2020 South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame Vote

Hallowed ground: Which of the 36 players below will make it into the South Side Hit Pen wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame?

It’s that time of the year again — now is the time and this is the place to cast your 2020 South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame ballot.

You have until January 19 to fill out your ballot, as we will announce our 2020 Hall of Fame and Veteran’s Committee results on January 20 (vote here to fill out your Vet ballot). And after that, you will be voting for the third White Sox Hall of Fame class.

The rules here are pretty simple. Read over the bios, and select up to 10 names to be enshrined. And if you don’t think anyone should be voted in, seriously, why are you reading this?

Due to the backlog of viable candidates (personally I count around 15, but I’m a big-Hall guy), with last year’s vote I asked our readership whether we should expand the number of players we can vote on in 2020; that suggestion was voted down, 54%-46%. So, 10 players it remains.

Last year, we enshrined Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Roy Halladay and Edgar Martinez. Near-misses included Barry Bonds (66.3%), Roger Clemens (62%) and Larry Walker (61.7%).

Those close calls join this year’s ballot, headlined by Derek Jeter and also featuring Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi. Trevor Hoffman was never elected by us, so he remains on the ballot despite residing in Cooperstown.

Here are the 36 candidates on the 2019 South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame ballot.

Sitaspell, take yer shoes off, and ponder.

aWAR averages Baseball-Reference (bWAR), FanGraphs (fWAR) and Baseball Prospectus (WARP) WAR measures.

Bobby Abreu
Right Fielder
Philadelphia Phillies, Angels, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets
bWAR: 60.0
fWAR: 59.8
WARP: 49.1
aWAR: 56.3
B-R Most Similar Batter: Luis González (87.9%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF: 20th
Core Stats: 291/.395/.475, 288 HR, 1,453 R, 1,363 RBI, 300 SB, .128 OPS+, -11.1 dWAR
Core Accolades: Two-time All-Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove

Abreu remains an underrated player. Per B-R, his power-speed rating (HR and SB) is 14th-highest in baseball history, and holds the seventh-best on-base percentage from 1998-2006 (min. 3,000 PA). He saw postseason play in only four of 18 seasons in the bigs, but put up a career .810 OPS and 0.34 WPA while there.

Josh Beckett
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Boston Red Sox, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers
bWAR: 35.6
fWAR: 36.7
WARP: 46.5
aWAR: 39.6
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Jason Schmidt (95.2%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 215th
Core Stats: 138-106, 3.88 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 1.232 WHIP, 111 ERA+
Core Accolades: Three-time All-Star, 2003 World Series MVP, 2007 ALCS MVP, one Top 5 Cy Young finish

Beckett was on the fast train toward immortality, named the World Series MVP in just his second full season in the bigs. And while he continued his early dominance into the second phase of his career, with the Red Sox, he struggled to dominate consistently, repeating a sort of year-on, year-off pattern. Ultimately, he’s a strong contender for the Hall of Very Good.

Heath Bell
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays
bWAR: 7.1
fWAR: 9.8
WARP: 13.8
aWAR: 10.2
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Keith Foulke (96.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 366th
Core Stats: 38-32, 168 SV, 3.49 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 1.269 WHIP, 112 ERA+
Core Accolades: Three-time All-Star, two-time Rolaids Reliever of the Year

There are some real parallels between Beckett and Bell, in that both players didn’t have the staying power to qualify as all-time greats. However, Bell’s fall was precipitous, an all-time puzzling flameout after signing a three-year, $24 million deal with Miami in 2011; he’d earn just 34 career saves, many of them disastrously earned, in the rest of his career.

Lance Berkman
Outfielder/First Baseman
Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees
bWAR: 52.1
fWAR: 56
WARP: 54.1
aWAR: 54.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 10.1%

B-R Most Similar Hitter: Jim Edmonds (91.1%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 20th
Core Stats: .293/.406/.537, 1,905 H, 366 HR, 1,234 RBI, 144 OPS+, -11.0 dWAR
Core Accolades: Six-time All-Star, four Top 5 MVP finishes

Berkman clears the 50 WAR hurdle, which would seem to indicate serious merit and demand legit consideration. He’s unlikely to get either, and not only because this ballot, again, is crawling with deserving candidates. Fat Elvis was a six-time All-Star, including a final appearance at age 35, as well as four times a top-five MVP finisher. His 1,201 career walks against 1,300 Ks, already make him a relic of a different age. But hey, his career .406 OBP is nothing to sneeze at. Ditto a career .949 OPS over 52 postseason games (1.065 vs. the White Sox in the 2005 World Series).

