The Baseball Hall of Fame released the 2017 ballot today. There weren’t a ton of surprises, but one stood out to me…
Where’s Javier Vazquez?
On the surface, Vazquez doesn’t look like an egregious snub—over 14 seasons, he posted a 165–160 record, a 4.22 ERA, made only one All Star appearance, and received Cy Young votes in only one season. But once taken into context, he had a 105 ERA+ (same as Jack Morris), 43.3 pitching WAR (just half a win behind Morris), and an 86 Hall Rating. While those aren’t necessarily Cooperstown-worthy numbers, they should have gotten Vazquez on the ballot.
As Dr. Doom points out in the comments, Fangraphs values Vazquez even higher. There his excellent strikeout total (30th all-time with 2,536) and strikeout rate (8.0 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 and 1.2 HR/9) help him to 53.9 fWAR. The most most glaring omission from a BBWAA ballot I can remember in recent years is Edgardo Alfonzo—and his absence was nowhere near as significant as Vazquez.
The ballot also features the 15 returning candidates from last year as well as a quartet of prominent newcomers—Ivan Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jorge Posada. Only three other eligible candidates had a Hall Rating above 80—J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, and Vazquez. Once again, it’ll be next to impossible to trim a ballot down to ten choices. Fourteen players have a Hall Rating over 100. Ten have a Hall Rating above 120.
If you forced me to pick ten, I suppose I’d take Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Bagwell, Mussina, Rodriguez, Walker, Martinez, Ramirez, and Raines. Those happen to be the ten over 120. Guerrero is a tough omission in particular. Who would you vote for?