2017 IBWAA Hall Of Fame Vote: Juiceheads And Jerks

It’s Hall of Fame voting season for Major League Baseball, and I’ve officially cast my ballot. Are you surprised to hear that I have a say in who enters the Baseball Hall of Fame? Well technically I don’t. I cast my vote as a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America.

The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) is the actual group that votes and determines who enters Cooperstown. The BBWAA is made up of writers that cover baseball for “traditional” mainstream media publications that meet the qualifications of the BBWAA constitution and thus have been granted credentials by Major League Baseball.

The Metssiah falls short of the necessary qualifications to join the BBWAA. However, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America is an awesome alternative for bloggers like me, and it is made up of some of the most talented internet writers in the game.

The IBWAA votes every December for its Baseball Hall of Fame and the rules are very similar to those of the BBWAA. A player requires 75% of the vote to be elected into the Hall of Fame by the IBWAA and the main difference is IBWAA voters can select up to 15 candidates on their ballot. The 10 player voting limit imposed by the BBWAA doesn’t make much sense to me and in a year like this where the ballot is stacked, it leads to some Hall-worthy former players missing out on needed votes.

I voted for 12 players on the 2017 ballot, and I will outline my voting rationale in two separate posts. This post will focus on the players I voted for that were linked to steroid allegations or other character issues. The next post will focus on the remaining players that I included on my ballot.

Before I dive into the juiceheads and jerks, I should note two things. The first thing is that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Edgar Martinez have already been elected into the IBWAA Hall of Fame, and therefore they have been omitted from the IBWAA HOF ballot. That being said, if they were on the ballot I’d be voting for all three of them. Bagwell has the sixth ranked all-time WAR (79.6) for first baseman. Tim Raines ended his career with 2605 hits (80th ranked), 808 stolen bases (5th ranked), 1,330 walks (38th ranked), and a .294/.385/.425 slash line. Edgar Martinez faces the DH bias, but he slashed .312/.418/.515 with 2,247 hits. His .933 OPS ranks 33rd all-time.

The second thing I need to preface this post with is my position on the steroid era. Ultimately, I did not feel that the steroid allegations against the players I voted for below warranted disqualifying them from the Hall of Fame. I didn’t hold alleged steroid use against this crop of players because Major League Baseball has failed to take an actual stance on the steroid era or provide any useful guidance on the subject.

If MLB had hypothetically engaged an independent party to 1) identify a set time period that qualified as the steroid era (i.e. before formal testing protocols), 2) conduct separate “character investigations” for each HOF eligible individual and then 3) based on those investigations classify individuals as eligible or ineligible, then perhaps we wouldn’t be in this situation where every writer has a different view and there’s absolutely no consistency in the character determination whatsoever.

This group of players primarily competed before the modern steroid testing protocols were put in place, and other than Manny Ramirez, these players never tested positive under the league’s formal program implemented in 2005. I also feel that the current penalties under the league’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program represent the only real stance MLB has taken on the subject of steroids. Right now the league has a three strikes and you’re out policy. I think if the league is willing to forgive and welcome back players that have been suspended for using performance enhancing drugs, then I am willing to take a similar stance in my Hall of Fame voting approach.

Here are the seven juiceheads and jerks that I voted for and my rationale:

The No Doubt HOF Juiceheads

Barry Bonds is number 4 all time in WAR (162.4) and number 2 for position players. Bonds won 7 MVP awards. He was 4th in OPS (1.051), 3rd in runs scored (2,227), number 1 in homers (762) and walks (2,558). A debate about whether or not he’s the best player of all time could be fun and interesting. But there is no Hall of Fame debate. He’s the GOAT.

Roger Clemens is in the same boat as Barry. He won 7 Cy Young awards and 1 MVP. He’s number 8 all time in WAR (140.3) and 3rd for pitchers. His 354 wins rank 9th all time and his 4,672 Ks rank 3rd. He’s undoubtedly had a HOF career.

Ivan Rodriguez won 13 Gold Gloves and is considered one of the best defensive backstops in the history of baseball. He also won an MVP award. He hit .296/.334/.464 with 2,844 hits, 572 doubles, 311 home runs, and 1,332 RBI. He ranks 1st for a catcher in both hits (2,749) and games caught (2,377). His 304 home runs as a catcher rank third behind Mike Piazza and Carlton Fisk who are both in the Hall of Fame. Pudge is an unequivocal first ballot Hall of Famer.

