HOF: Who’s Next at Each Position
While members of the BBWAA added four players to the Hall of Fame for 2018, which means 16 have been inducted in the last five votes, a record-setting number for a five-year period, there are still worthy candidates waiting for the call to the Hall. Let’s take a look at next year’s ballot and go position-by-position in assessing the most deserving Hall of Famer at each position who is eligible but not inducted.
1B: Fred McGriff. 2019 will be 10th and final appearance on the ballot. He was so consistently good. He was never once connected to steroids, but still managed to hit 493 home runs, and had he not been robbed of 49 games by the strike that pre-empted the 1994 World Series it’s safe to assume he would have reached 500 home runs. There was a 14-year stretch (1988-01) in which he average .292, 31 HR and 97 RBI, and in 50 post-season games he hit .363 with 10 HR and 37 RBI.
2B: Jeff Kent. 2019 will be 6th appearance on the ballot. He bloomed late, beginning with his time with the Giants followed by the Astros and Dodgers, and finished his career the all-time leader among second basemen with 351 home runs, 1,389 RBI, a .500 slugging percentage and 560 doubles, and was third all-time with an .855 OPS. The defense was okay, but didn’t earn any rave reviews, which is the only reason voters have been hesitant.
3B: Scott Rolen. 2019 will be his 2nd appearance on the ballot. Rolen had HOF claims early in a career in which he was a seven-time All-Star and 8-time Gold Glove winner, but injuries blurred his career after he turned 30, averaging just 105 games his final eight seasons, and ending up with 2,077 hits and 316 home runs.
SS: Miguel Tejada. 2019 will be his 1st appearance on the ballot. Tejada was on MVP ballots 10 times in is career, including nine consecutive seasons (200-08) capped by earning AL MVP honors in 2002. He was known for his offense, winning two Silver Slugger awards, finishing with finished third all-time among shortstops with 307 home runs, and eighth in both RBI (1,302) and slugging percentage (.456).
LF: Barry Bonds. 2019 will be his 7th appearance on the ballot. His candidacy has been tainted by association with steroid, but he won seven MVP Awards, including three before steroids were even an issue. Without the taint of steroids he would have been a first-ballot inductee. His 162.4 WAR is 77.4 higher than 2018 first-ballot HOFer Chipper Jones. He 14-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glove winner and 12-time Silver Slugger is the all-time leader with 762 home runs.
CF: Andruw Jones. 2019 will be his 2nd appearance on the ballot. His anchor is a .254 career batting aveage, which doesn’t even rank among the top 100 center fielders of all time. But the assets include 434 home runs (fifth among center fielders), 1,289 RBI (11th) and 10 Gold Gloves. Only six outfielders have won 10 or more Gold Gloves — Hall of Famers Roberto Clemens, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Al Kaline, Jones and Ichiro Suzuki, who hasn’t retired.
RF: Larry Walker. 2019 will be his 9th appearance on the ballot. His is the most complete player in the game. He is the only player in history to have the combination of at least a .310 average (.313), .400 on-base percentage (.400), .550 sluging percentage (.565), 450 doubles (471), 50 triples (62), 350 home runs (383), and 150 stolen bases (230). Oh, and he was a five-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver slugger winner, and the 1997 NL MVP.
DH: Edgar Martinez. 2019 will be his 9th and final appearance on the ballot. Martinez came in fifth in the voting on Wednesday, 22 votes shy, but his 70.4 percent was 11.8 percent higher than a year ago, showing strong momentum. What kind of DH was he? Well, MLB hands out the Edgar Martinez Award each year to the DH of the Year.
SP: Roger Clemens. 2019 will be his 7th year on the ballot. Clemens has the same rap as Bonds in regards to steroids, but he dominated from the day he got to the big leagues, and never was suspended. He did, however, dominate on the mound. Clemens has a 140.3 WAR among candidates for next year. Mike Musina is second among pitchers at 83.0. Clemens won a record seven Cy Young Awards, two more than No. 2, Randy Johnson, who is in Cooperstown. His 354 wins are ninth all-time. He is the only one of 24 300-game winners not enshrined.
RP: Mariano Rivera. 2019 will be his 1st year on the ballot. He has the a record 652 saves, and the lowest ERA (2.21) of any pitcher in the Hall of Fame are eligible for election. He worked more innings (1,283) than any closer in history, and didn’t hesitate to work more than an inning.
C: Ted Simmons
Let’s give a tip of the hat to Simmons, who didn’t earn election in his first stint on the BBWAA ballot, but in December came up just one vote shy of making it as a selection of the Modern Era Committee, which votes on players who were not elected during their eligibility on the BBWAA ballot.