Barry Bonds
Left Fielder
San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates
bWAR: 162.8
fWAR: 164.4
WARP: 165.3
aWAR: 164.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 66.3%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Willie Mays (76.2%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 1st
Core Stats: .298/.444/.607, 2,935 H, 2,227 R, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB, 182 OPS+
Core Accolades: Seven-time NL MVP (1990, 1992-93, 2001-04), 14-time All-Star, eight Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers, five Top 5 MVP finishes, all-time home run (762), walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688) leader

Bonds fell 29 votes shy of enshrinement last year in SSS voting. He’s the only member of the 700 (homer)/500 (stolen base) club. He was the epitome of a five-tool player. The argument for him, in spite of any PED use, is that he was a Hall-of-Famer based on his Pirates career (50.3 bWAR), not to mention being the all-time home run champion (762 homers), and basically the most ferocious hitter any of us will ever live to see. The argument against is as obvious as his increased cap size.

Eric Chávez
Third Baseman
Oakland A’s, New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks
bWAR: 37.5
fWAR: 35.7
WARP: 34.6
aWAR: 35.9
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Doug DeCinces (94.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 3B: 45th
Core Stats: .268/.342/.475, 260 HR, 115 OPS+
Core Accolades: Six Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger

Chávez is considered an all-time great defensive player (six Gold Gloves), yet accumulated just 5.6 dWAR in his career. Of course, defensive metrics are still not necessarily perfected, but does that signify a player more prone to the spectacular play vs. inning-to-inning greatness? Also noteworthy is some withering performances in the playoffs; over nine series in seven years, Chávez OPSed a meager .555, with -1.78 WPA.

Roger Clemens
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays 
bWAR: 139.6
fWAR: 133.7
WARP: 151.7
aWAR: 141.7
Last year’s SSS vote: 62%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Randy Johnson (85.1%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 3rd
Core Stats: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 4,672 K, 1.17 WHIP, 118 CG, 143 ERA+
Core Accolades: 1986 MVP and Cy Young, seven-time Cy Young (1986-87, 1991, 1997-98, 2001, 2004), three Top 5 Cy Young finishes, one Top 5 MVP finish, 11-time All-Star

Back-to-back greats make this ballot top-heavy, ominous in their absence from the Hall. Clemens was somewhat of a Nolan Ryan redux, winning more than 350 games, with almost 4,700 career strikeouts. He burst on the scene by winning both the AL Cy Young and MVP in just his second full season (1986), and would win seven Cy Youngs and play in 11 All-Star Games before he was through. His career parallels that of Bonds, making two all-time greats, both tainted by PEDs. More recently, Clemens has had to fend off sexual assault charges centering around a 10-year affair with country singer Mindy McCready, begun when McCready was 15 years old, Clemens 28 and a married father of two. His numbers signify Hall-of-Famer in my book, but if you prefer like me, to hate to love him, you can focus more on his Red Sox losing the World Series in classic fashion after his MVP season, his roid-rage toss of the bat barrel back at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series, or the Chicago White Sox knocking him out of the box in Game 1 of the 2005 World Series.

Adam Dunn
Left Fielder
Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland A’s
bWAR: 17.4
fWAR: 25.6
WARP: 24.2
aWAR: 22.4
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Dave Kingman (89.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 139th
Core Stats: .237/.364/.490, 462 HR, 124 OPS+, -28.9 dWAR
Core Accolades: Two-time All-Star

What do you need to know about Dunn that hasn’t been witnessed by your own eyes, or passed down to you by a bitter elder? The Big Donkey was perhaps GM Ken Williams’ most coveted prize, but one that paid off least handsomely. Dunn’s South Side time is was the fulcrum that shot stardom to shambles. But enough of my yakkin’; if you wish tom commiserate more on the failings of the early-2010s White Sox, I direct you to very likely the best piece I ever wrote for a cable venture masquerading as everyday news source, a piece so brilliant and cherished it now garners the coveted 404 Award for Feature Writing.

Chone Figgins
Third Baseman
Angels, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers
bWAR: 22.2
fWAR: 22.2
WARP: 19.2
aWAR: 21.2
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Michael Bourn (93.8%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 3B: 104th
Core Stats: .276/.349/.363, 35 HR, 341 SB, 92 OPS+
Core Accolades: One-time All-Star

Perhaps this is false memory, but was Figgins not another of Williams’ wish-list players? Well, I’m ashamed to admit that there was a time I constructed a massive trade in my brain circa 2008, with the core pieces consisting of Paul Konerko for Figgins. Except, wait: From 2008-on, Figgins was worth 10.8 bWAR, Konerko 10.1. Oof. Figgins was a fine player, versatile (lots of time logged in center field and second base) and skilled; he was also bereft of significant power and shrunk in the postseason.