The No Doubt HOF Juicehead That Just Couldn’t Stop Juicing

Manny Ramirez was the lone player on my ballot that tested positive for banned substances (2009 and 2011) after MLB rolled out its testing protocol in 2005. Almost all of his production came before his positive test at 37 years old, and I’m not willing to disqualify him based on the positive tests at the end of his career. Manny Ramirez hit 555 home runs (15th ranked), had 2,574 hits, 1,831 RBIs (18th ranked) and a career slash line of .312/.411/.585. His .996 OPS is 8th all time. He ranks 72nd in WAR for position players (69.2) and 32nd for offensive WAR (81.2). His list of top 10 player comps on Baseball Reference includes five hall of famers and five players who will likely be in the Hall someday. Manny’s numbers are Hall-worthy.

manny

The Fringe HOF Juiceheads

Sammy Sosa hit 609 career home runs, had 2,408 hits, 1,667 RBIs, and a career slash line of .273/.344/.534. He ranks 8th on the all time home run list. His poor career defense in right field really drags down his overall value as a player, but his slugging prime from 1998 to 2002 was representative of a Hall of Fame talent. He cranked 292 dingers in 5 years. His top 10 player comp list includes eight players currently in the Hall of Fame and two players that may one day wind up in the Hall as well. Sammy hasn’t even come close to election in four years on the ballot, but I truly believe that if the writers were evaluating his career based on the numbers he’d be in Cooperstown already despite his poor defense.

sosa

Gary Sheffield hit 509 home runs, had 2,689 hits, 1,676 RBIs, and a career slash line of .292/.393/.514. He ranks 117th all time for position player WAR (60.3) and his offensive WAR (79.9) ranks 35th all time. His .907 OPS ranks 58th all time. He ranks 26th in homers, 28th in RBIs, and 39th in runs scored. He walked (1,475) more than he struck out (1,171). His top 10 player comp list has eight Hall of Famers and two possible future Hall of Famers. The advanced metrics reflect that he was a poor defender, but his bat was prolific enough to put him in the Hall.

sheffield

The ‘I Don’t Think He Juiced But He’s Definitely A Jerk’ Guy

Curt Schilling had 216 career wins (ranked 85th), a 3.46 ERA, and 3,116 Ks (ranked 15th). His 4.38 K/BB ratio is 3rd all time. His 80.7 career pitcher WAR (80.7) ranks 26th all time. He won the Cy Young four times including an award in the AL on the Red Sox. He won the World Series with the D-backs and Red Sox. He formed arguably the most dynamic pitching tandem in baseball history with Randy Johnson. He was a dominant playoff performer with a 2.23 ERA in 133.1 innings pitched. His record is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, Curt Schilling has demonstrated that he’s a deplorable human being in his post-playing career. He’s made jokes about lynching reporters, and he’s shared hate filled views and chalked them up to politics. All that being said, I think his numbers reflect a HOF baseball career, and I personally find it hard to deny him entry solely based on his offensive and misguided social views.

Final Thoughts On The HOF Character Clause

Obviously the Hall of Fame voting process is subjective and every writer has a different view on which stats make a player Hall-worthy. But I think the character clause is one area where Major League Baseball owes it to the IBWAA, the BBWAA, the players and all the fans to provide detailed voting guidance. If MLB wants to take a strong stance against steroid use, gambling, potentially racist “political views” or any other character issue, then the league should clearly outline their policy in these areas in the context of the Hall of Fame character clause. Staying silent is a gutless move by the league and negatively affects everyone involved in the process.

Weekly Roundup: Takeout Slides, Chipper Predictions, and Prayers for Maverick

MLB/Union Closer to 2B Takeout Slide Rule Change: I ranted in a January 27th post about how the league still hasn’t done a damn thing to rectify the 2B takeout slide problem. Well it seems they heard my complaining. Now that Ruben Tejada has finally shed his walking boot and Jung Ho Kang is making big strides in his daily physical therapy, the league has finally made some alleged progress. Heck, according to Buster Olney’s report, the Union and MLB claim they may make real changes before the season begins. Olney said they want to make sure runners “touch the base or make an effort to touch the base”. The planned rule change is meant to “improve safety” while maintaining “players’ aggressiveness”. In addition, they are still debating whether slides in question can be reviewed by instant replay.

