Come Jan. 18, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce players voted into the 2017 class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. On the list is a group of players with some ties to the New York Yankees. What are their odds and will they make it in this year, in the future or ever?
Last year “Rock” garnered 69.8% of the vote. The speedy left fielder played in the Bronx from 1996 to 1998, helping the club win a pair of titles and batting a collective .299. The prime of his career came with the Montreal Expos in the 1980’s. The switch-hitter played 23 seasons, collected 2,605 hits, stole 808 bases and scored 1,571 runs. He’s close and should enter this year.
Not that you’d know it, but “Rocket” spent two stints in the boogie down, covering six seasons, two titles, a Cy Young award and 83 victories with the Yankees. Last time around Clemens earned 45.2% of votes. The seven-time Cy Young award winner and winner of 354 games saw his percentage jump after being stagnant the first few times. His numbers are dominant enough where he’ll keep rising but with the steroid accusations, don’t expect him to make it in this year.
The “Moose” spent the final eight seasons of his career with New York. During that stretch, Mussina helped the Yankees win two pennants and he personally won 123 games in pinstripes. Not that wins are everything but collecting 270 over 18 seasons in the AL East and posting a .638 winning percentage is impressively consistent. The last time around Mussina earned 43.0% of the vote, so it may take him a few years but he has a great shot as 300-game winners become fewer and far in between.
Smith was the Yankees closer for a hot minute toward the end of the 1993 season. Across eight games and eight innings, Smith pitched to a 0.00 ERA and recorded three saves. Following 18 seasons, Smith retired as baseball’s all-time saves leader with 478. On the ballot for the final time and only having picked up 34.1% of the vote, it doesn’t look likely for one of the last great old school closers.
OK, not technically a Yankee but he was drafted by the club in 1981. The “Crime Dog” was a model of consistency and a World Series champion in 1995 with the Atlanta Braves. If the Yankees didn’t have “Donnie Baseball” at first base, perhaps McGriff would’ve hit that round number of 500 home runs with the short porch in right. Plus, Tom Emanski tells me he was a fundamentally sound player. Last time around, the power-hitting first baseman didn’t get much more traction with 20.9% and doesn’t look likely to move higher. Compared to some other first basemen of the era, his power numbers might not be as dominant – but then again, there are no ties between McGriff and PED’s.
If screaming foul balls which made third base coaches duck counted as home runs, “Sheff” would have about 3,234. Sheffield played three seasons with the Yanks from 2004 to 2006. Sheffield smacked 76 balls out in fair territory with New York. The power hitting right fielder was twice an All-Star in the Bronx and didn’t take any garbage from Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox. A World Series champion with the 1997 Florida Marlins, Sheffield blasted 509 career home runs. Unfortunately, the cloud of possible performance-enhancing drug use has kept his voting percentage at 11.6%.
It was mostly forgettable, but in 2008 the Yankees acquired “Pudge” from the Detroit Tigers. In 33 games in the Bronx, Rodriguez hit .219 with two home runs. The 1999 AL MVP and 2003 World Series champion and 13-time gold glove winner will be on the ballot for the first time. His numbers say he’s a lock but swirling steroid allegations may delay or foil his bid altogether.
Also on the ballot for the first time, Posada becomes the first member of the “Core Four” to entertain enshrinement in Cooperstown. A five-time World Series champion and lifetime Yankee, Jorge also has his No. 20 retired in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Jorge played with passion, was a workhorse behind the plate and hit for power at the dish. Across 17 seasons in the Bronx, the switch-hitter swatted 275 home runs, was a five-time All-Star and silver slugger winner. He may not be a first ballot inductee but being a fiery leader at an important position on a dynasty, who could hit with pop, makes a great case.