Viva El Birdos has voted on the Hall of Fame. With contributions from Lance Brozdowski, Ben Clemens, Josey Curtis, Ben Godar, John LaRue, Tyler Kinzy, Greg Ratliff, A.E. Schafer, lil_scooter93 and myself. Former VEB manager Craig Edwards gave his votes as well, making for 11 voters.
The typical Hall of Fame induction standard is 75%, but with 11 voters, that was a pretty inconvenient number. If the standard is 75% with 11 voters, then the standard is really 81.2% percent and that wasn’t going to work. So instead, a player needs 8 votes out of 11 (72.7%) in order to “make” the Hall of Fame by VEB. In order from most votes to least votes, the players who qualified.
“One of the most dominant pitchers in the game for a notable stretch, Halladay spent time with the Blue Jays and Phillies across 16 seasons. Halladay logged at least 200 innings in eight seasons and eclipsed 200 punchouts in five seasons. ‘Doc’ also performed well in the playoffs, with a 2.37 ERA in 38 innings - including his no-hitter against the Reds in the 2010 NLDS.” - Josey
“I really wrestled with putting Halladay on the ballot. I wanted to put him on for countless reasons. At the end of the day, his peak earns my vote. There are also lots of little ancillary things to help make the vote easier. There’s no doubt he was one of the very best pitchers in the game during his peak and he has the All-Stars, Cy Youngs, and magic moments to push him over the top.” - John
“Consistently one of the better pitchers in baseball of this era. Easy pick.” - Greg
“Mussina spent all of his 18 years as a pitcher in the AL East, the toughest division for someone in his craft to work in. And, considering the era that he pitched in, this is a fact to keep in mind. Between his work with the Orioles and Yankees, with more than 3,500 innings under his belt, Mussina limited batters to a collective .295 on-base percentage and a 0.95 HR/9 rate.” - Josey
“This one is tricky. Wasn’t going to do it. His ERA would be the 2nd highest in the HOF. A lot of other numbers don’t really jump out. He was just a solid, consistent pitcher. Not flashy or dominant. Just solid. In the era he pitched, consistency to me, means a lot. With the inflating offensive numbers in his prime, Mussina held firm.” - Greg
“Moose is the opposite of Halladay. His peak, while fine, leaves a little to be desired. But you could set your watch to Mussina’s above average durability for 12 years. Then he tacked on five more years ranging from a little below average to downright good again. What he did was truly impressive, even if it lacked in gaudy moments and numbers. He was just a rock for a very long time.” - John
Mike Mussina was a bad pitcher one time in his career, when he was 39, and had a 5.15 ERA in 2007. He followed it up with a 4.6 WAR season, which is where his career ended. Every other season of his career, he was good. He had 10 seasons with 5+ fWAR and 10 seasons with 5+ bWAR. Pretty easy choice.
