On June 25th of this year, the MLB Hall Of Fame Class of 2020 will finally have their induction ceremony. Inductees SS Derek Jeter, OF Larry Walker, former executive Marvin Miller and C Ted Simmons will finally have their day in the sun. Along with other separate award winners.
2021’s class will never get their day as no one that was eligible made the cut this year. The top three vote getters, SP Curt Schilling, OF Barry Bonds, and SP Roger Clemens all have had controversy surrounding their legacies for years. Bonds and Clemens controversies were more so throughout their playing days. While Schilling’s controversy has centered more around what he has done or said in his time since retiring.
Curt Schilling, the top vote getter out of the three players, requested to be taken off this coming year’s ballot. Which, if they in fact decide to do grant his wish, leaves a spot for someone else. That gives us a perfect opportunity to highlight some of the guys that could join 333 of their brethren.
David Ortiz, 1B/DH, MIN/BOS (1997-2016)
“Big Papi”, as he is synonymously called, Ortiz wasn’t always as feared at the plate as he came to be. In 455 games as a Minnesota Twin, the 10x All-Star hit .266, had an .809 OPS and drove in 288 runs but only hit 58 HRs. Whereas in his first 437 games in Boston, he hit .297, had a .984 OPS, with 388 RBIs and 199 HRs. You know how people say for players that maybe “a change of scenery will do them good”. Well, Ortiz could easily be argued as the epitome of that saying.
When baseball fans today think of Designated Hitters, I wouldn’t doubt 95% of their first thought(s) is David Ortiz. While the Designated Hitter has only been a thing since 1979, meaning there hasn’t been as many great DHs as there has been an everyday position. That shouldn’t take anything away from the Red Sox legend. A former World Series MVP, Ortiz finished his career with a .286/.380/.552 slash line. Not to mention, he sits 17th on the All-Time HR list with 571. That sits him above guys like fellow Red Sox legend Ted Williams (521) and Yankees great Mickey Mantle (536).
This coming year will be his first on the ballot. There is no doubt in my mind that he should/will get the 75% of the vote needed to make it into Cooperstown.
Todd Helton, 1B, COL, (1997-2013)
One of the more criminally underrated players of the past 25 years, Helton isn’t talked about enough. The accolades he compiled don’t do him justice. Yes, he made five All-Star teams, won three Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he should have at least two more of each. Go look at the stats and tell me I’m wrong.
When I think of the Colorado Rockies, neither Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story or Troy Tulowitzki come to mind. My mind instantly jumps to Todd Helton. The only player to have his number retired by the Rockies, Helton is to that organization as Ray Lewis is to the Baltimore Ravens. What I mean is that he was the first player to give life to a newly formed team. The Rockies were formed in ’95, Helton came in ’97 and blazed a path instantly. Same with Lewis, the Ravens were formed in ’96, he was one of their first draft picks and the rest is history.
This will be his fourth year on the ballot. With Schilling wanting out, and players like Helton and Scott Rolen continuing to get more of the vote. Number 17 and Cooperstown is a relationship destined to be at this point.
Joe Nathan, RP, MIN/TEX/DET/CHC/SFG, (1999-2016)
It wouldn’t be right to get through this article without mentioning a pitcher. On baseball-reference.com, there is a list of the potential 2022 HOF ballot. 43 players are listed, but only 10 pitchers. Out of the pitchers listed, I chose Nathan to talk about because I love closing pitchers. Is there a couple guys who threw no-hitters on the list? Yes. But my love for closing pitchers outgrows my love for those other guys on the list.
Don’t let the amount of teams the 6x All-Star played for fool you from how good of a career he actually had. Four out of the five teams were in the last five years of his tenure in the league. Minnesota being the spot where Nathan shined and also stayed the longest (7 years). As a Twin, the Houston, TX native made four out of his six All-Star teams and came top 5 in Cy Young voting twice. A relief pitcher, more so a closer, placing that high in Cy Young voting is unheard of recently. So that right there should speak volumes.
Sitting at 8th on the All-Time Saves list with 377, 260 of them coming in Minnesota, he sits just behind HOFer Dennis Eckersely (390). If Nathan is selected in his first year on the ballot, he would become just the fourth relief pitcher to be enshrined in Cooperstown in the last 12 years. Joining Lee Smith, Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Should he get in? Yes. Will he? Hard to say with the small amount of relievers that have made it. But he should definitely be the next one to do so whenever it may be.
Voting Is Hard To Predict
The three players I mentioned don’t have as much lingering controversy as the top three vote getters last year, if any. With that being said, it’s still hard to predict if either of the three will get the 75% needed to be enshrined forever. The voters hearts could change on Schilling, Clemens and Bonds. I don’t see that happening, which means that should make an easy path for at least two out of the three potential HOFers I listed.
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