we enshrined three players: Jim Thome, Chipper Jones and Vladimir Guerrero. Near-misses included Barry Bonds (64.2%), Roger Clemens (64.2%), Mike Mussina (61%) and Edgar Martinez (61%).

Those close calls join this year’s ballot, headlined by Mariano Rivera, Todd Helton, Roy Halladay and Andy Pettitte. And, whoa, the ballot is insane ... we have one completely unique case (below) and an additional three players who remain on the SSS ballot (for receiving at least 5% of the vote) but no longer on Cooperstown’s. And while I am not here to put my thumb on the scale, I count a full 19 players who should be in the Hall on this ballot, so don’t feel any compulsion to be stingy with your check boxes.

As for that unique case, if I am reading correctly what KenWo wrote last year, I believe we have a first-time situation with the ballot as well. A player (Trevor Hoffman) was enshrined in the actual Hall, but not in the SSS Hall. So now, we’re not only smarter than the HOF voters, but more discerning. But because of this unique situation, Hoffman reappears on our ballot, though already in Cooperstown.

Here are the 39 candidates on the 2019 South Side Sox Hall of Fame Ballot. Sitaspell, take yer shoes off, and ponder.

aWAR averages Baseball-Reference (bWAR), FanGraphs (fWAR) and Baseball Prospectus (WARP) WAR measures.

Rick Ankiel
St. Louis Cardinals (1999-2009)
Kansas City Royals (2010)
Atlanta Braves (2010)
Washington Nationals (2011-12)
Houston Astros (2013)
New York Mets (2013)
bWAR: 8.9
fWAR: 4.6
WARP: 4.2
aWAR: 5.9
Core Stats: .240/.302/.422, 76 HR, 251 RBI, 92 OPS+, 13-10, 3.90 ERA

Is Ankiel worthy of enshrinement, as a pioneer for all of today’s players (Shohei Ohtani, Matt Davidson, several current minor leaguers) who are attempting a two-way career? Well, no. But Ankiel transitioned into a career as an outfielder after the yips stole away his pitching career. His only true year of stardom came as a rookie pitcher in 2000, when Ankiel clocked in with a 3.3 bWAR (plus 0.7 bWAR as a hitter) and finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting.

Jason Bay
Left Fielder
San Diego Padres (2003)
Pittsburgh Pirates (2003-08)
Boston Red Sox (2008-09)
New York Mets (2010-12)
Seattle Mariners (2013)
bWAR: 24.6
fWAR: 21.5
WARP: 28.7
aWAR: 24.9
Core Stats: .266/.360/.481, 222 HR, 754 RBI, 95 SB, 121 OPS+

Bay was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2004, three-time All-Star, and Silver Slugger winner. Why does it seem he had the most nondescript, 25-WAR career in baseball history? Those three All-Star seasons account for more than half of his career WAR, so that may have to do with it; Bay wasn’t much to write home about out side of 2005, 2006 and 2009. However, he was money in 14 career postseason games (three series, across three seasons), slashing .306/.452/.551, so perhaps I’m just a dimwit writer who’s undervaluing him.

Lance Berkman
Outfielder/First Baseman
Houston Astros (1999-2010)
New York Yankees (2010)
St. Louis Cardinals (2011-12)
Texas Rangers (2013)
bWAR: 52.1
fWAR: 56
WARP: 54.1
aWAR: 54.1
Core Stats: .293/.406/.537, 1,905 H, 366 HR, 1,234 RBI, 144 OPS+

Berkman clears the 50 WAR hurdle, which would seem to indicate serious merit and demand legit consideration. He’s unlikely to get either, and not only because this ballot, again, is crawling with deserving candidates. Fat Elvis was a six-time All-Star, including a final appearance at age 35, as well as three times a top-five MVP finisher. His 1,201 career walks against 1,300 Ks, make him already a relic of a different age. But hey, his career .406 OBP is nothing to sneeze at. Ditto a career .949 OPS over 52 postseason games (1.065 vs. the White Sox in the 2005 World Series).

Barry Bonds
Left Fielder
Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-92)
San Francisco Giants (1993-2007)
bWAR: 162.8
fWAR: 164.4
WARP: 165.3
aWAR: 164.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 64.2%
Core Stats: .298/.444/.607, 2,935 H, 2,227 R, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB, 182 OPS+

Our first returning player on this year’s ballot is Bonds, who finished the SSS voting 18 votes shy of enshrinement last year. Bonds won seven MVPs and was a 14-time All-Star. He was a eight-time Gold Glove outfielder, and is the only member of the 700 (homer)/500 (stolen base) club. He was the epitome of a five-tool player. The argument for him, in spite of any PED use, is that he was a Hall-of-Famer based on his Pirates career (50.3 bWAR), not to mention being the all-time home run champion (762 homers), and basically the most ferocious hitter any of us will ever live to see. The argument against is as obvious as his increased cap size.

Roger Clemens
Starting Pitcher
Boston Red Sox (1984-96)
Toronto Blue Jays (1997-98)
New York Yankees (1999-2003, 2007)
Houston Astros (2004-06)
bWAR: 139.6
fWAR: 133.7
WARP: 151.7
aWAR: 141.7
Last year’s SSS vote: 64.2%
Core Stats: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 4,672 K, 1.17 WHIP, 118 CG, 143 ERA+

Back-to-back greats make this ballot top-heavy, ominous in their absence from the Hall. Clemens was somewhat of a Nolan Ryan redux, winning more than 350 games, with almost 4,700 career strikeouts. He burst on the scene by winning both the AL Cy Young and MVP in just his second full season (1986), and would win seven Cy Youngs and play in 11 All-Star Games before he was through. Another all-time great, tainted by PEDs. He’s a Hall-of-Famer in my book, but if you prefer, like me, to hate to love him, you can focus more on his Red Sox losing the World Series in classic fashion after his MVP season, or his roid rage toss of the bat barrel back at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series, or the Chicago White Sox knocking him out of the box in Game 1 of the 2005 World Series.