“Walker was one of the most well-rounded players of his era, a player who could flash the glove and arm in right field and run the bases well. Oh, and when he wasn’t doing that, he could flat out mash. He’s right at average for a Hall of Fame right fielder. He racked up three batting titles, an MVP, seven Gold Gloves, and a tremendous peak. As Craig Edwards points out, the list of hitters with Walker’s combination of doubles, homeruns, and stolen bases is tiny and littered with inner-circle Hall of Famers. That list is Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Carlos Beltran, Willie Mays, and Andre Dawson. Walker should join them in Cooperstown.” - John
“If a team had the Rockies on their upcoming schedule about 20 years ago, Walker’s name would be circled in red on their lineup card. An utter force at the plate (we also shouldn’t forget the seven Gold Glove Awards), Walker maintained a .313 batting average with 383 home runs in his 17 seasons in the Majors. In his career of 1,988 games, Walker boasted 916 extra-base hits and swiped 230 bases. Walker’s 1997 campaign is especially notable. Named the NL MVP, Walker became one of only 14 players in history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. Walker did that, for sure; he hit 49 long balls and swiped 33 bags.” - Josey
“It’s dumb Larry Walker is an argument.” - Schafer
All but One Vote
“Arguably the best designated hitter of all time (the annual award given to the top DH is named in his honor, after all), Martinez spent his 18-year career with the Mariners. Martinez is one of only nine players in history to finish their careers with a line of at least .300/.400/.500. Martinez ranks high above the rest of the pack in Seattle’s all-time leaderboards, including in runs scored and extra-base hits.” - Josey
“Why he hasn’t been voted in already is a crime. If Martinez misses again, there needs to be serious changes to the voting process.” - Greg
(One omission: Godar)
“I realize the statistical arguments for Edgar are very strong, and truth be told, I’m mostly just leaving him out just to be obnoxious because I hate the DH. But I do feel like a DH needs to be an incredibly superlative hitter to even be worth consideration. Martinez probably crosses that threshold. But in terms of his narrative value to the game, Martinez has basically zero for me. He played in a grand total of four postseasons, never in the World Series. He finished 3rd in one MVP race and only in the Top 10 twice. During his career, if you asked who was the best or most exciting player in the game, you would have to get pretty far down the list before someone would list Edgar Martinez.”
Nine of Eleven Votes
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens
Whether you agree or disagree, can we all just appreciate VEB for consistency? Nine voters voted for both, two voters voted for neither. I love it. No “I think one should get in, but not the other” which MAKES NO SENSE. Anyway, onto the cases.
“Nobody doubts Bonds and Clemens put up Hall-quality numbers. They put up elite Hall-quality numbers. It all comes down to the PED problem with both of them. As much as both of them seem to be tied up in it, neither ever failed a test with the league. It’s hard to retroactively punish them for things the league didn’t even bother caring about when they played. That doesn’t mean they’re off scot-free in my book, though. I’d love to see these players voted in, but with some mention of their role in it on their plaques. It’s a part of the game whether we like it or not. Embrace the reality. These were two of the very best players of all time. These players also carried a great deal of suspicion around PED use.” - John
“Other writers will not put them in because of the admitted or alleged performance-enhancing drug use. At this rate, it’s going to just get more and more difficult to decipher who was on PEDs and who wasn’t. If you want to put something on their plaque or whatever to designate they were part of the “steroid era” then so be it. But they should be in the hall. So should Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson for that matter, but that’s a whole other debate” - Greg
(Two omissions: Josey, Schafer)
“With 13 All-Star selections and five World Series rings to complement 652 saves, Rivera is about as a close to a sure-thing inductee as a candidate could be.” - Josey
“A rare no-brainer. As in, if you don’t vote for Rivera, then you may not have a brain. If Rivera isn’t a unanimous selection, it should be pretty close to 100%. Much like his soon-to-be-eligible-to-be-inducted teammate Derek Jeter, there’s not much to question about his candidacy.” - Greg
(Two omissions: ME and Scooter)
Ouch Greg. I did not vote for Rivera. Very easy to explain. I have 10 players on my ballot, all of whom aren’t relievers, and the fact that I was pretty sure he’d make it anyway sure made it easier to leave him off. He would be on my list if I had room, but I’m not just going to vote for a reliever, no matter who, if he’s knocking off a position player or starting pitcher I think should also make it.
