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.