Wednesday, December 5, 2018

2019 IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

On December 1, 2018 the IBWAA sent out Hall of Fame ballots for the 2019 cycle. Participating in now my fourth voting process, I continue to find this a privilege each and every season. While the BBWAA is obviously the recognized party that drives induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, many of the practices are fine tuned through the IBWAA process.

Along with ditching the traditional mailing of ballots, the IBWAA ballot is also open to 15 candidates (as opposed to the BBWAA's 10). Having voted for the max, or more in previous seasons (find my 2018 ballot here), I now find myself at somewhat of a crossroads. Having been vocal about the need for BBWAA voters to fill their ballots and even expand beyond 10, my 2019 entry falls short of all the numbers.

Thanks in part to the work done by other IBWAA members, multiple injustices have found themselves corrected on the ballot. There isn't the same backlog in this voting cycle because of inductions for Barry Bonds, Rogers Clemens, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina all having taken place. I genuinely hope that the BBWAA gets there someday. For now though, the focus turns to my seven selections for 2019, including two players who appear on the ballot for the first time.

Curt Schilling: 79.7 fWAR

Bloody sock nonsense aside, Schilling is a three time Cy Young runner-up, and six-time All Star. He struck out 3,116 batters in his career and owns a 3.46 ERA while totaling more than 200 wins. Three World Series rings, an MVP, and a 2.23 postseason ERA do him favors as well. Since voting for him last year, Schilling has made plenty of splashes in the media. He's not well liked off the field, but the character clause is among the most dated pieces of inclusion into the Hall of Fame. On baseball merit alone, he's worthy of the nod.

Scott Rolen 70.1 fWAR

Vastly under appreciated, Rolen started as a Rookie of the Year winner, and went on to tally eight Gold Glove awards. He was a seven time All Star and among the best to ever field the Hot Corner. With an .855 career OPS, his bat more than does enough to supplement what was an exceptional defensive career.

Larry Walker: 68.7 fWAR

Although he played the field plenty, Walker also turned in a nice run spending time in both the infield and outfield. He was the 1997 NL MVP and made five All Star games. His glove netted him seven Gold Gloves and his bat produced three Silver Slugger awards. Walker finished his 17 seasons with 383 homers and drove in over 1,300 runs.

Andruw Jones 67.1 fWAR

Jones's 17 year career is often going to be questioned as he held on for five uninspiring seasons to closer out his time as a big leaguer. That aside, the 10 year stretch from 199-2007 was one for the ages. With 10 Gold Glove's and five All Star appearances, he was easily among the greatest in the game for a decade.

*Roy Halladay 65.2 fWAR

There should never have been any doubt that Doc wouldn't be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but the tragedy in this is that he won't be here to witness it. The two-time Cy Young winner posted a 2.98 ERA over an 11 year period from 2001-2011. He was never a high strikeout guy, but with a career 1.9 BB/9, there wasn't an at bat that would come easy. At 34 in 2011, Halladay turned in a 163 ERA+ to set a new career best, and was beat out for a third Cy Young in favor of Clayton Kershaw winning his first. Doc will always be remembered as one of the best to ever step on the mound.

Fred McGriff: 56.9 fWAR

The Crime Dog spent many of his early season among MVP discussions. Despite never winning won, he finished fourth in 1993. He was elected to five All Star games and won three Silver Slugger awards. It's his 493 career home runs that get him over the top and into the Hall however.

*Mariano Rivera 39.7 fWAR

We've gotten to the point in which saves are no longer considered a valuable statistic. Putting Mo into a bucket that categorizes him solely based upon that metric would be a disservice however. The 652 saves are a big league record, and so are the 952 games finished. Where Rivera separates himself however, is the level in which he did it. A 2.21 ERA along with a career 205 ERA+ are both utterly astounding. Rivera was the cutter, and his Postseason 0.70 ERA is the stuff of legend. We may eventually see a shift in how relievers are remembered, but it won't start here.