The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

It's that time again. The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot was announced on November 21, 2016. Following is my customary write-up. A voter may select up to ten players, and a player must be named on at least 75% of the ballots to be elected. Results will be announced on January 18, 2017. Mine is a fan ballot only, just like always.

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Jeff Bagwell
Voting history: 7th ballot, 71.6% in 2016
Career Length: 15 seasons, 2,150 games, 9,431 plate appearances
WAR: 79.5 (73.8 offensive, 5.7 defensive), 51.6 WAA
Peak (1994-1998): .310/.430/.588, 536 runs, 168 HR, 569 RBIs, 98 SB, 171 OPS+, 34.4 WAR
Best year (1994): .368/.451/.750*, 104 runs*, 32 doubles, 39 HR, 116 RBIs*, 15 SB, 213 OPS+*, 8.2 WAR* (strike-shortened season)
The good: 149 OPS+
.297 batting average
.408 on-base percentage
.540 slugging percentage
.445 nTOA
488 doubles
449 home runs
202 stolen bases
1,517 runs
1,529 RBIs
1,401 bases on balls
48% rate taking extra bases
Two 30-30 seasons
+2.0 Rtot/yr at first base
1 Player of the Year award
1 MVP, and 2 top-three finishes
3 Silver Sluggers
1 Gold Glove
4 All-Star Games
Rookie of the Year
6 consecutive seasons with at least 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 100 runs scored
Spent entire career with one team
The bad: 5.0 AB/SO
.226/.364/.321 in 33 postseason games
Vague steroid allegations
Overrated/Underrated: He might have been just a touch overrated during his career - or maybe not, since he only made 4 All-Star teams. In any event, thanks to the steroid allegations he is definitely underrated now. He deserved at least 60% of the HOF vote on the first ballot, not a measly 42%.
Verdict: Bagwell is probably the best NL first baseman to play after Cap Anson and before Albert Pujols. Even assuming he did juice, this is the sort of player who steroids can enhance, but could never create. Absolutely he belongs in the Hall.

Casey Blake
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 13 seasons, 1,265 games, 5,091 plate appearances
WAR: 24.9 (21.8 offensive, 3.1 defensive), 7.7 WAA
Peak (2005-2009): .269/.342/.455, 371 runs, 99 HR, 364 RBIs, 110 OPS+, 14.5 WAR
Best year (2009): .280/.363/.468, 84 runs, 25 doubles, 18 HR, 79 RBIs, 123 OPS+, 4.6 WAR
The good: 50% rate taking extra bases
+5.6 Rtot/yr at third base (2002 onward: +5.6 Rtot/yr, +1.5 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: +5.8 Rtot/yr, +3.8 Rdrs/yr)
The bad: 107 OPS+
.365 nTOA
.264 batting average
.336 on-base percentage
4.3 AB/SO
Relatively short career
Overrated/Underrated: A solid all-round player who never won any significant awards, not even a single All-Star selection. Underrated.
Verdict: No.

Barry Bonds
Voting history: 5th ballot, 44.3% in 2016
Career Length: 22 seasons, 2,986 games (10th all-time), 12,606 plate appearances (9th all-time)
WAR: 162.4 (2nd among position players) (142.6 offensive (3rd all-time), 19.8 defensive), 123.5 WAA
Pre-steroid peak
(1992-1996):
.312/.448/.628, 558 runs, 192 HR, 540 RBIs, 168 SB, 190 OPS+, 42.3 WAR
Pre-steroid best year (1992): .311/.456*/.624*, 109 runs*, 36 doubles, 34 HR, 103 RBIs, 39 SB, 205 OPS+*, 9.0 WAR*
Steroid peak
(2000-2004):
.339/.535/.781, 615 runs, 258 HR, 544 RBIs, 241 OPS+, 51.2 WAR
Steroid best year (2001): .328/.515*/.863*, 129 runs, 32 doubles, 73 HR*, 137 RBIs, 259 OPS+*, 11.9 WAR*
The good: 182 OPS+ (3rd all-time)
.298 batting average
.444 on-base percentage (6th all-time)
.607 slugging percentage (5th all-time)
.487 nTOA
2,935 hits
601 doubles (14th all-time)
77 triples
762 home runs (MLB record)
12.9 AB/HR (3rd all-time)
5,976 total bases (4th all-time)
514 stolen bases, with a 78.5% success rate
2,227 runs (3rd all-time)
1,996 RBIs (5th all-time)
2,558 bases on balls (MLB record)
688 intentional walks (MLB record)
43% rate taking extra bases
Only 500-500 (or 400-400) player in MLB history
Five total 30-30 seasons (tied for MLB record), including one 40-40 season
One of only two players to have both a 50-HR season and a 50-SB season
Single-season records include home runs (73, 2001), bases on balls (232, 2004), on-base percentage (.609, 2004), slugging percentage (.863, 2001), and OPS+ (268, 2002), among others
13 consecutive seasons with at least 30 HR (MLB record)
Reached base in 15 consecutive plate appearances (tied for MLB record)
+9.4 Rtot/yr at left field
Long career
7 MVPs (MLB record; nobody else has more than 3), and 2 top-three finishes
3 Player of the Year Awards
8 Gold Gloves
12 Silver Sluggers
14 All-Star Games
13 Player of the Month Awards (MLB record)
The bad: Steroid allegations
Notes: Even before using steroids, Bonds was already one of the game's true all-time greats.
Bonds basically had two distinct HOF-level careers, as reflected by the dual peaks listed above. In his "clean" career (1986-1999), he was a classic five-tool player who was frequently compared first to his father, then later to Willie Mays, and who managed an incredible 103.4 WAR. Then in his "juiced" career (2000-2007), his fielding and baserunning cooled off, but he became possibly the greatest hitter of all time (221 OPS+) and managed 59.1 WAR.
In 2004, Bonds literally had more times on base (376) than he did official at-bats (373), the only time that has ever occurred for a full MLB season.
He is one of only six players in MLB history to receive a bases-loaded intentional walk. (And this occurred in his pre-steroid career, in 1998.)
He would likely have reached both the 3,000-hit and 2,000-RBI plateaus had any team signed him in 2008. Considering that he was still worth 3.4 WAR his final year, and 4.0 the year before that, it is inconceivable that nobody would even open negotiations with him. I know I'm not the only person who believes there was some collusion going on.
He ranks 1st all-time in home runs, 33rd in stolen bases, and 6th in on-base percentage. No other player in MLB history even ranks in the top 125 in all three categories.
How does Bonds' career compare with those of other (known or alleged) steroid users? He has more WAR than Álex Rodríguez and Miguel Tejada - combined. More than Jeff Bagwell and Curt Schilling combined. More than Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, and Juan González combined. More than Sammy Sosa, Iván Rodríguez, and José Canseco combined. More than Manny Ramírez, Gary Sheffield, and Ken Caminiti combined. More than Mark McGwire, Kevin Brown, and Magglio Ordóñez combined. More than Jason Giambi, Lenny Dykstra, Mo Vaughn, and Matt Williams combined. Tell me again how anybody can be that good if they take steroids?
Overrated/Underrated: The 688 pitchers who wet their pants when they saw him coming definitely overrated him. Other than that, he's actually underrated, as so many people think of him as nothing but a chemical creation, and refuse to recognize his real ability.
Verdict: Even after accounting for steroids, Bonds is one of the absolute greatest players in history. With steroids, he's quite possibly number one. A Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds is not a Hall of Fame. Hell yes!