Had Exactly the Right Votes to Make it
“We’re all Cardinals fans here, so I’m not sure this case is hard, but basically the Hall needs to let more third basemen in. He is the kind of guy who sometimes goes overlooked because his counting numbers weren’t insane, but he was a tremendous and consistent batter who walked a good deal, rarely struck out, and hit for solid power. His defense is obviously his calling card, and it was super legit. Eight gold gloves is a lot of gloves. DRS and UZR both love him, the eye test loves him, and I struggle to imagine any way you could consider his fielding less than historically great. It’s a travesty that he isn’t running a higher percentage, but hopefully that changes this year.” - Clemens
“Rolen is, without a doubt, one of the very best defenders at third base in the history of the game. In the very least, he was the best in his era and it’s not particularly close. If he plied his craft today, awash in advanced stats, he would be viewed more positively in the mainstream. Like Walker, and as Cardinal fans know, Rolen was a well-rounded monster. He was a smart base runner and a well above average hitter. He passes all of the Hall of Fame average tests through JAWS and peak production. The only players at third with higher WAR are in the Hall (and Adrian Beltre). It’s time to include him.” - John
(Omissions: Josey, Lance, Greg)
That folks, is your VEB Hall of Fame 2019 Class. Roy Halladay, Larry Walker, Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera, and Scott Rolen. Eight players! All of whom, in my so humble opinion, are very deserving. The rest of the players who got votes with the people voting for them in parentheses:
Manny Ramirez: 45.5% (Me, Greg, Scooter, Godar, Clemens)
Curt Schilling: 36.4% (Tyler, John, Craig, Scooter)
Andruw Jones: 36.4% (Me, Tyler, Lance, Craig)
Sammy Sosa: 27.3% (Me, Greg, Godar)
Todd Helton: 27.3% (John, Schafer, Lance)
Gary Sheffield: 18.2% (Greg, Clemens)
Fred McGriff: 18.2% (Greg, Josey)
Andy Pettitte: 9.1% (Scooter)
Lastly, some cases made for the players who did not make it.
Todd Helton: “Helton is pretty much a borderline candidate for me, and probably the lower edge of what kind of player I would vote for, barring some notable circumstance surrounding a player’s career or candidacy, but he’s also become a very underrated player due to the distortive effects of Coors Field. Helton was, for a long time, one of the most consistently productive players in baseball, a very solid all-around player, and one of the last players we’ll probably ever see who spent his entire career in one place. I don’t expect him to make it, or probably even come all that close. But I’ll throw my support behind him as a guy who had a pretty incredible career, and one of the all-time great underappreicated runs from 2000-2005.” - Schafer
Curt Schilling: “I find many of the things he says to be disgusting but it’s irrelevant. He’s better than the average Hall of Fame pitcher by WAR, his JAWS beats the average Hall of Fame pitcher, and his peak is just a tick behind. Unlike Helton, who lacked big moments, Schilling was dripping in them. He had four top 5 Cy Young finishes and dominated the post-season like few others have, going all the way back to the 1993 post-season.” - John
Fred McGriff: “McGriff played 19 seasons for six clubs: the Blue Jays, Padres, Rays, Cubs, Dodgers, and (perhaps most memorably) the Braves. McGriff, a solid bat for the decade-highlighting Braves throughout the ‘90s, ranked in the top 10 of the league Most Valuable Player voting for six straight seasons from 1989-to-1994. McGriff smashed 30 or more home runs each year from 1988-to-1994; he also did this again a few years later, in 1999, 2001, and 2002” - Josey
Gary Sheffield: “To me, Sheffield is a no doubter. His offensive peak was essentially his entire career--he hit 276/372/451 in 2009 and 294/350/421 in 1990. Those are also two of the worst lines of his career. He has 500 home runs, 2500 hits, 1500 RBI, 1500 runs, and won a World Series. To the extent that his WAR totals fall short, it’s exclusively a result of his defense, and I’m not willing to believe he was 30 wins below replacement in the field, as Baseball Reference would have you believe. The bat waggle he is known for is to this day the most imposing batting stance I’ve ever seen - iconic and easily mimicable. I practiced it as a kid, which absolutely makes him feel more famous to me. The other black mark on his resume is his purported involvement with Balco. I’m voting for the other PED guys so that’s obviously not disqualifying for me, but it seems like he actually never used steroids and was pretty disgusted by the whole thing. Tom Verducci, a staunch opponent of PEDs in the Hall, even changed his stance on Sheffield publicly after seeing the evidence. He was also a great character, and baseball could use more of those.” - Clemens