Rafael Furcal
Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins 
bWAR: 39.4
fWAR: 33.1
WARP: 37.4
aWAR: 36.6
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Elvis Andrus (91.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SS: 44th
Core Stats: .281/.346/.402, 113 HR, 314 SB, 96 OPS+, 15.0 dWAR
Core Accolades: 2000 NL Rookie of the Year, three-time All-Star

In the end, Furcal’s career pretty well mirrors that of Chávez. Or perhaps, call him a Figgins with better D. Nonetheless, he’s a player like several here who would be fighting to make even the Hall of Very Good.

Jason Giambi
First Baseman
Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins 
bWAR: 50.5
fWAR: 49.8
WARP: 49.0
aWAR: 49.8
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Carlos Delgado (91.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 1B: 25th
Core Stats: .277/.399/.516, 2,010 H, 440 HR, 139 OPS+, -19.8 dWAR
Core Accolades: 2000 AL MVP*, five-time All-Star, two Silver Sluggers, two Top 5 MVP finishes

In my book, you can hardly find a better borderline Hall of Fame case than Giambi, who along with players like Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Jerry Koosman and Bert Campaneris straddle the 50-WAR line that I use as my velvet rope barring entry to Cooperstown. Surely Giambi is demerited based on his admitted PED use, as his truest career accolade was misbegotten thievery of Frank Thomas’ rightful third MVP. However, Giambi was also a strong postseason player (.911 OPS) and hung on in the AL until age 43.

Todd Helton
First Baseman
Colorado Rockies
bWAR: 61.2
fWAR: 55.0
WARP: 75.0
aWAR: 63.7
Last year’s SSS vote: 36.5%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Jeff Bagwell (86.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 15th
Core Stats: .316/.414/.538, 2,519 H, 369 HR, 1,406 RBI, 133 OPS+
Core Accolades: Five-time All-Star, three Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finish

A rare bird these days — a player spending all his time with one team. Even back in the days of George Brett and Robin Yount, the one-team career player was being discussed as anomaly, so Helton’s love affair with Colorado is something special, indeed. Of course, as a hitter in Denver, there may be a reason for the love affair. But while Helton’s home numbers (.345/.441/.607) were gaudy, the road work wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either (.287/.386/.469). There’s another weird variance in overall career assessment here, with FanGraphs and BP far apart in their judgment. Helton had a relatively early peak, with all five of his All-Star appearances coming from 2000-04. Helton was absolutely robbed on the 2000 NL MVP, leading the NL in WAR (and third in baseball), and leading the NL in hits, doubles, RBIs, and average, on-base and slugging; Helton finished fifth.

Trevor Hoffman
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers (2009-10), Florida Marlins
bWAR: 28.0
fWAR: 26.0
WARP: 27.5
aWAR: 27.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 34%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Lee Smith (89.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 20th
Core Stats: 61-75, 601 SV, 2.87 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 1,133 K, 1.06 WHIP, 141 ERA+
Core Accolades: Hall of Fame, seven-time All-Star, two Rolaids Reliever of the Year, three Top 5 Cy Young finishes

If there was a Hall of Closers, of course Hoffman would be a first-ballot inductee. But the notion of placing closers alongside starting pitchers, or regular position players, in importance is subject to debate. In our site voting, that debate wages more intensely than among the BBWAA voters, who elected Hoffman to Cooperstown in 2018. Hoffman was a seven-time All-Star, and finished as the runner-up in NL Cy Young voting twice (1998 and 2006). The eight-season spread on that latter stat truly speaks to what is special about Hoffman, as longevity is not a hallmark of most closers — Hoffman retired in 2010, as baseball’s all-time saves leader (601, since surpassed by Mariano Rivera).

Raúl Ibañez
Left Fielder
Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Angels
bWAR: 20.4
fWAR: 19.3
WARP: 21.6
aWAR: 20.4
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Ruben Sierra (94.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 119th
Core Stats: .272/.335/.465, 2,034 H, 305 HR, 1,055 R, 1,207 RBI, 111 OPS+, -17.7 dWAR
Core Accolades: One-time All-Star

Even a fan who tends to ignore the argument that a Hall-of-Famer isn’t required to be among the elite in the game for an extended stretch of time would be hard-pressed to push Ibañez into the Hall given his utter lack of dominance. His counting stats are impressive, to be sure: more than 2,000 hits and 300 homers and a pretty healthy OPS+. The 19-year vet was also pretty adequate in the playoffs. But there’s not clear path for Ibañez to stay on the ballot more than one year, much less survive to enshrinement.

