Earlier this week the Hall of Fame announced their 2017 ballot. The Yankees will be well represented this year with eight out of the 33 players connected to the team. You have your homegrown star, long-time contributors, veteran role players, and even a prospect that got away. It’s a diverse group that needs some extra attention this offseason.
Roger Clemens - 133.7 WAR
Clemens is probably the most qualified player on the ballot this year, aside from Barry Bonds. It’s too bad this won’t be the year he gets elected after appearing on only 45% of the ballots last time. As stupid as he was to almost commit perjury over his usage of PEDs, Clemens is an 11-time All-Star, a seven-time Cy Young winner, and a former MVP. He also helped the Yankees win two World Series titles over the five (ignore 2007) seasons he spent in New York. This will be his fifth year on the ballot and it’s time to put him in the Hall.
Mike Mussina - 82.2 WAR
The best player who might never see the Hall of Fame, Mussina is now in his fourth year on the ballot and only appeared on 43% of the ballots last year. Mussina lived a career of almosts with the Yankees–his almost perfect games, his almost World Series Championship, even his almost Cy Young. The argument to get Moose into the Hall consists of comparing him favorably to other pitchers to make it in, but who knows how good of an argument that is. Despite some major successes over his career, he might never have anything to show for it when it is all said and done. That’s pretty sad.
Ivan Rodriguez - 68.9 WAR
I’m calling it right now–Pudge Rodriguez will be elected in his first year on the ballot. Over the course of his 21-year career, Rodriguez was named to 14 All-Star Games, won 13 Gold Glove Awards, seven Silver Sluggers, and took home an MVP Award. This was all while being one of the greatest defensive catchers of all time. In 2008, Jorge Posada underwent shoulder surgery and the Yankees needed a dependable replacement, so they acquired Rodriguez. It’s too bad that by then Rodriguez was 36 and no longer possessed the bat he once had. It was a pretty forgettable time in an otherwise memorable career.
Tim Raines - 66.4 WAR
The pride and joy of Montreal Expos fans everywhere, Raines is in his last year of eligibility after placing on 69% of the ballots in 2016. The man they call Rock made seven All-Star games and was a perennial MVP candidate during the 1980s. It’s amazing he never made another All-Star game after 1987 because he remained very effective over the next 10 years. He spent three years with the Yankees between 1996 and 1998, winning two World Series with them and offering a potent switch-hitting bat off the bench. Hopefully things will work out for him.
Gary Sheffield - 62.1 WAR
Sheffield enjoyed two of his best seasons in the Bronx before he was traded to the Tigers in the type of deal that was unheard of from the Yankees at the time. Ultimately, he was a very good player with nine All-Star nods, five Silver Sluggers, and a World Series ring. As good as he was, though, he stands a fair chance of being overshadowed by those around him. This will be his third year of eligibility, and he’s hovered around 11% so far. At the very least, he deserves to spend a long time on the ballot, but that might not end up being the case.
Fred McGriff - 56.9 WAR
Fred McGriff never played for the Yankees, but he was drafted by them in 1981 and traded a year later for practically nothing. He went on to have a very successful career with five All-Star appearances, three Silver Sluggers, plenty of MVP votes, and nearly 500 home runs. He provided excellent power as a first baseman in his heyday, however, he lacked consistency in his 30s and it cost him a shot at immortality. In his eighth year on the ballot, he could stick around all 10 years before he falls short.
Jorge Posada - 44.7 WAR
The player with the closest association to the Yankees is also likely the guy who will spend the least amount of time on the ballot. Posada’s numbers were great for a catcher but get lost in the crowd of the time he played in. He was a five-time All-Star and Sliver Slugger winner with a front row seat to the Catcher Hall of Fame, if such a thing is ever created. However, his underwhelming reputation behind the plate likely means he’ll be slipping off the ballot in his first few years of eligibility, just like many of his former teammates from the dynasty years.
Lee Smith - 26.6 WAR
The all-time saves leader at one point in baseball history, Smith was a seven-time All-Star who received many MVP and Cy Young votes over the course of his 18-year career. Despite the narrative that they were terrible throughout the early 90s (they were), the Yankees found themselves in striking distance of the division with a month to go. They acquired Smith, who went on to pitch in exactly eight games for the Yankees before going on his merry way. It still counts! This is Smith’s final year on the ballot, but it doesn’t look like he’s getting elected.