Welcome to my Second Annual (unofficial) Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Submission Ceremony! On last year’s imaginary ballot, I successfully voted for both Class of 2020 Hall of Famers, Larry Walker and Derek Jeter. However, 75% of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America failed to vote for the other eight members of my ballot. A shame as last year had the distinction of being my first perfect ballot. It will live on in my memory as I share this year’s answer key.
As I state every year, I am not an official voting member of the BBWAA. Hell, I’m not even a member. This is all just make believe because I love baseball and have watched several thousand hours of it since the time I turned five-years-old. If you agree with my choices, I appreciate your feedback! If you don’t, have no worries my votes don’t count.
This year, I added three new players to my ballot who did not receive votes last year, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, and Jeff Kent. One player did not receive my vote this year, Curt Schilling.
Without further adieu, the 2021 M3 ProcrastiNation Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
Barry Bonds: (Pittsburgh Pirates 1986-1992, San Francisco Giants 1993-2007)
Bonds appeared on last year’s ballot as well.
To put it simply, Barry Lamar Bonds is the absolute greatest baseball player to walk God’s green Earth since the Second World War. He is baseball’s all-time home run king. He is the single season home run king. He is the only member of the 500 home run/500 stolen base club. Buck Showalter once walked the man with the bases loaded rather than pitch to him.
Bonds represented the National League 14-times as an All-Star. Seven times he won the National League Most Valuable Player Award, a record. An eight-time Gold Glove winner. A twelve-time Silver Slugger winner. Two-time batting champion. He once had a .609 on base percentage for an ENTIRE SEASON.
Major League Baseball has more bodies in seats, their athletes have higher pay, and their sportswriters have nicer homes because of what Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa gave the fans. The keepers of the Hall of Fame must recognize that Bonds is part of baseball history, whether they like him personally or not.
Roger Clemens: (Boston Red Sox 1984-1996, Toronto Blue Jays 1997-1998, New York Yankees 1999-2003, 2007, Houston Astros 2004-2006)
Clemens appeared on last year’s ballot as well.
Roger Clemens is the most dominant pitcher of the live ball era. This isn’t subjective or a superlative given out of gratitude. He’s the only pitcher in the era to record 350 wins AND 4,500 strikeouts. The Rocket is the only pitcher to collect the Cy Young Award seven times. He struck out a record 20 batters in a single game twice, and did it ten years apart.
Elected to the All-Star Game eleven times representing the American and National Leagues, he would play in the exhibition of baseball’s brightest stars over three decades. Clemens had the lowest earned run average in the league seven times. He accomplished this feat across three decades. His lowest ERA coming at the age of 42 when he gave up just 1.87 runs per nine. Clemens won the American League MVP in 1986. A five-time American League strikeout leader, and a four-time Major League Baseball wins leader.
Todd Helton: (Colorado Rockies 1997-2013)
Helton appeared on last year’s ballot as well.
As a child, I loved the Colorado Rockies. I don’t know if it happened to be the scenic stadium, the high scoring games in that thin Denver air, or their stacked lineup in All-Star Baseball 2000 but those Rockies teams spoke to me.
When Major League Baseball expanded to Colorado in 1993, they hoped to establish the team and professional baseball in the region. Todd Helton not only arrived early on in the process, but he became the star and most important bat in the lineup. The face of Colorado Rockies baseball even when the team brought in future Hall of Fame Larry Walker, when they brought in Mike Hampton, or when Matt Holiday developed into a star. Baseball being a success in Colorado is because of the work Todd Helton did in establishing that franchise as a viable endeavor for Major League Baseball.
Helton made five All-Star Games, won three Golden Gloves for his work at first base, and won the league’s batting title in 2000.
Andruw Jones: (Atlanta Braves 1996-2007, Los Angeles Dodgers 2008, Texas Rangers 2009, Chicago White Sox 2010, New York Yankees 2011-2012)
Jones appeared on last year’s ballot as well.
As someone who has watched damn near three decades of National League East baseball, if you hit a baseball in the air from the start of the outfield grass to the outfield wall, Andruw Jones caught it. From the time he came up with Atlanta to his legs giving out, there has not been a better centerfielder. Not Jim Edmonds, not anyone. Jones has the hardware to prove it too, with a decade’s worth of consecutive Gold Gloves for patrolling the outfield at Turner Field.
During a time where Ken Griffey Jr. patrolled centerfields in Seattle, Andruw Jones revolutionized defensive play for the position. Andruw Jones alongside Chipper Jones, were the lifeblood of the Atlanta Braves through their string of division titles and their World Series Championship.
