Birds Watcher builds the most correct Hall of Fame ballot

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 06: Hall of fame player and former Baltimore Orioles Cal Ripken Jr., addresses the crowd before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of the Orioles and New York Yankees game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 6, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 06: Hall of fame player and former Baltimore Orioles Cal Ripken Jr., addresses the crowd before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of the Orioles and New York Yankees game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 6, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Mariano Rivera
BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 12: Pitcher Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees shakes hands with manager Buck Showalter of the Baltimore Orioles while being honored during a pregame ceremony before the start the Yankees and Orioles game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 12, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. Mariano, who is retiring at the end of the season, made his last appearance at Camden Yards. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Lance Berkman: 15 years, 7,814 PA, 1,905 H, .293/.406/.537, 366 HR, 144 OPS+, 52.1 bWAR, 6* All-Star. Berkman was an outfielder early on in Houston before moving to first base as he entered his 30’s. In 2002, he led the league with 128 RBI.

He hit 40+ homers in a season twice, and hit 30+ three times. He finished top-5 in the MVP voting four times, twice in the top-3 in ’02 and ’06. Berkman had a very good career, but he doesn’t have the peak nor the cumulative stats to get him over the hump. This isn’t the Hall of Very Good. Thanks for playing.

Roy Halladay: 16 years, 2,749.1 innings, 3.38 ERA, 3.39 FIP, 2,117 K, 3.58 K/BB, 203 W, 64.3 bWAR, 8* All-Star, 2* AL Cy YoungEveryone who pitched in the early 2000’s lived in Pedro Martinez‘ shadow, but for a time, Halladay was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He led the league in innings pitched four times and he led the majors in complete games seven times.

Halladay finished in the top-5 in Cy Young voting for six consecutive years, and seven total, winning the award twice. The argument against him is that he doesn’t have the cumulative stats to get in; it’s a valid argument but his peak was as good as any. Halladay is in.

Todd Helton: 17 years, 9,453 PA, 2,519 H, .316/.414/.539, 369 HR, 133 OPS+, 61.2 bWAR, 5* All-Star, 4* Silver Slugger, 3 Gold Gloves. Helton was a very good hitter who happened to play for the Rockies and spent most of his time at altitude; where Helton was a very good hitter otherwise, Coors made him great.

The home/road splits are real: 1.048 OPS at home, .855 on the road. He never finished higher than fifth in MVP voting and had just three top-10 finishes, meaning voters at the time didn’t think he was among the best in the game. I don’t think he was either, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t great. He might be near the back of the list of qualified guys, but he’s qualified.

Roy Oswalt: 13 years, 2,245.1 innings, 3.36 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1,852 K, 3.56 K/BB, 163 W, 50.1 bWAR, 3* All-Star. I’d forgotten how good Oswalt was at his peak. He had five top-5 Cy Young finishes, he led the league with a 2.98 ERA in ’06, and five times posted an ERA below 3.00.

Though Oswalt was an excellent pitcher during his peak, it just didn’t last long enough, nor did he compile enough around the peak to make a realistic case for the Hall. Oswalt was very good, but again…thanks for playing.

Andy Pettitte: 18 years, 3,316 innings, 3.85 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 2,448 K, 2.37 K/BB, 256 W, 60.3 bWAR, 3* All-Star. Pettitte was the compiler’s compiler. He was a very effective pitcher for a long time, posting an ERA above 4.50 just twice in his 18 years. He had five top-5 Cy Young finishes but he never struck out 200 batters in a season, and he has very little black ink on his Baseball Reference page.

Pettitte was a nice pitcher, but if he spent the majority of his career in Milwaukee or Kansas City, he wouldn’t have nearly as much support for the Hall. Plus, don’t forget that he gets a pass for PED’s when none of the other guys do. He’s not a Hall of Famer.

Mariano Rivera: 19 years, 1,283.2 innings, 2.21 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 1,173 K, 4.10 K/BB, 652 SV, 56.2 bWAR, 13* All-Star. Rivera is likely the best single-inning relief pitcher of all time. He threw one pitch for 19 years and he posted an ERA over 3.00 just twice in his career, while posting a sub-2.00 mark 11 times. Single-inning relievers are significantly less valuable than starting pitchers, but you have to appreciate Mo’s dominance over the years, especially as the all-time saves leader. He’s a first ballot Hall of Famer, without a doubt.

Miguel Tejada: 16 years, 9,205 PA, 2,407 H, .285/.336/.456, 307 HR, 108 OPS+, 47.3 bWAR, 1* AL MVP, 6* All-Star, 2* Silver Slugger. Tejada was as consistent as they come during his peak. He played 162 games for 6 straight years, he led the league with 150 RBI in ’04, and he won the ’02 AL MVP in Oakland. Tejada is ultimately on the outside looking in, but we can look back on his time in Baltimore with reverence and appreciate him as a very good baseball player.

So we have Halladay, Helton and Rivera in so far. Let’s take a look at the returnees and see who makes the cut from that group. We’ll break up the 15 returning candidates into a couple slides, rather than bunch them all together. They’re split alphabetically.