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Vote for the 2021 South Side Sox Hall of Fame!

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Without a major addition to the ballot, it might be tough to elect anyone this year

Toronto Blue Jays v Chicago White Sox
Mark Buehrle joins our Hall of Fame ballot this year and stands a pretty good chance of clearing the 5% hurdle needed to remain in 2022.

It’s that time of the year again — now is the time and this is the place to cast your 2021 South Side Sox Hall of Fame ballot.

You have until January 21 to fill out your ballot, as we will announce our 2021 Hall of Fame results on January 22. And after that, you will be voting for the third White Sox Hall of Fame class.

The rules here are pretty simple. Read over the bios, and select up to 10 names to be enshrined. And if you don’t think anyone should be voted in, seriously, why are you reading this?

Last year at South Side Hit Pen, we enshrined Derek Jeter and Larry Walker. There were no true near-misses after that, although Curt Schilling (58%), Barry Bonds (54%), Roger Clemens (52%) and Andruw Jones (50%) all got at least half of the vote.

This year, there are no slam-dunks among 11 additions to the ballot. So we could have a class of zero in 2021. (Note: Trevor Hoffman was never elected by us, so he remains on the ballot despite residing in Cooperstown. There are other candidates who are off of the Cooperstown ballot who remain on ours due to clearing the 5% vote minimum.)

Here are the 31 candidates on the 2021 South Side Sox Hall of Fame ballot. Vote here and make your voice heard all the way to Cooperstown!

note: bWAR = Baseball-Reference WAR fWAR = FanGraphs WAR WARP = Baseball Prospectus WAR aWAR = average WAR across the three measures; aaWAR = adjusted average WAR, accounting for time lost due to labor impasses or institutional racism JAWS = Jay Jaffe’s HOF measure of Top 7 seasons vs. Hall average Similar Player = Baseball-Reference/Bill James formula


Bobby Abreu

Right Fielder
Philadelphia Phillies, Angels, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets (1996-2014)
bWAR: 60.2
fWAR: 59.8
WARP: 47.5
aWAR: 55.8
2020 SSHP Hall of Fame Result 21%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 186
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF 20
B-R Most Similar Hitter Luis González (87.9%)
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 5.5% (2020)
Year on Ballot 2
Core Stats .291/.395/.475, 288 HR, 1,453 R, 1,363 RBI, 300 SB, 128 OPS+, -11.1 dWAR
Core Accolades Two-time All-Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove

Abreu remains an underrated player. Per B-R, his power-speed rating (HR and SB) is 14th-highest in baseball history, and holds the seventh-best on-base percentage from 1998-2006 (min. 3,000 PA). He saw postseason play in only four of 18 seasons in the bigs, but put up a career .810 OPS and 0.34 WPA while there.

Lance Berkman

Outfielder/First Baseman
Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees (1999-2013)
bWAR: 52.1
fWAR: 56
WARP: 54.1
aWAR: 52.2
2020 SSHP Hall of Fame Result 13%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF 18
B-R Most Similar Hitter Ryan Braun (91.4%)
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 1.2% (2019)
Year on Ballot 3
Core Stats .293/.406/.537, 1,905 H, 366 HR, 1,234 RBI, 144 OPS+, -11.0 dWAR
Core Accolades Six-time All-Star, four Top 5 MVP finishes

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 four times a top-five MVP finisher. His 1,201 career walks against 1,300 Ks, already make him 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). (I’ve also noticed that Berkman has been on our first two Veterans HOF ballots, which is an error because he is still on our regular HOF ballot. Whoops.)

Barry Bonds

Left Fielder
San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-2007)
bWAR: 162.8
fWAR: 164.4
WARP: 163.5
aWAR: 163.6
aaWAR: 167.1
2020 SSHP Hall of Fame Result 54%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 2
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF 1
B-R Most Similar Hitter Willie Mays (76.2%)
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 60.7% (2020)
Year on Ballot 9
Core Stats .298/.444/.607, 2,935 H, 2,227 R, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB, 182 OPS+
Core Accolades Seven-time NL MVP (1990, 1992-93, 2001-04), 14-time All-Star, eight Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers, five Top 5 MVP finishes, all-time home run (762), walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688) leader

Bonds took a significant step back last year in SSHP voting, dropping 12% from his last SSS vote in 2019. He’s 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.