Jeff Kent: (Toronto Blue Jays 1992, New York Mets 1992-1996, Cleveland Indians 1996, San Francisco Giants 1997-2002, Houston Astros 2003-2004, Los Angeles Dodgers 2005-2008)
This is the first time Kent has appeared on my ballot after I left him off my inaugural last year. As a “Big Hall” advocate, I seek to use all ten of my imaginary votes every year. Kent won the 2000 National League MVP and is largely considered to be the best offensive second baseman of his era. Kent revolutionized what it meant to play on the position from the batter’s box. Without Jeff Kent, baseball doesn’t get Chase Utley or other offensive weapons with home run pop. Pre-Kent, second basemen were slick fielders who relied on speed or contact. He made an indelible mark on the game in a way so few others have, and for that reason, he receives my vote for immortality.
Manny Ramirez: (Cleveland Indians 1993-2000, Boston Red Sox 2001-2008, Los Angeles Dodgers 2008-2010, Chicago White Sox 2010, Tampa Bay Rays 2011)
Ramirez appeared on last year’s ballot as well.
Manny Ramirez is likely the most fun member of the 500 home run club. Manny being Manny managed to explain all of the personality and quirks in Ramirez’s on-field play and off-field personality. In the batter’s box, Ramirez spent nearly two decades as the most feared right-handed hitter in baseball.
Throughout his career, he served as a featured bat in the middle of some of the most feared lineups across baseball. In Cleveland, he hit beside Jim Thome and Albert Belle on a team that made the World Series, and if not for Jose Mesa, may have won the whole thing and ended Cleveland’s championship dry spell decades before LeBron James brought a title to The Land. In Boston, Manny hit beside David Ortiz and Mike Lowell. When Boston finally had enough of his antics he damn near won the National League MVP in half-a-season in Los Angeles for the Dodgers.
Gary Sheffield: (Milwaukee Brewers 1988-1991, San Diego Padres 1992-1993, Florida Marlins 1993-1998, Los Angeles Dodgers 1998-2001, Atlanta Braves 2002-2003, New York Yankees 2004-2006, Detroit Tigers 2007-2008, New York Mets 2009)
Sheffield appeared on last year’s ballot as well.
Teams built their lineups around Gary Sheffield for damn near two decades. It just turns out that Gary and management never seemed to see eye-to-eye long enough for him to fill the mid-lineup bat for too long.
While Sheff traveled around the league in a way few other 500 home run club members have, his bat never failed to make the trip. He won the 1997 World Series with the then Florida Marlins. He hit 30 home runs for five different teams, and he hit at least 25 with six different teams. He represented five teams in the all-star game. He won the 1992 batting title with .330 average at age 23 and then hit .330 again in at 34.
Sammy Sosa: (Texas Rangers 1989, Chicago White Sox 1990-1991, Chicago Cubs 1992-2004, Baltimore Orioles 2005, Texas Rangers 2007)
Sosa appeared on last year’s ballot as well.
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire’s cartoonishly large biceps saved Major League Baseball in 1998. Sosa went on to have such a prolific career that trading him away might have been the worst decision George W. Bush ever made.
In a ten year period, Sosa nearly hit 500 home runs. He’s the first player to hit 60-plus home runs in three straight seasons. Baseball owes Sammy Sosa a debt of gratitude for putting asses back in seats following the strike that stopped the World Series. McGwire may have been the brawny masher that obliterated baseballs, but Sosa had genuine charisma that helped add to the race. Were you buttoned up like McGwire or did you love the hop out of the batter’s box and the taps to the heart and lips of Sosa?
Sosa gave people hope in baseball and the baseball sportswriters who draw fatter checks because of him, should vote for him.
Omar Vizquel: (Seattle Mariners 1989-1993, Cleveland Indians 1994-2004, San Francisco Giants 2005-2008, Texas Rangers 2009, Chicago White Sox 2010-2011, Toronto Blue Jays 2012)
In the late nineties and early 2000’s, the American League’s cup runneth over with once-in-a-generation talents at the shortstop position. Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Nomar Garciaparra led the class with their offensive prowess and their winning ball clubs, but overlooked in this era is likely the best defensive shortstop on the last thirty years, Omar Vizquel. From 1993 through 2001, Vizquel won the Gold Glove every single year. He would win two more Gold Gloves in San Francisco at ages 38 and 39. He is also the all-time hits leader among Venezuelan players in Major League Baseball.
Billy Wagner: (Houston Astros 1995-2003, Philadelphia Phillies 2004-2005, New York Mets 2006-2009, Boston Red Sox 2009, Atlanta Braves 2010)
Did you know of all the players on this list only one has a Twitter account dedicated to their Hall of Fame candidacy? Billy Wagner.
Billy Wagner dominated wherever he went in his big league career. An overpowering fastball that many hitters tried to catch up to, but few ever could. Wagner is one of six closers to record 400 saves. He appeared in seven All-Star Games across four teams, and finished in the top ten in saves in the National League ten times. He has the best strikeouts per nine innings of any pitcher in baseball history with at least 800 innings pitched. Baseball history is a LONG time.