Pat Burrell
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 12 seasons, 1,640 games, 6,520 plate appearances
WAR: 18.8 (22.5 offensive, -3.7 defensive), -1.2 WAA
Peak (2004-2008): .261/.382/.495, 375 runs, 148 HR, 479 RBIs, 123 OPS+, 10.0 WAR
Best year (2002): .282/.376/.544, 96 runs, 39 doubles, 37 HR, 116 RBIs, 146 OPS+, 4.5 WAR
The good: 116 OPS+
.472 slugging percentage
The bad: .396 nTOA
.253 batting average
3.5 AB/SO
.186/.307/.381 in 31 postseason games
-1.6 Rtot/yr at left field (2002 onward: +0.3 Rtot/yr, -5.7 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: +0.3 Rtot/yr, -3.3 Rdrs/yr)
Relatively brief career
Overrated/Underrated: A player with negative WAA does not belong on the ballot. Overrated.
Verdict: No.

Orlando Cabrera
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 15 seasons, 1,985 games, 8,255 plate appearances
WAR: 21.4 (20.9 offensive, 0.5 defensive), -5.2 WAA
Peak (2003-2007): .281/.329/.403, 435 runs, 52 HR, 357 RBIs, 108 SB, 89 OPS+, 13.4 WAR
Best year (2003): .297/.347/.460, 95 runs, 47 doubles, 17 HR, 80 RBIs, 24 SB, 105 OPS+, 3.7 WAR
The good: 459 doubles
216 stolen bases, with a 79.1% success rate
48% rate taking extra bases
10.2 AB/SO
2 Gold Gloves
Once reached base in 63 consecutive games
The bad: 84 OPS+
.347 nTOA
.317 on-base percentage
.390 slugging percentage
16.1 PA/BB
-0.3 Rtot/yr at shortstop (2002 onward: -2.1 Rtot/yr, +2.8 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: -2.7 Rtot/yr, -1.5 Rdrs/yr)
Notes: He holds the record for most career doubles in the All-Star era without ever making an All-Star Team.
He set a record by appearing in the postseason with different teams in four consecutive seasons.
Overrated/Underrated: Overrated. He didn't deserve his Gold Gloves, and he didn't have the offense to make up the difference.
Verdict: No.

Mike Cameron
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 17 seasons, 1,955 games, 7,884 plate appearances
WAR: 46.5 (39.5 offensive, 7.0 defensive), 20.8 WAA
Peak (1999-2003): .256/.352/.452, 446 runs, 108 HR, 410 RBIs, 144 SB, 110 OPS+, 23.8 WAR
Best year (2001): .267/.353/.480, 99 runs, 30 doubles, 25 HR, 110 RBIs, 34 SB, 123 OPS+, 5.9 WAR
The good: 297 stolen bases, with a 78.2% success rate
56% rate taking extra bases
+7.4 Rtot/yr at center field (2002 onward: +3.9 Rtot/yr, +5.2 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: +5.0 Rtot/yr, +0.9 Rdrs/yr)
3 Gold Gloves
1 All-Star Game
Hit four home runs in a game
The bad: 106 OPS+
.384 nTOA
.249 batting average
.338 on-base percentage
3.6 AB/SO
.174/.309/.272 in 27 postseason games
Once suspended for stimulant use
Notes: In his four-home-run game, he and Bret Boone hit back-to-back homers twice in one inning, the only time that has happened in MLB history. Cameron only drove in four runs in that game, the only time a 4-HR game resulted in fewer than 6 RBIs.
Overrated/Underrated: While his defense may or may not have been properly appreciated (depending on which sabermetric you prefer), his baserunning was certainly not. His 56% rate taking extra bases is even six percentage points ahead of Tim Raines, who played in a more baserunning-intense era. Underrated.
Verdict: No.

Roger Clemens
Voting history: 5th ballot, 45.2% in 2016
Career Length: 24 seasons, 709 games, 4,916.2 innings (16th all-time)
WAR: 139.2 (3rd among pitchers), 94.6 WAA
Peak (1988-1992): 92-50, 2.62 ERA, 1,179 SO, 160 ERA+, 1.094 WHIP, 3.51 SO/BB, 40.1 WAR
Best year (1997): 21*-7, 2.05 ERA*, 292 SO*, 222 ERA+*, 1.030 WHIP*, 4.29 SO/BB, 11.9 WAR*
The good: 143 ERA+ (11th all-time, 8th among starters)
146 nPIT+
59.0 average game score (11th all-time)
3.12 ERA
1.173 WHIP
2.96 SO/BB
8.55 SO/9
7.66 H/9
0.66 HR/9
.319 nTPA
354 wins (9th all-time, 3rd post-deadball)
.658 winning percentage (19th all-time)
4,672 strikeouts (3rd all-time)
49% rate escaping jams (league average 46%)
Struck out 20 batters in a 9-inning game (tied for MLB record, achieved twice)
Long career
5 Pitcher of the Year Awards
7 Cy Young Awards (MLB record), and 3 top-three finishes
1 Player of the Year Award
1 MVP, and 1 top-three finish
11 All-Star Games
1 All-Star MVP
Won Cy Young Awards with four different teams
The bad: Steroid allegations
Annual Brett-Favre-style near-retirements
Missed game in Springfield due to poultry-identification issues
The ugly: Throwing a piece of a broken bat at Mike Piazza
Overrated/Underrated: He may be a tiny bit underrated due to the PED issues, but I don't think that's nearly as big a factor for him as it is for Bonds.
Verdict: As with Bonds, Clemens was a clear HOFer before he ever started juicing. With steroids, he was one of the absolute greatest. Without question he deserves to be elected.

J.D. Drew
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 14 seasons, 1,566 games, 6,153 plate appearances
WAR: 44.9 (37.8 offensive, 7.1 defensive), 25.0 WAA
Peak (2001-2005): .291/.400/.531, 367 runs, 106 HR, 300 RBIs, 141 OPS+, 22.3 WAR
Best year (2004): .305/.436/.569, 118 runs, 28 doubles, 31 HR, 93 RBIs, 12 SB, 157 OPS+, 8.3 WAR
The good: 125 OPS+
.421 nTOA
.384 on-base percentage
.489 slugging percentage
45% rate taking extra bases
+9.1 Rtot/yr at right field (2002 onward: +7.8 Rtot/yr, +6.2 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: +7.4 Rtot/yr, +3.7 Rdrs/yr)
1 All-Star Game
1 All-Star MVP
The bad: 4.5 AB/SO
Relatively brief career
Notes: He and two of his brothers were all first-round draft picks; J.D. was selected in the first round in two different years.
Overrated/Underrated: I think he was remembered less for his actual performance than for not living up to the early hype. Underrated.
Verdict: If he had managed to stay healthy, he might have deserved a vote. But his strong hitting and defense just weren't strong enough to make up for the short career. No.

