Among the 11 first-time players on the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, two have connections to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Shane Victorino spent parts of eight seasons with the Phillies, including the 2007-2011 run that is considered the most successful run in franchise history. