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FanSided MLB experts elect 3 to Mock Baseball Hall of Fame
As this is the third year FanSided’s MLB Division experts voiced their opinion on who should be enshrined in our mock Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s only fitting that three players met those standards.
At last, FanSiders elected a pair of controversial figures, at least in some circles: MLB home run king Barry Bonds led all candidates after being selected on 83% of the 35 ballots turned in. Pitching great Roger Clemens had a slightly narrower margin, gaining 77% of votes.
Rounding out the class, Boston Red Sox great David Ortiz earned the confidence of 80% of the voters in his first year of eligibility on the Hall of Fame ballot.
FanSiders have elected just one player during the exercise: Derek Jeter on the 2020 ballot. In 2021, they pitched a shutout, with no candidates rising above the 75% mark among voters.
Several iconic players just missed out on this ballot. Andrew Jones (69%), most remembered for his years with the Braves, led that group, with Scott Rolen (65.7%) and Alex Rodriguez (60%) the only others to clear the 60% mark.
What our experts said about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens’ Steroid Era ties
Bonds and Clemens were two of the closest near-misses in our vote last year. Bonds earned the most votes with 64% last year, while Clemens finished in a second-place tie with 59%.
Neither player needs much of an introduction. Two of the most memorable figures with careers dating from the 1980s to the 2000s, both have blemishments from the Steroid Era that hold them back among the BBWAA voters and also caused some cause for concern among FanSided’s experts in the past.
But no more — at least, mostly anyway.
Around the Foghorn expert Andrew Haynes summed up well how many experts felt about the issue.
The Steroid Era is part of baseball history. If the powers that be (that were) wanted to stop it, they could have done something much sooner. They turned a blind eye to what players were putting in their bodies and the leader, Bud Selig, still got into the Hall of Fame.
The writers have already voted in multiple players who were suspected of using (and, through the years, plenty of other sketchy things on and off the field) but all of a sudden are pretending they are the morality police, so I don’t care much for their complaints about Bonds and Clemens. I chose to consider purely what was accomplished on the field. Bonds is the best all-around hitter in the history of the game. Clemens is one of the best pitchers.
What most people consider to be the “Steroid Era” began in the later years of the 1990s. Some would more specifically say it started in 1998 (the season best remembered for the Mark McGwire vs. Sammy Sosa home run race).
Before that year, Bonds posted a five-year period where he won three MVP awards and finished in the top five during the other two seasons. He posted an OPS above 1.000 for the six consecutive years prior to 1998.
Clemens won five Cy Young awards before 1998 and finished in the top five in voting another two times.
Milwaukee Brewers expert Matt Carroll, from Reviewing the Brew, said he understands why some people might not want to vote for Bonds or Clemens, but for him the results speak for themselves.
“For me, the question is whether or not those should completely outweigh all of a particular player’s other accomplishments,” he said. “Some voters will say yes, and I have no problem with that. I choose to place more weight on the results, and by the numbers, you see that some of the most prolific players to ever play the game of baseball, despite their flaws, see their names on this ballot. That is how I came to my vote.”
David Ortiz makes it into the Mock Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot
Ortiz is a less controversial figure, though his names still comes up in relation to the Steroids Era as well after an alleged positive test in 2003, per the New York Times.
The other knock on Ortiz for some voters (though not ours): his time spent as a designated hitter rather than being in the field (2009 starts at DH out of 2408 games). But his 141 OPS+ shows he’s one of the best hitters of his generation, while he is also remembered for postseason accomplishments with a 2004 ALCS MVP and 2013 World Series MVP award.
Max Rayman of District on Deck opined:
David Ortiz was a no brainer. Who cares if he was predominately a DH? If MLB is going to make it a position, then he should be lauded for being one of the best at said position. Ortiz hit 541 homers and was one of the most clutch players once October rolled around. Enough said.
Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen were close, but just outside the Mock Hall of Fame
Both Jones and Rolen showed gains among our experts this year. Perhaps they were just overshadowed by some of the bigger names of the ballot.
In 2001, Jones earned 59%, so he’s up 10%. Rolen gained 51%, so he’s up about 15%. Both were up substantially on the sub-50% figures in our 2020 results.
Most known for his years as the Braves’ center fielder, Jones was not the most prolific player at the plate, posting a 111 OPS+ for his career. That might be holding him back, despite an immaculate glove that led to 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1998-2007.
Seth Carlson of Nolan Writin’ wrote:
Andruw Jones was arguably the greatest defender at his position ever, and that’s definitely enough to get a vote from me even if his offensive numbers aren’t what some of the other notable players of his generation posted in their careers.
Rolen is in a somewhat similar situation, though with a little more success at the plate. Spending his entire time at the hot corner, he had an OPS+ of 122 to go with eight Gold Glove awards. He also earned Rookie of the Year honors.
Tim Boyle of Rising Apple believes Rolen missing out on the Hall of Fame would be an oversight by the voters.
Scott Rolen is one of those guys voters will regret not putting into the Hall of Fame. He has the offensive and defensive numbers to justify his case. You’ll have a tough time finding too many others as consistent as him on both sides of the ball.
Alex Rodriguez has some ground to make up in our Hall of Fame voting
In his first year on the ballot, Alex Rodriguez did better among FanSided’s experts than known BBWAA voters. While polling 60% with FanSiders, he was in the low-40% range among actual voters, per Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame vote tracker.
Rodriguez is another tied to the issue of performance-enhancing drugs. Unlike Bonds and Clemens, much of his career occurred after 1998, so he doesn’t have the earlier laurels to stand on.
Another key difference: A-Rod did admit to using steroids during his career and in fact, was banned in 2014 for his positive tests.
Call to the Pen expert David Hill opined:
A-Rod and Ramirez did failed PED tests. I don’t care about that either. They were also amongst the best players of their generations and transcendent talents. Put them in.
Curt Schilling drops in Mock Hall of Fame voters’ eyes
Curt Schilling, controversial for his post-career actions and opinions, saw a big drop among experts this year, falling from 51% to 43%.
Maybe he has himself to thank. Last year, Schilling sent a request to the Baseball Hall of Fame to be removed from future ballots. The Hall did not honor his request. He made their ballot and ours.
Still, Schilling did elicit some support. Speaking an opinion voiced by others, Drew Koch of Blog Red Machine wrote:
Curt Schilling did enough during his career to warrant inclusion into Cooperstown. The only thing keeping him out to this point is his post-career political commentary.