Cooperstown: My 2022 ballot does not include Schilling and Vizquel

Unlike my first three years as a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) jury for the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, when the voting process was relatively straightforward and I just stuck to a few basic criteria , this time I agonized for months over a couple of difficult and unavoidable decisions on my 2022 ballot.

The responsibility of choosing the recipients of America’s highest honor is something I take very seriously. For a man who grew up in Herrera, in the western sector of Santo Domingo, almost 900 miles from the nearest major league headquarters (Miami), voting for Cooperstown, more than a privilege, is a dream come true.

This year’s ballot is made up of 30 candidates, 13 newcomers and 17 returning from previous processes having received the support of at least 5% of total voters.

Americans Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Scott Rolen, Billy Wagner, Todd Helton and Gary Sheffield; the Dominicans Manny Ramírez and Sammy Sosa, the Venezuelans Bobby Abreu and Omar Vizquel and the Curaçao Andruw Jones lead the platoon of those who return. In the case of Bonds, Clemens, Schilling and Sosa for a tenth and last chance on the journalists’ ballot.

Dominicans David Ortiz and Alex Rodríguez stand out widely among the 13 who are eligible for the first time.

According to the recommendations of the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame, the voting process should be based on the statistics of the candidates, their playing skills, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team (s) in which played (they played).

In addition to those basic criteria, my other requirements to consider that a candidate deserves a vote are simple: All players with careers of at least 10 years, who stood out among their peers and who did not violate the anti-doping program of the major leagues (who started in 2004), they are eligible at my sight.

I do not consider myself a guardian of public morals, nor do I intend, nor do I want to be part of any form of modern inquisition, so I reserve the right to change / amend / vary my opinion on players who have been suspended for doping in the future. or face integrity questions.

From the beginning I promised that under no circumstances will I condemn a candidate with sporting merits for suspicion, prejudice or discrimination of any kind, but at the same time I am one of those who think that human beings should bear the consequences of our actions and, therefore , deal with some kind of punishment when necessary.

That said, on my ballot this year I will not include two candidates that I have voted for each time since I was a member of the BBWAA jury: Schilling and Vizquel. This is the first time I have stopped dialing a name after having selected it previously.

Schilling, who publicly requested to be removed from the ballot for falling short last year (when he received 71.1% support), has become difficult to assess. The 200-win, 3,000-strikeout, six-all-star and three-World Series pitcher is the same human being who trumpets hateful messages, proudly displays his collection of Nazi uniforms, praises congressional assaults and approves campaigns that talk about lynching journalists.

“I will not allow a bunch of morally ruined scams another year to lie about my life,” the former pitcher said of the writers when the 2021 results were announced, in which no one reached the necessary 75%.

Well, I am one of those “morally bankrupt scams” who, ignoring Schilling’s despicable actions, including his hateful and discriminatory speeches, voted for him for three consecutive trials.

But enough is enough. Complying with Schilling’s public request, I did not cast my vote for him his senior year on the BBWAA ballot.

Vizquel’s case is a bit different. “Manos de Seda” won 11 Gold Gloves and hit .272 with 404 steals, 1,445 runs scored and 951 RBIs in 24 major league seasons and retired as the game leader (2,709) and fielding percentage (.984) and seventh in defensive WAR among all shortstops in history.

In my eyes, Vizquel is one of the best defensive players in history and therefore deserves to be, at some point, in the Hall of Fame. Sadly, I don’t think that time should be next summer.

In the last two years, Vizquel has been accused of domestic violence by his wife and, much worse, sexual harassment by an autistic boy who was a battleship for the team that the Venezuelan led in the minor leagues in 2019.

In a civil lawsuit, filed in Alabama district court last August, the accuser denounces the alleged “sexually aggressive behavior” that included “at least five occasions” in which “Vizquel deliberately exposed his penis to the boy.

As the father of six children, I do not take these allegations lightly or underestimate them to a simple “they are things that happen in a dressing room.” Especially if the potential victim is someone with autism.

Hoping to have more clarity on the matter, I decided not to vote for Vizquel this year. I reserve the right to change my mind in the future, when more details of what happened in the questionable episode of the battleloader will likely be known.

THOSE WHO RETURN

1. Bobby Abreu

The right fielder has not only been the most complete Venezuelan player of all time, but also one of the most talented of his generation. In 18 seasons, Abreu hit .291 with 288 home runs, 574 doubles, 400 stolen bases, 1,453 runs scored, 1,363 RBIs and 1,476 transfers.

Abreu was a five-tool player who hit over .300 on six occasions, surpassed 20 homers in nine, 30 steals in six, and passed 100 walks in eight. In 2004, the outfielder hit .301 with 30 homers, 47 doubles, 40 steals, 127 walks, 118 runs scored and 105 RBIs. That’s how good Abreu was.

