The ballots for the 2017 MLB Hall of Fame class have been cast and the voters chose Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez for enshrinement into Cooperstown. As we look at those remaining on the ballot for 2018, it’s easy to see how a contingent of former Yankees are about to walk through the door. This class will be joined by returning players Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, and Gary Sheffield.
Remember all that time Johnny Damon spent whining about how he could still play baseball and won’t someone please give him a contract? This is where that comes into play with him just 231 hits shy of 3,000. Unfortunately, that round number was all Damon had to bank on in regards to his Hall of Fame candidacy because he didn’t really accomplish much over his career. He was a good and valuable leadoff hitter for many years, but that won’t get him into Cooperstown.
Before he was a backup outfielder for the Yankees, Jones took the Ken Griffey Jr. route through his career. He showed up early as a 19-year-old kid, blew everyone away with his combination of outstanding glove and dangerous bat, and then checked out by the time he turned 30. Jones accumulated 10 Gold Gloves, five All-Star Game appearances, a Silver Slugger Award, and plenty of MVP votes over his 17 years in the majors. Despite their similar career trajectories, Jones isn’t as much of a no-doubter as Griffey was. A 67.1 career WAR should put him in the conversation, though.
Despite his success in pinstripes, Matsui might not last more than a year or two on the ballot. Coming to America when he did put him at a disadvantage, but he was not able to make up for lost time the way Ichiro has done over the years. He was cheated out of the 2003 Rookie of the Year Award and made only two All-Star Games before injury and age began to wear him down. He will be beloved by Yankees fans for a long time, but the rest of the league will look past him.
This is funny because now that I’m looking back on his career, Carl Pavano was never really that good of a pitcher to begin with. He had one really good season at the age of 28 before he hit the free agent market, and the Yankees took the bait. To be fair, he would have probably been worth the deal if he had remained healthy, but his infamous tenure in the Bronx decimated any small chance he had at baseball immortality.
This is a hard one because there is no doubt that Kerry Wood was an insanely talented player. It’s just that poor management and injury devoured whatever chance he had at becoming an all-time great. He revitalized his career out of the bullpen, helping the Yankees down the stretch in 2010, but he never accomplished anything close to what was expected of him so long ago.
Which former Yankees are you rooting for next year? Who do you think will eventually get in?