Mark Buehrle

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins (2000-15)
bWAR: 59.1
fWAR: 51.5
WARP: 38.4
aWAR: 49.7
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 205
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 90
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Milt Pappas (91.4%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats 214-160, 3.81 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 1.281 WHIP, 117 ERA+
Core Accolades Five-time All-Star, four Gold Gloves, one Top 5 Cy Young finish

There’s not much I can tell you about Buehrle you don’t already know. While some of those peripherals (ERA, FIP) don’t look very worthy of Cooperstown, when you kick in a career aWAR of thisclose to 50, a perfect game, no-hitter, and crazy starter-win/surprise-save in back-to-back World Series games, the fun-loving lefty builds a case for the Hall. In this year’s Cooperstown vote, it seems Buehrle might struggle to hit the 5% minimum to remain on the ballot; guessing that there are no slam-dunk candidates for election this year, he should be safe on our SSS ballot.

A.J. Burnett

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Florida Marlins, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies (1999-2015)
bWAR: 28.8
fWAR: 41.9
WARP: 48.8
aWAR: 39.8
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 352
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Javier Vazquez (94.0%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats 164-157, 3.99 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 1.325 WHIP, 104 ERA+
Core Accolades One-time All-Star

Burnett missed out on the Florida Marlins’ World Series win in 2003 after undergoing Tommy John surgery after an early-season injury. Perhaps that was for the better, as his 6.37 ERA in 41 career playoff innings might indicate. Still, Burnett won a ring with the Yankees in 2009, and had a nine-walk no-hitter (2001) to boot. His only career All-Star Game appearance came in his last season, 2015, at age 38.

Roger Clemens

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays (1984-2007)
bWAR: 139.6
fWAR: 133.7
WARP: 145.0
aWAR: 139.5
aaWAR: 141.9
Last year’s SSHP vote 52%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 8
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 3
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Randy Johnson (85.1%)
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 61.0% (2020)
Year on Ballot 9
Core Stats 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 4,672 K, 1.17 WHIP, 118 CG, 143 ERA+
Core Accolades 1986 MVP and Cy Young, seven-time Cy Young (1986-87, 1991, 1997-98, 2001, 2004), three Top 5 Cy Young finishes, one Top 5 MVP finish, 11-time All-Star

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. His career parallels that of Bonds, making two all-time greats, both tainted by PEDs. After his career, Clemens has had to fend off sexual assault charges centering around a 10-year affair with country singer Mindy McCready, begun when McCready was 15 years old, Clemens 28 and a married father of two. His numbers signify 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, 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.

Michael Cuddyer
Right Fielder
Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets (2000-2015)
bWAR: 17.8
fWAR: 17.1
WARP: 15.8
aWAR: 16.9
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF 146
B-R Most Similar Hitter Rondell White (95.8%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats .277/.344/.461, 197 HR, 794 RBI, 113 OPS+, -15 dWAR
Core Accolades Two-time All-Star, Silver Slugger

Michael Cuddyer was a late bllomer, debuting in 2001 but getting his first season of more than 1.0 bWAR only in 2006. Cuddyer didn’t even make an All-Star team until his final Twins season (2011) and won his only batting title at age 34, in 2013. Cuddyer was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2017, and it’s pretty clear that’s the only HOF honor he’ll receive for his MLB career. We choose to remember Cuddyer as the runner Ken Griffey Jr. gunned down at the plate in the 2008 Blackout Game.

Dan Haren

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Oakland A’s, Arizona Diamondbacks, Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs (2003-15)
bWAR: 35.1
fWAR: 42.9
WARP: 49.3
aWAR: 42.4
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 206
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Jake Peavy (95.3%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats 153-131, 3.75 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.181 WHIP, 109 ERA+
Core Accolades Three-time All-Star, one Top 5 Cy Young finish

For such a great pitcher, Haren was a true journeyman, traded five times and pitching in more than 100 games (102) for just one team, Oakland. Perhaps that fuels a little bit of what is his pretty funny and self-deprecating Twitter account (@IThrow88). For a strikeout arm, Haren had great control (career K/BB ratio of more than 4). He also was durable, and could hit well, too.

LaTroy Hawkins

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, Angels, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays (1995-2015)
bWAR: 17.8
fWAR: 14.6
WARP: 4.2
aWAR: 12.2
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP 72
B-R Most Similar Pitcher David Weathers (94.3%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats 75-94, 127 saves, 4.31 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 1.406 WHIP, 106 ERA+
Core Accolades 1,042 career games pitched (10th all-time)

Hawkins once had a 3.1 bWAR (2003) ... as a setup man! He played 35% of his career in Minnesota, but otherwise spread his remaining 676 games spread among 10 other teams, as Hawkins finished his career as one of just 22 players in baseball history to play for at least 11 teams.