Vladimir Guerrero
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 16 seasons, 2,147 games, 9,059 plate appearances
WAR: 59.3 (58.5 offensive, 0.8 defensive), 29.4 WAA
Peak (2000-2004): .331/.403/.602, 509 runs, 181 HR, 547 RBIs, 110 SB, 155 OPS+, 26.6 WAR
Best year (2002): .336/.417/.593, 106 runs, 37 doubles, 39 HR, 111 RBIs, 40 SB, 160 OPS+, 7.0 WAR
The good: 140 OPS+
.419 nTOA
.318 batting average
.379 on-base percentage
.553 on-base percentage
449 home runs
477 doubles
1,496 RBIs
8.3 AB/SO
47% rate taking extra bases
+3.8 Rtot/yr at right field (2002 onward: +2.2 Rtot/yr, -2.7 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: +1.9 Rtot/yr, -5.0 Rdrs/yr)
Two 30-30 seasons
1 MVP
2 top-three MVP finishes
8 Silver Sluggers
9 All-Star Games
The bad: 12.3 PA/BB
.263/.324/.339 in 44 postseason games
Overrated/Underrated: Neither his baserunning nor his fielding was as good as advertised. His hitting was, but not for a long career. Overrated.
Verdict: Guerrero was a borderline-elite hitter, but was not able to combine that with much in the way of baserunning or defense, nor could he maintain it for a long career, all of which keeps him off my ballot. He's not far off, though: a little better plate discipline and he might have made it.

Carlos Guillén
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 14 seasons, 1,305 games, 5,277 plate appearances
WAR: 27.7 (31.1 offensive, -3.4 defensive), 9.0 WAA
Peak (2004-2008): .308/.377/.493, 399 runs, 75 HR, 361 RBIs, 56 SB, 128 OPS+, 18.4 WAR
Best year (2006): .320/.400/.519, 100 runs, 41 doubles, 19 HR, 85 RBIs, 20 SB, 136 OPS+, 6.0 WAR
The good: 111 OPS+
.285 batting average
47% rate taking extra bases
.344/.420/.557 in 19 postseason games
3 All-Star Games
The bad: .381 nTOA
-6.6 Rtot/yr at shortstop
Brief career
Overrated/Underrated: His good-but-not-great offense got more attention than his poor defense. Overrated.
Verdict: No.

Trevor Hoffman
Voting history: 2nd ballot, 67.3% in 2016
Career Length: 18 seasons, 1,035 games (11th all-time), 1,089.3 innings
WAR: 28.0, 13.7 WAA
Peak (1996-2000): 25-21, 2.31 ERA, 215 saves, 176 ERA+, 0.945 WHIP, 4.57 SO/BB, 13.9 WAR
Best year (1998): 4-2, 1.48 ERA, 53 saves*, 265 ERA+, 0.849 WHIP, 4.10 SO/BB, 4.1 WAR
The good: 141 ERA+ (14th all-time)
137 nPIT+
2.87 ERA
1.058 WHIP (8th all-time)
3.69 SO/BB (15th all-time)
6.99 H/9 (7th all-time)
9.36 SO/9 (8th all-time)
.303 nTPA
601 saves (2nd all-time)
Zero balks in his career
56% rate escaping jams (league average 46%)
2 Rolaids Relief Awards
2 top-three Cy Yound finishes
7 All-Star Games
The bad: Allowed 79% success rate stealing (league average 70%)
Spent his career pitching one inning
Notes: There is a lot of debate about how Hoffman compares to Mariano Rivera. Perhaps the most telling statistic is this: Hoffman's career ERA+ was only 141. Outside of his rookie season (when he was primarily a starter), Rivera never had a single-season ERA+ lower than 144.
Overrated/Underrated: Closers tend to be overrated in general, and Hoffman exemplifies this. In his time as a reliever, Keith Foulke posted a 149 ERA+, 1.042 WHIP, and 3.85 SO/BB, all better than Hoffman (albeit with a much shorter career.) Foulke did not even get onto the ballot, because he was not a closer. Hoffman will almost certainly be elected. Severely overrated.
Verdict: No. He was a very good closer, but really wasn't dominating or lights-out. And the save is such a cheap stat that I can't give it very much weight.

Jeff Kent
Voting history: 4th ballot, 16.6% in 2016
Career Length: 17 seasons, 2,298 games, 9,537 plate appearances
WAR: 55.2(59.4 offensive, -4.2 defensive), 26.4 WAA
Peak (1998-2002): .307/.378/.548, 480 runs, 146 HR, 568 RBIs, 142 OPS+, 27.3 WAR
Best year (2000): .334/.424/.596, 114 runs, 41 doubles, 33 HR, 125 RBIs, 162 OPS+, 7.2 WAR
The good: 123 OPS+
.290 batting average
.500 slugging percentage
.400 nTOA
377 home runs
560 doubles
1,518 RBIs
45% rate taking extra bases
1 MVP
4 Silver Sluggers
5 All-Star Games
The bad: -0.1 Rtot/yr at second base
Never led league in major hitting categories
Overrated/Underrated: While Kent was certainly very good, I don't think he was ever quite as good as the fans viewed him. Overrated.
Verdict: From age 30 onward, he turned in borderline Hall-caliber play (38.6 WAR, or 4.1 per 162 games). But prior to that, he was only worth 13.3 WAR, or 2.8 per 162 games. As a result, he was just not quite HOF-worthy. No.

Derrek Lee
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 15 seasons, 1,942 games, 7,963 plate appearances
WAR: 34.3 (34.3 offensive, 0.0 defensive), 10.1 WAA
Peak (2005-2009): .310/.391/.547, 425 runs, 131 HR, 420 RBIs, 137 OPS+, 19.2 WAR
Best year (2005): .335*/.418/.662*, 120 runs, 50 doubles*, 46 HR, 107 RBIs, 15 SB, 174 OPS+*, 7.7 WAR
The good: 122 OPS+
.403 nTOA
.495 slugging percentage
+1.0 Rtot/yr at first base (2002 onward: +1.7 Rtot/yr, +1.1 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: +2.3 Rtot/yr, +1.2 Rdrs/yr)
1 top-three MVP finish
3 Gold Gloves
1 Silver Slugger
2 All-Star Games
The bad: 4.3 AB/SO
.243/.300/.324 in 27 postseason games
Overrated/Underrated: Probably overrated, if only because his fielding wasn't worth those Gold Gloves.
Verdict: No.

Edgar Martínez
Voting history: 8th ballot, 43.4% in 2016
Career Length: 18 seasons, 2,055 games, 8,672 plate appearances
WAR: 68.3 (66.4 offensive, 1.9 defensive), 38.4 WAA
Peak (1995-1999): .334/.455/.579, 518 runs, 136 HR, 512 RBIs, 165 OPS+, 30.1 WAR
Best year (1995): .356*/.479*/.628, 121 runs*, 52 doubles*, 29 HR, 113 RBIs, 185 OPS+*, 7.0 WAR (strike-shortened season)
The good: 147 OPS+
.312 batting average
.418 on-base percentage
.515 slugging percentage
.440 nTOA
514 doubles
+4.7 Rtot/yr at third base
7 RBIs in one postseason game (MLB record)
1 top-three MVP finish
5 Silver Sluggers
7 All-Star Games
"Outstanding Designated Hitter Award" now officially known as "Edgar Martínez Award"
Spent entire career with one team
The bad: 33% rate taking extra bases
Spent most of his career as a DH
Notes: His relatively low home run totals (only 309 for his career) overshadowed his overall excellent hitting ability, thus costing him HOF votes.
Many voters believe that designated hitters should not be in the Hall of Fame because they do not field and are thus not "complete" players. Yet this logic should also exclude AL pitchers, who do not bat and are thus equally incomplete. Similarly, relief pitchers never play more than a couple of innings in a game, and rarely come to the plate, yet five have been elected to the Hall. Furthermore, below-average defensive first basemen get into the Hall, so why should a player be penalized for playing a position that did not hurt his team the way that poor fielding would?
Overrated/Underrated: Underrated. Too many people think of him as "just a DH," rather than appreciating how good he really was in that role.
Verdict: One of the best hitters of his generation, and the standard by which designated hitters will be measured for some time to come. Yes.

