My original plan was to post a 2023 Hall of Fame ballot. In fact, this was my plan for so long that I actually wrote about half of this post, before a thought set in: VEB will not vote anyone into the Hall of Fame. I’m not making a ballot for more reasons than that, but that was the biggest reason.
Back in 2019, I threw up a modern ballot, and then didn’t do it for the next three years, not by choice, but because I suppose I just forgot about it. I don’t really remember why. Last year, I put it up again, and it spurred me to create a historical VEB Hall of Fame when I used the voting totals from 2019. Those results are why I do not think that VEB will elect a Hall of Famer.
In a weird twist of fate, not a single returning member of the 2022 ballot received even 50% of the vote. I actually forgot to include Alex Rodriguez in that ballot, but I have reason to believe he wouldn’t make it either. Both Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens topped out at 61%. I do not see why he would do better than that. Carlos Beltran pretty much had the only chance and he carries his own baggage. It’s possible fans do not have an issue with his sign stealing, although I’m pretty sure he’ll fall short of 75% too. And that’s it.
Oh yeah if this is your first time here, Scott Rolen has already been voted in. It happened back in 2019. Plus I kind of like the idea of skipping a year - and believe me, it’ll only be a year, because next year’s ballot is pretty strong.
And for what it’s worth, due to not doing a Hall of Fame ballot every year, obviously I’ll have to be creative with how we do next year’s ballot. Pretty simple really: anybody on their 2nd try must have at least 10% of the vote and anybody on their third must have at least 20% of the vote. First timers still only need 5%. This eliminates Omar Vizquel (8.2%), Andy Pettitte (11.8%), Roy Oswalt (11.8%), and Jeff Kent (18.6%). Mike Mussina’s last year would have been this year, however with just 43.6% of the vote (and less votes than in 2019!), he wasn’t particularly close, so he’s a victim of timing, but he wouldn’t have been voted in.
So that whittles down next year’s returning players to just 11 guys who’ve previously been on a VEB ballot. Throw in Alex Rodriguez and you have 12 guys. I’ll simply combine the newcomers from both 2023 and 2024 and pick out the 20 or so best players and that’ll be the ballot.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get to 2023 real life Hall of Fame ballot and introduce you to the players.
Might Make It
Scott Rolen - The man needs no introduction. Let it be known that Viva El Birdos readers had this right FOUR years ago. They voted him in back in 2019. Why is it taking this long? Oh well, as long as he gets in, I don’t care. I saw someone on Twitter comment that he doesn’t feel like a Hall of Famer, and when asked why the one of the best defenders at 3B didn’t feel like one, he said “very good, but not elite offense” and I just feel like the standard at 3B is so ridiculous. How is a very good hitter with elite defense not a Hall of Famer? Truly what other position besides CF is held to such an insane standard? The vast majority of Hall of Famers are elite at either hitting or fielding, and in some cases neither. Only the best of the best are elite at both. Also, I think Rolen’s hitting is actually underrated, a career 122 wRC+ is well past what one of the best defenders of all time needs to do to make a Hall of Fame.
I don’t know why that response triggered me, but it did. His description of Rolen is CLEARLY a Hall of Famer! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Rant over.
Todd Helton - Helton is an interesting peak vs longevity argument. His case is.... entirely peak. He did essentially nothing outside of his peak. He certainly racked up the stats thanks to Coors, but outside of his seven best seasons, he has more seasons (5) with less than 2 fWAR than over 2 fWAR (4). And was replacement level or worse in three of them.
Won’t Make it This Year, May Make it Eventually
Andruw Jones - I don’t know what made Andruw Jones jump up, but his votes have gone all the way up. From publicly known ballots he’s at 69.7% of votes from 41.4%, which may make it sound like he’ll make it, but the people who hide their ballots tend not to give votes as freely. Next year’s ballot is stacked, so he still seems like a long-shot.
Billy Wagner - Wagner has an identical known percentage, although he’s not coming from as low of a place (51%), and ultimately I suspect his vote increase will be more modest when the final tally is done.
Gary Sheffield - Sheffield is not far behind with 66.4%, also a huge jump from 40.6%. Sheffield is inarguably a Hall of Famer if you think David Ortiz is one (which I don’t, mind you). He has a higher career wRC+ and is one of those rare players harmed by not being a DH.
Carlos Beltran - Beltran will get in at some point, but with just 56.3% of the vote so far, he will definitely not make it this year. The farther away from the scandal, the more he benefits.
Will Not Make it, at least not by the writers
Jeff Kent - Kent doesn’t even have 50% of the vote and since he’s in his last year of eligibility, he is done. Definitely a Hall of Very Good player for me.
Manny Ramirez - I just feel like Ramirez has far too much ground to make up, plus the steroids thing. He’s only at 45.4% and has three ballots left.
Jimmy Rollins - Rollins only has 11.8% and since he got 9.4% last year, he truly has no momentum at all. Rolen might make history as the lowest vote total getter on his first ballot to end up making the Hall by the writers with 10% and that’s still higher than Rollins and Rolen was on a much less favorable ballot than Rollins has.
Omar Vizquel - Thank god. I just know the Veteran’s Committee is going to do it, I just know it.
Torii Hunter - He is on his second ballot but has just 0.8% of the votes right now. Maybe he’ll cross the 5% again, but it doesn’t seem like it.
Alex Rodriguez - Rodriguez did make a jump but is still under 50%. We are at least a few years away from inducting a player who took steroids, oh wait we did that last year sorry. We are at least a few years away from inducting an unlikable player who took steroids.
Mark Beurhle - He should probably be in the above section, but he did double his vote total and is a likeable guy and he may just end up sneaking up on us. Who knows?
Bobby Abreu - If the previously dead campaigns of Gary Sheffield and Andruw Jones have been resurrected, maybe Abreu has a shot after all.
Andy Pettitte - Pettite certainly feels like a guy who is going to just out of nowhere start getting votes for some reason. He also took steroids by the way.
I’m not going to write about every first timer, but aside from Beltran (who I’ve already mentioned), seems like a fairly weak group.
John Lackey - Briefly with the Cards and believe it or not, the guy with the highest bWAR of the newcomers not named Beltran.
Jered Weaver - Teammates with John Lackey, brothers with Jered. I have no opinion of this guy if you can’t tell.
Jacoby Ellsbury - Fast once upon a time
Matt Cain - I think WAR underrates him
Jhonny Peralta - My current name on Twitter is Ghabriel so his legacy lives on
Jayson Werth - He had a beard
JJ Hardy - Though not a beard haver, a facial hair haver
Mike Napoli - Could hit the ball, and onetime catch
Bronson Arroyo - I did not like
R.A. Dickey - I did like
Francisco Rodriguez - He once got ALL the saves, not some of them, but all of them
Andre Ethier - Lefty
Huston Street - Born in Austin, weirdly enough. Mom didn’t like the sound of Austin Street I guess.
And there you have it.