January 16, 2017

Hall of Fame Ballot - Red Sox players

There are a ton of former Red Sox on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot;

The returning candidates are:
Jeff Bagwell (7th year, 72% last year)
Roger Clemens (5th, 45%)
Curt Schilling (5th, 52%)
Lee Smith (15th, 34%)
Billy Wagner (2nd, 11%)
They all have a legitimate case for the Hall, and although I won’t vote for all of them, you can read the cases I’ve made for each in the previous years’ posts.

There are also nine first timers. Unfortunately, eight of these will likely be one timers.  The new members on the ballot, who I will share my thoughts about below, are:

Orlando Cabrera
Mike Cameron
JD Drew
Manny Ramirez
Edgar Renteria
Freddy Sanchez
Matt Stairs
Jason Varitek
Tim Wakefield

Orlando Cabrera – Forever one of the 25. Thank you.  But no need to explain why he shouldn’t appear on anyone’s ballot.

Mike Cameron –  A sure fire first ballot hall of famer! That’s who he can tell his grandkids he got traded for.

JD Drew – Most underrated Red Sox player (other than Pedro), in my lifetime.  (sidenote: why am I calling  Pedro underrated? 1st time Hall of Famer, multiple all-star and Cy Youngs… everyone agrees he’s one of the best pitchers ever.  But he’s underrated because IMO he IS the best pitcher ever.  A lot of people talk about Clemens and Johnson and ignore Pedro. Pedro was better than Koufax in his prime and it’s not even close. Done rant for now, or I’ll never finish this post). Anyhow, he was a great defensive right fielder.  You know those hits that Trot Nixon dove for and robbed, earning him his “dirt dog” reputation? Well, Drew never made the highlight reels, because instead of misplaying balls and then having to make up for it, he’d just position himself well, get a good jump and then glide under the ball and effortless make a catch without anyone noticing that the out he just made would have fallen in for a hit with other fielders patrolling Fenway’s expansive right field. How underrated was he? He has about the same career WAR as Jim Rice.  He’s fondly remembered for the grandslam in the 2007 ALCS which was key to advancing and subsequently winning the World Series that season. Again, in a less crowded ballot he might get a few votes, but will be a one and done casualty this year.

Manny Ramirez – Best pure right handed hitter I ever saw. And expectations for him were so high, that he seemed to fail when he was just very good.  I saw one of his last series as a Red Sox player, live in Seattle in July of 2008.  He didn’t drive in many runs, no home runs, and had what seemed like a generally disappointing offensive series.  Then I looked at the boxscores after the fact and saw he had 8 at bats that weekend - 4 hits and 2 walks!  But he was so good, it seemed like he was in a slump.  He got criticized for being a bad fielder (he was despite the occasional great play - click the links, it's worth it!), but if the Red Sox didn’t have David Ortiz, then he’d have just been a very good hitting DH, rather than a lousy defensive player.  He had many memorable moments – that 5th deck home run at the Skydome, the walkoff win in the ALDS vs the Angels (above) among them, but just looking at his career totals, even taking into account the era he played in, it should be obvious that if it wasn’t for his off-field antics, he’d be a first ballot Hall of Famer.  He gets my vote, and hopefully will one day be inducted.

Edgar Renteria – remembered by most baseball fans for his World Series winning walk-off hit.  One of only a handful of players to in history to have accomplished that.  But most Red Sox fans remember him as the opponent who grounded weakly back to Foulke to wrap up the 2004 World Series win.  Was then signed by Boston in the offseason to plug our shortstop vacancy and underperformed expectations.  I don’t expect him to get any votes at all. 

Freddy Sanchez – This guy won a batting title? Beating out Miggy and Pujols in the NL in 2006? Did not remember that until I looked up his baseball reference page. Maybe being on the ballot will lead to other people checking out his numbers, but he's not getting any votes either. 

Matt Stairs - "A big bowl of wonderful" is a quote I saw in a Joe Poz article (read it, it's great) referring to him. This guy started out as a scrappy 2nd baseman in the Expos system.  Can you imagine if he hit 265 HR at that position, rather than as a poor fielding 1B/OF/DH? Unfortunately he only played a grand total of inning at that position in his 19 season major league career (this game, and I'd love to know the story behind it. He came into the game as defensive replacement, not a pinch hitter). He was with the Red Sox early in his career, and had one playoff at bat for us in 1995.  He pinch hit in the 9th inning of a tie game, with 2 runners on base and... struck out.  Just like his Hall of Fame chances after this year.

(courtesy Barry Chin / Boston Globe)
Jason Varitek – “The CAPTAIN” and future manager of the Red Sox.  He was a huge part of the 2004 and 2007 Championship teams, and will forever be remembered for telling A-Rod “we don’t throw at .260 hitters”.   Would love to see him go into Cooperstown, but even as a fan with an unlimited ballot, cannot justify giving him a vote.  Maybe after he manages the Red Sox to a few more titles, he can get in.  

Tim Wakefield – He ended up with six fewer wins than Roger Clemens and some guy nicknamed Cy for most wins all time by a Red Sox pitcher.  Also second in strikeouts while wearing the laundry. Not bad for a guy who almost got cut in the minor leagues because he couldn’t hit enough for a 1st baseman.  Fortunately someone saw him messing around with a knuckleball and decided to give him a chance. Had a great rookie season with the Pirates, but after struggling his next year, was cut loose, and the Bucs loss was the Red Sox gain.  Would love to give him a sentimental vote, but can't and in a crowded ballot don't think anyone else will either.

In summary, ManRam gets a vote and I suspect will get enough support to remain on the ballot, but not nearly enough to be inducted this year, and the rest will never show up on the ballot again.

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