Fred McGriff
Voting history: 8th ballot, 20.9% in 2016
Career Length: 19 seasons, 2,460 games, 10,174 plate appearances
WAR: 52.6 (55.6 offensive, -3.0 defensive), 19.8 WAA
Peak (1988-1992): .283/.393/.531, 452 runs, 171 HR, 472 RBIs, 158 OPS+, 26.7 WAR
Best year (1989): .269/.399/.525, 98 runs, 27 doubles, 36 HR*, 92 RBIs, 166 OPS+*, 6.7 WAR
The good: 134 OPS+
.377 on-base percentage
.509 slugging percentage
.414 nTOA
493 home runs
1,550 RBIs
3 Silver Sluggers
5 All-Star Games
1 All-Star MVP
The bad: 4.7 AB/SO
32% rate taking extra bases
-2.0 Rtot/yr at first base
Rarely led league in major batting categories
Never finished in top 3 in MVP voting
Overrated/Underrated: He was a little bit overrated during his career, but he seems to have been somewhat forgotten today.
Verdict: McGriff was a very good player, but he was seldom great, and his career numbers are just not all that notable for a first baseman. No.

Melvin Mora
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 13 seasons, 1,556 games, 6,158 plate appearances
WAR: 28.2 (27.3 offensive, 0.9 defensive), 7.2 WAA
Peak (2002-2006): .287/.368/.462, 447 runs, 104 HR, 387 RBIs, 119 OPS+, 21.4 WAR
Best year (2004): .340/.419*/.562, 111 runs, 41 doubles, 27 HR, 104 RBIs, 155 OPS+, 5.6 WAR
The good: 45% rate taking extra bases
.400/.500/.600 (exactly) in 9 postseason games
1 Silver Slugger
2 All-Star Games
The bad: 105 OPS+
.371 nTOA
-2.0 Rtot/yr at third base (2002 onward: -1.8 Rtot/yr, -3.7 Rdrd/yr, -1.1 UZR/yr) Relatively brief career
Notes: His fielding was better at almost every other position than it was at third base.
Overrated/Underrated: During the heart of his career, his hitting was not as good as the classic Triple Crown stats would indicate. Overrated.
Verdict: No.

Mike Mussina
Voting history: 4th ballot, 43.0% in 2016
Career Length: 18 seasons, 537 games, 3,562.2 innings
WAR: 82.8, 48.6 WAA
Peak (1997-2001): 74-51, 3.43 ERA, 989 SO, 133 ERA+, 1.150 WHIP, 4.21 SO/BB, 27.6 WAR
Best year (1992): 18-5, 2.54 ERA, 130 SO, 157 ERA+, 1.079 WHIP, 2.71 SO/BB, 8.2 WAR
The good: 123 ERA+
131 nPIT+
54.7 average game score
1.192 WHIP
3.58 SO/BB (21st all-time, 19th among starters)
7.11 SO/9
1.98 BB/9
.333 nTPA
2,813 strikeouts (19th all-time)
270 wins
.638 winning percentage
Allowed 61% success rate stealing (league average 69%)
1 top-three Cy Young finish
7 Gold Gloves
5 All-Star Games
The bad: 3.68 ERA
40% rate escaping jams (league average 46%)
Overrated/Underrated: He rarely put up big win or strikeout totals, so he may have been a bit underrated.
Verdict: While few of his numbers are really stunning, they are consistently very good, and his high WAR reflects that fact. I think he deserves to be in the Hall.

Magglio Ordóñez
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 15 seasons, 1,848 games, 7,745 plate appearances
WAR: 38.5 (42.9 offensive, -4.4 defensive), 11.1 WAA
Peak (1999-2003): .312/.372/.546, 510 runs, 160 HR, 590 RBIs, 72 SB, 134 OPS+, 22.5 WAR
Best year (2007): .363*/.434/.595, 117 runs, 54 doubles*, 28 HR, 139 RBIs, 166 OPS+, 7.3 WAR
The good: 125 OPS+
.404 nTOA
.309 batting average
.502 slugging percentage
8.2 AB/SO
1 top-three MVP finish
3 Silver Sluggers
6 All-Star Games
The bad: -4.4 Rtot/yr (2002 onward: -6.9 Rtot/yr, -4.7 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: -6.6 Rtot/yr, -5.3 Rdrs/yr)
.227/.301/.400 in 21 postseason games
Vague steroid allegations
Notes: He set a major-league record (later tied) with 216 hits in a season with no triples
Overrated/Underrated: He was not as great a hitter as many believed, and his weak defense was commonly overlooked. Overrated.
Verdict: Very good, but not great. No.

Jorge Posada
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 17 seasons, 1,829 games, 7,150 plate appearances
WAR: 42.7 (48.4 offensive, -5.7 defensive), 17.3 WAA
Peak (2003-2007): .287/.392/.494, 378 runs, 113 HR, 436 RBIs, 132 OPS+, 23.1 WAR
Best year ():
The good: 121 OPS+
.374 on-base percentage
.474 slugging percentage
4.32 catcher's ERA (league average 4.40)
1 top-three MVP finish
5 Silver Sluggers
5 All-Star Games
Spent his entire career with one team
The bad: .396 nTOA
4.2 AB/SO
30% rate taking extra bases
-2.6 Rtot/yr at catcher (2003 onward: -2.8 Rtot/yr, -8.3 Rdrs/yr)
Caught 28% of base-stealers (league average 30%)
Never led league in major hitting categories
Notes: His OPS+ of 121 ranks 9th among players with at least 1,000 MLB games caught. However, this is not as noteworthy as it may seem, as he's smack in the middle of a group of 14 catchers with OPS+ between 116 and 127.
Posada shared a roster with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera for 17 seasons, the longest such stretch for any trio of major leaguers.
He was part of a fantastic tradition of Yankee catchers which includes Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and Thurman Munson.
Overrated/Underrated: Like many bat-first-and-bat-only players, he was overrated.
Verdict: Posada was one of the best-hitting catchers in MLB history. However, there is not enough separation from the catchers below him to make up for his poor defense. No.

