Baseball Corridor of Fame poll: Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones and Bobby Abreu proceed uphill battle

As we proceed our trek via the 2022 BBWAA Baseball Corridor of Fame poll, let’s check out a number of the outfielders on the poll. Particularly, some outfielders that appear to be gaining steam however nonetheless face an uphill battle to make the Corridor of Fame. We’ll zero in on Gary Sheffield, Andruw Jones and Bobby Abreu. Do they belong? Is there a path? Let’s go. 

Gary Sheffield

One of the crucial persistently nice hitters within the league for 20 years, Sheffield had the concern issue and an iconic stance (the bat wiggle!). In components of twenty-two seasons, he hit .292/.393/.514 (140 OPS+) with 2,689 hits, 467 doubles, 509 homers, 1,676 RBI, 1,636 runs, 253 stolen bases and 60.5 WAR. He walked 1,475 occasions in comparison with 1,171 strikeouts, which was actually a feather in his cap given the period during which he performed and that he was a slugger. Although he by no means gained an MVP, thrice he completed within the high three. There’s actually little doubting his quantity or price stats. He is simply there as a hitter. 

Detractors would possibly level to Sheffield’s protection. Simply to throw this on the market as one instance of the shortcoming, his offensive WAR was 80.7 and defensive WAR was -27.7. Sure, unfavorable 27.7. Yikes. 

Right here I will level out a number of issues. First off, there isn’t any requirement {that a} participant be good at every part. Not solely are there loads of bat-first Corridor of Famers, there are DHs (David Ortiz is prone to make it, too) and there are additionally a litany of soft-hitting gamers within the Corridor based mostly upon protection. Sheffield’s bat greater than makes up for his less-than-stellar protection. 

The opposite factor hanging over Sheffield’s head is the character clause and performance-enhancing drug ties. He has the BALCO connection — even when it was free, it is sufficient for some voters to keep away from him — and was named within the Mitchell Report. 

For a way more in-depth research of Sheffield’s case, leap over to my 2017 piece. The one factor that is modified is his skyrocketing vote complete. 

Talking of which, Sheffield was a little bit of an afterthought in Corridor voting for 5 years, however then jumped from 13.6 % to 30.5 % and took one other leap to 40.6 % final yr. That is his eighth time on the poll of a potential 10 and he must get to 75 %. It is doable. Let’s examine if he can recover from 50 % this time round and I feel I might be assured he’ll make it. 

Andruw Jones

Via his age-29 season, Jones as a Corridor of Famer was virtually a foregone conclusion. Then he gained a bunch of weight, misplaced his seemingly supernatural defensive means in middle subject and stopped hitting. From his age-30 season via the tip of his profession, he hit .214/.314/.420. In his final 5 seasons, he was price simply 1.7 WAR. He had 5 particular person seasons with no less than 6.5 WAR earlier than that. 

It looks like the reminiscence of a bloated Jones with a bloated wage has stained him for portion of voters, although the tide could also be turning. In 4 voting cycles, he is gone from 7.3 to 7.5 to 19.4 to 33.9 %. That is some actual momentum and maybe these of us who consider he ought to be a Corridor of Famer have been efficiently getting our message out. 

Jones ended up with 434 homers and was north of 1,200 RBI and runs. He was to superb offensive participant who in 2005 led the majors with 51 homers and led the NL with 128 RBI. He topped 30 homers seven occasions and 100 RBI 5 occasions. 

However his offense is just a complement. As famous above with Sheffield, nowhere is it written {that a} Corridor of Famer must be nice at every part. There’s an argument to be made that Jones was the one biggest defensive middle fielder of all time (I went extra in depth on this problem final yr, for these ). 

Simply as a leaping off level, let’s take a look at Whole Zone Runs. This stat makes an attempt to place quite a lot of runs a participant was above or under common. Jones ranks second in MLB historical past behind legendary third baseman Brooks Robinson. Here is the highest 5 in complete zone runs in middle subject: 

1. Jones, 230
2. Willie Mays, 176
3. Paul Blair, 171
4. Jim Piersall, 128
5. Kenny Lofton, 117

He is even blowing out Mays! 

Jones sits eleventh in middle fielders in JAWS, forward of Corridor of Famers Richie Ashburn, Andre Dawson, Billy Hamilton (no, not that one), Kirby Puckett and Hack Wilson, amongst others. He solely trails Mays, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Mickey Mantle, Mike Trout, Ken Griffey Jr., Joe DiMaggio, Duke Snider, Carlos Beltran and Lofton. 

Workforce that with being the most effective ever on protection on the place and he ought to be a straightforward sure, the horrible final a part of his profession however. 

Bobby Abreu

In Joe Posnanski’s wonderful e-book, The Baseball 100, he mentions that we generally tend to overrate gamers who’re distinctive at one factor whereas underrating gamers who’re simply good and even superb at many issues. He wasn’t speaking about Abreu, however it happens to me that it applies to Abreu. 

Abreu solely made two All-Star groups and by no means completed greater in MVP voting than twelfth. He additionally hit .291 in practically 8,500 at-bats and bought on base at a .395 clip in over 10,000 plate appearances. He slugged .475 and checked in with a 128 OPS+. He racked up 2,470 hits and 1,476 walks, inserting him forty ninth in MLB historical past in occasions on base. He sits 82nd in runs, 89th in RBI, 61st in extra-base hits and 88th in complete bases. His 574 doubles are twenty fifth. He stole 400 bases, too. 

So there it’s. Abreu was superb at so many alternative issues, however he wasn’t elite at any, save for perhaps his on-base means in his prime (then once more, he by no means completed greater than third in his league in a season). 

Abreu is twentieth in JAWS amongst proper fielders. He is truly forward of Sheffield and Corridor of Famers Vladimir Guerrero, Chuck Klein, Tony Oliva and some others, however he is under the usual and trails the likes of Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith and Sammy Sosa. 

I did a way more in depth case on Abreu final yr, for these . I got here down as a “no” on Abreu, however I am open to altering my thoughts shifting ahead. 

Abreu bought 5.5 % of the vote in his first yr and eight.7 final yr in his second stint on the poll. He seems to be gaining steam once more and is prone to sit someplace within the mid-teens in 2022, I might guess. 

Different outfielders

Clearly, Sheffield, Jones and Abreu aren’t the one outfielders on the poll this yr. We have already lined Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa is in his swan tune and I’ve lined him lots (I’ve a parting shot for once I reveal what my poll would have seemed like). Carl Crawford had an admirable profession, however he is a one-and-done. Manny Ramirez will proceed to linger in no-man’s land as a result of his two failed PED exams and their ensuing suspensions, so I do not really feel like there’s a lot to debate there. 

After which there’s Torii Hunter. It stunned me that he bought 9.5 % of the vote final yr in his first attempt. The five-time All-Star gained 9 Gold Gloves and was lengthy a really productive participant. In components of 19 years, he hit .277/.331/.461 (110 OPS+) with 2,452 hits, 498 doubles, 353 homers, 1,391 RBI, 1,296 runs and 195 steals. 

Hunter sits thirty sixth in JAWS amongst middle fielders, within the ballpark of gamers like Brett Butler, Curtis Granderson, Andrew McCutchen, Ellis Burks, Willie Wilson, Mike Cameron and Steve Finley.  Fairly merely, that is profession that’s in need of Corridor of Fame worthiness. 

Jones and Sheffield aren’t quick, nevertheless, for my part, and Abreu deserves a protracted look. 

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