Freddy García
Starting Pitcher
Seattle Mariners (1999-2004)
Chicago White Sox (2004-06, 2009-10)
Philadelphia Phillies (2007)
Detroit Tigers (2008)
New York Yankees (2011-12)
Baltimore Orioles (2013)
Atlanta Braves (2013)
bWAR: 34.4
fWAR: 32.9
WARP: 34.8
aWAR: 34.0
Core Stats: 156-108, 4.15 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 1,621 K, 1.30 WHIP, 107 ERA+

So, Harold Baines just got elected to the Hall of Fame; Sweaty Freddy, anyone? No, of course not. But he’s the rub: García is only about 6.0 WAR behind Baines for his career. García had some thrilling moments, most notably forming a once-a-generation postseason starting quartet with José Contreras, Mark Buehrle and Jose Contreras in 2005. He was the runner-up to Carlos Beltrán for 1999 AL Rookie of the Year, and was a two-time All-Star. Career postseason ERA, in 11 starts? 3.26. His most closest comp, at 93.8% per Baseball-Reference, is Ervin Santana. And a decade from now, we won’t be voting Santana into the Hall of Fame, either.

Jon Garland
Starting Pitcher
Chicago White Sox (2000-07)
Anaheim Angels (2008)
Arizona Diamondbacks (2009)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2009, 2011)
San Diego Padres (2010)
Colorado Rockies (2013)
bWAR: 22.5
fWAR: 21.9
WARP: -0.4
aWAR: 14.7
Core Stats: 136-125, 4.37 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 1,156 K, 1.39 WHIP, 103 ERA+

Two things jump out at me about Garland. One, the Cubs traded him, at age 19, barely a year after he was drafted No. 10 overall, to the White Sox for Matt Karchner. Karchner was in the midst of a 0.0 bWAR season at the time, and in three complete seasons from there, would compile 0.1 bWAR for the north siders. (!!!) Also, Baseball Prospectus has a tendency to go really hard on certain players. Tim Hudson is one I can think of, with B-R and FanGraphs is WAR has him with a mid-50s WAR, while BP dings him to 14! Same thing here with Garland, clocking in with a pretty fair career B-R and FanGraphs-wise, while BP has Garland as below replacement level for his career. Tough crowd. Well, as for highlights, Garland was one of García’s running mates in 2005, as Garland’s only postseason saw him excel in two starts (16 innings, 1-0, 2.25 ERA).

Travis Hafner
Designated Hitter
Texas Rangers (2002)
Cleveland Indians (2003-12)
New York Yankees (2013)
bWAR: 24.8
fWAR: 21.9
WARP: 21.2
aWAR: 22.6
Core Stats: .273/.376/.498, 1,107 H, 231 HR, 731 RBI, 134 OPS+

FanGraphs judges Hafner and Garland exactly equal value, go figure. After Hafner’s four astronomically productive seasons (2004-07), injuries took their toll, and he was an average player, at best, from then on. From age 28-31 (his super-productive stretch), Hafner’s closest historical player comp was ... José Abreu. For four seasons in a row. Sort of eerie.

Roy Halladay
Starting Pitcher
Toronto Blue Jays (1998-09)
Philadelphia Phillies (2010-13)
bWAR: 64.3
fWAR: 65.2
WARP: 66.6
aWAR: 65.4
Core Stats: 203-105, 67 CG, 3.38 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 2,117 K, 1.18 WHIP, 131 ERA+

Halladay was a clutch, workhorse starter whose tragic end in a plane crash makes his first year of eligibility bittersweet. He won Cy Youngs in both leagues, seven seasons apart, and was an eight-time All-Star. For all his achievements, his no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS vs. the Cincinnati Reds may stand out most prominently — it was his first career playoff appearance, after all. In five career postseason starts, Halladay clocked in with a 2.37 ERA. At his scariest, Halladay was more machine than man.

Todd Helton
First Baseman
Colorado Rockies (1997-2013)
bWAR: 61.2
fWAR: 55.0
WARP: 75.0
aWAR: 63.7
Core Stats: .316/.414/.538, 2,519 H, 369 HR, 1,406 RBI, 133 OPS+

A rare bird these days — a player spending all his time with one team. Even back in the days of George Brett and Robin Yount, the one-team career player was being discussed as anomaly, so Helton’s love affair with Colorado is something special, indeed. Of course, as a hitter in Denver, there may be a reason for the love affair. But while Helton’s home numbers (.345/.441/.607) were gaudy, the road work wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either (.287/.386/.469). There’s another weird variance in overall career assessment here, with FanGraphs and BP far apart in their judgment. Helton had a relatively early peak, with all five of his All-Star appearances coming from 2000-04. Helton was absolutely robbed on the 2000 NL MVP, leading the NL in WAR (and third in baseball), and leading the NL in hits, doubles, RBIs, and average, on-base and slugging; Helton finished fifth.

