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The Best Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Possible

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Last week, Major League Baseball revealed the new ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. There were 10 new players, in addition to the 15 returning names. However, each voter only gets a maximum of 10 votes per ballot. Some people consider this year’s ballot a bit underwhelming. In fact, the third ballot of the year, submitted by Steven Marcus, was left entirely blank.

While this may be one of the weaker years for the Hall of Fame, there are still plenty of worthy players.

Barry Bonds: Ninth year on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Yes, Barry Bonds is worthy of being in the Hall of Fame. For a little while, it looked as if Bonds would never have a chance to get into Cooperstown, as he was widely regarded as a cheater.

I examined the case for steroid users over the summer, and I want to reiterate some of the points. Using performance-enhancing drugs does not automatically make you a better player. You can’t just take PEDs and then sit around all day until game time. Furthermore, many players who were named in the Mitchell Report and the Biogenesis scandal never even made the big leagues. Also worth noting is that Bud Selig, the man who turned a blind eye to these problems, cruised into Cooperstown in 2017.

As for Barry Bonds’ numbers, they are nothing short of phenomenal. He is the game’s all-time leader in home runs at 762 and in walks with 2,558. Additionally, his career batting line is an astounding .298/.444/.607 (182 OPS+) and his 162.8 rWAR ranks fourth all-time. His accolades include seven MVP Awards (including four in a row from 2001-04), 14 All-Star Game selections, 12 Silver Sluggers, two batting titles, and eight Gold Gloves. If he isn’t a Hall of Famer, then who is?

Roger Clemens: Ninth year on the Hall of Fame Ballot

If you’re noticing a trend by now, it’s that most of the steroid users deserve to get into the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens was an impact pitcher basically from the day he came to the majors. He won seven Cy Young Awards, including one at the age of 23 and another when he was 41; he was also an 11-time All-Star.

In 1986, Clemens won the AL MVP. Additionally, he ranks ninth all-time in wins with 354, eighth in rWAR with 139.2, and third in strikeouts with 4,654. Furthermore, he threw 118 complete games, throwing as many as 18 in 1987. He also pitched to a 3.12 ERA/3.09 FIP (143 ERA+), and a 1.173 WHIP across 24 seasons.

Todd Helton: Third year on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Coors Field or not, Todd Helton had an amazing career. He had a career batting line of .316/.414/.539 (133 OPS+) with 369 homers, 592 doubles, and 1,406 RBI. He also walked more than he struck out and racked up a 61.8 rWAR.

Moving over to his accolades, Helton was a five-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glover, a four-time Silver Slugger, and won a batting title in 2000. He hit as many as 49 homers in a season and finished as high as fifth in MVP voting. While many will knock him for playing his whole career in a hitter’s environment, Helton has numbers that should get him into Cooperstown.

Andruw Jones: Fourth Year on Hall of Fame Ballot

From 1998-2006, Andruw Jones was one of the best outfielders in baseball, and this stretch put him on a path to the Hall of Fame. He was a six-time All-Star and finished as high as second in MVP voting. While his career batting average of .254 is a little low, he always hit for power. He finished his career with 434 homers and hit as many as 51 in 2005.

What separates Jones from most outfielders is his fantastic defense. Most players can’t combine great offense with great fielding, but Jones put up a marvelous 126.4 UZR and 66 DRS. He was rewarded for his efforts with 10 Gold Gloves. Jones also stole as many as 27 bases in a season and racked up a 62.7 rWAR.

Jeff Kent: Eighth Year on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Jeff Kent has a Hall of Fame resume with his bat. His 377 home runs lead all second basemen and he had a strong .290/.356/.500 (123 OPS+) batting line. Additionally, Kent racked up 55.4 rWAR, was a five-time All-Star, a four-time Silver Slugger, and won NL MVP in 2000.

Writers often knock him for his defense and his personality. Defensively, he had a lackluster -30.6 UZR and -52 DRS. Personality-wise, Kent wasn’t the best teammate. He often clashed with Barry Bonds and made some horrible comments in front of reporters. Regardless, Kent belongs in the Hall of Fame for his stats. At a position that normally isn’t known for sluggers, he could absolutely mash.

