The Baseball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday afternoon that former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and former Expos, Rockies, and Cardinals outfielder Larry Walker will enter the Hall after being elected by the BBWAA. They’ll join Modern Baseball Era Committee inductee Ted Simmons and Ford C. Frick Award winner Ken “Hawk” Harrelson on stage in Cooperstown on July 26. Two posthumous winners, Modern Baseball Era committee inductee Marvin Miller and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Nick Cafardo, will also be honored. There could still be one final inductee if the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award is presented this year. Jeter was just one vote short of being the second unanimous inductee in Hall of Fame history, earning 396 of 397 votes:
BBWAA elects Derek Jeter, Larry Walker. https://t.co/XeuIE8xL0S pic.twitter.com/E2LGbD3yvN— BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) January 21, 2020
Jeter’s greatness has been questioned for years by members of the sabermetric community, as his advanced defensive metrics leave something to be desired and he was never a particularly great power hitter. But it’s an undeniable fact that he was the face of a Yankees dynasty that won four World Series in five years from 1996-2000 and went to two others in ‘01 and ‘03. In a remarkable testament to Jeter’s longevity, he also led the Yankees with a 6.6 bWAR at 35 years old as they won the World Series again in 2009. While it’s pretty clear that he’s not in the same class as guys like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, and Stan Musial, he was one of the greatest players of his era, and he obviously had some elite intangible qualities — otherwise he wouldn’t have been the most instrumental player in baseball’s greatest dynasty of the last 60 years or so.
Jeter enters the Hall with five World Series rings, 14 All-Star appearances, five Gold Gloves, five Silver Slugger Awards, a Rookie of the Year Award, both the All-Star and World Series MVP awards in 2000, and a 72.4 bWAR that ranks him fifth in Yankees history and 88th all-time among major-leaguers. He posted a .310/.377/.440 slash line with 1,311 homers over 20 seasons, all spent in pinstripes.
Walker, a five-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger winner, three-time NL batting title winner, and 1997 NL MVP, finally gets into the Hall after being unable to crack the 75-percent threshold in his first nine tries. Walker ranks 86th all-time among major-leaguers with a 72.7 bWAR and posted a .313/.400/.565 slash line with 383 homers over 17 seasons split between the Expos, Rockies, and Cardinals. While many writers held Walker’s nine-plus seasons at Coors Field against him, he ultimately posted a still-elite .278/.370/.495 slash line on the road over 17 seasons, so it’s hard to argue his credentials. Walker will be the first Rockies player ever to enter the Hall of Fame, and he’s also only the second Canadian-born player (following Fergie Jenkins) to be elected.
Starter Curt Schilling earned by far his highest vote total yet, a sign that he’ll likely be able to overcome the controversy surrounding his publicly-stated desire to see journalists executed in 2016, among other post-playing-career character concerns. The six-time All-Star and three-time World Series champ has two years left on the writers’ ballot, during which he should be able to build on the 70.0% of the vote that he earned this time around.
Legendary outfielder Barry Bonds and starter Roger Clemens, who were arguably the greatest position player and pitcher of their era but have been hurt by their connections to performance-enhancing drugs, continue to be divisive characters among voters and will face an uphill battle to be elected during their final two years on the ballot. While the younger writers gaining voting privileges over the next two years should help their respective causes, the addition of those individuals alone isn’t going to be enough to make up the 14 percent or so that they need to gain. That will require an evolution in thought from some veteran voters, which seems extremely unlikely when those writers have already been voting against them for eight years.