Trevor Hoffman
Relief Pitcher
Florida Marlins (1993)
San Diego Padres (1993-2008)
Milwaukee Brewers (2009-10)
bWAR: 28.0
fWAR: 26.1
WARP: 27.5
aWAR: 27.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 40.3%
Core Stats: 61-75, 601 SV, 2.87 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1,133 K, 1.06 WHIP, 141 ERA+

If there was a Hall of Closers, of course Hoffman would be a first-ballot inductee. But the notion of placing closers alongside starting pitchers, or regular position players, in importance is subject to debate. On SSS that debate wages more intensely than among the BBWAA voters, who elected Hoffman to Cooperstown in its last election. Hoffman was a seven-time All-Star, and finished as the runner-up in NL Cy Young voting twice (1998 and 2006). The eight-season spread on that latter stat truly speaks to what is special about Hoffman, as longevity is not a hallmark of most closers — Hoffman retired in 2010, as baseball’s all-time saves leader (601, since surpassed by Mariano Rivera). Still, you have only to scroll down to Rivera’s entry to see what some feel a truly meritorious closer looks like.

Andruw Jones
Center Fielder
Atlanta Braves (1996-2007)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2008)
Texas Rangers (2009)
Chicago White Sox (2010)
New York Yankees (2011-12)
bWAR: 62.8
fWAR: 66.9
WARP: 61.9
aWAR: 63.9
Last year’s SSS vote: 32.1%
Core Stats: .254/.337/.486, 1,933 H, 434 HR, 1,289 RBI, 152 SB, 111 OPS+

First and foremost in assessing Jones’s career: He was as good as any center fielder who has ever played the game. He won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, and while no slouch as a hitter, had several seasons of higher defensive WAR than offensive. He was a five-time All-Star who, ironically enough, finished second in the NL in WAR during that 2000 season where Helton was jobbed of the MVP; in a clear statement about how unimportantly defensive is measured by the voters, Jones finished eighth in that MVP vote. When Jones left Atlanta for Los Angeles in free agency, his career fell off the deep end, fast. One swell swan song was in 2010 with the White Sox, when Jones hit his 400th home run and had a bounce-back, 1.9 bWAR season in limited playing time.

Jeff Kent
Second Baseman
Toronto Blue Jays (1992)
New York Mets (1992-96)
Cleveland Indians (1996)
San Francisco Giants (1997-2002)
Houston Astros (2003-04)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2005-08)
bWAR: 55.4
fWAR: 56.1
WARP: 53.4
aWAR: 55.0
Last year’s SSS vote: 17%
Core Stats: .290/.356/.500, 2,461 H, 377 HR, 1,518 RBI, 123 OPS+

Unlike many others who hit the ground running in their careers, it took several years and a move to the Giants for Kent to start turning heads around baseball. After receiving no accolades at all until 1997, Kent garnered five All-Star berths in his final 11 seasons. He also won the 2000 NL MVP (the one Helton, or Jones, should have taken!). Kent impresses most when viewed relative to other second basemen — he’s simply among the two or three biggest bats ever to play the position (second place all-time in 2B HRs, and owning the top three 2B RBI seasons of the past 50 years). He was a pretty decent postseason performer, slashing .276/.340/.500 in 189 career PAs — but had a -.13 WPA. Undervalued, and on this ballot perhaps fairly so, it’s surprising to see Kent had nearly 2,500 hits and hit at least 20 homers in 12 seasons (totaling 377 for his career).

Carlos Lee
Left Fielder
Chicago White Sox (1999-2004)
Milwaukee Brewers (2005-06)
Texas Rangers (2006)
Houston Astros (2007-12)
Miami Marlins (2012)
bWAR: 28.3
fWAR: 27.9
WARP: 34.4
aWAR: 30.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 5.7%
Core Stats: .285/.339/.483, 2,273 H, 358 HR, 1,363 RBI, 125 SB, 113 OPS+

No one can elucidate on Lee like KenWo, so in honor of our dear departed wrestling heel, here’s Ken’s writeup on El Caballo from last year’s ballot:

One of my favorites, El Caballo hits the ballot for the first time. He was a major stud for the White Sox in their biggest offensive seasons in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, the Sox sent them to the Brewers in a bad trade. The three-time All-Star went on to hit many dingers.

Ted Lilly
Starting Pitcher
Montreal Expos (1999)
New York Yankees (2000-02)
Oakland A’s (2002-03)
Toronto Blue Jays (2004-06)
Chicago Cubs (2007-10)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2010-13)
bWAR: 27.1
fWAR: 26.0
WARP: 30.4
aWAR: 27.8
Core Stats: 130-113, 4.14 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 1,681 K, 1.26 WHIP, 106 ERA+

Lilly was a two-time All-Star who won 130 games, with a career ERA of 4.14 (4.41 FIP). He pitched for a lotta clubs, but only approached superstardom with the Cubs, where in three seasons he accumulated roughly half of his career WAR. Lilly was a poor postseason pitcher (though in a two-series sample size). His B-R comp, at 95.2% similarity, is Woody Williams.

Derek Lowe
Starting Pitcher/Relief Pitcher
Seattle Mariners (1997)
Boston Red Sox (1997-2004)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2005-08)
Atlanta Braves (2009-11)
Cleveland Indians (2012)
New York Yankees (2012)
Texas Rangers (2013)
bWAR: 34.4
fWAR: 41.2
WARP: 46.4
aWAR: 40.7
Core Stats: 176-157, 10 CG, 86 SV, 4.03 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 1,722 K, 1.33 WHIP, 109 ERA+

Per Baseball-Reference, Lowe, Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz are the only players in MLB history to have both a 20-win season starting and a 40-save season relieving. What’s interesting is that all three took different routes to those milestones: Eckersley began as a starting pitcher and moved to the pen; Smoltz started, was forced into the pen by injury, then bounced back and forth from there; Lowe had 85 saves in his first four full seasons in Boston, then switched to starter the next year, logged a 7.2 bWAR, and never looked back. He won all three of the postseason clinching games in the Red Sox’s miracle run to the 2004 title. Lowe was a two-time All-Star, as well as a very solid postseason pitcher, with a 3.42 ERA in 26 career games.