Todd Helton

First Baseman
Colorado Rockies (1997-2013)
bWAR: 61.2
fWAR: 54.9
WARP: 63.6
aWAR: 59.9
Last year’s SSHP vote 37%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 146
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 1B 15
B-R Most Similar Hitter Jeff Bagwell (86.0%)
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 29.2% (2020)
Year on Ballot 3
Core Stats .316/.414/.538, 2,519 H, 369 HR, 1,406 RBI, 133 OPS+
Core Accolades Five-time All-Star, three Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finish

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

Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Florida Marlins (1993-2010)
bWAR: 28.0
fWAR: 25.8
WARP: 28.1
aWAR: 27.3
Last year’s SSHP vote 46%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Lee Smith (89.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP 20
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 79.9% (2018, elected)
Year on Ballot 6
Core Stats 61-75, 601 SV, 2.87 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1,133 K, 1.06 WHIP, 141 ERA+
Core Accolades 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame, seven-time All-Star, two Rolaids Reliever of the Year, three Top 5 Cy Young finishes

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. In our site voting, that debate wages more intensely than among the BBWAA voters, who elected Hoffman to Cooperstown in 2018. 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).

Tim Hudson

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Atlanta Braves, Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants (1999-2015)
bWAR: 57.9
fWAR: 50.3
WARP: 63.3
aWAR: 57.2
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 201
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 84
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Kevin Brown (93.6%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats 222-133, 3.49 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1,133 K, 1.239 WHIP, 120 ERA+
Core Accolades Four-time All-Star, three Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Hudson seemed destined for the Hall of Fame at the outset of his career, with three Top 5 Cy Young finishes in his first six seasons in Oakland. But his career tailed off some from there, landing him in the HOF bubble. Although he was a severely diminished pitcher by the time of his only World Series (2014, at age 38 with the Giants), he was still impactful enough to start two games in the series.

Torii Hunter

Center Fielder
Minnesota Twins, Angels, Detroit Tigers (1997-2015)
bWAR: 50.7
fWAR: 43.0
WARP: 41.9
aWAR: 45.2
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not among the Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among CF 34
B-R Most Similar Hitter Chili Davis (91.5%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats .277/.331/.461, 353 HR, 1,296 R, 1,391 RBI, 195 SB, 110 OPS+, 4.0 dWAR
Core Accolades Five-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, nine-time Gold Glove

Hunter was a five-tool player who has almost no business a career aWAR of less than 50. It’s sort of astounding he didn’t make an even bigger impact on the game; for all of his many many circus catches in center field (where he won nine Gold Gloves), his career defensive WAR is just 4.0. And for all the blazing speed he had to make those catches, he had just 195 steals and was a negative baserunner per FanGraphs. He spoke out after retirement about the racist treatment he received from Boston fans, noting he would never have signed with the Red Sox. On the other hand, he also rather infamously spurned GM Ken Williams in signing a five-year deal with the Angels instead of the Sox in 2008, and is an unrepentant anti-gay bigot.

Andruw Jones

Center Fielder
Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers (1996-2012)
bWAR: 62.7
fWAR: 67.0
WARP: 60.9
aWAR: 63.5
Last year’s SSHP vote 50%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 122
B-R Most Similar Hitter Dale Murphy (93.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among CF 11
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 19.4% (2020)
Year on Ballot 4
Core Stats .254/.337/.486, 1,933 H, 434 HR, 1,289 RBI, 152 SB, 111 OPS+, 24.4 dWAR
Core Accolades Five-time All-Star, 10 Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger, one Top 5 MVP finish

First and foremost in assessing Jones’ 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 defense 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
San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland
bWAR: 55.4
fWAR: 56.0
WARP: 54.1
aWAR: 55.2
aaWAR: 56.7
Last year’s SSHP vote 25%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 218
B-R Most Similar Hitter Robinson Cano (89.5%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 2B 21
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 27.5% (2020)
Year on Ballot 8
Core Stats .290/.356/.500, 2,461 H, 377 HR, 1,518 RBI, 123 OPS+
Core Accolades 2000 NL MVP, five-time All-Star, four Silver Sluggers

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 awards 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).