Derek Jeter
New York Yankees
bWAR: 72.4
fWAR: 73.0
WARP: 51.9
aWAR: 65.8
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Craig Biggio (82.5%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SS: 12th
Core Stats: .310/.377/.440, 3,465 H, 260 HR, 1,923 R, 1,311 RBI, 115 OPS+
Core Accolades: 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, 14-time All-Star, five Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers, 2000 World Series MVP, three Top 5 MVP finishes

What we can’t debate is Jeter’s worthiness for the Hall of Fame. But what we can discuss is the degree to which he has been overrated, and whether he merits a unanimous selection. There’s no harm in being Craig Biggio, who his B-R comp pairs Jeter up with. There’s nothing wrong with being a very good, even superstar player for years in the biggest market out there. But a unanimous selection? Jeter’s aWAR is roughly that of Reggie Smith, trailing Bobby Grich, and trailing several shortstops significantly, from Cal Ripken Jr. to George Davis, with ex-teammate Alex Rodriguez comfortably ahead as well. While the worthy-of-unanimous debate is a silly one, so is the notion that Jeter should be so honored (and that goes for another ex-teammate, Mariano Rivera, but that water is well under the bridge). My personal strategy going forward with these votes is to determine how many worth HOFers are on the ballot, and vote up from the last on the list; this year, I may be voting for candidates No. 5-14, or 4-13. Jeter will get in; I want to keep the lower-rung guys on the ballot.

Andruw Jones
Center Fielder
Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers
bWAR: 62.8
fWAR: 66.9
WARP: 61.9
aWAR: 63.9
Last year’s SSS vote: 42.3%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Dale Murphy (93.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among CF: 11th
Core Stats: .254/.337/.486, 1,933 H, 434 HR, 1,289 RBI, 152 SB, 111 OPS+, 24.4 dWAR
Core Accolades: Five-time All-Star, 10 Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger, one Top 5 MVP finish

First and foremost in assessing Jones’ career: He was as good as any center fielder who has ever played the game. He won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, and while no slouch as a hitter, had several seasons of higher defensive WAR than offensive. He was a five-time All-Star who, ironically enough, finished second in the NL in WAR during that 2000 season where Helton was jobbed of the MVP; in a clear statement about how unimportantly defense is measured by the voters, Jones finished eighth in that MVP vote. When Jones left Atlanta for Los Angeles in free agency, his career fell off the deep end, fast. One swell swan song was in 2010 with the White Sox, when Jones hit his 400th home run and had a bounce-back, 1.9 bWAR season in limited playing time.

Jeff Kent
Second Baseman
San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland
bWAR: 55.4
fWAR: 56.1
WARP: 53.4
aWAR: 55.0
Last year’s SSS vote: 16.6%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Robinson Cano (88.8%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 2B: 20th
Core Stats: .290/.356/.500, 2,461 H, 377 HR, 1,518 RBI, 123 OPS+
Core Accolades: 2000 NL MVP, five-time All-Star, four Silver Sluggers

Unlike many others who hit the ground running in their careers, it took several years and a move to the Giants for Kent to start turning heads around baseball. After receiving no accolades at all until 1997, Kent garnered five All-Star berths in his final 11 seasons. He also won the 2000 NL MVP (the one Helton, or Jones, should have taken!). Kent impresses most when viewed relative to other second basemen — he’s simply among the two or three biggest bats ever to play the position (second place all-time in 2B HRs, and owning the top three 2B RBI seasons of the past 50 years). He was a pretty decent postseason performer, slashing .276/.340/.500 in 189 career PAs — but had a -.13 WPA. Undervalued, and on this ballot perhaps fairly so, it’s surprising to see Kent had nearly 2,500 hits and hit at least 20 homers in 12 seasons (totaling 377 for his career).

Paul Konerko
First Baseman
Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds
bWAR: 27.7
fWAR: 24.0
WARP: 26.9
aWAR: 26.2
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Andres Galarraga (91.4%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 2B: 92nd
Core Stats: .279/.354/.486, 2,340 H, 439 HR, 1,162 R, 1,412 RBI, 118 OPS+, -18.1 dWAR
Core Accolades: Six-time All-Star, 2005 ALCS MVP, one Top Five MVP finish

Konerko is always going to have far more value to us as White Sox fans than to baseball as a whole. But PK isn’t getting cheated; by WAR standards, he pales compared to two dozen other candidates alongside him. In perspective, just picking a random one-and-done player from last year’s ballot, even Ted Lilly had more career WAR than Konerko. But Konerko was a clutch performer who vastly outperformed his natural athletic ability (no dis, but PK was never close to a five-tool guy). One area he deserves massive credit is for his play in the clutch: His too-brief postseason career, excepting his initial foray into the playoffs in 2000, was megatop delicious: OPSs of 1.000, .937, .868 and 1.040 in his four final series.

