Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hall of Fame Case for Former Yankee Gary Sheffield

With the 2015 Hall of Fame vote just around the corner there are a ton of questions regarding who is in, who is out, who did steroids and who will be punished for playing with steroid users. We all know the cases for Randy Johnson, he’s in, Pedro Martinez, he’s in, John Smoltz, he’s likely in with his relief work, and former Yankees Don Mattingly, likely not in, and Tim Raines, likely not in as well, but what about Gary Sheffield?

Sheffield played 22 seasons with eight different teams including the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers,  San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Atlanta Braves. Sheffield finished with 509 home runs while ranking 26th all-time in RBI with 1,676 and 58th all-time in OPS with a .907 mark. The only members of the 500 home run club that are not in the Hall are all linked to steroids and/or have failed a test in Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro so on paper Sheffield seems like a safe bet to get in. The same can be said for the RBI totals as only Bonds and Palmeiro have more RBI than Sheffield.  Sheffield finished with a career .292 batting average and stole 253 bases in his career.

Sheffield was a nine time All Star, a five time Silver Slugger winner and a National League batting champion with the Florida Marlins. Sheffield never struck out more than 83 times in a season and had more walks than K’s in 16 different seasons. All that means nothing if he is simply lumped into the “steroid era” and his numbers are looked at as dirty. His advanced metrics could also work against him as he spent 302 games in his career as a DH and posted numerous negative ratings defensively in his career. Sheffield finished with an accumulative 60.2 WAR which places him behind non Hall of Fame players like Jim Edmonds and Reggie Smith but ahead of Hall of Fame players like Yogi Berra and Willie Stargell for their careers.

If we’re looking just at his offensive work he does have an offensive WAR of 79.9 which ranks only behind Bonds in eligible Hall players but will it be enough? Rickey Henderson is the only player to ever get into the Hall after playing for as many as eight different teams, he played for nine, and that could obviously also work against Sheffield. What also works against Sheffield is the fact that he was named to the Mitchell Report and testified in the BALCO trial although he was named after receiving some cream that helped with healing stitches after knee surgery. Whether Sheffield was telling the truth or not, and honestly I believe that he was, that may be the most damning factor of all.

So does he get in? In 2015, probably not. 2016 and beyond, absolutely. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)