Last week I wrote about three members of my hypothetical 2020 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot, and this week I will discuss my remaining selections, beginning with Derek Jeter.
If you missed my previous article, I detail my thoughts on steroid era players which you can find here. It will provide context for some of my selections. Today we will start with one of the most obvious Hall of Famers of all time.
Jeter is the quintessential Hall of Famer. He was the Rookie of the Year, 15 time All-Star, 5 time Silver Slugger, won 5 Gold Gloves, won 5 World Championships and was the face of the New York Yankees for two decades.
Even though he had a ridiculous practice swing, Jeter was a career .310 hitter, is a member of the 3,000 hit club and even stole 358 bases for good measure. But what made Jeter truly great is that he was always in the right place at the right time. Whether it was “The Flip”or “The Dive,” Jeter always seemed to be places no other player would be.
On the field and off, Jeter could do no wrong and provided consistency in an inconsistent era. He thrived in the limelight of New York City while enduring the drama associated with A-Rod. Jeter played 145 games or more in 16 of 19 full MLB seasons, and he only hit below .290 in two of those 16 years. His numbers and legacy speak for themself.
The only thing that could have made him more of a sure thing is if he let the gift basket rumor continue on.
I know, I know, the steroids! Read what I wrote in Part 1.
Manny was a hitting machine and a two time World Series Champ. He had the best right handed power swing that I have ever seen, which turned him into a 12 time All-Star and 9 time Silver Slugger. Manny finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in eight consecutive years, and nine times overall. He ranks eighth all time in slugging percentage and ninth all time in OPS.
He also may have been high half of the time he was playing. Manny put butts in seats. We may never see a player or character like him again and he belongs in the Hall.
I get that there are a lot of reasons to not elect Sosa. The PED’s, the corked bat, the boombox and his unique skin care. But when it comes to the Hall of Fame, I start by thinking, “was this person an elite player during his era?” For Sosa, the answer is unquestionably yes.
Sosa is ninth all time with 609 home runs (he could have been as high as seventh all time if he hadn’t sat out the 2006 season), including three seasons with more than 60 long balls. He is one of only three players to have had two seasons with at least 416 total bases. The other two are Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, so decent company. Sosa won the MVP in 1998 and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting seven times.
He also showed up for work. Sosa played in 150 or more games nine times, leading the league in games played on three occasions- twice playing all 162 regular season games.
While PED’s will sway the narrative of his historic 1998 season, he and McGwire helped to save the league. Their at-bats were must-see-tv which helped fans move on from the strike of 1994, and his home run trot while holding the American flag after 9/11 was iconic.
Sosa was a unique individual but one whose name is all over the record books. We can’t pretend that he doesn’t belong amongst the best of his era.
So those are my selections (in no particular order); Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Jeter, Ramirez and Sosa.
What are your picks?