No need for a superfluous introduction—you know what’s going on. There are 30 former MLB players on the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. By Friday, hundreds of members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will submit their picks. They can use a maximum of 10 votes. Players must receive at least 75% of the total vote to be elected.
Ballot tracking information from Ryan Thibodaux and his team suggests that only five candidates have any shred of hope of clearing the 75% threshold this year. Realistically, it’s difficult to imagine anybody other than David Ortiz finishing with sufficient BBWAA support. The voting body’s perennial failure to honor legendary players is frustrating.
I am not a part of that voting body, but having watched all of these eligible players during their major league careers and reviewed their complete histories through statistics and verified reports, I’d like to share my hypothetical ballot with the Fish Stripes audience. (Check out the Dec. 29 episode of Fish Stripes LIVE for perspectives from the rest of the FS staff.)
My 2022 HOF votes went to...
- Bobby Abreu (third year of eligibility)—Abreu might be his generation’s quintessential “better than you remember” player. He emerged as a major league regular just as the sport was becoming infatuated with home runs. Although his over-the-fence power was unremarkable relative to his right field peers, he impacted games in many other positive ways while demonstrating terrific durability. Abreu’s career walk total ranks 20th in MLB history.
- Barry Bonds (10th and final year)—In simplest terms, Bonds was established as an all-time great before his alleged performance-enhancing drug use began. I am tolerant of certain types of PED connections anyway, as several of my subsequent picks show.
- Roger Clemens (10th and final year)—There are obvious similarities between the cases for Bonds and Clemens, which is why their BBWAA voting percentages mirror each other year after year. They both seem like rotten human beings and I truly do sympathize with those who have been victimized by their off-the-field indiscretions. However, I do not believe any of that disqualifies them from being recognized in Cooperstown as iconic players.
- Todd Helton (fourth year)—Among my 10 picks on this year’s ballot, Helton is the one who I’m least enthusiastic about. He spent practically his entire career at first base—the bottom of the defensive spectrum—and was far more of a compiler than a main attraction during his 30s. In his limited postseason opportunities, he was a passenger rather than a difference-maker. Ultimately, I believe his early-2000s prime makes him deserving.
- Andruw Jones (fifth year)—Prior to his abrupt decline, Jones was legitimately on pace to challenge MLB’s career home run mark while doing the same with his center field defense in a less quantifiable way. He belongs.
- David Ortiz (first year)—Big Papi’s regular season accomplishments alone are borderline HOF-worthy. When also considering his massive influence on multiple World Series titles, I don’t see how you could deny him a plaque in this museum.
- Manny Ramírez (sixth year)—One of the most consistently dominant hitters of his era or any other. Ramírez had an ungraceful exit from the league following multiple PED suspensions. That stopped him from achieving shiny milestones like 5,000 total bases and 2,000 runs batted in. So what?
- Scott Rolen (fifth year)—Position matters! Rolen was among history’s all-around elite third basemen.
- Curt Schilling (10th and final year)—In retirement, Schilling has revealed himself to be a hateful and dangerous individual, I get that. But I will still hold my nose and endorse his superb baseball career.
- Gary Sheffield (eighth year)—Sheff was Manny Ramírez lite: he did enough damage at the plate to easily offset his defensive flaws and countless youth players mimicked his mannerisms. The journeyman nature of his career has undoubtedly hurt him with the BBWAA electorate.
Other candidates who received serious consideration
- Tim Hudson (second year)—Hudson had an adjusted ERA better than the MLB average in 13 of his first 14 seasons and worked in a starting role throughout that period. His peak just wasn’t quite special enough, in my opinion.
- Jeff Kent (ninth year)—If not for the 10-vote maximum, I would’ve voted for Kent this year.
- Álex Rodríguez (first year)—I expect to advocate for A-Rod in the future, but want another year to fully collect my thoughts about him.
- Sammy Sosa (10th and final year)—If not for the 10-vote maximum, I would’ve voted for Sosa this year.