On the Sheff

We've talked before about how crowded — and controversial — the Hall of Fame classes four to five years from now could be. Ken Griffey Jr. and Ivan Rodriguez have since found gainful employment, but that still leaves Bonds, Clemens, Lofton, Schilling and Sosa eligible in 2013 and Glavine, Kent, Maddux, Martinez, Mussina and Thomas potentially eligible in 2014.

Now maybe add another one to that list:

Gary Sheffield's milestone 500th career home run will have to come with a different team. The Tigers released the longtime slugger on Tuesday, a surprising roster move and a potential end to what may ultimately be a Hall of Fame career.

On the cusp of traditional greatness statistically (499 homers), Sheffield blows away the baseline HOF numbers on both the Standards and Monitors metrices. His No. 2 comp is Griffey, his 3-7 and No. 9 comps are all in the Hall of Fame. Nos. 8 and 10 are future Hall of Famers. His No. 1 comp is a borderline guy I would probably vote in, Fred McGriff. From 1992-2003, Sheffield posted a 156 OPS+, and if not for the 1994-95 strike – seasons in which he posted an OPS+ of 145 and 176, respectively — Sheffield would have long ago blown past the elusive milestone.  

I'm not so sure he'll be elected though. He has no team identity (four seasons and parts of two others in Florida, four in Milwaukee, three and part of one in LA, three in New York, two in Atlanta, two in Detroit, one and a half in San Diego) so no base to push for his candidacy. He didn't hit a milestone that even now is losing its luster, he wasn't well liked during his playing days, and — worst of all — he has the taint of steroids. Maybe he sails in easily — he should — but if he doesn't find another team, he'll find himself on a crowded ballot in 2014 with a stain that could be hard to wash off.

6 comments… add one

  • The man can play and he’ll land somewhere this week.
    I have inexplicably had a soft spot for Sheff despite a couple of glaring foibles, i.e., tanking it in Milwaukee to get Trebelhorn fired, and the Chris House thing, for which House took too much heat and Sheff not enough.
    The sad thing for Sheff is that he should be on a team that will be a contender, but his untimely release mean that likely won’t happen.

    I'mBillMcNeal March 31, 2009, 12:42 pm
  • Sheffield is one of those players I’ve never liked, for a variety of reasons. He’s still a pretty good player though, and still has the reputation for being a good player. He’ll definitely get picked up this week.

    Atheose March 31, 2009, 12:44 pm
  • Sheff is going to be a very interesting case, if only to see how a nomadic player is treated – in this day and age of free agency it really shouldn’t matter. I am guessing that by 2014 the steroid issue will have played itself out in whatever direction it goes – the writers will have either assimilated the fact that a slew of players used and it is impossible to discriminate or they will stay stubborn in their moral resolve (misguided or not, that’s subjective). So Sheff’s candidacy might rest on his likability, his nomadism, and one stupid homer, though I imagine he gets a shot at it on opening day and hits #500 this year.

    SF March 31, 2009, 12:50 pm
  • I hope he never gets elected into the HoF. That place should be off limits to steroid users. He wouldn’t even be close to 500 without them.

    Bronx Baseball Daily March 31, 2009, 1:19 pm
  • “He wouldn’t even be close to 500 without them”
    and you can prove that how? You could make an opposite argument – his body broke down because of them and he’s actually had fewer opportunities! I don’t condone the use, nor can I prove that he would have hit more either.
    I’m just glad he didn’t end up on the sox.

    dw (sf) March 31, 2009, 3:19 pm
  • though I imagine he gets a shot at it on opening day and hits #500 this year
    I hope not. For all the bullshit he passed around he deserves to sit at 499 for eternity.

    Rob March 31, 2009, 3:28 pm

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