Manny Ramírez: Fifth Year on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Manny Ramírez is another controversial pick due to his two failed drug tests, however, it’s impossible to look past how amazing his stats are. Manny hit .312/.411/.585 (154 OPS+) with 555 homers, 547 doubles, 1,831 RBIs, and a 69.3 rWAR. He is also the all-time leader in postseason home runs with 29. His accolades include 12 All-Star Games, nine Silver Sluggers, a Batting Title, and a 2004 World Series MVP.

While critics will bring him down because of his subpar fielding and mindless plays, Manny was an absolute treat to watch. Sure, he was a goofball (there’s a reason why “Manny being Manny” became a phrase), but he also was extremely talented. He also was the cover athlete for the extremely popular video game MVP Baseball 2005. You wouldn’t believe it, but the 48-year-old Ramírez is slated to play in Australia for the Sydney Blue Sox this winter. Overall, he is a Hall of Fame player and character.

Scott Rolen: Fourth Year on the Hall of Fame Ballot

In an era full of talented third basemen, Scott Rolen quietly had a Hall of Fame-caliber career. Rolen hit .281/.364/.490 (122 OPS+) with 316 homers, 517 doubles, and a 70.1 rWAR. Furthermore, he won Rookie of the Year in 1997, one Silver Slugger, and was a seven-time All-Star. Perhaps his strongest attribute was his defense, as he won eight Gold Gloves at the hot corner and had a 116 DRS. While Rolen may get overlooked by voters, he deserves to get more attention.

Curt Schilling: Ninth Year on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Schilling actually received a good amount of support in 2020, getting 70% of the vote. While he often gets knocked for his personality, his performance on the field should not be overlooked. He was a six-time All-Star, a Cy Young runner-up twice, and he was co-MVP of the 2001 World Series. He had a 3.46 ERA/3.23 FIP (127 ERA+), a 1.137 WHIP, and 3,116 strikeouts in 3,261 innings pitched (8.6 K/9). Schilling’s bloody sock is already hanging in Cooperstown, and it’s time that he gets immortalized as well.

Gary Sheffield: Seventh Year on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Gary Sheffield has a complicated legacy as well. He was a fantastic hitter, but he was a very tough negotiator and played for eight different teams. Regardless, he is a talent that should be recognized by Hall of Fame voters. He hit a strong .292/.393/.514 (140 OPS+) with 509 homers, 253 steals, and a 60.5 rWAR. He was also a nine-time All-Star, a five-time Silver Slugger, and won the NL Batting Title in 1992. Sheffield also walked 300 more times than he struck out. While his defense was subpar, Sheffield’s bat alone should be enough to get him into Cooperstown.

Billy Wagner: Sixth Year on the Hall of Fame ballot

In terms of pure dominance, Billy Wagner is the best left-handed reliever of all-time. Similar to others on this list, Wagner was very tough with the media, which he has said may have cost him some votes.

When he was healthy, Wagner never had a bad season. For his career, Wagner had 422 saves, a 2.31 ERA/2.73 FIP, a 0.998 WHIP, and 1,196 strikeouts in 903 innings (11.9 K/9). As a result, Wagner made seven All-Star Games, won one Rolaids Relief Award, and finished as high as fourth in Cy Young voting. He may have had a shorter career than most Hall of Famers, but he has the numbers for enshrinement.

Closing thoughts on the Hall of Fame ballot

This year’s Hall of Fame ballot isn’t as strong as in recent years. None of the newcomers seem to be locks, which makes voting a lot tougher, however, the ones listed here are very worthy of making it into Cooperstown. A lot of them have been on the ballot for multiple years, and they deserve to get immortalized.

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Mathias is a graduate student at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is currently studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism on the Sports Media and Communications track. He graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2021, where he studied journalism and served as the Sports Editor and Opinions Editor for the school's newspaper, The Signal. He joined Overtime Heroics as a writer in June of 2019 and became an editor in December of 2020 before taking over the MLB department in June of 2021. Mathias is also a former varsity swimmer and is the youngest of five kids.