Tim Raines
Voting history: 10th (final) ballot, 69.8% in 2016
Career Length: 23 seasons, 2,502 games, 10,359 plate appearances
WAR: 69.1 (68.4 offensive, 0.7 defensive), 35.0 WAA
Peak (1983-1987): .318/.406/.467, 568 runs, 57 HR, 302 RBIs, 355 SB, 142 OPS+, 32.2 WAR
Best year (1985): .320/.405/.475, 115 runs, 30 doubles, 13 triples, 11 HR, 41 RBIs, 70 SB, 151 OPS+, 7.6 WAR
The good: 123 OPS+
.294 batting average
.385 on-base percentage
.419 nTOA
808 stolen bases (5th all-time, 3rd for a post-deadball player)
84.7% success rate stealing (second-highest recorded among players with at least 200 steals)
113 triples
1,571 runs
1,330 walks for a non-power hitter (versus only 966 strikeouts)
9.2 AB/SO
50% rate taking extra bases
7 All-Star Games
1 Silver Slugger
1 All-Star MVP
The bad: .425 slugging percentage
-0.2 Rtot/yr at left field
Never finished higher than 5th in MVP voting
Career temporarily derailed by cocaine addiction
Notes: Every player with more steals is in the Hall of Fame.
Career numbers would have been a touch higher had he not missed a month in 1987 due to collusion by the owners.
Overrated/Underrated: Definitely underrated. Much like Duke Snider was overshadowed during his career by Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, Raines had the misfortune of playing at the same time as Rickey Henderson. Against that kind of standard, nobody looks good.
Verdict: Raines is the second-best leadoff hitter in the post-dead ball era, only behind Henderson. He clearly deserves the vote.

Manny Ramírez
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 19 seasons, 2,302 games, 9,774 plate appearances
WAR: 69.2 (81.2 offensive, -12.0 defensive), 35.6 WAA
Peak (1999-2003): .331/.435/.637, 517 runs, 193 HR, 623 RBIs, 172 OPS+, 28.7 WAR
Best year (1999): .333/.442/.663*, 131 runs, 34 doubles, 44 HR, 165 RBIs*, 174 OPS+*, 7.3 WAR
The good: 154 OPS+
.453 nTOA
.312 batting average
.411 on-base percentage
.585 slugging percentage (8th all-time)
555 home runs (15th all-time)
1,544 runs
1,831 RBIs (18th all-time)
547 doubles
14.9 AB/HR (9th all-time)
21 grand slams (3rd all-time)
29 postseason home runs (MLB record)
2 top-three MVP finishes
9 Silver Sluggers
12 All-Star Games
1 World Series MVP
The bad: 4.6 AB/SO
-6.2 Rtot/yr at right field
Two suspensions for PED use
The ugly: -9.7 Rtot/yr at left field (2002 onward: -10.4 Rtot/yr, -17.4 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: -11.1 Rtot/yr, -14.1 Rdrs/yr)
Notes: He finished fourth in the 2008 NL MVP voting, despite only playing two months in the NL.
While some of his antics were fun and entertaining, others hurt his on-field performance, and thus that of his team. He spent too much time being Manny, and not enough being an Indian, a Red Sox, or a Dodger.
Overrated/Underrated: Ramírez hitting, while certainly excellent, was not exactly Ruthian, yet it mostly distracted people from his defensive difficulties. Overrated.
Verdict: Taken at face value, he's a Hall-of-Famer. Even his weak baserunning and terrible fielding are not enough to offset his fantastic hitting. However, accounting for steroids would put him into borderline territory. And unlike Bonds and Clemens, Ramírez failed two tests in the testing era, when it was no longer a grey area. That's a major strike against him, and is enough to keep him off my ballot.

Édgar Rentería
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 16 seasons, 2,152 games, 9,066 plate appearances
WAR: 32.1 (34.3 offensive, -2.2 defensive), 4.4 WAA
Peak (2003-2007): .302/.360/.433, 467 runs, 57 HR, 369 RBIs, 88 SB, 106 OPS+, 17.3 WAR
Best year (2003): .330/.394/.480, 96 runs, 47 doubles, 13 HR, 100 RBIs, 34 SB, 130 OPS+, 5.6 WAR
The good: .286 batting average
294 stolen bases, with a 73% success rate
46% rate taking extra bases
2 Gold Gloves
3 Silver Sluggers
5 All-Star Games
1 World Series MVP
The bad: 94 OPS+
.363 nTOA
.398 slugging percentage
12.6 PA/BB
-0.9 Rtot/yr at shortstop (2002 onward: -1.5 Rtot/yr, +0.1 UZR/yr; 2003 onward: -2.4 Rtot/yr, -3.2 Rdrs/yr)
Notes: Rentería was one of only four players to have two World-Series-winning hits in his career. He also committed the final out in a losing cause.
Overrated/Underrated: He was known for both his hitting and his fielding, neither of which was actually impressive. Overrated.
Verdict: No.

Arthur Rhodes
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 20 seasons, 900 games, 1,187.2 innings
WAR: 15.0, 3.1 WAA
Peak (2001-2005): 27-11, 2.89 ERA, 17 saves, 289 SO, 148 ERA+, 1.093 WHIP, 3.80 SO/BB, 6.5 WAR
Best year (2001): 8-0, 1.72 ERA, 3 saves, 83 SO, 241 ERA+, 0.853 WHIP, 6.92 SO/BB, 2.5 WAR
The good: .339 nTPA (.317 as reliever)
2.23 SO/BB (2.68 as reliever)
7.82 H/9 (7.35 as reliever)
8.73 SO/9 (9.38 as reliever)
1 All-Star Game
The bad: 109 ERA+ (130 as reliever)
105 nPIT+
4.08 ERA (3.41 as reliever)
1.304 WHIP (1.205 as reliever)
3.91 BB/9 (3.50 as reliever)
46% rate escaping jams (league average 52%)
Overrated/Underrated: He was a solid reliever who didn't get many saves, so was probably underrated.
Verdict: No.

Iván "Pudge" Rodríguez Pudge grounded into the second-most double-plays in MLB history.
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 21 seasons, 2,543 games (MLB catcher record), 10,270 plate appearances
WAR: 68.4 (3rd among catchers) (53.9 offensive, 14.5 defensive), 33.1 WAA
Peak (1996-2000): .320/.356/.527, 484 runs, 122 HR, 450 RBIs, 120 OPS+, 30.2 WAR
Best year (1999): .332/.356/.558, 116 runs, 29 doubles, 35 HR, 113 RBIs, 25 SB, 125 OPS+, 6.4 WAR
The good: .296 batting average
2,844 hits
572 doubles (MLB catcher record)
44% rate taking extra bases
+9.6 Rtot/yr at catcher (2003 onward: +4.8 Rtot/yr, +2.1 Rdrs/yr)
Caught 46% of base-stealers (league average 31%)
1 MVP
1 NLCS MVP
13 Gold Gloves (MLB catcher record)
7 Silver Sluggers
14 All-Star Games
Long career
The bad: 106 OPS+
.368 nTOA
.334 on-base percentage
20.0 PA/BB
4.59 catcher's ERA (league average 4.34)
Never led league in major hitting categories
Vague steroid allegations
Notes:
Overrated/Underrated: He was neither as great a hitter or as great a fielder as is commonly perceived. Overrated.
Verdict: Rodríguez is widely seen as the greatest MLB catcher since Johnny Bench. While this is debatable (I'd put Mike Piazza at #1), he has nonetheless accomplished a tremendous amount over his career, and even some of his weaknesses are pretty good by catcher standards. He's in.

