Every year around this time, the baseball world is filled with cases being made and ballots being filled for the MLB Hall of Fame. And this year is no different as we have another fresh crop of first-time ballot candidates. And some returning candidates that are nearing the end of their time on the ballot. Thus for this piece, I, Jeremy Laracuente, of the Laracuente Ledger Network, give you my official, unofficial, Major League Baseball Class of 2020 Hall of Fame Ballot. And check out last year’s vote.
And just a quick bit of bookkeeping, I will be adhering to the guidelines that the BBWAA has to follow of only voting for a maximum of 10 on my ballot. So a few players were left off my ballot. Below is a picture of a blank ballot. I encourage you to research and leave what your ballot would be in the comments section below. I will also place in parentheses what team the player should wear on their Hall of Fame plaque.
DEREK JETER (New York Yankees)
Well, let’s start with the obvious one, shall we? Derek Jeter is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer. And he’s likely to get anywhere from 95-98% in his vote totals. Jeter has all of the “old school” benchmarks one would expect. Derek played for a winning team for his whole career, a ton of signature moments on the game’s most significant stage in the playoffs and World Series. Jeter has over 3000 hits and five World Series rings and throw in 5 (arguably shouldn’t have won) Gold Gloves just to add a bit more. There’s no need to go much further if you don’t know that Derek Jeter is a definite first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate. Then you just haven’t watched baseball since 1996.
BARRY BONDS (San Francisco Giants) & ROGER CLEMENS (Generic Hall of Fame)
When Hall of Fame voting season comes along, it brings back up the issue about “Performance Enhancing Drugs” (PEDs.) And the names most synonymous with PEDs are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. For better or for worse, these two men will always be intertwined in the minds of fans and voters alike. And I need to make something clear, Bonds and Clemens are two of the greatest ever to play this game. Thus there is no reason they should be left out of the Hall of Fame.
ANDRUW JONES (Atlanta Braves)
Andruw Jones is one of the best defensive Center Fielders in the history of baseball. As a youngster, Jones was making waves and impacting an Atlanta Braves playoff team. For his career, Andruw Jones amassed 1,933 hits, 434 homeruns, and 1,289 RBIs, and throw in 152 steals for good measure. When looking back to examine Andruw’s career, it breaks down into two sections, before 30 and after 30. Before the age of 31, Andruw Jones was on pace to be a no-doubt Hall of Famer. From Jones’ first full season in 1997, Andruw averaged 157 games, 151 hits, 33 homeruns, 100 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, and a slash line of .263/.343/.498. The after age 30 section of his career was marred by injury and therefore zapped his Hall of Fame chances in many people’s minds. But exercises like this help to remember the totality of a player’s career, not just the most recent memory.
The other aspect of Jones’ game that gives him the added lift, in my opinion, is what I opened this portion of the article with, and that’s Andruw’s defense. Andruw Jones won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves while with the Atlanta Braves. So when looking at the career as a whole, Andruw Jones has a place in Cooperstown.
LARRY WALKER (Colorado Rockies)
Let’s get the bias out of the way now, playing in Colorado has its offensive benefits; there’s no doubt. But what the altitude in Denver giveth the road taketh away. We are beginning to understand more about the body, and it’s conditioning and making those transitions all season long takes its toll. And Larry Walker makes those transitions better than most and thus belongs in the Hall. WAR is an approximation of a player’s overall talent combining all skills and tools into one easy-ish number to read. Larry Walker produced a career WAR of 72.7, according to BaseballReference.com. The average MLB Hall of Famers WAR is approximately about 68. This places Walker above the career WAR average. And even just examining Walker with the “Eye-test,” Larry was a five-tool player that possessed all the assets necessary to enter Cooperstown among the greatest ever to play the game.
SCOTT ROLEN (Philadelphia Phillies)
The inclusion of Scott Rolen for me is a no brainer. Growing up near the Philadelphia area, I got to see Scott Rolen playing a lot. And even as a young child, I knew that Scottie Rolen was something special. Many people may need to examine his case because of last impressions weren’t great due to injuries. But when thinking and examining the entire career, Rolen ranks among the upper pantheon of elite Third Basemen. And most people would agree without a second thought that Adrian Beltre is a slam dunk Hall of Famer (myself included.) But if you compare the numbers, Rolen’s numbers are very similar to Beltre’s. So looking objectively at the career, not just the last impression, and Scott Rolen is a Hall of Famer.
CURT SCHILLING (Generic Hall of Fame)
Curt Schilling is a polarizing figure, and that’s putting it mildly. His outspoken views have landed him in the company of suspected PED guys. But he is far from that, in my opinion. Schilling pitched for several teams, two in particular that made me have colossal disdain for the pitcher because he dissected my New York Yankees. During his career, Schilling’s seen as one of the best post-season pitchers of all-time. No matter what you think about Schilling’s outspoken views, there’s no denying that an unbias look at his career would land him in Cooperstown.
OMAR VIZQUEL (Cleveland Indians)
At the mention of the name Omar Vizquel, a plethora of defensive highlights dashes through the mind. Omar was one of the best infield defenders. Vizquel had quick hands and a smooth glove. The knock-on Vizquel’s candidacy is about his offensive game. Omar will never be known for his offensive game, and that will hurt his candidacy in the overall voting numbers. But when you think of what Vizquel provided teams for nearly 25 years as a shortstop into his 40s, it is remarkable. And Vizquel’s longevity should be praised. Plus, add in the fact that Vizquel had over 2800 hits while not being considered an offensive player at all. And one can make a case that the defensive stalwart earned a place in Cooperstown on his defense and durability.
BILLY WAGNER (Houston Astros)
One of the best, and yet honestly, most underrated relievers in Major League Baseball history, Billy Wagner deserves to get the call tonight. Some may not agree that Wagner deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because he pitched just over 900 innings of work. However, when examining his case, Wagner’s numbers aren’t all that different in terms of quality from Trevor Hoffman. And no, you shouldn’t vote one person in just because his numbers are similar to someone else who’s already in the Hall of Fame. But at the same time, the numbers lend themselves to substantiate the case for Wagner. Billy was as dominant as a reliever as anyone, not named Mariano Rivera. In 903 innings of work, Wagner saved 422 games with a career ERA of 2.31 and 1196 strikeouts. So the final verdict is in Billy Wagner is a Hall of Famer.
So let me begin by saying that coming up with this list is very difficult. And I encourage any baseball fan to make their list following the criteria that the BBWAA has to follow. Only being able to select a maximum of 10 men on the ballot. Thus only being able to choose ten players names like Gary Sheffield and Jeff Kent were able to make this year’s ballot.
TODD HELTON (Colorado Rockies)
The second Colorado Rockie selected to my ballot this year is Todd Helton. Much like Larry Walker before him, Todd Helton gets unnecessarily hurt by playing for the Rockies. And I’ve already detailed what playing at elevation does to the body of a player. If you look at Helton’s career splits even on the road, he’s a desirable player. For me deciding on whether or not someone is a Hall of Fame candidate I think about would I begin my franchise with this player? And in the case of Todd Helton, the answer is yes, do off to the Hall of Fame, goes Todd Helton.
So that’s my list. But the question is, who makes your list? Leave your list down in the comments section below. Once again, here’s my ballot.