One of the most underrated of the last three or four decades (he was only called up to the All-Star Game twice, once he won the Gold Glove and once the Silver Bat), Abreu averaged 19 home runs, 38 doubles, 27 steals and 99 walks for every 162 career games.

Since 1980, “El Comedulces” is # 18 in the major leagues in percentage of tickets received for plate appearances among players who made at least 5,000 appearances. His total bases reached by hits, walks and balls (3,949) is # 49 in history.

2. Barry Bonds

One of the greatest players of all time, Bonds participated in 14 All-Star Games, won 12 Silver bats and 8 Gold Gloves, was Rookie of the Year, seven-time MVP, and caught three National League Hank Aaron Awards in 22 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.

Bonds batted .298 with 2,935 hits, 514 steals, 1,996 RBIs and retired with career home run records (762) and in one season (73 in 2001) and the all-time WAR lead (Wins Above Replacement Level, by its acronym in English) with 162.8.

Bonds last appeared on the ballot, after receiving 61.8% support last year.

3. Roger Clemens

During 24 seasons he accumulated 354 victories and 4,672 strikeouts in 4,916.2 innings. Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards (the all-time record), was the AL MVP in 1986, and appeared in 11 All-Star Games in 24 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston. Astros.

“El Rohete” was a member of two World Series champion teams and his 139 WAR ranks third in the all-time lead among pitchers. Return to the ballot for one last chance, after receiving 61.6% support in 2021.

4. Andruw Jones

The curazoleño had an exquisite combination of defense and A plus power.

Jones won 10 Gold Gloves in center field, hit 434 home runs and amassed 67 WAR (Fangraphs version) in a 17-year career, 12 with the Atlanta Braves. Defensively, Jones has higher WAR (24.4) than Willie Mays (18.2), and is # 22 of all time, according to Baseball-Reference.

Among all the players who won at least 10 Gold Gloves, only Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Schmidt drew more balls from the park than Jones. They are all members of the Hall of Fame.

Jones hit .254, but surpassed 20 home runs 10 times, drove in 100 or more five times, scored 100 or more four times and stole 20 or more bases in four seasons. In all, he hit 853 extra-base hits, stole 152 bases and had more than 1,200 runs and 1,200 RBIs, with an .823 OPS.

Last year, his fourth as eligible, he received the most support from the BBWAA jury, with 33.9%.

5. Scott Rolen

Rolen averaged 25 home runs and 102 RBIs per 162 games and won eight Golden Gloves in 17 major league seasons. He was Rookie of the Year in 1997 and consistently a huge contributor on both sides of the game.

He hit .281 with 316 home runs and his 70.2 WAR exceeds the 68.4 average of all Hall of Fame 3Bs.

Appears on the ballot for the fifth year. In 2021, he received 52.9% of the votes.

6. Sammy Sosa

“El Bambino del Caribe” is one of the best players with the least support from voters (just 17% last year in his ninth appearance on the ballot).

Sosa hit 609 home runs and drove in 1,667 runs in 18 years with the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles. The Dominican won the National League Most Valuable Player and Hank Aaron awards in 1998, was called up to seven All-Star Games and collected six Silver Bats. He is the only player in history with three seasons of 60 or more homers and 11 times he surpassed the 30 mark.

Sosa, who went 30-30 twice and stole 234 bases, amassed 58.6 WAR in his career, including 43.8 in the best seven years of his career, yet the low support he had each year since he landed on the ballot, makes it unlikely that he will be elected at his last chance.

7. Billy Wagner

When you compare the best relievers in history, including those already inducted at Cooperstown, Wagner looks like he deserves a seat at the table.

A 5-10 guy who weighed less than 160 pounds when signed to pro, he managed to salvage 422 games with a 2.31 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings (1,196 K in 903.0 IL) during an inspiring 16-year career. in the majors.

Wagner never allowed more than eight home runs in a season, limited the opposition to 6.0 hits per nine innings and fanned 1,196 of the 3,600 batters he faced.

Wagner (853 appearances and 903.0 innings) had a relatively short career, but he was extraordinarily effective, and that’s what the Hall of Fame is all about, honoring the best. He received 46.4% support in his sixth year on the ballot.

NEW ELIGIBLE (1)

8. David Ortiz

In 20 MLB seasons, 14 with the Boston Red Sox, “Big Papi” was a force at the plate and a hitter who made all the difference in great moments. He hit .286 with 541 home runs, 632 doubles, 1,768 RBI and a .931 OPS. In the postseason, he hit 17 home runs and drove in 61 runs with a .947 OPS in 304 at-bats.

He was elected to 10 All-Star Games, won the Edgar Martinez award for best Designated Hitter of the season 10 times and seven Silver Bats. Five times he was in the top five in the race for the AL Most Valuable Player.

Ortiz was a central figure in winning Boston’s first three World Series titles (2004, 2007 and 2013) in nearly a century. He was the MVP of the 2004 American League Championship Series, when the Red Sox made the historic return from a 0-3 against the New York Yankees, and from the 2013 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.