With the announcement of the 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2019 coming soon on January 22nd, it’s the time of the year for Bluebird Banter’s annual survey of its readers’ views on who should be inducted into Cooperstown this year.
The 2019 Hall of Fame ballot, released last month by the Baseball Hall of Fame, is once again a crowded one with 35 names: 15 holdovers from last year who received at least 5% support, and 20 players who are eligible for the first time. Unlike in some previous years, there were no real snubs in terms of who was included on the ballot from among eligible players (at least 10 MLB seasons, inactive since 2013).
The 15 holdovers are Barry Bonds (56%), Roger Clemens (57%), Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez (70%), Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina (64%), Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling (51%), Gary Sheffield, Scott Rolen, Sammy Sosa, Omar Vizquel (37%), Billy Wagner, and Larry Walker (34%)
The 20 newcomers are: Rick Ankiel, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Travis Hafner, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Ted Lilly, Derek Lowe, Darren Oliver, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Mariano Rivera, Miguel Tejada, Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis, and Michael Young.
Two of those, Halladay and Wells, standout for their connection to the Blue Jays, both having been drafted and developed by the team and spending the most productive parts of their careers in Toronto. Young was also drafted by the Jays, but traded to Texas while still in AA where he became a franchise icon. Lilly and Oliver both had solid runs with the Jays, the latter to wind up his long career in fine form.
A number of the other newcomers, while certainly having had fine careers, do not merit and will not garner serious consideration for the Hall of Fame, and so there won’t be individual posts for them. This includes Ankiel, Bay, Garcia, Garland, Hafner, Lilly, Lowe (despite over 2,500 innings), Oliver, Pierre, Polanco (who had a surprising 40+ WAR), Wells, Youkilis, and Young.
That leaves 7 newcomers with the 15 holdovers. Realistically, even a handful of those don’t have a real shot for better or worse, but for one reason or another are interesting enough to discuss here. We’ll touch on some of the others in batch posts.
As usual, Tom will have a write-up on each player and Matt will add a chart comparing each player to all players who careers were mostly post-WWII (roughly, the modern integrated era) who have been eligible for Cooperstown by productivity and career length. This excludes active players, and those on or awaiting the ballot since their candidacies have not been definitely assessed. For hitters, it looks like this:
“TRC+” is my name for a metric that is wRC+, but for total runs created (batting, fielding/positional, base running) rather than just batting runs. 100 is a league average player, and the higher the more productive the player at creating and preventing runs. This isn’t meant to be definitive, but a high level starting point showing how similarly productive and long lasting players have fared, since a lot of Hall of Fame debate is about where a player stand compared to others included or excluded
For pitchers, productivity is simply ERA-, how good a pitcher was at preventing runs relative to his peers. Again 100 representing league average, but lower is better:
Finally, we’ll also list players whose careers are most comparable to the player being considered along these two dimensions, though for hitters they’re not always very applicable since positions and the way players created runs are not considered.