Edgar Martinez
Designated Hitter/Third Baseman
Seattle Mariners (1987-04)
bWAR: 68.4
fWAR: 65.5
WARP: 52.5
aWAR: 62.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 61%
Core Stats: .312/.418/.515, 2,247 H, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI, 147 OPS+

Just like Lowe, Martinez began his career in Seattle. Unlike Lowe, Martinez never left, playing 18 seasons and legitimately staking a claim as Mr. Mariner. Gar had a very similar career to another one-team player anomaly, Helton, and has an almost identical aWAR. Martinez is a seven-time All-Star, who won batting titles in 1992 and 1995 and led baseball in OPS in 1995; in fact, he is 33rd all-time in OPS, at .933. Martinez was a strong postseason performer, but only when you look at the ALDS; in 17 games/77 PAs in the ALDS, Martinez slashed .375/.481/.781, with a 1.33 WPA and in 17 games/71 PAs in ALCS play, he slashed .156/.239/.234 with a -1.00 WPA.

Fred McGriff
First Baseman
Toronto Blue Jays (1986-90)
San Diego Padres (1991-93)
Atlanta Braves (1993-97)
Tampa Bay Rays (1998-2001, 2004)
Chicago Cubs (2001-02)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2003)
bWAR: 52.6
fWAR: 56.9
WARP: 38.3
aWAR: 49.3
Last year’s SSS vote: 22%
Core Stats: .284/.377/.509, 2,490 H, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI, 134 OPS+

Like Garland, McGriff really gets shorted by WARP, whose low WAR assessment bumps the Crime Dog under that 50.0 aWAR threshold. It raises an important issue for an ever-evolving stat like WAR — just a few years ago, Baseball Prospectus had McGriff at 53.2 WARP, and something in its formulas dropped the slugger down some 15 WARP. We want the best methods of analysis for players, but BP falling so out of pace with the other two WAR measures is curious. That said, McGriff is often cited in the post-Baines HOF universe as someone who is now a shoo-in for the Hall. McGriff is unlikely to make it to Cooperstown this year, nor the SSS Hall, but should once he lands on whatever his particular Veteran’s Committee Era ballot down the line. McGriff led both leagues in home runs (AL in 1989, with 36, NL in 1992, with 35). He was a top 10 MVP finisher for five consecutive years (1989-93), across both leagues, and was a five-time All-Star. Per Baseball-Reference, McGriff is one of eight players in MLB history to earn at least 9.0 WAR with four different teams (the list also includes Hall members Roberto Alomar and Dennis Eckersley, as well as Clemens). As a postseason performer, McGriff was butter, with a .989 OPS over two World Series and a slash of .303/.385/.532 in 50 career postseason games (218 PAs).

Jamie Moyer
Starting Pitcher
Chicago Cubs (1986-88)
Texas Rangers (1989-90)
St. Louis Cardinals (1991)
Baltimore Orioles (1993-95)
Boston Red Sox (1996)
Seattle Mariners (1996-2006)
Philadelphia Phillies (2006-10)
Colorado Rockies (2012)
bWAR: 49.9
fWAR: 48.2
WARP: 44.9
aWAR: 47.7
Last year’s SSS vote: 6.3%
Core Stats: 269-209, 33 CG, 4.25 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 2,441 K, 1.32 WHIP, 103 ERA+

If you cast a vote for Moyer, it’s clearly because you value his longevity (25 MLB seasons, pitching until age 49) and persistence (eight teams, coming back to pitch after sitting out the majors both at age 29 and 48). In terms of career WAR, Moyer right at the minimum cusp for consideration. In terms of career accomplishments, there aren’t many beyond holding the all-time career mark for home runs allowed (522). However, Moyer had three top-six finishes in Cy Young voting — at ages 36, 38 and 40!

Mike Mussina
Starting Pitcher
Baltimore Orioles (1991-2000)
New York Yankees (2001-2008)
bWAR: 83.0
fWAR: 82.2
WARP: 93.4
aWAR: 86.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 61%
Core Stats: 270-153, 57 CG, 3.68 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 2,813 K, 1.19 WHIP, 123 ERA+

It is utterly embarrassing that Mussina has been on the ballot for six years now. The short clip above says it all; Mussina was a badass on the mound. Mussina was a five-time All-Star, with six top-five Cy Young finishes. He ended his career at age 39, starting 34 games with a 20-9 record, 3.37 ERA/3.32 FIP, 5.1 bWAR and a sixth-place Cy Young finish. He clearly could have held on for a couple more seasons, long enough to up his career win total from 270 to more than 300. Discounting his partial rookie year and truncated 1994, Mussina made at least 30 starts in 12 of his 16 seasons, and finished with at least 5.0 bWAR in 10 of 16. He was just as steady in the postseason, pitching to a 3.42 ERA over 23 games/139 23 innings.

