A five-time World Series champion as starting shortstop for the New York Yankees and the epitome of consistency throughout his two-decade playing career in the major leagues, Derek Jeter was elected Tuesday to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jeter received 99.7% support from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), the second-highest percentage in the institution’s history, trailing only longtime teammate Mariano Rivera (unanimous in 2019).
Jeter slashed .310/.377/.440 (119 wRC+) with 3,465 H, 260 HR and 358 SB in 2,747 regular season games, accounting for 73.0 fWAR. He was equally productive in October and still holds all-time MLB records in several postseason counting stats. The Michigan native often wasn’t the best player on his own team and he has been fairly dinged for below-average fielding, but his prolonged peak—from the late 1990s through the entire 2000s—and his impact as the ideal ambassador to the sport made this outcome an inevitability.
In the fall of 2017, less than three years after his retirement, Jeter teamed up with Bruce Sherman and other investors to purchase the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. As the franchise’s Chief Executive Officer, he faced unfamiliar criticism for disemboweling the talented major league core inherited from old ownership. However, the subsequent moves have added the necessary depth and created the financial flexibility for the Fish to be perennial contenders in the near future.
In addition to numerous Hall of Fame-related public appearances he’ll be making during the coming months, Jeter will travel to Cooperstown, NY, for the Jul. 26 induction ceremony featuring himself, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and the late, great trailblazer Marvin Miller. For somebody who prefers to deflect attention away from himself, it ought to be a fascinating speech.
As for the rest of the HOF eligibles...A terrific Marlins outfielder for parts of six seasons (mid-1993 to mid-1998), Gary Sheffield again fell short of the 75% voting threshold that the BBWAA requires for induction. But the recent uncluttering of the ballot boosted support for him to 30.5%, the highest mark since he became eligible in 2015. Sheffield’s son, Gary Jr., tweeted earlier this month that his father would prefer to be enshrined wearing a Marlins cap if he does eventually get in.
Sheffield put up monstrous offensive numbers in South Florida: .288/.426/.543, 122 HR, 380 RBI in 2,358 PA. His bat was in the middle of their 1997 World Series run, too (.320/.521/.540, 3 HR, 7 RBI in 71 PA).
The former first-round draft pick later made All-Star teams for the Dodgers, Braves and Yankees, but never returned to the Fall Classic. Sheffield’s overall career value—62.1 fWAR—is lower than you might expect because he was such a defensive liability. Perhaps the greatest obstacle blocking his path to Cooperstown, he was linked to performance-enhancing drugs in the Mitchell Report in 2007. Also, before entering the media himself following his playing career, he had a reputation for being confrontational with the very same BBWAA members who now determine his legacy.
Accomplished big leaguers Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Rafael Furcal and Heath Bell were each one-and-done on the ballot. Beckett and Penny played major roles during the Marlins’ 2003 World Series run, while Furcal and Bell spent single seasons with the club near the end of their respective careers.