Freddy Sánchez
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 10 seasons, 904 games, 3,686 plate appearances
WAR: 15.8 (14.1 offensive, 1.7 defensive), 4.8 WAA
Peak (2006-2010): .302/.338/.421, 348 runs, 40 HR, 306 RBIs, 100 OPS+, 12.0 WAR
Best year (2006): .344*/.378/.473, 85 runs, 53 doubles*, 6 HR, 85 RBIs, 119 OPS+, 4.4 WAR
The good: .297 batting average
8.1 AB/SO
44% rate taking extra bases
+3.7 UZR/yr at second base
3 All-Star Games
The bad: 98 OPS+
.366 nTOA
.335 on-base percentage
.413 slugging percentage
20.5 PA/BB
-3.1 Rtot/yr at second base (2003 onward: -3.1 Rtot/yr, -1.3 Rdrs/yr)
Short career
Notes: He did pretty well for a guy who doctors thought would never be able to walk.
Overrated/Underrated: He was underappreciated for much of his career, but overrated after his batting title.
Verdict: No.

Curt Schilling
Voting history: 5th ballot, 52.3% in 2016
Career Length: 20 seasons, 569 games, 3261.0 innings
WAR: 80.8, 54.1 WAA
Peak (2000-2004): 85-40, 3.24 ERA, 1,174 SO, 145 ERA+, 1.064 WHIP, 6.38 SO/BB, 36.5 WAR
Best year (2001): 22*-6, 2.98 ERA, 293 SO, 157 ERA+, 1.075 WHIP, 7.51 SO/BB*, 8.8 WAR
The good: 127 ERA+
138 nPIT+
58.5 average game score (14th all-time)
3.46 ERA
1.137 WHIP
4.38 SO/BB (2nd all-time)
1.96 BB/9
.326 nTPA
3,116 strikeouts (15th all-time)
Allowed 57% success rate stealing (league average 69%)
49% rate escaping jams (league average 46%)
2.23 ERA, 0.968 WHIP, 4.80 SO/BB in 19 postseason games
2 Pitcher of the Year Awards
3 top-three Cy Young finishes
6 All-Star Games
1 World Series MVP
1 NLCS MVP
The bad: 0.96 HR/9
Despite all his yelling, may have used steroids
The ugly: Attacked a QuesTec camera with a bat because he didn't like the umpire's calls
Notes: He became an immediate part of baseball lore with the famous "bloody sock" game.
Schilling has long been a vocal (and somewhat radical) opponent of steroid use. Now, maybe I'm just overthinking things, but I can't help noticing that his career was comparatively weak up through age 28 (109 ERA+, 6.91 SO/9, 1.207 WHIP), then suddenly picked up from ages 29-37 (141 ERA+, 9.53 SO/9, 1.075 WHIP), well after the normal MLB peak. Then his numbers nosedived beginning in 2005, when testing and penalties for steroid use were instated (110 ERA+, 7.45 SO/9, 1.291 WHIP his last three seasons). That peak lasted from 1996-2004, which is pretty much exactly the steroid era. (The hitters were unstoppable, but Schilling was unhittable.) He also has demonstrated erratic behavior (as the people at QuesTec would surely attest), and his body underwent a Bonds-esque transformation around the time he got really good. Seems to me that his anti-steroid crusade is little more than a blind.
Normally I try to ignore a player's personality and political views, but Schilling's bigotry and his promotion of violence have crossed the line. As you might have heard, there is a character clause.
Overrated/Underrated: The idiots who judge a pitcher by wins alone will underrate him, because he "only" won 216. However, due to his postseason heroics - especially the "bloody sock" game - he has developed a larger-than-life image among most fans, making him a little bit overrated. Plus, due to his ostentatious opposition to PEDs, people refuse to notice all the evidence against him.
Verdict: I used to think Schilling was a clear Hall-of-Famer, until I realized that he was a likely juicer. Now I'm not so sure. His numbers before and after his apparent steroid usage were good, but nowhere near good enough. Maybe he'd have gotten better during the middle period naturally, so I'm willing to call him a borderline case and give him the benefit of the doubt. At least I would, but he's been enough of an asshole to cost himself a close vote.

Gary Sheffield
Voting history: 3rd ballot, 11.6% in 2016
Career Length: 22 seasons, 2,576 games, 10,947 plate appearances
WAR: 60.4 (80.1 offensive, -19.7 defensive), 25.8 WAA
Peak (2000-2004): .312/.414/.575, 528 runs, 179 HR, 546 RBIs, 156 OPS+, 25.8 WAR
Best year (2003): .330/.419/.604, 126 runs, 37 doubles, 39 HR, 132 RBIs, 18 SB, 162 OPS+, 6.8 WAR
The good: 140 OPS+
.292 batting average
.393 on-base percentage
.514 slugging percentage
.429 nTOA
509 home runs
1,676 RBIs
1,636 runs
467 doubles
253 stolen bases
1,475 bases on balls
111 sacrifice flies (13th all-time)
7.9 AB/SO
41% rate taking extra bases
1 Player of the Year Award
3 top-three MVP finishes
5 Silver Sluggers
9 All-Star Games
The bad: -8.4 Rtot/yr at right field (2003 onward: -3.7 Rtot/yr, -8.9 Rdrs/yr)
-11.9 Rtot/yr at left field
-16.5 Rtot/yr at third base
.248 batting, .398 slugging in 44 postseason games
Rarely led league in major hitting categories
Steroid allegations
The ugly: While with the Brewers, he deliberately committed errors in an effort to make the team trade him.
Notes: Sheffield officially hit the 250,000th home run in MLB history.
He was the first player to represent five different teams in the All-Star Game.
Overrated/Underrated: His excellent hitting overshadowed his terrible fielding. Overrated.
Verdict: A strong hitter and weak fielder, Sheffield would be a borderline candidate. But the steroid allegations knock him down to close-but-no-cigar territory. No.

Lee Smith
Voting history: 15th (final) ballot, 34.1% in 2016
Career Length: 18 seasons, 1,022 games (12th all-time), 1,289.1 innings
WAR: 29.2, 13.8 WAA
Peak (1987-1991): 25-24, 2.76 ERA, 168 saves, 146 ERA+, 1.254 WHIP, 3.07 SO/BB, 9.6 WAR
Best year (1983): 4-10, 1.65 ERA, 29 saves*, 229 ERA+, 1.074 WHIP, 2.22 SO/BB, 4.7 WAR
The good: 132 ERA+ (134 as reliever)
128 nPIT+
3.03 ERA (2.98 as reliever)
1.256 WHIP (1.253 as reliever)
2.57 SO/BB (2.58 as reliever)
8.73 SO/9 (17th all-time) (8.80 as reliever)
7.91 H/9 (7.87 as reliever)
0.62 HR/9 (0.63 as reliever)
.326 nTPA (.325 as reliever)
478 saves (3rd all-time)
54% rate escaping jams (league average 46%)
3 Rolaids Relief Awards
1 top-three Cy Young finish
7 All-Star Games
The bad: Allowed 73% success rate stealing (league average 68%)
Spent his career pitching one inning
8.44 ERA, 1.875 WHIP in 4 postseason games
Notes: His averages were not really all that remarkable for a relief pitcher.
Smith's fame is largely a result of timing. He was one of the first players to spend nearly his entire career as a modern, specialized closer, which allowed him to post then-unheard-of save totals. The fact that his saves record has been surpassed twice in less than fifteen years - and by over 100 each time - seems to indicate that his total was more of a new standard than a true record.
Overrated/Underrated: Just as people have always put too much stock in a starting pitcher's win-loss record, relievers have been judged too much by their save totals and not enough by their actual abilities. And since Smith set his then-record for saves during the era when saves were first coming to the forefront, this made him seem much greater than he truly was. Overrated.
Verdict: He didn't get a lot of long saves like Goose Gossage or Dan Quisenberry, and wasn't really dominating as a one-inning specialist like Dennis Eckersley or Mariano Rivera. Considering how few innings closers throw, the standards for election have to be higher than normal, and Smith simply doesn't meet those standards. No.

