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Five former Mets on the Hall of Fame ballot

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Three have legitimate cases, while the other two are probably one-and-done candidates.

Milwaukee Brewers v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced next Wednesday. Five former Mets appear on this year’s ballot, and they are listed below based on their length of time on the ballot. Let us know in the comments which, if any, of these players you think is worthy of induction!

Jeff Kent

Kent is one of the best offensive second basemen in the history of the game. His 377 home runs are the most among players whose primary position was second base, and his 1,518 RBIs, 2,461 hits, 1,320 runs scored, and 560 doubles are all in the top 12. Kent’s rate stats—.290/.356/.500, 123 wRC+—are especially impressive for a player at his position. Kent complemented his offensive numbers with an array of honors that included an MVP Award, five All-Star Game selections, and four Silver Sluggers, as well as strong postseason play (.276/.340/.500, nine home runs, 23 RBIs) in 49 games with four different organizations.

Kent has two factors going against him. The first is his mediocre defense, evidenced by just -1 career TZ at second base. The second is that, while his raw numbers are elite, they are somewhat diminished by the strong offensive era in which he played. As a result, stats like WAR and wRC+—which adjust for park, league, and year—rank Kent as around the 20th-best offensive second baseman in baseball history. That’s still excellent, but perhaps not Hall-worthy in some voters’ minds. The JAWS system, which averages a player’s career WAR with the average WAR of his seven best seasons, puts Kent at number 20 among second basemen and well below the average Hall of Famer at his position.

Last year, we did a much more detailed analysis of Kent’s Hall of Fame case, which you can read here. Not much has changed since then, as the second baseman continued to hover around 15% of the baseball writers’ vote in his three years on the ballot. Kent’s 13.1% support on this year’s publicly released ballots indicate that he will likely fall well short of induction, but will clear the 5% needed to remain on the ballot for another year.

Gary Sheffield

Sheffield’s offensive production would typically make him a no-doubt Hall of Famer. His .292/.393/.514 batting line, 141 wRC+, 509 home runs, 2,689 hits, 1,676 RBIs, and 1,636 runs scored indicate the type of dominant offensive player that we was. In addition, the right fielder compiled nine All-Star Game appearances and five Silver Slugger Awards.

Like Kent, however, Sheffield produced poor defensive metrics that hurt his overall value. Sheffield’s -177 TZ are among the least of all time, and resulted in WAR and JAWS totals well below those of the average Hall of Fame right fielder. Perhaps more damning is the fact that Sheffield admitted to using PEDs—although denied knowing at the time that they were, in fact, PEDs—and was named in the Mitchell Report.

Sheffield’s PED use and underwhelming WAR totals damage his Hall of Fame case to old- and new-school voters, respectively. This is why, despite his outstanding offensive output, he failed to garner even 12% of the vote in either of his first two years of eligibility. The BBHOF Tracker indicates that his support will likely remain around that level in 2017.

Billy Wagner

Wagner is a strong dark horse candidate whose case we laid out in detail last year. Inning for inning, Wagner was one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the game. Among all pitchers with at least 500 innings of work, Wagner ranks first with 11.92 K/9 and second only to Mariano Rivera in adjusted ERA (2.31 ERA, 54 ERA-) and adjusted FIP (2.73 FIP, 63 FIP-). Moreover, the southpaw is one of just six pitchers in major league history to reach the 400-saves plateau. While it’s hard to compare modern-day relievers to those of previous eras due to the changing nature of the position, Wagner compares quite well to his contemporaries. His peripherals are better than those of Trevor Hoffman, who is well on his way to Cooperstown, and their WAR totals are nearly identical.

Wagner’s greatest weakness is his lack of longevity. If inducted, Wagner would be the only pitcher in the Hall of Fame to throw fewer than 1,000 career innings, and he hit the 30-inning mark in only 13 seasons. As a result, he failed to reach the 500-saves milestone that could become a prerequisite for modern-day Hall of Fame closers, and recorded a lower career WAR total than most of the Hall of Fame pitchers who were primarily relievers.

Wagner received the support of 10.5% of the writers in 2016, his first year of eligibility. Although his support does not appear likely to increase by very much this year, it should be enough to keep him on the ballot for further consideration.

Mike Cameron

Cameron is one of two first-time candidates on this list. While neither will likely see another year on the ballot, it’s worth discussing their impressive major league careers.

Cameron provided a rare combination of power, speed, and excellent center field defense. His .249/.338/.444 batting line, 107 wRC+, 278 home runs, 968 RBIs, 1,064 runs scored, and 297 stolen bases represented strong offensive output from a defensive position. In addition to reaching the 20-home-run and 20-stolen-base plateaus eight times apiece, Cameron also produced eight seasons of at least 4.0 fWAR, indicating All-Star-level production. Cameron’s outstanding defense in center yielded three Gold Glove Awards, 93 career TZ, and—combined with his offensive production—an exceptional 50.7 career fWAR.

Melvin Mora

After the Mets traded him to the Orioles, Mora had a strong ten-year run in Baltimore that saw him make two All-Star teams and win a Silver Slugger Award. During his three-year peak from 2003 to 2005, Mora hit an outstanding .312/.391/.513 with a 142 wRC+, and averaged 23 home runs, 80 RBIs, 88 runs scored, and 5.1 fWAR per year. Mora was a well-above-average player in his 13 years in the big leagues, finishing with a .277/.350/.431 batting line and a 107 wRC+, with 171 homers, 754 RBIs, 794 runs scored, and 27.3 fWAR.