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August 02, 2006

Jason And Gary And The Hall

If Yankees fans were asked this question, I wonder what they would say?

Assuming that Gary Sheffield retires after 2007 and Jason Giambi plays another two solid seasons in the Bronx after this year, which of the two is more likely to be voted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown? And, would Cooperstown put the Yankees cap on their plaque?

Both would be around 500 career homers with an OBA around .400. Both have the BALCO cloud.

Giambi, after 2008, would have 7 years with the Yankees and 7 with the A's.

Sheffield has played less than 300 games for the Brewers, Braves, and Padres (each). He did play 558 games for the Marlins and 526 for the Dodgers - compared to just 338 with the Yankees (to date). But, when you think "Gary Sheffield" to you really think "Marlins" or "Dodgers"?

I'm not sure that there's a really clear answer to this question - even given the assumptions.

If I had to guess an answer now, on a hunch, I would say "Giambi - and, yes, as a Yankee."

And, that's not because Sheffield doesn't deserve it - it's just because that's how I think Cooperstown will handle it.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 2, 2006 12:08 PM


There's no way in hell that Giambi is going into the Hall. He's not going to be anywhere near 500 home runs. He's at 343 right now. Is he going to hit fifty home runs a year over the next two years? My guess is that Giambi plays out his contract with the Yanks and retires.

If Sheffield plays for a few more years, I think he has a good chance. It's interesting how he's been the ultimate mercenary, though -- kind of fits his personality.

So I say "maybe" on Sheff and a definite "no" on Giambi (though I like the guy very much).

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 01:04 PM

I could see Giambi hitting 10 more this year, and then 80 over 2007-08. That would give him 433 HRs, IIRC.

He might go back to Oakland for a year or two after NY and could add another 30 to his total there.

That would make it 463. Like I said, "around 500."

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 01:42 PM

It's a tough question because, even adjusted for the steroid era, both were among the most productive players of their time. I think Sheffield has a better shot of making it in than Giambi because Sheffield's further up the ladder in the important Hall of Fame stats and I do think that Sheffield is a little less tainted by the steroids thing than Giambi since he never fell as far down the ladder. Sheff's personality (positively Jim Rice-ian in some ways) will probably turn some voters off, however...

As to if they'll go in as Yankees, I would think so. Which raises an issue for me - I HATE that the Hall picks what hat a player should wear upon induction. I see no reason why a player can't be allowed to make that decision for himself. I don't care if there's politicking and bribery involved, if Nolan Ryan wants to go in as a Houston Astro instead of a California Angel, that's his right. Ditto Winnie as a Padre instead of a Yankee or Roger as an Astro instead of a Red Sock.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 01:59 PM

Steve, you're comparing Sheffield and Giambi. Sheff already has 450 home runs. He's probably going to end up with significantly more than 500 home runs. Giambi will be lucky to get there. He still needs about 160. I don't see him getting there. He's been breaking down too much physically.

I like Giambi a lot, but the BALCO/steroid cloud is too much for a guy whose numbers don't stack up to overcome.

Frank Thomas is considered a long shot for the Hall, and he has no steroid scandal hanging over him and he was, in his prime, the most feared hitter in the AL.

If a guy like Thomas doesn't make it -- even with his bad attitude -- I can't imagine they would put a confessed cheater with non-remarkable numbers in.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 02:11 PM

Frank Thomas is a long-shot for the HOF? Really?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 02:13 PM

Sheffield definitely has a stronger case but, in the end, the Balco business will deter both from getting in. Here we have a convergence of the Pollyannas and the Yankee-haters...two good reasons for voters to say no to both Sheff and Giambi. While I abhor the use of PEDS, the unequal application of justice in this issue will continue to undermine the discussion of players from this era, as long as the shadow of doubt hangs over them. And I think steroids/HGH use was so prevalent that we can never make definitive judgments about anything achieved during this time, at bat or from the mound. And, yes, that's sad.

Posted by: JohnnyC [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 02:26 PM

Giambi is a borderline candidate--kind of like Mussina. I think Mussina has a better chance to get in because of his longer track record of consistency. Sheffield deserves to get in and will likely wear a Dodger cap.

Posted by: RichDank [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 02:32 PM

Like previous posters, I don't think that Giambi has much of a shot -- steroids plus those two down years with the Yankees killed his shot. Sheffield is a tougher case; given all the teams that he has played for and attitude issues, I see him as a Dick Allen-type player. Allen never really had much of a chance. I might put Sheffield in my personal Hall; I'd have to think about it.

Thomas is a no-brainer selection. He deserves it -- look where he ranks in career OBP.

Mussina is a fascinating case. I'd put him in; he's close, if not above, the median HoF starter. Still, I think that he'll have a long wait. Winning 20 games this year and shining in a post-season would really raise his odds.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 02:47 PM

Well, WE might think Thomas is a HoFer, but if you listen to writers/commentators talk about him, people say he might not get in. I remember Kay and Singleton having a rather heated argument about this. 500 home runs is no longer an automatic, and Thomas hasn't gotten there yet.

Thomas was an amazing hitter in his prime, but how you go out, and your final numbers, DO matter. And Thomas hasn't been good in a while and he has had a lot of injuries. I don't think he's a shoo-in.

For the record, Thomas is 13th on the all-time OBP list. Todd Helton is 9th. Is Helton a HoFer?

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 03:19 PM

Definitely tough questions, as I think voters are going to be leery of a lot of candidates from the juiced era. We'll have to see how the voters treat McGwire first (Bonds is a shoe in regardless. Even if you discount 200 HR for steroids, he's still a 500-500 guy.)

I think Sheff's numbers are going to be better, so he has a better chance than Jason. As for Moose, he'll have to wait behind Bert Blyleven (unless he gets 20 wins, a ring and a nice shiny Cy Young this year, hope, hope, hope.)

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 03:22 PM

Frank Thomas is a top 20 hitter all-time. Sheff is in the top 30. Giambi is top 60 and probably headed to top 50. Of course, that's all completely irrelevant as we're talking about Cooperstown here.

Posted by: hopbitters [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 03:33 PM

Those are good questions, baileywalk. I tend to assume that the younger generation of writers are going to do better with Thomas. What helps Thomas is that he is almost definitely steroid-free and his numbers pre-date the inflated numbers of the steroid era. What hurts him, of course, is all of the DH time and the injuries.

All other things being equal, it looks like Helton is on his way to putting up Hall of Fame numbers. Things are not equal, of course, and writers are going to have to deal with two new factors for him: the Coors effect as well as the inflated numbers of the steroid era. Playing for a new team and producing there would help him. His slugging is down this year, however; maybe he'll make the decision easier by burning out early. It's just too soon to tell with him.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 04:17 PM


The link above might be the place to start in judging basic offensive contribution.

A friend of mine who works for the sports department of a major newspaper told me the unsubstantiated gossip that the two clubhouses most renowned for juicing were those of the Oakland A's and the Houston Astros. That may have some effect on the chances of number 30 on the list above as well as the great 2B/CF.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2006 04:25 PM