Cliff Lee
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Cleveland, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners
bWAR: 43.5
fWAR: 48.9
WARP: 40.9
aWAR: 44.4
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Jered Weaver (94.7%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 132nd
Core Stats: 143-91, 601 SV, 3.52 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 29 CG, 12 SHO, 1,824 K, 1.196 WHIP, 118 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2008 AL Cy Young, four-time All-Star, two Top 5 Cy Young finishes

For a while there, it seemed Lee would be a lock for the Hall. He had a Lucas Giolito-esque turnaround from 2007 to 2008, going from also-ran to Cy Young — but the southpaw turned 30 after that miraculous year, and even a dynamite five seasons to come couldn’t build up the resume before his arm gave out. Lee was a very, very good postseason pitcher, with a 2.52 ERA in 82 career innings, a 0.927 WHIP and 1.80 WPA.

Roy Oswalt
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies
bWAR: 50.1
fWAR: 52.4
WARP: 58.8
aWAR: 53.8
Last year’s SSS vote: 8.3%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Adam Wainwright (97.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 102nd
Core Stats: 163-102, 57 CG, 3.36 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1,852 K, 1.21 WHIP, 127 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2005 NLCS MVP, three-time All-Star, five Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Ironically enough, fellow longtime Astros teammate Berkman and Oswalt finished their careers with nearly the same aWAR. Oswalt was a transcendent starter with Houston, piling up five top-five Cy Young finishes in his first six seasons, and then just hitting a wall once he turned 30. He was runner-up as NL Rookie of the Year to none less than Albert Pujols in 2001, when he burst on the scene with a 4.7 bWAR in just 20 starts. His Top 10 similarity scores at Baseball-Reference are littered with similar borderline-HOF pitchers, including Ron Guidry, Jered Weaver Bret Saberhagen, Lee and Jon Lester.

Carlos Peña
First Baseman
Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals
bWAR: 25.1
fWAR: 18.9
WARP: 14.7
aWAR: 19.6
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Chris Davis (95.1%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 1B: 91st
Core Stats: .232/.346/.462, 286 HR, 117 OPS+
Core Accolades: One-time All-Star, one Gold Glove, one Silver Slugger

Let’s be honest, a guy with a B-R comp most close to Chris Davis isn’t getting in the Hall anytime soon. But Peña was a solid performer for many years, filling a decent niche as a power bat who could field his position OK. Peña was a late bloomer, only coming into his own at 29, in Tampa (already his fifth team). Had he put his power stroke together sooner, you can easily imagine a Konerko or Carlos Delgado career. Also, not bad in the playoffs: .910 OPS in 19 games.

Brad Penny
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox
bWAR: 19.0
fWAR: 26.7
WARP: 28.0
aWAR: 24.6
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Charles Nagy (96.1%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 494th
Core Stats: 121-101, 4.29 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 1.376 WHIP, 99 ERA+
Core Accolades: Two-time All-Star, one Top 5 Cy Young finish

Penny had a peak, in the middle of his Dodgers tenure, approaching age 30: two All-Star games and a Top 5 Cy Young finish. But aside from that, he was a fairly pedestrian pitcher, as indicated by his shade-worse-than average ERA+.

Andy Pettitte
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
New York Yankees, Houston Astros
bWAR: 60.3
fWAR: 68.9
WARP: 61.7
aWAR: 63.6
Last year’s SSS vote: 15.3%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: C.C. Sabathia (93.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 91st
Core Stats: 256-153, 3.85 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 2,448 K, 1.17 WHIP, 135 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2001 ALCS MVP, three-time All-Star, four Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Pettitte just couldn’t say no to the Yankees, which in my book knocks him down a few notches. Seriously, he moved on to his hometown Astros after eight seasons in the Bronx, but after three seasons in a 10-gallon hat, came back for four more seasons with the Yankees, retired, then came back for two more seasons with the Yankees. Add to that his use of HGH to recover from a 2003 elbow injury, lying about it, some weirdness in defense (or the opposite) re: Clemens’ HGH use … and boy oh boy, do you have a soap opera. Factoring in the customary “East Coast bias,” Pettitte might be the rare candidate given more than his due from the first vote forward. That said, Pettitte was a splendid southpaw, and like onetime teammate Mike Mussina, might have retired a season or two too young (at 41, Pettitte gathered a 2.2 bWAR off of a 3.74 ERA/3.70 FIP, 30 starts and 185 ⅓ innings). But even his ballyhooed postseason record is a bit overblown; over 14 seasons/32 series, Pettitte made 44 starts, going 19-11, but with a fairly pedestrian 3.81 ERA, 6 ⅓ innings per start, and zero complete games. Not really a hero, but certainly a star pupil.

J.J. Putz
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets
bWAR: 13.1
fWAR: 10.2
WARP: 11
aWAR: 11.4
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Mark Melancon (96.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 145th
Core Stats: 37-33, 189 SV, 3.08 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 1.152 WHIP, 138 ERA+
Core Accolades: One-time All-Star, Rolaids Reliever of the Year

Putz was more than just a pedestrian reliever, which helps explain his 12 years in the majors, finishing no fewer than six games in any one of them. He came to the White Sox in 2010, after a season in Queens that could have spelled the end of his career at just 32. Instead, he put up the third-best value of his career (in a setup role) and parlayed that into a four-year, $22 million deal with the Diamondbacks.

Manny Ramirez
Left Fielder/Right Fielder
Cleveland, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays
bWAR: 69.4
fWAR: 66.3
WARP: 72.5
aWAR: 69.4
Last year’s SSS vote: 37.1%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Frank Thomas (86.5%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 10th
Core Stats: .312/.411/.585, 2,574 H, 555 HR, 1,831 RBI, 154 OPS+, -21.7 dWAR
Core Accolades: 2004 World Series MVP, 12-time All-Star, nine Silver Sluggers, four Top 5 MVP finishes

For all the stuff you can say about Manny, you have to include that he was a helluva hitter. In seven straight seasons (1999-2005), Ramirez won a Silver Slugger, was an All-Star, and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting. Overall, he was a 12-time All-Star, won nine Silver Sluggers, and earned MVP votes in 11 of his 18 seasons. His 10 closest comps on Baseball-Reference are, basically, all Hall-of-Famers. Manny’s dominance extended to the postseason as well, where he hit 29 homers and put up a .937 OPS in 111 career playoff games. Given his general lackadaisical attitude toward, well, everything, and multiple positive PED tests, Manny’s brief, end-of-career stint as a coach was … entertaining.

Brian Roberts
Second Baseman
Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees
bWAR: 30.4
fWAR: 29.7
WARP: 26.4
aWAR: 28.8
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Ronnie Belliard (90.7%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 2B: 58th
Core Stats: .276/.347/.409, 97 HR, 542 RBI, 285 SB, 101 OPS+
Core Accolades: Two-time All-Star

Roberts was a longtime Oriole, a pesky player who had one extraordinary season (7.3 bWAR in 2005, second in the AL behind Alex Rodriguez, which earned Roberts … 18th place in MVP voting!). Looking at Roberts’ career, it’s tempting to comp him with ex-White Sox grinder Scott Fletcher, but the stats don’t bear that out. However, the two players ended with similar career WARs, with Fletcher boasting more longevity and solid seasons. 

Scott Rolen
Third Baseman
Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays
bWAR: 70.2
fWAR: 69.9
WARP: 64.5
aWAR: 68.2
Last year’s SSS vote: 40.5%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Matt Holliday (88.6%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among 3B: 10th
Core Stats: .281/.364/.490, 2,077 H, 316 HR, 1,287 RBI, 118 SB, 122 OPS+, 21.2 dWAR
Core Accolades: 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, seven-time All-Star, eight Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger, one Top 5 MVP finish

Rolen beat out future luminaries like Andruw Jones and Vladimir Guerrero for 1997 NL Rookie of the Year. His calling card was defense, and was an eight-time Gold Glove winner, taking his final award at age 35, in his last fully healthy season. He was a seven-time All-Star, yet one legitimate argument against Rolen’s enshrinement is his earning MVP votes in just four seasons (never finishing better than fourth).

Johan Santana
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
Minnesota Twins, New York Mets
bWAR: 51.6
fWAR: 45.3
WARP: 53.5
aWAR: 50.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 8.3%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: David Price (96.4%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 81st
Core Stats: 139-78, 3.20 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 1,988 K, 1.13 WHIP, 136 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2004 and 2006 AL Cy Young, four-time All-Star, one Gold Glove, three Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Santana was an incendiary starter, but burned out fast. He won two Cy Youngs, in 2004 and 2006, and received votes for the award in six straight seasons (2003-08). During Santana’s peak stretch from 2004-06, he accumulated an otherworldly 23.5 bWAR. The southpaw’s hopes may be tied into some veteran’s committee of the future, but he deserves more serious consideration than he’s getting currently, thanks to the unholy backlog of worthy candidates who now pop up on the ballot every year.

