With this off-season trudging along at a glacial pace, we finally have something baseball-related to talk and argue about. The 2021 Hall of Fame ballot!
Here’s a look at the ballot, courtesy of the indispensable Hall of Fame vote tracker Ryan Thibodaux…
There are seven former Blue Jays on the ballot, three of whom are new additions this season. The new guys are Mark Buehrle, LaTroy Hawkins, and A.J. Burnett, while the returnees are Roger Clemens, Omar Vizquel, Scott Rolen, and Jeff Kent.
Obviously, none of these players would be wearing Blue Jays caps if they were to get inshrined in Cooperstown but it’s an interesting discussion regardless.
I imagine that Clemens will eventually get in as the world sort of gets over being weirdly mad about the steroid era. Rocket Roger got 61 percent of votes last year, just 14 percent shy of making the cut. This is his ninth year on the ballot so it either happens this year or in 2022 or he’ll have to get in via the Veterans Committee.
Vizquel is another one who’s going to get eventually mostly due to his longevity and the fact he won 11 gold gloves. Kent has been passed over seven times and doesn’t have much of a case for getting in. Hawkins and Burnett are pretty likely going to be one-and-done off the ballot this year.
The two interesting cases are Rolen and Buehrle.
Rolen has been passed over three times now and only got 35.3 percent of votes last time around. That’s pretty shocking given how good he actually was. Rolen has pretty much everything you need for a Hall of Fame resume save for an MVP. He won the World Series, was an All-Star seven times, won eight Gold Gloves, and won a Silver Slugger. His 70.1 WAR is waaaaay higher than Vizquel, who many seem to view as a shoo-in.
And then there’s Buehrle, who has a similar vibe to Rolen. Buehrle was never the best pitcher in baseball, but he was really, really good for quite a long time. He won the World Series, was a five-time All-Star, won multiple Gold Gloves, and threw a perfect game.
The thing that’ll hold him back is never winning a Cy Young and always being more of an under-the-radar good pitcher than a classic ace. But still, if longevity is a thing for a guy like Vizquel, why wouldn’t it be part of the discussion for Buehrle? How many guys in the 2000s had 14-consecutive seasons with 200 innings pitched?
The fact that voting is becoming more SABR-oriented bodes well for both Rolen and Buehrle, who aren’t the types of players who never would have made it in just a decade ago.