MLB released the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot Monday afternoon. The list consists of an absolutely absurd 33 candidates, some of whom will be unfairly looked over because of the stubborn insistence that each voter can only vote for 10 players per year regardless of backlog. There’s a good mix of slam dunk new candidates (Chipper Jones), deserving gentlemen on the precipice last year who will make it (Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero), Steroid Era stars being punished (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens), and one ballot wonders (Brad Lidge, Jason Isringhausen, Aubrey “Science is not Real” Huff).
I’m going to level with you: it’s late November and there is basically nothing to write about until the hot stove actually fires up and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a slow winter for the White Sox. As such, I’ve decided to look at the septet of former White Sox up for election this year and assess their candidacies.
No one would blame you for forgetting Hudson played for the White Sox. In a pure case of “Kenny always gets his man,” Hudson was brought in for free because someone with a little more anything than Brent Morel needed to be manning the hot corner in 2012 (depressingly the last Sox season that mattered) and Hudson became available before Kevin Youkilis. Hudson’s 51 games on the South Side were unremarkable (TAv: .203, WARP: -0.2) and he found himself out of baseball the next year. O-Dog had a nice career, but I don’t think he’ll garner enough support to get a second year on such a top heavy ballot.
Lee is the only candidate on the list that one could make an argument for wearing a White Sox hat if he was inducted (which he absolutely will not be). Just over half his career value came from the six years he spent in Chicago (14 of his 27.6 WARP). El Caballo saw the playoffs in the second year of his career and would spend the rest of his baseball life unsuccessfully chasing that dragon. His counting stats place him on the edge of the Hall of Very Good (2,273 hits, 358 home runs), but nowhere close to the Hall of Fame.
Sosa hit 609 homeruns over 18 seasons and is in legitimate danger of falling off the ballot this year (he received 8.6 percent of the necessary votes last winter). The hypocritical backlash against the prominent stars of the steroid seasons by the writers who showered them with adulation during the act remains strong and if Joe Morgan has his way will continue. His limited 2.5 year stretch with the White Sox near the start of his career was unremarkable.
Old Man Vizquel is going to be one of those somehow strangely polarizing candidates despite being what should be a pretty easy case. I can see the people who argue against Edgar Martinez even though I disagree with them (he was a DH; his counting stats lack that certain something). Same with Larry Walker (same argument plus Coors) and Scott Rolen (idiots who somehow ignore his amazing defense). Omar is none of those. He was a very good defensive shortstop who could not hit. He’s not Diet Ozzie Smith, he’s Kroger brand diet Ozzie Smith. He had a great career, he does not belong in the Hall of Fame. Hell, he’s not even top five most deserving from the hilariously-stacked 1995 Indians team. As a Sox fan, Vizquel represents an unforgivable failure to add an actual third baseman or DH to the 2010 roster that might have been able to make the playoffs if they weren’t betting on a 43-year-old slap hitter to play third.
I had completely forgotten that Jones and Vizquel’s White Sox tenures overlapped. Those late 2000s/early 2010s teams were so damn weird. Andruw Jones belongs in the Hall of Fame and anyone who argues otherwise is wrong. One of the best defensive center fielders of his generation who hit more than 400 home runs should be a shoo-in, but voters remember the shell he became after turning 30 (only 3.8 of his career 61.5 WARP came over his last six seasons). Jones’ one year with the White Sox was an unmitigated success for a player who signed for less than $1 million (19 home runs, .827 OPS). Jones will fall off the ballot eventually, becoming one of those deserving players who gets overlooked.
Ramirez is yet another player who should have been a first ballot guy but the voters are going to clog up the pipes by making him sweat it out. One of the few right-handed hitters you could make an argument was better than Frank Thomas did absolutely nothing in his half-season with the Sox. In 88 plate appearances of the autumnal stretch of 2010 (that’s right, Jones, Ramirez, and Vizquel all played together), Ramirez managed two extra base hits, only one of which was a home run. That would be his last home run, as he only played five more MLB games before retiring instead of facing a 100 game suspension for testing positive for PEDs. Ramirez will end up in the Hall at some point but whether it’s due to being voted in or Veterans Committee’d is yet to be seen.
Jim Jam Thome will make it in his first and only year on the ballot. The Gentleman Masher is eighth all time in home runs and first in career hearts warmed by being the cuddliest ol’ bear you ever did see. I don’t think Cleveland fans deserve him wearing their hat for the years they treated him like detritus after he left for Philadelphia, but there’s no chance of him wearing another cap on his plaque. Thome’s four years in Chicago were fantastic (the fact that he ranks 13th in franchise history for home runs despite only playing 529 games for the Sox is amazing).
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