Curt Schilling
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros
bWAR: 79.6
fWAR: 79.8
WARP: 100.7
aWAR: 86.7
Last year’s SSS vote: 56.1%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Kevin Brown (92.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SP: 27th
Core Stats: 216-146, 83 CG, 3.46 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 3,116 K, 1.14 WHIP, 127 ERA+
Core Accolades: 2001 World Series MVP, 1993 NLCS MVP, six-time All-Star, four Top 5 Cy Young finishes

Like 2019 Hall-of-Famer Mussina, Schilling began his career in the late 1980s, in the Baltimore Orioles system. Like Mussina, Schilling finished his career with an aWAR of 86 and change. And also like Moose, Schilling is a deserving Hall of Fame candidate unduly frozen out of Cooperstown. Unlike Mussina, Schilling has been frozen out for an understandable, if inapplicable, reason: hateful and vitriolic rhetoric. But we’re not voting for a set of worldviews here, we’re judging a baseball career. And Schilling’s was impeccable. He was a six-time All-Star and earned MVP votes in four different seasons. He was a top-four Cy Young finisher — each coming after he turned 30. Amazingly, about three-quarters of his career WAR came after he turned 30. Schilling also was a postseason hero, beyond the bloody sock of debatable veracity; in his career, he pitched to a 2.23 ERA and .97 WHIP in 19 starts (12 series), going 11-2 with four complete games. And if you throw out just two godawful ALCS series efforts, his playoff numbers would be borderline supernatural.

Gary Sheffield
Right Fielder/Left Fielder/Third Baseman
Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres, New York Mets
bWAR: 60.5
fWAR: 62.1
WARP: 74.9
aWAR: 65.8
Last year’s SSS vote: 31.9%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Chipper Jones (89.2%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF: 23rd
Core Stats: .292/.393/.514, 2,689 H, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI, 253 SB, 140 OPS+, -27.7 dWAR
Core Accolades: Nine-time All-Star, five Silver Sluggers, three Top 5 MVP finishes

Sheffield was, simply put, a devastating hitter. He was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Sliver Slugger winner, seven times earning MVP votes (six of those being top-10 finishes). But with Sheffield, his use of “the cream” with Barry Bonds damns some of his amazing accomplishments, as does a mid-30s stretch of dominance that defied any expected aging curve (75 homers and 253 RBIs at age 34-35). He also had only modest postseason success: .248/.401/.398 in 44 career games. Finally, Sheffield being shuffled among teams — traded five times, all told — also undercuts his case.

Alfonso Soriano
Left Fielder/Second Baseman
Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals
bWAR: 28.2
fWAR: 38.9
WARP: 40.8
aWAR: 36.0
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Dale Murphy (87.7%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among LF: 68th
Core Stats: .270/.319/.500, 2.095 H, 412 HR, 1,152 R, 1.159 RBI, 289 SB, 112 OPS+, -10.3 dWAR
Core Accolades: Seven-time All-Star, four Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finish

Soriano’s best tribute, like Abreu, is his power-speed factor, as just one of four 40-40 players in history and a member of the 400 HR/250 steals club for his career as well, something just six other players have accomplished. Unfortunately, Soriano’s offensive value was offset by loathsome defense — he led the AL in errors at second base for five consecutive seasons before, mercifully, being pastured out to left field (where he posted actual positive dWAR in his first two seasons after the switch).

Sammy Sosa
Right Fielder
Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles 
bWAR: 58.6
fWAR: 60.1
WARP: 62.6
aWAR: 60.4
Last year’s SSS vote: 14.1%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Jim Thome (86.3%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF: 18th
Core Stats: .273/.344/.534, 2,408 H, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 234 SB, 128 OPS+
Core Accolades: 1998 NL MVP, seven-time All-Star, six Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finishes

Look at Sosa’s and Sheffield’s remarkably similar core stats, it’s a bit uncanny. As will be forever noted on these pages, Sosa isn’t helped among a fairly White Sox-centered electorate by being perhaps the best player the team has ever traded away. His unbearable hamminess and seeming insincerity won’t win him points, either. He did, however, have an impossibly good stretch of nine seasons on the north side, and overall he was as seven-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, and the 1998 NL MVP (six other times he earned votes, all in top-10 finishes). Of course, Sosa is also a suspected (heh) PED user — but while it’s presumed, like other juicers, Sosa just fell off the end of the Earth, his final season, back in Texas, yielded 21 homers and 92 RBIs at age 38.

José Valverde
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, New York Mets
bWAR: 11.5
fWAR: 8.6
WARP: 9.9
aWAR: 10.0
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Brad Lidge (95.5%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 183rd
Core Stats: 27-33, 288 SV, 3.27 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.196 WHIP, 133 ERA+
Core Accolades: Three-time All-Star, two Rolaids Relievers of the Year, one Top 5 Cy Young finish

Relievers are not a coveted Hall of Fame property, and Valverde is the least of them on this ballot. There’s almost no way for him to meet the 5% hurdle to survive another year.