Darren Oliver
Starting Pitcher/Relief Pitcher
Texas Rangers (1993-98, 2000-01, 2010-11)
St. Louis Cardinals (1998-99)
Boston Red Sox (2002)
Colorado Rockies (2003)
Florida Marlins (2004)
Houston Astros (2004)
New York Mets (2006)
Anaheim Angels (2007-09)
Toronto Blue Jays (2012-13)
bWAR: 22.2
fWAR: 19.8
WARP: 5.8
aWAR: 15.9
Core Stats: 118-98, 7 SV, 4.51 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 1,259 K, 1.44 WHIP, 104 ERA+

Oliver qualifying for the Hall of Fame ballot is one of the most fun things about the institution, which allows anyone who played at least 10 years in the majors at least one crack at the Hall. What an amazing story Oliver is. He played in for nine teams in 20 major league seasons, until age 42, with only one of them landing better than 2.9 bWAR. He was released five times in his career. In 2005, three separate teams — Colorado, Arizona and the Cubs — signed, and released, Oliver, without the southpaw seeing a single inning of action. After effectively sitting out that season, Oliver then went on to amass 1.1-plus bWAR in the final six of eight seasons in his career. (Last season among White Sox relievers, only Joakim Soria, at 1.2, had an aWAR better than 1.1.) For a journeyman, Oliver was pretty sweet in the playoffs, with a 4.32 ERA over 30 games/41 23 innings.

Roy Oswalt
Starting Pitcher
Houston Astros (2001-10)
Philadelphia Phillies (2010-11)
Texas Rangers (2012)
Colorado Rockies (2013)
bWAR: 50.1
fWAR: 52.4
WARP: 58.8
aWAR: 53.8
Core Stats: 163-102, 57 CG, 3.36 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1,852 K, 1.21 WHIP, 127 ERA+

Ironically enough, fellow longtime Astros teammate Berkman and Oswalt finished their careers with nearly the same aWAR. Oswalt was a transcendent starter with Houston, piling up five top-five Cy Young finishes in his first six seasons, and then just hitting a wall once he turned 30. He was runner up as NL Rookie of the Year to none less than Albert Pujols in 2001, when he burst on the scene with a 4.7 bWAR in just 20 starts. His top-10 similarity scores at Baseball-Reference are littered with similar borderline-HOF pitchers, including Ron Guidry, Adam Wainwright, Jered Weaver, Bret Saberhagen, Cliff Lee and Jon Lester.

Andy Pettitte
Starting Pitcher
New York Yankees (1995-2003, 2007-10, 2012-13)
Houston Astros (2004-06)
bWAR: 60.3
fWAR: 68.9
WARP: 61.7
aWAR: 63.6
Core Stats: 256-153, 3.85 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 2,448 K, 1.17 WHIP, 135 ERA+

Pettitte just couldn’t say no to the Yankees, which in my book knocks him down a few notches. Seriously, he moved on to his hometown Astros after eight seasons in the Bronx, but after three seasons in a 10-gallon hat, came back for four more seasons with the Yankees, retired, then came back for two more seasons with the Yankees. Add to that his use of HGH to recover from a 2003 elbow injury, lying about it, some weirdness in defense (or the opposite) re: Clemens’ HGH use ... and boy oh boy, do you have a soap opera. Factoring in the customary “East Coast bias,” Pettitte might be the rare candidate given more than his due from the first vote forward. That said, Pettitte was a splendid southpaw, and like onetime teammate Mussina, might have retired a season or two too young (at 41, Pettitte gathered a 2.2 bWAR off of a 3.74 ERA/3.70 FIP, 30 starts and 185 13 innings). Still, he was somewhat overlooked in his time, making just three All-Star Games in 18 seasons, finishing in the Top 5 in Cy Young voting just four. Even his ballyhooed postseason record is a bit overblown; over 14 seasons/32 series, Pettitte made 44 starts, going 19-11, but with a fairly pedestrian 3.81 ERA, 6 13 innings per start, and zero complete games. Not really a hero, but certainly a star pupil.

Juan Pierre
Center Fielder/Left Fielder
Colorado Rockies (2000-02)
Florida Marlins (2003-05, 2013)
Chicago Cubs (2006)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2007-09)
Chicago White Sox (2010-11)
Philadelphia Phillies (2012)
bWAR: 17.1
fWAR: 23.9
WARP: 15.5
aWAR: 18.8
Core Stats: .295/.343/.361, 2,217 H, 18 HR, 517 RBI, 614 SB, 84 OPS+

Pierre’s calling card was speed, leading the threat he posed offensively during his peak seasons in Florida (2003-04, which garnered a combined 7.4 bWAR and 10th- and 16th-place NL MVP finishes). But Pierre was simply never that efficient a speedster, underscored by the fact that he ranks 18th all-time in steals (614) but sixth in caught stealing (203). Or that despite a .304 career postseason average in seven series, he was just 3-of-8 in stolen bases.

Plácido Polanco
Second Baseman/Third Baseman
St. Louis Cardinals (1998-2002)
Philadelphia Phillies (2002-05, 2010-12)
Detroit Tigers (2005-09)
Miami Marlins (2013)
bWAR: 41.5
fWAR: 38.4
WARP: 28.9
aWAR: 36.3
Core Stats: .297/.343/.397, 2,142 H, 104 HR, 723 RBI, 95 OPS+

Weird: Pierre and Polanco have almost identical career batting averages and OBPs. Did you know that the White Sox were Polanco’s first team? Well, not exactly, but he was drafted (and unsigned) by the Sox in the 49th round in 1993; a year later, he was selected 30 rounds earlier, by the Cardinals. Count me surprised that Polanco even made this much impact over his 16-year career. But he was a scrappy little (Nellie Foxesque) hitter who made an even bigger impact on defense. Per Baseball-Reference, Polanco is the only player who is the career fielding percentage leader at two different positions. He was a two-time All-Star, and received MVP votes in two of the final seasons of his career — at age 31 and 33 — with Detroit. A poor overall hitter in the playoffs, he nonetheless was a catalyst of the 2006 Tigers, with a .915 OPS in the ALDS topped only by his ALCS MVP performance (1.167 OPS).