Paul Konerko

First Baseman
Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds (1997-2014)
bWAR: 28.0
fWAR: 24.0
WARP: 27.1
aWAR: 23.4
Last year’s SSHP vote 37%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
B-R Most Similar Hitter Andres Galarraga (91.4%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 1B 91
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 2.5% (2020, fell of BBWAA ballot)
Year on Ballot 2
Core Stats .279/.354/.486, 2,340 H, 439 HR, 1,162 R, 1,412 RBI, 118 OPS+, -18.1 dWAR
Core Accolades Six-time All-Star, 2005 ALCS MVP, one Top 5 MVP finish

Konerko is always going to have far more value to us as White Sox fans than to baseball as a whole, as reflected in a pretty astounding 37% vote in last year’s ballot debut with us. But PK isn’t getting cheated; by WAR standards, he pales as a candidate, overall, and certainly Mark Buehrle is far worthier. But Konerko was a clutch player who vastly outperformed his natural athletic ability (no dis, but PK was never close to a five-tool guy): His too-brief postseason career, excepting his initial foray into the playoffs in 2000, was megatop delicious: OPSs of 1.000, .937, .868 and 1.040 in his four final series.

Cliff Lee

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Cleveland, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners (2002-14)
bWAR: 43.2
fWAR: 48.9
WARP: 32.5
aWAR: 41.5
Last year’s SSHP vote 6%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Jered Weaver (94.7%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 134
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 0.5% (2020, fell of BBWAA ballot)
Year on Ballot 2
Core Stats 143-91, 601 SV, 3.52 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 29 CG, 12 SHO, 1,824 K, 1.196 WHIP, 118 ERA+
Core Accolades 2008 AL Cy Young, four-time All-Star, two Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Like Hudson, for a while there it seemed Lee would be a lock for the Hall. He had a Lucas Giolito-esque turnaround from 2007 to 2008, going from also-ran to Cy Young — but the southpaw turned 30 after that miraculous year, and even a dynamite five seasons to come couldn’t build up the resume before his arm gave out. Lee was a very, very good postseason pitcher, with a 2.52 ERA in 82 career innings, a 0.927 WHIP and 1.80 WPA.

Roy Oswalt

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies (2001-13)
bWAR: 50.0
fWAR: 52.3
WARP: 56.4
aWAR: 52.9
Last year’s SSHP vote 8%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 206
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Adam Wainwright (96.8%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 102
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 0.9% (2019, fell of BBWAA ballot)
Year on Ballot 3
Core Stats 163-102, 57 CG, 3.36 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1,852 K, 1.21 WHIP, 127 ERA+
Core Accolades 2005 NLCS MVP, three-time All-Star, five Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Oswalt was a transcendent starter with Houston, piling up five Top 5 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 Oswalt 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, Jered Weaver Bret Saberhagen and Cliff Lee.

Andy Pettitte

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
New York Yankees, Houston Astros (1995-2013)
bWAR: 60.2
fWAR: 68.0
WARP: 61.6
aWAR: 63.3
aaWAR: 63.6
Last year’s SSHP vote 17%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 199
B-R Most Similar Pitcher C.C. Sabathia (93.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 91
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 11.3% (2020)
Year on Ballot 3
Core Stats 256-153, 3.85 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 2,448 K, 1.17 WHIP, 135 ERA+
Core Accolades 2001 ALCS MVP, three-time All-Star, four Top 5 Cy Young finishes

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. That said, Pettitte was a splendid southpaw, and like onetime teammate Mike 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 ⅓ innings). But even Pettitte’s 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 ⅓ innings per start, and zero complete games. Not really a hero, but certainly a star pupil.

Aramis Ramirez

Third Baseman
Chicago Cubs, PIttsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers (1998-2015)
bWAR: 32.4
fWAR: 38.5
WARP: 33.9
aWAR: 39.9
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 3B 62
B-R Most Similar Hitter Carlos Lee (90.6%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats .283/.341/.492, 2,303 H, 386 HR, 1,098 R, 1,417 RBI, 115 OPS+, -5.8 dWAR
Core Accolades Three-time All-Star, Silver Slugger

Ramirez was a stalwart of those Cubs teams of the ’00s that made the playoffs three times (but aside from nice power in the 2003 NLCS, where the third sacker wilted). And he then stuck it to the Cubs in 2012, leaving the team for Milwaukee and posting a career-best 5.6 bWAR. B-R came up with a wacky factoid out of Ramirez spending his entire career in the NL Central: In the divisional era, only Brian Downing spent more time in the league, stayed in one division his entire career, and played for at least three teams.

