The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) is scheduled to announce the organization’s 2021 honorees for the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. A couple of important facts to note before moving on to my own ballot.
The players actually enshrined at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York are currently there based on a vote by the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America), an organization that has come under increasing criticism for many of its members votes in recent years.
The BBWAA voters who get to choose the “official” Hall of Fame enshrinees are not always actually current baseball writers, and some have not covered the game for years. Here are the BBWAA rules for deciding who gets a vote:
“In order to be eligible for a Hall of Fame vote, a writer must be an active member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years. Once a writer receives a Hall of Fame vote, he is eligible to continue voting even when he is no longer an active member of the BBWAA, provided he becomes a lifetime honorary member. In 2015, voting privileges were limited to 10 years beyond active membership.”
As you can see, some voters have not covered the game of baseball for up to a decade. There have been a number of eligible voters who actually turn in “blank” ballots, meaning they decided no one deserved their vote that year, even though any reasonable person who follows the game of baseball would recognized obvious players who deserve enshrinement.
Simply stated, there are any number of individuals who received the privilege of casting an official ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame who don’t deserve that privilege.
A second important fact to note is that many of the members of the IBWAA work just as hard, and are at least as knowledgeable, as those BBWAA members who do receive an official vote. However, the IBWAA Hall of Fame voting results, which began in 2010, are merely a suggestion, if you will. These are the players who a large, representative, knowledgeable group of baseball writers, bloggers, and podcasters feel deserve enshrinement.
As a for instance, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were voted into the IBWAA Hall of Fame back in 2018. Both of these superstars of the game continue to be denied official entry to the Hall by the BBWAA voters.
It is my opinion that it is long past time for the Baseball Hall of Fame to re-think its qualifications and eligibility for deciding who gets a vote on players and other individuals who are deserving of enshrinement with a plaque at Cooperstown. Longtime, dedicated, talented bloggers and podcasters need to be represented along with the more traditional beat writers and others who currently receive a ballot.
So, with all that in mind, I cast my 2021 ballot to see four players enshrined this year. Below is a synopsis of the career of each player which acts as my reasoning for giving them my support.
2021 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME – MATT VEASEY IBWAA BALLOT
Curt Schilling: 216 Wins, 3116 strikeouts, 1.137 career WHIP over 3261 innings pitched. 3x Cy Young Award runner-up, 6x All-Star. Back-to-back 300+ strikeout seasons 1997-98. Postseason record: 11-2, 3x World Series champion, 1993 NLCS MVP, 2001 World Series MVP. 2001 awards include MLB’s Roberto Clemente Award, Branch Rickey Award, and Babe Ruth Award and Sporting News’ Sportsman of the Year. Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame honoree. Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. 1995 Lou Gehrig Award. 2x Players Choice, Sporting News, and Baseball Digest Pitcher of the Year. Of the 18 members of baseball’s 3,000 Strikeout Club, Schilling has the best K/BB ratio. He also has the second-highest JAWS mark (behind Clemens) of any post-1900 pitcher not currently enshrined in the Hall. Currently ranks 65th in baseball’s all-time WAR rankings. The only players ahead of him not already in the Hall of Fame are Bonds, Clemens, and Pete Rose, as well as both Alex Rodriguez and Adrian Beltre, the latter two not yet eligible.
Scott Rolen: 2077 Hits, 316 Home Runs, 517 Doubles, 1287 RBIs, 1211 Runs, 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, 8x Gold Glove Award third baseman, 7x All-Star, 2002 NL Silver Slugger, 2006 World Series champion, Saint Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame. Home run in Game 7 of 2004 NLCS won the pennant for Cardinals. On July 15, 2011, he became the fourth player ever to have 2,000 hits, 500 doubles, 300 home runs, and 1,200 RBIs as a third baseman, joining Mike Schmidt, George Brett and Chipper Jones. Currently ranks 10th among all third basemen all-time in JAWS with all nine ahead of him already in the Hall.
Andruw Jones: 1933 Hits, 434 Home Runs, 383 Doubles, 1289 RBIs, 1204 Runs, 10 consecutive NL Gold Gloves in center field 1998-2007. During that 10-year Gold Glove peak: 345 HR, 1034 RBI, 974 Runs. 10 Gold Gloves for an outfielder ranks him in a tie for second with Al Kaline, Ichiro Suzuki, and Ken Griffey Jr. for most Gold Gloves won by an outfielder, trailing only Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. 2005 NL Silver Slugger and Hank Aaron Award winner and runner-up NL MVP. 2013 Nippon Pro Baseball (Japan) All-Star and Japan Series champion. 5x NL All-Star. Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame. Youngest player ever to hit a home run in the postseason, and just the second player ever to homer in his first two World Series plate appearances. Jones is currently 11th in all-time JAWS for center fielders. Of the 10 ahead of him, seven are in the Hall and two of the others, Mike Trout and Carlos Beltran, are either active or not yet eligible.
Billy Wagner: Not too hard an argument for the greatest southpaw relief pitcher in MLB history. 422 Saves, 853 Games, 903 Innings, 1196/300 K:BB (3.99), 2.31 ERA / 0.998 WHIP, 11.9 K/9. Three 100+ strikeout seasons as a reliever. 1999 NL Rolaids Relief Man Award. 7x NL All-Star. 2003 combined no-hitter. Sixth among all-time Saves leaders, second among left-handers. Just two fewer than fellow southpaw John Franco who pitched five more seasons. Only two lefty relief pitchers, Bobby Shantz and John Hiller, have a higher JAWS and are not in the Hall. Neither was as dominant as Wagner.
This was my seventh year with an IBWAA ballot. Last year for the 2020 class, I gave my vote to six players. Two of those, Derek Jeter and Larry Walker, were ultimately elected. The other four are those above who I am once again supporting. All are deserving of enshrinement. We’ll see if they have any better luck this time around.
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