Manny Ramirez
Left Fielder/Right Fielder
Cleveland Indians (1993-2000)
Boston Red Sox (2001-08)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2008-10)
Chicago White Sox (2010)
Tampa Bay Rays (2011)
bWAR: 69.4
fWAR: 66.3
WARP: 72.5
aWAR: 69.4
Last year’s SSS vote: 37.1%
Core Stats: .312/.411/.585, 2,574 H, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI, 154 OPS+

For all the stuff you can say about Manny, you have to include that he was a helluva hitter. In seven straight seasons (1999-2005), Ramirez won a Silver Slugger, was an All-Star, and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting. Overall, he was a 12-time All-Star, won nine Silver Sluggers, and earned MVP votes in 11 of his 18 seasons. His 10 closest comps on Baseball-Reference are, basically, all Hall-of-Famers; No. 1 is Miguel Cabrera ... No. 2, Frank Thomas. Manny’s dominance extended to the postseason as well, where he hit 29 homers and put up a .937 OPS in 111 career playoff games. Given his general lackadaisical attitude toward, well, everything, and multiple positive PED tests, Manny’s brief, end-of-career stint as a coach is ... entertaining.

Mariano Rivera
Relief Pitcher
New York Yankees (1995-2013)
bWAR: 56.2
fWAR: 39.7
WARP: 31.6
aWAR: 42.5
Core Stats: 82-60, 651 SV, 2.21 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 1,173 K, 1.00 WHIP, 205 ERA+

The latest closer up for Hall of Fame debate will be a hands-down choice for Cooperstown. I suspect the same with SSS, so, full disclosure, Rivera does not get my vote this year — but that is more a case of an overloaded ballot than Rivera’s worthiness. bWAR values Rivera as a Hall-of-Famer, but fWAR and WARP have him falling pretty far short. You might recall that Rivera began his career as a starter, in fact having the longest outing of his career against the White Sox in his fifth career start, an eight-inning, 11-strikeout effort. Rivera ended his career as the all-time saves leader with 652, 51 more than Hoffman. (Interestingly, Rivera led the AL in saves just three times.) Rivera also came within one out of having a career WHIP of exactly 1.00 (998 hits, 286 BB, 1,283 23 IP). In six seasons, Rivera earned Cy Young votes, including a runner-up finish in 2005. He also earned MVP votes in nine seasons, All-Star berths in 13. Rivera finished an all-time record 952 games, and his 205 ERA+ is the best in history. In 96 career postseason games (141 innings), Rivera had a 0.70 ERA. He was rewarded for his heroics with both a 1999 World Series MVP and 2003 ALCS MVP, and his 42 career playoff saves and 11.7 Win Probability Added are the all-time record, by far.

Scott Rolen
Third Baseman
Philadelphia Phillies (1996-2002)
St. Louis Cardinals (2002-07)
Toronto Blue Jays (2008-09)
Cincinnati Reds (2009-12)
bWAR: 70.2
fWAR: 69.9
WARP: 64.5
aWAR: 68.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 30.2%
Core Stats: .281/.364/.490, 2,077 H, 316 HR, 1,287 RBI, 118 SB, 122 OPS+

In terms of a Hall hosing, Rolen didn’t even pool one-third of the SSS electorate last season. He was the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, ahead of future luminaries like Andruw Jones and Vladimir Guerrero. Rolen’s calling card was defense, and was an eight-time Gold Glove winner, taking his final award at age 35, in his last fully healthy season. He was a seven-time All-Star, yet one legitimate argument against Rolen’s enshrinement is his earning MVP votes in just four seasons (never finishing better than fourth).

Johan Santana
Starting Pitcher
Minnesota Twins (2000-07)
New York Mets (2008-12)
bWAR: 51.6
fWAR: 45.3
WARP: 53.5
aWAR: 50.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 6.3%
Core Stats: 139-78, 3.20 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1,988 K, 1.13 WHIP, 136 ERA+

The only Twins player on this entire ballot — the Yankees can claim 12, the Astros and Rangers 11 — Santana is sort of the anti-Moyer, a starter who was incendiary, but burned out fast. He won two Cy Youngs, in 2004 and 2006, and received votes for the award in six straight seasons (2003-08). During Santana’s peak stretch from 2004-06, he accumulated an otherworldly 23.5 bWAR. The southpaw’s hopes may be tied into some veteran’s committee of the future, but he deserves more serious consideration than he’s getting currently, thanks to the unholy backlog of worthy candidates who now pop up on the ballot every year.

Curt Schilling
Starting Pitcher
Baltimore Orioles (1988-90)
Houston Astros (1991)
Philadelphia Phillies (1992-2000)
Arizona Diamondbacks (2000-03)
Boston Red Sox (2004-07)
bWAR: 79.6
fWAR: 79.8
WARP: 100.7
aWAR: 86.7
Last year’s SSS vote: 40.3%
Core Stats: 216-146, 83 CG, 3.46 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 3,116 K, 1.14 WHIP, 127 ERA+

Like Mussina, Schilling began his career in the late 1980s, in the Baltimore Orioles system. Like Mussina, Schilling finished his career with an aWAR of 86 and change. And also like Moose, Schilling is a deserving Hall of Fame candidate unduly frozen out of Cooperstown. Unlike Mussina, Schilling has been frozen out for an understandable, if inapplicable, reason: hateful and vitriolic rhetoric. But we’re not voting for a set of worldviews here, we’re judging a baseball career. And Schilling’s was impeccable. He was a six-time All-Star and earned MVP votes in four different seasons. He was a top-four Cy Young finisher — each coming after he turned 30. Amazingly, about three-quarters of his career WAR came after he turned 30. Schilling also was a postseason hero, beyond the bloody sock (see above) of debatable veracity; in his career, he pitched to a 2.23 ERA and .97 WHIP in 19 starts (12 series), going 11-2 with four complete games. And if you throw out just two godawful ALCS series efforts, his playoff numbers would be borderline supernatural.

