On every Hall of Fame ballot, voters face the decision that ultimately decides whether a player's career is worthy of being enshrined in Cooperstown. There will always be players that people believe did enough to achieve Hall of Fame status, but for some reason, the writers did not share that same belief, leading to their falling off the ballot.
The 2024 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot features some of the greatest players from the late 1990s to the 2010s. Players making their first appearance on the ballot such as Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer, and David Wright are joining the ranks of returning players like Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, and Alex Rodriguez waiting for the call confirming their spot in Cooperstown.
The quality of players on this ballot and those who have entered in recent years are some of the greatest players to ever step on the diamond, but some players dominated during their time and did not receive the same level of respect as others currently on the ballot.
Bernie Williams was one of the premier center fielders in baseball as a part of a Yankees dynasty that won 4 World Series titles in 5 years. Considered to be one of the more underrated players in recent memory, Williams was a catalyst for New York despite flying under the radar, unlike some of his teammates.
During his 16-year career, Williams was a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove winner, the 1996 ALCS MVP, and won the batting title in 1998 with a .339 average. Despite all of this, Williams fell under the voting threshold of 5% needed to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot, receiving votes from just 3.3% of voters in his second year on the ballot in 2013.
His 8-year peak from 1995-2002 is comparable to players like Harold Baines, who was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2019, as well as Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu, and Torii Hunter, who have all spent more time on the ballot than Williams.
During that span, Williams hit a slash line of .321/.406/.531 with an OPS+ and wRC+ of 142 and 143, respectively. His totals in SLUG, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, and wOBA are all higher than the likes of Jones, Abreu, Baines, and Hunter while also tallying the most hits in the second-fewest games played during their respective peaks.
Outside of his dominant 8-year stretch, his numbers were down at the beginning and end of his career, but he was still considered a league-average player or slightly above, evidenced by his career SLUG of .477 and wRC+ of 126.
With 449 career doubles and 287 home runs, Williams is among legends like Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Rogers Hornsby, and many more players with at least 400 doubles and 250 home runs in a career.
To say that Williams should have been a lock to reach the Hall of Fame is an overstatement, but the lack of consideration from the voters is alarming in his case. His stats speak for themselves, and they are considerably better than some of the players who are currently on the ballot and have been for more than two years. His career fWAR of 43.9 and the eye test may not signify that he reaches the standards that voters look for to be voted in, but his run of pure dominance over eight years should result in much more than just 3% of the vote.
He is still eligible to be voted in by the Era Committees, where hopefully he will get another chance for voters to look over his career and see the quality of a player he was. Williams was a centerpiece for one of the greatest dynasties in MLB history, and with the totals that he reached in his career, he deserves another chance at being voted into the Hall of Fame.