So to recap, the current 2B slide rule essentially says the runner should be close enough to touch the base. The proposed new rule would say the runner must attempt to touch the base, and it wouldn’t discourage aggressive slides. I can really see the differences in the rules. Sounds like a groundbreaking reform that will really change the sport. And of course they don’t want umpires to be able to review these types of slides because it may slow down the games. This is going to go well. I will reserve judgement until the final rule is published but needless to say I’m skeptical. If it goes anything like when they changed the home plate collision rules, we are in for a long season full of confused players, managers, and umpires.

Chipper Predictions: Chipper Jones in a radio interview this week said the Mets are his early season favorite to win the World Series. Larry is really something else. From the Mets archrival to the team’s biggest booster. After the Chase Utley takeout slide he came out and ripped Chase a new one. Now he’s endorsing the Mets as future 2016 World Champions? And it’s not like he’s unemployed and endorsing the Mets from his couch. He literally works for the Braves. He just got hired as a special assistant.

He’s got to be working an angle. Still trolling us after all those years of crushing the franchise. It started with him naming his kid Shea. Now he’s taking it up a notch by pretending to be our biggest fan. I completely understand why Chipper would love our team. It’s designed exactly like his 90s Braves squad. A potential juggernaut built around young pitching. However, I think Chipper’s “love affair” with the pitching rich Mets is kind of like Eli Manning’s “love” for his brother Peyton. Right now, Chipper has the championship swag like Eli did before last week’s Super Bowl. So he’s “rooting” for the Mets like Eli was “rooting” for Peyton. The Mets are just a similarly designed team with aspirations to be as successful as the 90s Braves. We want to win 14 consecutive division titles like the Braves did between 1991 and 2005. We want to advance to the World Series 5 times like they did in the 90s. But the second we win one lone championship like Chipper did with the 1995 Braves, his cheerleader routine will stop. If we ever found a way to win two, Chipper could have twins named Citifield and Shake Shack, and he still wouldn’t get his championship mojo back.

Pray for Maverick (and Wright): Sandy Alderson conducted an interview with Steve Serby of the NY Post. First off, in the interview Sandy talked about how he was diagnosed with cancer four days after the Mets clinched the NL East last season, and he is still undergoing chemotherapy. The guy is a front office legend and clearly tough as hell. I hope the Wilpons actually give him some time off this season so he can recover instead of making him face the relentless media day in and day out. But it’s more likely the Wilpons remain in the panic room they had built in 2008 after Madoff was arrested and just let their lackey John Ricco deal with the press. Either way, pray for Sandy.

And while we are at it, pray for David Wright. Sandy said he hopes David and his titanium spine can play 130 games next season. Honestly, I will take anything we can get from David. 100 games would work for me. Quite frankly, we’d be better off keeping Wright cryogenically frozen until 2017 when the NL institutes the DH so he can take that job full time. Although considering our trainer Ray Ramirez can barely administer an X-Ray, I’m not sure I’d trust him to handle the freezing procedure.

Two New Cubans: This week, two new Cubans defected from the motherland. 31 year old 3B Yulieski Gourriel and 22 year old SS/OF Lourdes Gourriel Jr. were supposedly two of the top players remaining in Cuba. Are they brothers? Noooooo…….Yes!!!!

These two brothers are expected to be impact players in the major leagues. Pretty much like every Cuban player that has defected to date. The older brother Yulieski is supposed to have an immediate impact while the younger brother may need some minor league seasoning. It’s hard to complain about the Mets lack of interest in Cuban players considering we just signed the best one in the business. That being said, John Ricco should have a welcome party on standby in Florida, and we should be signing every Cuban player that comes ashore. Especially a Cuban star that plays 3B considering Wright is our biggest question mark. But I’m sure he’ll just wind up a Yankee as they are one of the teams rumored to have interest.

