It’s almost December, which means it’s time for one of the most maddening parts of the baseball calendar: Hall of Fame voting season. The voting process for the Baseball Hall of Fame has been reduced to a farce, as baseball writers from across the country use the power of their votes to act as vanguards over the sport’s history, enforcing inconsistent moral high grounds while simultaneously displaying a deep misunderstanding of who the great baseball players actually were, but it’s still fun to look at the ballot each year, remember some guys, and discuss who might or might not be worthy of induction.
It’s also fun to look at former Mets who made the ballot each year and remember their contributions to the team, no matter how small or brief they were. This year, there are some interesting new adds to the BBWAA ballot that played for the Mets, as well as some holdovers from previous years with compelling cases. Let’s take a look at all the former Mets on this year’s ballot and dive into their Hall of Fame cases.
Some former Mets who were first-year eligible but did not make the cut were Eric O’Flaherty, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Young, Alejandro De Aza, and former Mets draft pick Ubaldo Jimènez. Pelfrey is the only one of those who had a notable Mets career, but Young and De Aza both have secured spots in the “Horrible Wilpon Signings” Hall of Fame, at least.
Beltrán has the best résumé of any of the new additions to the ballot this year. With 67.8 career fWAR, 70.1 career bWAR, 1,500 career RBIs, a litany of huge postseason hits, and a JAWS score of 57.2 right in line with the 58.1 average JAWS score for Hall of Fame center fielders, there really isn’t much of an argument against Beltrán by modern standards. If he had spent his whole career with one team, he would probably be a shoo-in, but because he bounced around seven teams in his 20-year career, his star gets somewhat dimmed.
It’s also worth wondering how much the 2017 Astros cheating scandal will hurt Beltrán. Since he was no longer a member of the Union at the time, Beltrán was the only player named in Rob Manfred’s report of that scandal, and was apparently one of the leaders of implementing the “banging” scheme. That revelation cost him his job as Mets manager before he ever managed a game. Of course, AJ Hinch and Alex Cora also lost their managerial jobs but both received managerial jobs immediately after their suspensions were up, while Beltrán was never suspended but has yet to receive another managerial job. The media seems to have happily forgiven Hinch, Cora, and the rest of the Astros players for their roles in the scandals, so it would make sense for them to forgive Beltrán as well. But expecting consistency from the BBWAA is probably foolish.
Regardless, Beltrán is the best center fielder in franchise history and should at least get a plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame one day, even with his failed managerial run. If he does make the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’ll be fascinating to see which team cap he wears, or if he dons a blank cap. Beltrán spent seven seasons on the Mets, and they were the seven best years of his career. It’s possible that Beltrán could be the third player to go into Cooperstown with a Mets cap.
With a career 4.04 ERA and only 18.5 career fWAR, Dickey stands basically no chance for enshrinement and will almost certainly fall off the ballot after his first year, but we still love Dickey around these parts. Signed off the scrap heap to a minor league deal in 2010, the knuckleballer made an emergency start for the Mets in May 2010, and wound up being a stalwart of the rotation for the next 2.5 seasons.
His story of perseverance, his knuckleball, and his earnest, down-to-Earth personality quickly made him a fan favorite among Mets fans. Dickey followed up a fantastic 174 innings in 2010 with another rock solid 208 innings in 2011 and a 3.28 ERA, and then it all culminated in 2012 with his 20-win, Cy Young season.
In that 2012 season, Dickey took advantage of the lessened strain of throwing a knuckleball to pitch 232 innings, a number no Mets pitcher has even approached since then. He was a shining light in a lost season, and a reason to tune in every 5th day. He was also the source of numerous Amazin’ Avenue memes back in the day, with DickeyFace chief among them.
Dickey was traded for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud after that season, leaving on bad terms with Sandy Alderson and the previous ownership, as many others did before and after him. But now that the Wilpons are out and Alderson is no longer in a position of leadership, it would be nice to see the Mets start inviting Dickey back for some events. It’s a shame his contributions have become somewhat forgotten after how much the Mets fanbase embraced him.
At first glance, you might scoff at K-Rod’s statistical case to make the Hall of Fame, but his 437 career saves are fourth all-time among relievers, and the three relievers above him (Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Lee Smith) are all in the Hall of Fame. He’s also the fourth-best reliever of all-time by ERA- (min. 900 IP), while his career K-BB% is actually better than Rivera’s, and third all-time for relievers with at least 900 IP.
Of course, Rodríguez doesn’t actually stand much of a chance to actually make it, as he wasn’t considered an elite-level closer for long enough, but the stats that he compiled in his lengthy career do make you double-take.
On the field, K-Rod recorded 83 saves and put up a 3.05 ERA across 168.0 innings from 2009-2011, but his Mets career is probably most notable for the incident in late 2010 when he was arrested at Citi Field for assaulting his father-in-law in the clubhouse after a game. He was suspended by the team for the rest of the 2010 season as a result, and charged with third-degree assault.
That wasn’t Rodríguez’s last run in with the law, as he was arrested for another domestic dispute in 2012 for allegedly kicking the mother of his child. The case was dismissed after the victim and the housemaid returned to Venezuela and did not respond to the district attorney.
The domestic disputes should probably disqualify Rodríguez from enshrinement on their own, but he was never going to get in anyway. The only question is if he will even receive the necessary 5% of the vote to stay on the ballot.
There are some former Mets holdovers from past ballots that remain on the ballot this year. I dug into their Hall of Fame cases last year, but here’s a quick rundown of who’s left:
Billy Wagner is on his 8th ballot and has started to receive a groundswell of support in recent years, going from 10% of the vote in 2016 to 53.6% last year, according to Ryan Thibodaux and his team. The detailed argument for Wagner was laid out here, but it can be summed up with just this: he was one of the three or four best relievers of all-time on a per-inning basis. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get enough support in his last 3 years to reach the 75% mark.
Bobby Abreu will always be remembered as a Phillie, but he finished his career here in Flushing in 2014. With 60.2 career bWAR and 59.8 career fWAR, Abreu deserves more consideration than he’s received so far, but he topped out last year at just 10% of the vote. Since he played in the steroid era, Abreu is one of the most underrated hitters of our time, but from 1998-2008 he was simply one of the best, most consistent hitters in the game, and still had a fairly graceful decline period on the Angels, Dodgers, and the Mets.
Gary Sheffield hit his 500th home run for the Mets in an otherwise unimpressive 2009 season, but he remains one of the few members of the 500 HR club to not get into the Hall of Fame. Considering he also has 62.1 career fWAR and a career 141 wRC+, Sheffield probably belongs in the Hall of Fame, but his admitted steroid use, his attitude, and the fact that he played for eight teams will likely keep him out for good. Sheffield peaked at just 42.4% of the vote last year, his eighth go at it.
Jeff Kent was the Mets second baseman during the wilderness years of the early 90’s, but he didn’t start building his Hall of Fame case until he went to San Francisco in the late 90’s. Having played 18 seasons, Kent has longevity on his side, but his actual statistical case is pretty weak, with his 45.6 JAWS score coming in well short of the average 57.1 JAWS score for second basemen. Most of the voters seem to agree, as Kent is in his 10th and final year on the ballot and has never received more than 33.6% of the vote.
This is an unusually fun year for former Mets, as it’s not very often a former Met with as serious of a case for induction as Beltrán has is on the ballot along with a Mets Cy Young Award winner. Next year will see David Wright and José Reyes join the ballot as well, so we’ll all have to mentally prepare for that.