Another Hall of Fame vote is in the books — and four new players are headed for Cooperstown. While it might be time to celebrate for some fans, it’s also time we start debating about next year.
Oh, and the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot will be a good one. In addition to many big-name holdovers, there are a few huge newcomers. Mainly Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera, who shouldn’t have a problem getting in, but also some complicated cases in Todd Helton and Andy Pettitte and familiar names such as Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt.
Here’s a rundown of the expected newcomers from 2019 ballot. Now we can argue about them just like we will Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling:
• Roy Halladay: Halladay was going to get in even before his untimely death last November. But with the Halladay love burning strong these days, there’s no way he doesn’t get in on the first ballot. Based on what we saw at his funeral, his widow, Brandy Halladay, would give us one heck of an acceptance speech.
• Mariano Rivera: Closers haven’t been welcomed with open arms in Cooperstown, but Mo transcended his position and shouldn’t have any problem getting elected his first time. Trevor Hoffman is in now too, so the closer parade can continue in 2019. But Rivera is looked at as an even greater closer, so he shouldn’t have the same troubles. He’s the all-time saves leader and a beloved personality with no baggage attached to his name.
GUYS WE’LL BE DEBATING
• Todd Helton: He was the cornerstone of the Colorado Rockies for years and carried with him that Chipper Jones-type legacy of starring with one club for 17 seasons. Helton doesn’t have as many accolades as Chipper, but he seemed to have that Hall of Fame aura when he played. In retrospect, though, his numbers don’t blow you away. His .316 batting average is great, but 369 homers and 2,519 hits with no MVP award or World Series win or signature moment seems lacking. His advanced stats put him right on the fringe of the Hall of Fame, but we saw Jeff Bagwell have a tough time for a few years and Fred McGriff (23.2 percent this year) get almost no respect.
• Andy Pettitte: Add another name and another complicated case to the cloudy list of steroid-era candidates. Pettitte is different in that he admitted using PEDs — HGH in particular, before it was banned by MLB — so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays with voters. His 256 wins and 3.85 ERA in 3,316 innings aren’t sure-thing numbers, but he matches up pretty favorably to Jack Morris (254 wins, 3.90 ERA in 3,824 innings) who is going in this year. Like many other players, this one might come down to the PED effect.
OTHER INTERESTING NAMES
• Lance Berkman: He doesn’t quite have Hall of Fame numbers — his 1,905 hits are particularly glaring — but Berkman will inspire a good amount of discussion. His social/political opinions have gotten him in hot water in recent years, but he’s not Curt Schilling either. He doesn’t have as good of numbers or as much of a stigma attached to him.
• Roy Oswalt: He was pretty darn good in his peak, but his peak wasn’t long enough to justify a spot in Cooperstown. He finished with 163 wins and a 3.35 ERA in 13 seasons, falling off a bit after he turned 30.
• Kevin Youkilis: If the Hall of Fame vote only happened in Boston, he’d be a lock. Billy Beane and Moneyball would also give a shout out on his plaque for dubbing him “The Greek God of Walks.” Alas, it’s not going to happen.
• Juan Pierre: Being No. 18 all-time in stolen bases made him a fun player, but he’s not Cooperstown material.
• Michael Young: He was fantastic between 2004 and 2006. If he’d played like that for 10 years, maybe he’d be getting in.
• Miguel Tejada: He was a beast for a couple years there, just not enough of them.
• Placido Polanco: He got name-checked in an Action Bronson rap, so that’s a Cooperstown consolation prize.
OTHERS WHO SHOULD BE ON THE BALLOT: Darren Oliver, Freddy Garcia, Derek Lowe, Vernon Wells, Ted Lilly, Travis Hafner, Jason Bay.
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More Hall of Fame coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Four baseball greats become Hall of Famers
• Tim Brown: The theater of Vladimir Guerrero
• Ex-Braves star’s ‘crazy’ Hall of Fame ride
• Can Schilling overcome his mouth to make Hall of Fame?
• Bonds, Clemens hit roadblock on path to Hall