Clippard Departs, Mejia Promptly Banned: I wrote earlier this week about the departure of Tyler Clippard for a 2 year deal in Arizona. And of course, four days later Jenrry Mejia is promptly banned from the game for life due to a third positive PED test. Mejia getting banned for life makes too much sense. Things were too quiet in Mets land. It was inevitable that the first bad thing of 2016 was going to happen. I also think it’s hilarious that at the trade deadline we acquired Clippard and immediately afterwards Mejia received his second steroid suspension. And now once again, Clippard’s move and Mejia’s suspension happen simultaneously.

Mejia wasn’t part of the team last year, and we replaced Clippard with Antonio Bastardo, so I suppose our pen will be fine. But it still isn’t good that two relief options for 2016 have evaporated in one week. And speaking of Bastardo, he has to be next on the Mets steroid watch list right? He’s been suspended before, and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see our primary set up man go down for a second time.

Royals Plan Two World Series Celebrations: The Royals announced this week that they plan to have a World Series celebration in both games against the Mets to start the season. Banner raising the first game and then ring presentations on night two. Really just rubbing our faces in it. Well that’s just perfect. At least this doubles the chances for former Royals Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto to catch the ceremonies on TV. But in all seriousness, screw the Royals. I hope this fires the Mets up and helps them keep their eyes on the ultimate prize.

Minor League Notes: This week the Mets signed Roger Bernadina to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. He may play all 3 outfield positions but he’ll never fill the void left by Triple A Vegas legend Kirk “3 Dingers” Nieuwenhuis.

Also, the Texas Rangers have officially signed former Met Ike Davis to a minor league deal. Oh how the mighty have fallen. From first round pick to Quadruple-A All-Star. I’m not sure how smart it was for him to take the deal considering Texas is just over an hour flight from Arizona where he contracted his Valley Fever. Although I suppose he had no real choice. Maybe another fresh start will finally cure him of the Valley Fever aka Mets disease. Nothing worked for Jason Bay, but perhaps there’s still hope for Ike. Not bloody likely.

Jenrry Mejia Tests Positive for PEDs Again; Banished to The Wall by MLB


Well Jenrry Mejia has officially become the first mook in baseball history to get banned for life for PEDs after testing positive for a third time. It couldn’t be more fitting that in the city where A-Rod plays, the face of steroid use, some other insignificant Mets player winds up receiving the first ever lifetime ban.

Honestly, it’s pretty obvious that Jenrry Mejia has limited to no brain functionality. And I’m not talking about a Forrest Gump level IQ. At least Forrest understood concepts like love and cheating. Mejia must have the mental capacity of Brendan Dassey in the “Making a Murderer” documentary. Just no awareness whatsoever of what’s going on and what people are asking him to do.

MLB Official: Now Jenrry tell us about the steroids. Did you buy the steroids?

Mejia: …like at a store?...

MLB Official: No Jenrry. Now you need to tell us the truth. You bought the steroids didn’t you? It’s ok if you bought them.

Mejia:…yes.

MLB Official: Now, you understand how a steroid test works right?

Mejia:…a test?…like with…pencils?

MLB Official: No Jenrry. Not a school test. A drug test. If you just pee in the cup you can go home ok?

Jenrry: Ok.

MLB Official: No Jenrry in the cup. Wait wait wait.

He’s clearly completely clueless about what PEDs do and how a drug test works. Right? I mean how is it possible that somebody could test positive three freaking times?  Tons of players are still using. For Christ’s sake Bartolo Colon is 43 and working out like he’s in his mid-20s. Couldn’t Mejia at least inquire about his secret methods? Nope. He’s just been getting injections from some friend in the Dominican Republic who keeps telling him it’s “his vitamins”. And when Mejia would tell teammates “my vitamins hurt” they didn’t really ask too many questions considering “conversations” weren’t exactly Jenrry’s strong point.

Well now Mejia will don a Night’s Watch cloak per Rob Manfred and join Lord Commander Pete Rose at The Wall for life. So much for our young setup man and our planned mid-season bullpen boost. Our hard pass on the return of Tyler “Rat-Face” Clippard is suddenly a bit more questionable. At least Hansel Robles could step up in the pen. I read he’s been “working out” with Bartolo in the Dominican Republic. And since Robles was the only Mets player to actively recruit Cespedes all offseason, nobody can question his mental capacity.