Manny Ramirez

Left Fielder/Right Fielder
Cleveland, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays (1993-2011)
bWAR: 69.3
fWAR: 66.3
WARP: 73.4
aWAR: 69.7
aaWAR: 70.6
Last year’s SSHP vote 38%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 110
B-R Most Similar Hitter Miguel Cabrera (86.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF 10th
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 28.2% (2020)
Year on Ballot 5
Core Stats .312/.411/.585, 2,574 H, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI, 154 OPS+, -21.7 dWAR
Core Accolades 2004 World Series MVP, 12-time All-Star, nine Silver Sluggers, four Top 5 MVP finishes

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. 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. But given his general lackadaisical attitude toward, well, everything, and multiple positive PED tests, Manny’s case for enshrinement among the greats might fall short.

Scott Rolen

Third Baseman
Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays (1996-2012)
bWAR: 70.1
fWAR: 69.9
WARP: 59.5
aWAR: 66.5
Last year’s SSHP vote 31%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 81
B-R Most Similar Hitter Matt Holliday (88.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 3B 10
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 35.3% (2020)
Year on Ballot 4
Core Stats .281/.364/.490, 2,077 H, 316 HR, 1,287 RBI, 118 SB, 122 OPS+, 21.2 dWAR
Core Accolades 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, seven-time All-Star, eight Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger, one Top 5 MVP finish

Rolen beat out future luminaries like Andruw Jones and Vladimir Guerrero for 1997 NL Rookie of the Year. The third baseman’s calling card was defense (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

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Minnesota Twins, New York Mets (2000-12)
bWAR: 51.7
fWAR: 46.2
WARP: 54.5
aWAR: 50.8
Last year’s SSHP vote 10%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 195
B-R Most Similar Pitcher David Price (96.4%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 81
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 2.4% (2018, fell off of BBWAA ballot)
Year on Ballot 4
Core Stats 139-78, 3.20 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1,988 K, 1.13 WHIP, 136 ERA+
Core Accolades 2004 and 2006 AL Cy Young, four-time All-Star, one Gold Glove, three Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Santana was an incendiary starter, 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. After dropping off of the BBWAA ballot, the southpaw’s are tied into some veterans committee of the future. But he deserves more serious consideration, and it’s a hat-tip to SSS for keeping him on the ballot longer than a year

Curt Schilling

Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros (1988-2007)
bWAR: 79.5
fWAR: 78.9
WARP: 97.2
aWAR: 85.2
aaWAR: 85.9
Last year’s SSHP vote 58%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 48
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Kevin Brown (92.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 28
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 70% (2020)
Year on Ballot 9
Core Stats 216-146, 83 CG, 3.46 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 3,116 K, 1.14 WHIP, 127 ERA+
Core Accolades 2001 World Series MVP, 1993 NLCS MVP, six-time All-Star, four Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Schilling has been frozen out for an understandable, if inapplicable, reason: hateful and vitriolic rhetoric. But in terms of his baseball career, 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 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. Personally speaking, Schilling’s public support of the murderous rampage on the Capitol this month forces me to pull my vote for him this year; as much as I try to have the numbers primarily fuel my decisions, Schilling despite a worthy career has driven my vote away.

Gary Sheffield

Right Fielder
Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres, New York Mets (1988-2009)
bWAR: 60.5
fWAR: 62.1
WARP: 72.1
aWAR: 64.6
aaWAR: 65.9
Last year’s SSHP vote 44%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 158
B-R Most Similar Hitter Chipper Jones (89.2%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF 23
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 30.5% (2020)
Year on Ballot 7
Core Stats .292/.393/.514, 2,689 H, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI, 253 SB, 140 OPS+, -27.7 dWAR
Core Accolades Nine-time All-Star, five Silver Sluggers, three Top 5 MVP finishes

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 Sheffield’s use of “the cream” with Barry 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.