Sammy Sosa
Voting history: 5th ballot, 7.0% in 2016
Career Length: 18 seasons, 2,354 games, 9,896 plate appearances
WAR: 58.4 (49.7 offensive, 8.7 defensive), 28.0 WAA
Peak (1998-2002): .306/.397/.649, 622 runs, 292 HR, 705 RBIs, 167 OPS+, 33.0 WAR
Best year (2001): .328/.437/.737, 146 runs*, 34 doubles, 64 HR, 160 RBIs*, 203 OPS+, 10.3 WAR
The good: 128 OPS+
.534 slugging percentage
.408 nTOA
609 home runs (8th all-time)
234 stolen bases
1,667 RBIs
1,475 runs
Two 30-30 seasons
14.5 AB/HR (7th all-time)
45% rate taking extra bases
Three times exceeded Roger Maris' home-run mark (MLB record)
20 home runs in one month (MLB record)
+7.2 Rtot/yr at right field
1 Player of the Year Award
1 MVP, and 1 top-three finish
6 Silver Sluggers
7 All-Star Games
Along with Mark McGwire, is often credited with "saving" baseball after the 1994 strike
Hit home runs in 45 different ballparks (MLB record)
The bad: 3.8 AB/SO
2,306 strikeouts versus only 929 walks
Steroid allegations
Found to have used a corked bat
Notes: For the first four seasons of his career, his slugging percentage was .380. I wonder what could have happened?
He has the third-, fifth-, and sixth-highest single-season home run totals in MLB history. Yet he did not lead the league in home runs any of those three years.
Sosa's 10.3 WAR in 2001 was only good enough for second in the league. Not since Lou Boudreau in 1948 (second to Stan Musial) had anyone achieved that high a total without leading the majors, and not since Lou Gehrig in 1927 (second to Babe Ruth) had that high a total not led the league.
Overrated/Underrated: Sosa is best known for his offense, and that part of his career is seriously overrated. How did he manage 609 home runs but only a 128 OPS+? Well, it probably had something to do with his .273 batting average and .344 OBP. Nor did it help that he only hit 379 doubles, and struck out 2,306 times. Plus, while his stolen-base totals are respectable, he was only successful 68.6% of the time.
Verdict: Sosa was by no means a one-dimensional player, as shown by his stellar defensive numbers. However, his HOF case is primarily based on his offense, which is largely one-dimensional, and which was probably heavily boosted by steroids. Much like with McGwire, I just can't bring myself to vote for him.

Matt Stairs
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 19 seasons, 1,895 games, 6,024 plate appearances
WAR: 14.3 (22.8 offensive, -8.5 defensive), -6.2 WAA
Peak (1997-2001): .265/.362/.499, 366 runs, 129 HR, 423 RBIs, 124 OPS+, 8.3 WAR
Best year (1998): .294/.370/.511, 88 runs, 33 doubles, 26 HR, 106 RBIs, 131 OPS+, 3.4 WAR
The good: 117 OPS+
.477 slugging percentage
23 pinch-hit home runs (MLB record)
The bad: .391 nTOA
.262 batting average
4.6 AB/SO
.125/.192/.292 in 17 postseason games
34% rate taking extra bases
Relatively brief career
The ugly: -18.9 Rtot/yr at right field
Notes: He played for 12 different franchises (MLB record for position players), and hit home runs for 11 of them (tied for the record).
Overrated/Underrated: A poor man's Pat Burrell. Overrated.
Verdict: No.

Jason Varitek
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 15 seasons, 1,546 games, 5,839 plate appearances
WAR: 24.3 (24.6 offensive, -0.3 defensive), 3.6 WAA
Peak (2003-2007): .270/.361/.464, 303 runs, 94 HR, 351 RBIs, 111 OPS+, 14.0 WAR
Best year (2005): .281/.366/.489, 70 runs, 30 doubles, 22 HR, 70 RBIs, 122 OPS+, 3.9 WAR
The good: 4.08 catcher's ERA (league average 4.38)
1 Gold Glove
1 Silver Slugger
3 All-Star Games
Spent entire career with one team
The bad: 99 OPS+
.364 nTOA
.256 batting average
4.2 AB/SO
-0.8 Rtot/yr at catcher (2003 onward: -0.8 Rtot/yr, -0.5 Rdrs/yr)
Caught 23% of base-stealers (league average 30%)
Relatively brief career
The ugly: 25% rate taking extra bases
Notes: Varitek was drafted in the first round in two different years.
He caught four no-hitters (tied for MLB record).
Overrated/Underrated: Offensively and defensively, he was only so-so, not a star. Overrated.
Verdict: No.

Javier Vázquez
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 14 seasons, 450 games, 2,840.0 innings
WAR: 43.3, 19.3 WAA
Peak (2000-2004): 64-55, 3.88 ERA, 974 strikeouts, 116 ERA+, 1.228 WHIP, 3.59 SO/BB, 22.0 WAR
Best year (2009): 15-10, 2.87 ERA, 238 strikeouts, 143 ERA+, 1.026 WHIP, 5.41 SO/BB, 6.2 WAR
The good: 113 nPIT+
1.249 WHIP
3.32 SO/BB
2,536 strikeouts
2.42 BB/9
8.04 SO/9
Allowed 66% success rate stealing (league average 71%) 1 All-Star Game
The bad: 105 ERA+
4.22 ERA
.353 nTPA
1.18 HR/9
52.8 average game score
10.34 ERA, 2.170 WHIP in 4 postseason games
Overrated/Underrated: He was never widely acknowledged for his strong numbers, especially his peripherals. Underrated.
Verdict: Had Vázquez been more consistent, or had he allowed fewer home runs, he might have had a shot at the Hall. As it is, he's just not there. No.

