This is Gary Sheffield’s ninth time on the ballot. He was on 55.0%% of the writer’s ballots last year. His first five times on the ballot, he was in the teens. Then, his sixth time, he jumped to 30.5%. The following two times, he was at 40.6%. Last year, he jumped to 55.0%. Another 15-point jump would have him very close going into his last time on the ballot.
Looking at his stats, Sheffield was a better player than I thought he was back in the day. Sheffield, the nephew of Dwight Gooden (a one-and-done in Hall of Fame voting, getting just 3% of the vote), was a first-round pick in the Brewers’ 1986 draft. He went on to have a 22-year (I didn’t think he played that long) major league career, playing for eight different teams.
He played 2576 games, hitting .292/.393/.514 with 509 home runs, 1676 RBI and 253 stolen bases thrown in for good measure. Gary made nine All-Star teams, won five Silver Slugger awards, and received MVP votes seven times (finishing second once and third twice). His career WAR is 60.2.
He came up as a shortstop, was moved to third base and then the outfield. He was never much of a defensive player, but he could hit.
He was pretty interesting off the field, too. He called the Brewers’ racist’ when they moved him off short to play third. He felt racism was behind anything terrible that happened to him. And he figured there were more Latin players in the majors than African-Americans because Latin players were ‘easier to control.’ He claimed that manager Joe Torre treated black players differently than white players, and who am I to say he didn’t? I’d imagine that when you are subjected to a lot of racism, you likely start seeing it in places where it isn’t. But then I’m a white boy with blue eyes. I’ve never dealt with racism directed at me.
His name appeared in the Mitchell Report, but many players were mentioned. He is an interesting candidate. How much do you subtract for his defense? Does he lose points for his personality? I don’t think he always played well with reporters (sometimes, that’s a plus in my books). I wonder how that plays into the vote?
A guy with 509 home runs who got on base 39% of the time should be in the Hall. He was a massively better player than Harold Baines. He should be in.
You can see his stats here.
Would you vote Gary Sheffield into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
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