Throughout the offseason the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we discussed Dylan Cease’s future. This week we’re going to tackle Gary Sheffield’s Hall of Fame worthiness. Sheffield fell off the ballot in his tenth and final try this year.
Do you think Gary Sheffield belongs in the Hall of Fame?
R.J. Anderson: Yeah, I believe Sheffield belongs in the Hall of Fame. I don’t think there’s much debate about his offensive ability — or, at least, there shouldn’t be — but to rehash: he cleared 500 home runs; he ranks sixth in career offensive value accumulated among right fielders (everyone ahead is in the Hall); and he made nine All-Star Games (every other modern right fielder with that many is in).
I know Sheffield’s defense never graded well and the public’s attempts at quantifying his glove work have left him a little below the Hall’s standards from a WAR perspective. Fair enough. I would counter that voters have shown more appetite for voting for DH types in recent years, and that Sheffield’s career OPS+ was almost identical to David Ortiz’s despite taking 900 more trips to the plate.
Defense matters, there’s no sense pretending otherwise. I just think that in a case like this, where we’re clearly talking about an elite hitter, it’s OK to grant them a wider berth and remember that these measures should not be treated as being infallibly precise.
Matt Snyder: I’m a strong yes and have been for years. My latest plea includes just about all I have to say about it.
Dayn Perry: I’m a “Big Hall” type of person on these matters, and if it’s close I lean put him in. I’m also not one to keep out those with PED associations so long as the body of work merits induction. In Sheff’s case, the home runs and high OBP are enough for me to support his case, while noting the defensive shortcomings. He’s probably just on the right side of the line for me in terms of total career value, but he’s a yes.
Mike Axisa: Yes, absolutely. Sheffield was on the short list of the best hitters of his generation — he slashed .307/.416/.557 during his 12-year peak from 1992-2003, which was 56% better than the league average — and he managed to hit 509 home runs while striking out only 1,171 times. He had remarkable contact ability for a guy who swung so violently. Sheffield was a poor defender and that drags his overall contribution down, but the bat more than makes up for it. And come on, didn’t we all copy his bat waggle while playing wiffle ball in the backyard? Sheffield meets the “fame” component of the Hall of Fame for me, and he was simply a great hitter too. I would have voted for him if I had a vote this year.