Gary Sheffield
Right Fielder/Left Fielder/Third Baseman
Milwaukee Brewers (1988-91)
San Diego Padres (1992-93)
Florida Marlins (1993-98)
Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-2001)
Atlanta Braves (2002-03)
New York Yankees (2004-06)
Detroit Tigers (2007-08)
New York Mets (2009)
bWAR: 60.5
fWAR: 62.1
WARP: 74.9
aWAR: 65.8
Last year’s SSS vote: 18.2%
Core Stats: .292/.393/.514, 2,689 H, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI, 253 SB, 140 OPS+

Sheffield was, simply put, a devastating hitter. He was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Sliver Slugger winner, seven times earning MVP votes (six of those being top-10 finishes). But with Sheffield, his use of “the cream” with Bonds damns some of his amazing accomplishments, as does a mid-30s stretch of dominance that defied any expected aging curve (75 homers and 253 RBIs at age 34-35). He also had only modest postseason success: .248/.401/.398 in 44 career games. Finally, Sheffield being shuffled among teams — traded five times, all told — also undercuts his case. Strictly from a WAR standpoint, Sheffield’s career production ekes past presumed shoo-ins like Halladay and Rivera. His nearest B-R career comp, with 89.2% similarity, is 2018 Hall-of-Famer Chipper Jones.

Sammy Sosa
Right Fielder
Texas Rangers (1989, 2007)
Chicago White Sox (1989-91)
Chicago Cubs (1992-2004)
Baltimore Orioles (2005)
bWAR: 58.6
fWAR: 60.1
WARP: 62.6
aWAR: 60.4
Last year’s SSS vote: 9.4%
Core Stats: .273/.344/.534, 2,408 H, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB, 128 OPS+

Look at Sosa’s and Sheffield’s remarkably similar core stats, it’s a bit uncanny. Unfortunately, Sosa (deserving of the Hall) is in danger of free-falling off the SSS ballot entirely. As will be forever noted on these pages, Sosa isn’t helped by being perhaps the best player the White Sox have ever traded away. His unbearable hamminess and seeming insincerity won’t win him points, either. He did, however, have an impossibly good stretch of nine seasons on the north side, and overall he was as seven-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, and the 1998 NL MVP (six other times he earned votes, all in top-10 finishes). Of course, Sosa is also a suspected (heh) PED user — but while it’s presumed, like other juicers, Sosa just fell off the end of the Earth, his final season, back in Texas, yielded 21 homers and 92 RBIs at age 38. His closest B-R player comp, with 86.3% similarity, is ... 2018 Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome.

Miguel Tejada
Oakland A’s (1997-2003)
Baltimore Orioles (2004-07, 2010)
Houston Astros (2008-09)
San Diego Padres (2010)
San Francisco Giants (2011)
Kansas City Royals (2013)
bWAR: 47.3
fWAR: 39.8
WARP: 50.2
aWAR: 45.8
Core Stats: .285/.336/.456, 2,407 H, 307 HR, 1,302 RBI, 108 OPS+

One career hit fewer than Sosa ... some of these career total coincidences are crazy. Tejada checks a lot of the boxes many others on the ballot do, both negatively and positively. As a plus, Tejada had few offensive peers at shortstop in his time; a minus, drug controversies, including a 105-game suspension for amphetamines in 2013. His extraordinary 2002 season in Oakland earned him the AL MVP, and he finished with MVP votes in seven other seasons. Tejada was a six-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger. He was also remarkably (hmm) durable, playing a full slate of 162 games five times, and played at least 156 games in six other seasons. Tejada was a poor postseason performer, slashing .212/.242/.329 in 20 ALDS games.

Omar Vizquel
Seattle Mariners (1989-1993)
Cleveland Indians (1994-2004)
San Francisco Giants (2005-08)
Texas Rangers (2009)
Chicago White Sox (2010-11)
Toronto Blue Jays (2012)
bWAR: 45.6
fWAR: 42.4
WARP: 38.4
aWAR: 42.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 22%
Core Stats: .272/.336/.356, 2,877 H, 80 HR, 951 RBI, 404 SB, 82 OPS+

I love Vizquel. He was a great player, and with interests in art and fashion, a renaissance man. He could even be a White Sox manager one day. But a Hall-of-Famer, well, that’s another thing entirely. Obviously, he doesn’t stack up on offense (82 OPS+), where even his value as a baserunner is suspect in spite of 404 career steals. Defensively, Vizquel was without peer, earning 11 Gold Gloves. He was a very rare star whose defensive WAR nearly eclipsed his offensive value. His seeming support from the old-school voters is curious, given he wasn’t regarded very highly by them when Vizquel was active; in just one season (1999) did Vizquel earn MVP votes — and he finished 16th. Vizquel’s closest B-R comp, however, is Luis Aparicio (87.9%).