Omar Vizquel
Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays
bWAR: 45.6
fWAR: 42.4
WARP: 38.4
aWAR: 42.1
Last year’s SSS vote: 19.9%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Luis Aparicio (87.9%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among SS: 42nd
Core Stats: .272/.336/.356, 2,877 H, 80 HR, 951 RBI, 404 SB, 82 OPS+, 29.5 dWAR
Core Accolades: Three-time All-Star, 11 Gold Gloves

I love Vizquel. He was a great player, and with interests in art and fashion, a renaissance man. But a Hall-of-Famer? Well, that’s another thing entirely. Obviously, he doesn’t stack up on offense (82 OPS+), where even his value as a baserunner is suspect in spite of 404 career steals. Defensively, Vizquel was without peer, earning 11 Gold Gloves. He was a very rare star whose defensive WAR nearly eclipsed his offensive value. His seeming support from the old-school voters is curious, given he wasn’t regarded very highly by them when Vizquel was active; in just one season (1999) did Vizquel earn MVP votes — and he finished 16th.

Billy Wagner
Left-Handed Relief Pitcher
Houston Astros, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox
bWAR: 27.7
fWAR: 24.1
WARP: 28.0
aWAR: 26.6
Last year’s SSS vote: 7%
B-R Most Similar Pitcher: Francisco Rodriguez (90.0%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RP: 19th
Core Stats: 47-40, 422 SV, 2.31 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 1,196 K, 0.99 WHIP, 187 ERA+
Core Accolades: Seven-time All-Star, one Rolaids Reliever Awards, one Top 5 Cy Young finish

Wagner should have celebrated Hoffman getting elected to Cooperstown, because if Hoffman has a case, Wagner has 99% of the very same case, and will eventually break through. He has some impeccable stats, including that 187 ERA+ (per B-R, the best of any southpaw with 500-plus appearances). It’s always impressive to see a closer who can dominate for a decade-plus. Personally, I am not moved by any closer’s case for the Hall, but cap-tip to Wagner as an all-time great. He earned MVP votes in two seasons, and Cy Young votes in two as well, in addition to being a seven-time All-Star. One negative: Wagner was terrible (10.03 ERA) in 14 career postseason games.

Larry Walker
Right Fielder
Colorado Rockies, Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals
bWAR: 72.7
fWAR: 68.7
WARP: 68.3
aWAR: 69.9
Last year’s SSS vote: 61.7%
B-R Most Similar Hitter: Duke Snider (88.9%)
JAWS All-Time Rank Among RF: 10th
Core Stats: .313/.400/.565, 2,160 H, 383 HR, 1,311 RBI, 230 SB, 141 OPS+
Core Accolades: 1997 NL MVP, five-time All-Star, seven Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, one Top 5 MVP finish

OK, so this is it for Walker, his last year on the regular Hall of Fame ballot. Walker catches a lot of hell for not playing full seasons, but this isn’t the complete-seasons Hall of Fame, it’s the who-kicks-the-most-ass HOF. And Walker kicked plenty. Look at that friggin’ slash line! Now, wipe the drool from your chin. Walker also gets dinked for playing about 30% of his career games a mile high in Denver, but c’mon, his career OPS on the road is .865. Walker was the NL MVP in 1997 and received MVP votes in seven other seasons. And in case you want to look at him solely as a bat, like Ramirez or Sheffield, think again: Walker was a seven-time Gold Glove winner in right field, representing roughly half of his MLB seasons.

OK, 5,000 words later, please consider all 36 candidates. You may vote for up to 10 players. Any player who falls short of 5% in polling will be eliminated from next year’s ballot.

Just like with the BBWAA voting, you’re encouraged to make your vote public in the comments below, so we can debate the merits of a ballot overfilled with worthy candidates. Voting closes in 10 days, with the results released in a post on January 20.

(And when you’re done, vote in our Veterans’ election as well.)


Time to vote!

[poll id=”15″]


2 thoughts on “2020 South Side Hit Pen Hall of Fame Vote

  1. Abreu; Berkman; Helton; Jones; Rolen; Sheffield; Walker. I’m old and still have some animosity toward the PED guys, so for now, they can all go blow for another year. Some day, I know I’m going to come around. That so many of them were/are dicks makes it easier to say no. That there are a couple that I almost want to forgive and say yes to because they’re a lot more likeable makes it easier to realize that I’m kinda sorta coming around.

    Otherwise, this is my vote and I’ll never be able to get myself to vote for Schilling. He could have 300 aWAR. Jeter gets shade because I’m still sick of how glorified he was/is, but he’ll get my vote next year because he really was a HOF player. He just needs a year to cool his heels. Heh. Hoffman, well, he has all of 5 (count e’m: five) more career WAR than my old personal favorite, Doug Jones, who never got a sniff at the Hall. So screw him.

    Berkman was my on the fence guy. Never cared for him, but aside from the punchable face, can’t really say why. He has his merits, so in he goes – on my ballot anyway.


  2. I went with Jeter, Schilling and Walker. Forget the steroid guys. The only other one that I almost voted for was Rolen, but I just never felt like he was great.


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