Billy Wagner
Voting history: 2nd ballot, 10.5% in 2016
Career Length: 16 seasons, 853 games, 903.0 innings
WAR: 27.7, 16.5 WAA
Peak (2002-2006): 16-11, 2.05 ERA, 178 saves, 214 ERA+, 0.918 WHIP, 4.71 SO/BB, 12.2 WAR
Best year (1999): 4-1, 1.57 ERA, 39 saves, 287 ERA+, 0.777 WHIP, 5.39 SO/BB
The good: 187 ERA+
161 nPIT+
2.31 ERA
0.998 WHIP
3.99 SO/BB
5.99 H/9
11.92 SO/9 (highest of any pitcher with at least 800 innings)
.286 nTPA
422 saves (5th all-time)
64% rate escaping jams (league average 47%)
1 Rolaids Relief Award
7 All-Star Games
The bad: Allowed 75% success rate stealing (league average 70%)
Spent his career pitching one inning
The ugly: 10.03 ERA, 1.971 WHIP in 14 postseason games
Notes: He ranks fifth all-time in saves, but never led the league in any season.
He was exclusively a starter in the minors, and exclusively a reliever in the majors.
Wagner ranks ahead of Trevor Hoffman in ERA, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, SO/BB, H/9, SO/9, nPIT+, and nTPA, among other statistics.
Overrated/Underrated: As a star closer, of course he's overrated. But relative to other candidates like Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith, Wagner is very much underappreciated.
Verdict: A superlative pitcher, Wagner is one of the few relievers to clear the high bar for the Hall of Fame. Yes.

Tim Wakefield
Voting history: 1st ballot
Career Length: 19 seasons, 627 games, 3,226.3 innings
WAR: 34.5, 3.9 WAA
Peak (2001-2005): 59-46, 4.01 ERA, 718 strikeouts, 115 ERA+, 1.269 WHIP, 2.20 SO/BB, 15.9 WAR
Best year (2002): 11-5, 2.81 ERA, 134 strikeouts, 162 ERA+, 1.053 WHIP, 2.63 SO/BB, 3.9 WAR
The good: 1 top-three Cy Young finish
1 All-Star Game
The bad: 105 ERA+
103 nPIT+
.377 nTPA
1.350 WHIP
1.79 SO/BB
1.17 HR/9
49.3 average game score
Allowed 77% success rate stealing (league average 70%)
6.75 ERA, 1.472 WHIP, 1.42 SO/BB in 18 postseason games
Notes: He allowed the ninth-most home runs and hit the seventh-most batters in MLB history.
At age 42, Wakefield became the second-oldest first-time All-Star in MLB history, only behind Satchel Paige (who didn't even make it to the majors until age 42 due to segregation).
Overrated/Underrated: He always got more attention than his weak statistics deserved. Overrated.
Verdict: No.

Larry Walker
Voting history: 7th ballot, 15.5% in 2016
Career Length: 17 seasons, 1,988 games, 8,030 plate appearances
WAR: 72.6 (62.2 offensive, 10.4 defensive), 48.2 WAA
Peak (1997-2001): .357/.445/.658, 535 runs, 156 HR, 486 RBIs, 77 SB, 157 OPS+, 30.1 WAR
Best year (1997): .366/.452*/.720*, 143 runs, 46 doubles, 49 HR*, 130 RBIs, 33 SB, 178 OPS+, 9.8 WAR*
The good: 141 OPS+
.313 batting average
.400 on-base percentage
.565 slugging percentage (12th all-time)
.452 nTOA
471 doubles
383 home runs
230 stolen bases, with a 75.2% success rate
52% rate taking extra bases
One 30-30 season
+8.1 Rtot/yr at right field
1 MVP
7 Gold Gloves
3 Silver Sluggers
5 All-Star Games
The bad: Despite spending much of his career at Coors Field, did not amass particularly high totals
Notes: Many people attribute Walker's impressive numbers almost entirely to the effects of hitting at Coors Field. While that certainly was a factor, his park-adjusted OPS+ was still a very impressive 141, marking him as an elite hitter by any standard.
Walker is an example of a player who did everything well, but will have a tough time making the Hall because he did not do any one thing truly superbly. Alternately, he may be viewed as an excellent player who simply did not maintain that excellence for a long enough career.
Overrated/Underrated: He was probably a bit overrated during his career, due to his Coors-inflated numbers. Now he's underrated, because people only remember that his numbers were Coors-inflated. Plus he spent his best years in Montréal, which the average American would have a hard time finding on a map of southern Québec.
Verdict: I think people put too much emphasis on his having played at Coors, and not nearly enough on his fielding and baserunning. He deserves the vote.

The All-2017-Ballot Team
First Base: Jeff Bagwell
Second Base: Jeff Kent
Shortstop: Carlos Guillén
Third Base: Gary Sheffield
Catcher: Iván Rodríguez
Left Field: Tim Raines
Center Field: Barry Bonds
Right Field: Larry Walker
Designated Hitter: Edgar Martínez
Starting Pitcher: Roger Clemens
Relief Pitcher: Billy Wagner

The 2017 Willie Davis Cup:
Mike Cameron
previous winners

Finally, here is a chart summarizing the ballot. I have listed the players in the approximate order of their deservedness. As you can see, my judgments frequently disagree with those of the voters.
Name Year WAR WAA My vote 2016 result 2017 result
Barry Bonds 5 162.4 123.5 yes 44.3% TBA
Roger Clemens 5 139.2 94.6 yes 45.2% TBA
Jeff Bagwell 7 79.5 51.6 yes 71.6% TBA
Tim Raines 10 (final) 69.1 35.0 yes 69.8% TBA
Larry Walker 7 72.6 48.2 yes 15.5% TBA
Edgar Martínez 8 68.3 38.4 yes 43.4% TBA
Mike Mussina 4 82.8 48.6 yes 43.0% TBA
Billy Wagner 2 28.1 16.5 yes 10.5% TBA
Iván Rodríguez 1 68.4 33.1 yes N/A TBA
Curt Schilling 5 80.8 54.1 no 52.3% TBA
Vladimir Guerrero 1 59.3 29.4 no N/A TBA
Gary Sheffield 3 60.4 25.8 no 11.6% TBA
Manny Ramírez 1 69.2 35.6 no N/A TBA
Sammy Sosa 5 58.4 28.0 no 7.0% TBA
Jeff Kent 4 55.2 26.4 no 16.6% TBA
Trevor Hoffman 2 28.4 13.7 no 67.3% TBA
Fred McGriff 8 52.6 19.8 no 20.9% TBA
J.D. Drew 1 44.9 25.0 no N/A TBA
Mike Cameron 1 46.5 20.8 no N/A TBA
Jorge Posada 1 42.7 17.3 no N/A TBA
Lee Smith 15 (final) 29.2 13.8 no 34.1% TBA
Derrek Lee 1 34.3 10.1 no N/A TBA
Magglio Ordóñez 1 38.5 11.1 no N/A TBA
Casey Blake 1 24.9 7.7 no N/A TBA
Tim Wakefield 1 34.6 3.9 no N/A TBA
Carlos Guillén 1 27.7 9.0 no N/A TBA
Jason Varitek 1 24.3 3.6 no N/A TBA
Melvin Mora 1 28.2 7.2 no N/A TBA
Arthur Rhodes 1 15.4 3.1 no N/A TBA
Édgar Rentería 1 32.1 4.4 no N/A TBA
Freddy Sánchez 1 15.8 4.8 no N/A TBA
Pat Burrell 1 18.8 -1.2 no N/A TBA
Orlando Cabrera 1 21.4 -5.2 no N/A TBA
Matt Stairs 1 14.3 -6.2 no N/A TBA
Name Year WAR WAA My vote 2016 result 2017 result




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