Billy Wagner
Relief Pitcher
Houston Astros (1995-2003)
Philadelphia Phillies (2004-05)
New York Mets (2006-09)
Boston Red Sox (2009)
Atlanta Braves (2010)
bWAR: 27.7
fWAR: 24.1
WARP: 28.0
aWAR: 26.6
Last year’s SSS vote: 6.9%
Core Stats: 47-40, 422 SV, 2.31 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 1,196 K, 0.99 WHIP, 187 ERA+

Wagner should have celebrated Hoffman getting elected to Cooperstown, because if Hoffman has a case, Wagner has 99% of the very same case, and will eventually break through. He has some impeccable stats, including that 187 ERA+ (per B-R, the best of any southpaw with 500-plus appearances). It’s always impressive to see a closer who can dominate for a decade-plus. Personally, I am not moved by any closer’s case for the Hall, but cap-tip to Wagner as an all-time great. He earned MVP votes in two seasons, and Cy Young votes in two as well, in addition to being a seven-time All-Star. One negative: Wagner was terrible (10.03 ERA) in 14 career postseason games.

Larry Walker
Right Fielder
Montreal Expos (1989-94)
Colorado Rockies (1995-2004)
St. Louis Cardinals (2004-05)
bWAR: 72.7
fWAR: 68.7
WARP: 68.3
aWAR: 69.9
Last year’s SSS vote: 36.5%
Core Stats: .313/.400/.565, 2,160 H, 383 HR, 1,311 RBI, 230 SB, 141 OPS+

Walker catches a lot of hell for not playing full seasons, but this isn’t the complete-seasons Hall of Fame, it’s the who-kicks-the-most-ass HOF. And Walker kicked plenty. Look at that friggin’ slash line! Now, wipe the drool from your chin. Walker also gets dinked for playing about 30% of his career games a mile high in Denver, but c’mon, his career OPS on the road is .865. Tough crowd, man. Walker was the NL MVP in 1997 and received MVP votes in seven other seasons. And in case you want to look at him solely as a bat, like Ramirez or Sheffield, think again: Walker was a seven-time Gold Glove winner in right field, representing roughly half of his MLB seasons. And Walker has an interesting top B-R career comp, at 88.9%: Duke Snider.

Vernon Wells
Center Fielder
Toronto Blue Jays (1999-2010)
Anaheim Angels (2011-2012)
New York Yankees (2013)
bWAR: 28.5
fWAR: 24.8
WARP: 26.9
aWAR: 26.7
Core Stats: .270/.319/.459, 1,794 H, 270 HR, 958 RBI, 109 SB, 104 OPS+

Aside from 12 seasons in Toronto marking him an all-time great Blue Jay, there’s not a lot else that distinguishes Wells. From 2003-06, he was one of the stronger players in the AL, earning MVP votes and All-Star status twice, and winning three Gold Gloves. He had just one season above the WAR All-Star benchmark (5.0), a 6.2 in 2006. Wells’s top B-R career comp, though presently generous to Wells, if Adam Jones, at 94.7%

Kevin Youkilis
First Baseman/Third Baseman
Boston Red Sox (2004-12)
Chicago White Sox (2012)
New York Yankees (2013)
bWAR: 32.6
fWAR: 30.0
WARP: 26.7
aWAR: 29.8
Core Stats: .281/.382/.478, 1,053 H, 150 HR, 618 RBI, 123 OPS+

Youkilis, like Wells, ended his career with a truncated season in New York. But unlike his fellow ballot rookie, he had a much higher OPS+ and slash line, and for the same reason Youkilis had a shorter career but slightly higher aWAR: walks. Youk wasn’t called The Greek God of Walks for nothing. In 2008-09, Youkilis had his two super seasons of run production, and finished third and sixth in the MVP voting those seasons. He was a very solid, if not clutch, postseason performer, with a .944 OPS in 29 career playoff games. But in case you’re thinking the half-season Chisox should merit Hall consideration, his top B-R career comp is ... Trot Nixon, at 94.3%.

Michael Young
Shortstop/Third Baseman/Second Baseman
Texas Rangers (2000-12)
Philadelphia Phillies (2013)
Texas Rangers (2013)
bWAR: 24.6
fWAR: 25.1
WARP: 26.1
aWAR: 25.3
Core Stats: .300/.346/.441, 2,375 H, 185 HR, 1,030 RBI, 104 OPS+

Guys like Young and Wells would have gotten more serious — say, Al Oliverish — consideration in the pre-analytics days. A career .300 average? Ding-ding. Hits approaching 2,500? Yes, please. But the 104 OPS+ — identical to Wells’s — tells the tale of a grindy player who was good enough to play 14 years in the bigs. Young was an All-Star in six straight seasons (2004-09) and seven of eight. Five times he earned MVP votes, as the leader of some strong Texas teams in the 2000s. In 2008, he even won a Gold Glove. He did not blossom in the postseason, with just a .625 career OPS over 43 games Top comp? Ray Durham, at 88.1%.

OK, 7,000 words later, please consider all 39 candidates and head on over to the ballot. You may vote for up to 10 players. Any player who falls short of 5% in polling will be eliminated from next year’s ballot.

Just like with the BBWAA voting, you’re encouraged to make your vote public in the comments below, so we can debate the merits of a ballot overfilled with worthy candidates. Voting closes on January 8, with the results released in a post on January 9.

And finally, one more thing: There’s no reason why we have to limit ourselves to voting for just 10 players, which is the BBWAA standard. Weigh in on this simple issue here, and if we vote to broaden the ballot, we’ll determine the ballot size when I post this year’s results.


In future SSS Hall of Fame votes, should the maximum number of players chosen increase from the current (BBWAA) limit, of 10?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
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