Sammy Sosa

Right Fielder
Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles
bWAR: 58.6
fWAR: 60.1
WARP: 58.1
aWAR: 58.9
aaWAR: 60.9
Last year’s SSHP vote 21%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank 157
B-R Most Similar Hitter Jim Thome (86.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF 18
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 13.9% (2020)
Year on Ballot 9
Core Stats .273/.344/.534, 2,408 H, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB, 128 OPS+
Core Accolades 1998 NL MVP, seven-time All-Star, six Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finish

If you look at Sosa’s and Sheffield’s remarkably similar core stats, it’s a bit uncanny. As will be forever noted on these pages, Sosa isn’t helped among a fairly White Sox-centered electorate by being perhaps the best player the team has 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.

Nick Swisher

Right Fielder
Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Cleveland, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves (2004-15)
bWAR: 21.5
fWAR: 25.1
WARP: 25.5
aWAR: 24.0
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF 101
B-R Most Similar Hitter Carlos Santana (95.6%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats .249/.351/.447, 245 HR, 113 OPS+, -9.3 dWAR
Core Accolades One-time All-Star

What’s there to say about Swisher that Ozzie Guillén didn’t already? Based on his White Sox career (an awful, pouty, fake season sandwiched in between perhaps the two worst trades of Ken Williams’ GM tenure), Swisher should be in the Hall of Shame. But, like a similar lunkhead like Jason Giambi, other franchises clearly saw value in Swisher. However, Giambi has a legit outsider’s chance at Cooperstown; Swisher is tracking at 0% in the BBWAA vote so far and will have to call in plenty of media favors to survive to a second ballot.

Shane Victorino

Cneter Fielder
Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Angels, San Diego Padres (2003-15)
bWAR: 31.5
fWAR: 29.3
WARP: 24.4
aWAR: 28.4
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among CF 74
B-R Most Similar Hitter Jacoby Ellsbury (95.2%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats .275/.340/.425, 108 HR, 231 SB, 102 OPS+, 7.7 dWAR
Core Accolades Two-time All-Star, four Gold Gloves

Victorino has the best nickname among the candidates (Flyin’ Hawaiian) but otherwise does not stand out, as a consummate Hall of Very Good guy. He had a very strong prime (2006-13) that included World Series wins in 2008 and 2013.

Omar Vizquel
Shortstop
Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays (1989-2012)
bWAR: 45.6
fWAR: 42.5
WARP: 33.4
aWAR: 40.5
aaWAR: 41.4
Last year’s SSHP vote 29%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
B-R Most Similar Hitter Luis Aparicio (87.9%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SS 41
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 52.6% (2020)
Year on Ballot 4
Core Stats .272/.336/.356, 2,877 H, 80 HR, 951 RBI, 404 SB, 82 OPS+, 29.5 dWAR
Core Accolades Three-time All-Star, 11 Gold Gloves

Vizquel was a great player. 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 (just 14.3 career baserunning runs per FanGraphs) 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. This vote, his ascendant HOF status took a hit after allegations of domestic abuse; he never had my vote in the first place to lose over that.

Billy Wagner
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
Houston Astros, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox (1995-2010)
bWAR: 27.7
fWAR: 23.9
WARP: 29.7
aWAR: 27.1
Last year’s SSHP vote 27%
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Francisco Rodriguez (90.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP 19
Closest to Hall of Fame Election 31.7% (2020)
Year on Ballot 6
Core Stats 47-40, 422 SV, 2.31 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 1,196 K, 0.99 WHIP, 187 ERA+
Core Accolades Seven-time All-Star, one Rolaids Reliever Awards, one Top 5 Cy Young finish

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. Wagner 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 in that role. 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.

Barry Zito

Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants (2000-15)
bWAR: 31.9
fWAR: 28.9
WARP: 26.1
aWAR: 29.0
Hall of Stats All-Time Rank Not in Top 235
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP 249
B-R Most Similar Pitcher Al Leiter (94.6%)
Year on Ballot 1
Core Stats 165-143, 4.04 ERA, 4.39 FIP, 1.337 WHIP, 105 ERA+
Core Accolades 2002 AL Cy Young, three-time All-Star

Zito spent the entirety of his MLB time in the Bay Area for the A’s and the Giants, and he had much more success in Oakland in the first half of his career. He was the ace of a 2002, flanked by Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, winning the AL Cy Young award (23-5, 2.75 ERA, third in AL pitching WAR). Zito, like five other first-timers on the ballot, have yet to be named on a public ballot, so he’s likely to be one-and-done with the HOF vote.


OK, more than 6,000 words later, please consider all 31 candidates. 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 filled with worthy candidates. Voting closes on Thursday, with the results released in a post on January 22.