Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Let's get this out of the way early: Derek Jeter should be elected unanimously to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Duh.
Will he get 100 percent of the vote of the Baseball Writers Association of America in this election cycle? Well, that's one of the biggest questions this voting season, and it'll be a talking point until the Class of 2020 is announced Jan. 21.
Does it really matter? Of course not. He's getting in next year, whether everyone votes for him or a few sit back and make him pay some sort of absurd "first-ballot tax" because he might not have had the same kind of monster career as, say, Hank Aaron. Or if they despise his fielding because the new defensive metrics weren't in love with the Yankee star.
It was ridiculous when Aaron (97.8 percent of the vote in 1982), Willie Mays (94.7 percent in 1979), Tom Seaver (98.8 percent in 1992) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.3 percent in 2016) didn't get every vote. It was ridiculous when countless other luminaries didn't get votes. And it's ridiculous now, considering the decorated, elite career Jeter had.
Mariano Rivera opened the floodgates last year when he got 425 out of 425 votes, becoming the first one to 100 percent. A player needs to be named on 75 percent of the ballots to gain election.
Was Rivera a special case, since one thing the world can agree on is that he's the greatest closer of all-time? Or did he start the end of a not-so-hallowed voting tradition?
We'll find out. Two Hall of Fame voters contacted by SNY.tv said that, while Jeter should be unanimous, he probably won't get every vote.
"I believe he should be unanimous, but I don't believe he will be," said one of the voters, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There's already too much of this notion out there that he was 'overrated,' whereas Mariano universally is considered the best to ever play his position.
"I believe Jeter will be very close, but will be left off a few ballots."
Added the second voter: "His credentials are irrefutable. But I predict he will not be unanimous. You can already see the efforts to downplay his accomplishments building on social media, and I imagine there will be someone who leaves him off to curry favor with that crowd.
"There always seems to be a need to try to prove what is plain as day is not. It's remarkable, in this sense, that Rivera was unanimous. After all, someone thought Pete Alonso, with 53 home runs, should not be Rookie of the Year.
"But differing opinions aren't a bad thing. It's an election. It doesn't have to be unanimous."
True. But we certainly seem to focus on it nowadays.
To a third voter, Jeter's candidacy offers "an excellent chance at a unanimous outcome" in part because of Jeter's accomplishments and because more voters than ever are revealing their ballots publicly after the election.
"Does anyone really want to be identified as the person who did not cast a vote for Derek Jeter?" the third voter added. "Leaving him off to accommodate others on a maxed ballot is, in my judgment, poor reasoning, but the only scenario I could imagine for not casting a Jeter vote."
This year, the ballot is not as crowded as it has been recently, since the BBWAA has elected 20 players since 2014. So perhaps there isn't reason to strategize by leaving off Jeter to give a player such as Jeff Kent a vote.
In any case, there are plenty of reasons to say yes to Jeter, including but certainly not limited to his 3,465 hits (sixth all-time), 1,923 runs (11th), five World Series titles, and 14 All-Star nods. There's plenty of hardware, too -- the 2000 World Series MVP Award, the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year award, a couple of Hank Aaron Awards are among the trophies. He was a Core Four superstar who played more playoff games than anyone (158), and batted .308 with 20 homers in that cauldron.
He authored the Flip Play and hit the World Series homer that made him "Mr. November." He took a tumble into the stands against the Red Sox in 2004 after snagging a foul pop, a signature, if slightly bloody, moment that exemplified his hustle.
He was the face of a dynasty, a winning player who had a flair for the dramatic and more confidence than, well, just about anybody. Maybe that didn't show up on a stat sheet, but that poise translated to teammates, who believed Jeter would shine in critical moments.
You want to ding him? OK, he never won the AL MVP and maybe never was the best shortstop in the game. The aforementioned defensive metrics don't treat his glove kindly, though it's worth noting that he was the starting shortstop on a club that went to the playoffs basically every year. How bad could the shortstop be if the Yankees kept winning and winning and winning?
If that's enough to withhold votes from Jeter, well, as the second voter above said, it doesn't have to be unanimous.
And the possibility of Jeter getting every vote doesn't somehow mean that he's a "better" Hall of Famer than the likes of Seaver, Mays, Stan Musial or Ted Williams.
It just means he's in the Hall of Fame, where he belongs.