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Former Yankees on the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot

There are seven players nominated for the Hall of Fame this year that spent at least part of their career with the Yankees. Here's a look back at their careers and how each of them might fare in the polls.

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The baseball Hall of Fame has seen a rapid influx of players over the past two years. A total of seven plaques were handed out after a disappointing 2013 which saw no players earn a Hall pass. This year Ken Griffey will be a virtual lock to get elected with Mike Piazza likely close behind him. The rest of the nominee pool includes a handful of former Yankees, some of whose careers offer a compelling Hall of Fame case. Note that each player's JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score system, developed by Jay Jaffe) is given below along with the average Hall of Famer's JAWS at the player's position. JAWS is a Hall of Fame rating system based on WAR that incorporates both career and peak value. For a detailed explanation click here.

Randy Winn - CF, JAWS: 26.1, HoF JAWS: 57.2

Back when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were the laughingstock of Major League Baseball in 2002, Randy Winn made his lone All-Star appearance as their best player. That's not saying much but he did remain a serviceable everyday player for the next eight seasons with the Mariners and Giants. Just prior to the 2010 season the Yankees signed Winn to fill out their bench but it was clear he didn't have much left and was cut that May. The Cardinals picked him up for the balance of the season but that was the end of the road for win. His curtain call will be a ceremonial vote or two on this ballot.

Mike Lowell - 3B, JAWS: 24.1, HoF JAWS: 55

Once a top prospect in the Yankees organization Lowell was sent to the Marlins after an eight game major league audition in 1998 for a trio of pitchers including promising lefty Ed Yarnall. In Miami Lowell's career took a star turn. In addition to being a key contributor to the 2003 World Series champions, he was named an All-Star every year from 2002 through 2004 and earned a Gold Glove in 2005. He was then a part of a blockbuster trade centered around Hanley Ramirez that landed him in Boston for the last five years of his career. In the hitter-friendly environment he continued to put up solid numbers and was named World Series MVP in 2007. He should get a few more votes than Winn thanks to those heroics but will likely be off the ballot next year.

Gary Sheffield - RF, JAWS: 49.1, HoF JAWS: 58.1

There are few players in baseball history that could punish baseballs the way Gary Sheffield did. With a keen bating eye and a unique batting stance that could best be described as angry, he was a menace for opposing pitchers. After some early struggles in Milwaukee, he served as a mercenary during stints with the Padres, Marlins, Dodgers and Braves before landing a free agent deal with the Yankees in 2004. During his first two years in the Bronx he continued to produce at a high level, getting MVP consideration both years. In continuation of his career theme, things went sour between Sheffield and the team the following year and he finished out his career with the Tigers and Mets. His Hall of Fame case is an extremely interesting one. He consistently hit for high average (.292 for his career), power (509 career home runs), and always walked more than he struck out (his 1,475 career walks are 21st all-time). Yet he was a horrendous fielder, as evidenced by Defensive Runs Saved which pegs him at 195 runs below average for his career, and unsubstantiated steroid allegations that followed him throughout the end of his career. His debut on the ballot last year yielded just 11.7% of the vote. That's not a good sign for his long-term chances but he's sure to gain some momentum with the player pool thinning a bit this year.

Lee Smith - RP, JAWS: 25.4, HoF JAWS: 34.4

Not so long ago Lee Smith was baseball's unquestioned saves king and seemed on track to become one of the few relief pitchers enshrined in Cooperstown. Over an 18 year career Smith was the fireman for eight different teams which included a cup of coffee with the Yankees in 1993. When he first hit the ballot in 2003 he garnered around 40% of the vote and that swelled to more than 50% by 2012. However, by then the shine of his 478 career saves was tarnished as both Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera had since broken his record. Combine that with the fact that there have been numerous first ballot Hall of Famers in the pool over the past two years and his share of the vote has dwindled down to just 30%. He'll stick around until his 15 years of eligibility are up, but his chances of election are virtually nil.

Mike Mussina - SP, JAWS: 63.8, HoF JAWS: 62.1

By conventional standards Mussina falls short of what's considered a Hall of Fame pitcher. He didn't win 300 games, he only won 20 games in a season one time, he was never a Cy Young award winner, and he has no World Series rings to boast. To say all that, though, is to grossly under appreciate the quiet genius of The Moose. For ten years he dismantled the historically high powered offenses of the AL East as a member of the Orioles and continued it for another eight years under even more pressure as a Yankee. With six pitches in his repertoire that he could throw for a strike at any time, there are few pitchers in baseball history that were as consistently effective as Mussina. He finished in the top five in the Cy Young vote six times, he flirted with perfect games on a near annual basis, and when looking at their careers objectively, he was every bit as good if not better than contemporaries John Smoltz and Tom Glavine. Those two were elected to the Hall on their first ballot while Mussina received just 25% of the vote on his second ballot last year. Moose deserves better.

Tim Raines - LF, JAWS: 55.6, HoF JAWS: 53.3

If you were to ask any baseball fan to describe the ideal leadoff hitter, without knowing it, they would give an exact description of Tim Raines. The switch hitter was an on-base machine as his batting average hovered around .300 and his walk rate was always among the league's best. When on base, he could immediately get himself into scoring position. His 808 career stolen bases are fifth best all-time and his 85% success rate is higher than the four players ahead of him on that list. If you compare him to the stars of his generation, namely Rickey Henderson and Tony Gwynn, he absolutely belongs in their company as a member of the Hall of Fame. His lack of recognition to this point is due to the fact that he did his best work in the relative obscurity of Montreal and that while his stolen base and bating average marks were great, they were not as gaudy as Henderson's and Gwynn's, respectively. Raines got some national exposure and playoff experience playing in Chicago and New York later in his career but by then he was a veteran who got the job done, not the superstar he was in the 80's. He reached his high water mark of 55% of the vote last year but due to a nonsensical change in the Hall of Fame's eligibility rule, he has just one more year on the ballot after 2016. The BBWAA needs to smell what Rock was cookin', and soon.

Roger Clemens - SP, JAWS: 103.3, HoF JAWS: 62.1

The legendary numbers and achievements of Roger Clemens speak for themselves. Under normal circumstances there would be no debate about whether or not he belongs in the Hall. However, the majority of Hall of Fame voters have clearly made the decision that Clemens' steroid use was immoral and affected the competitive balance of the game when he played. Yet a look at the existing Hall of Fame members reveals that Clemens would not be lowering the moral standard of this exclusive club. Sociopaths, degenerate alcoholics and drug users, spitballers, racists, abusive womanizers, the list goes on. There are plaques celebrating players that fall in one or more of those categories in Cooperstown right now. The worst of which are those who vehemently defended and upheld baseball's unofficial color barrier which prevented any dark skinned athletes from playing in the Major Leagues until 1947. That, more than any amount of steroid use, affected the competitive balance of the game and remains one of the more deplorable aspects of baseball history. Morality issues aside, if one were to consider Clemens' career before his steroid use, which has been reported to have started in 1998, he is well above Hall standards. From 1984 to 1997, The Rocket's JAWS was 79.2, or more than 17 wins better than the average Hall of Famer. We'll have another seven years to debate his place in Cooperstown, but the point remains that no list of baseball's all-time greats is complete without Roger Clemens.