The Braves had multiple former players up for Hall of Fame consideration this year. The most notable being Andruw Jones, but Billy Wagner and Gary Sheffield, who served shorter stints in Atlanta, are also hoping to one day be enshrined in Cooperstown. Unfortunately, they will have to wait at least another year to do so.
Gary Sheffield spent two years in Atlanta, the second of which he finished 3rd in the NL MVP race. That season, he hit .330 with 39 homers and a 1.023 OPS. If Sheffield had put up those numbers today, he would probably have a few MVPs in his trophy case. Unfortunately, he was competing with the likes of Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols for the award.
Over his entire career, Sheffield blasted 509 home runs and finished with a .907 OPS. There’s no question he should be a Hall of Famer, but many players from the steroid era suffer in the eyes of voters because of skepticism, whether it is deserved or not. That is evidently playing a role when it comes to Sheffield, who only received 55% of the vote in his ninth year on the ballot. He will need an incredible jump to 75% in his 10th and final year to get into the Hall of Fame.
Bill Wagner was long a thorn in the side of the Braves, especially when he was with the Phillies and then the Mets. However, he finished his career with the Braves in 2010, and it wasn’t typically how most players end their careers. Wagner went out on top as an All-Star, recording a minuscule 1.43 ERA and 13.5 K/9 over 69.1 innings. It was actually the lowest ERA he posted over his illustrious 16-year career.
When it comes to flat-out dominance at the end of games, few were as unhittable as Wagner, who received a considerable boost in the voting this year. He’s now at 68.1 percent, up from 51% last year. With two more years left on the ballot, it looks as if Wagner is on his way to Cooperstown; it’s only a matter of when.
While I hope the Hall of Fame eventually acknowledges both Sheffield and Wagner for their accomplishments, the one most Braves are concerned with is the legendary Andruw Jones. For 11 years in Atlanta, he was the best centerfielder in baseball, and he’s the best defensive centerfielder of all time, winning 10 straight gold gloves.
As Justin Toscano of The AJC points out, Jones is one of just four players to hit 400 homers and win 10 gold gloves. The others made it to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Andruw Jones is one of only four players in history to win 10 Gold Glove Awards and hit at least 400 home runs. The other three were first-ballot Hall of Famers.https://t.co/mQpYY6Bobp
— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) January 25, 2023
The issue with Jones is his career fell off a cliff once he left Atlanta, but that almost makes how dominant he was over a decade even more impressive. There’s not an advanced metric out there that would suggest Jones is not a Hall of Famer, and he did it all over a 10-year span. Jones should already have been elected into the Hall of Fame, but the good news is he’s well on his way.
Last year, his fifth year on the ballot, Jones finished at 41% of the vote. This time around, 58.1% of voters gave him the nod, a 17% increase. If a similar jump occurs next year, which is very possible, Jones will head to the Hall of Fame. But even if he falls just short, he still has four years left to reach the 75% threshold.
Based on recent trends, Jones will eventually get there; however, it remains incredibly annoying how many of these baseball nerds feel the need to gate-keep the Hall of Fame. This is by far the most annoying process in all of sports, but that’s another story for another day.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire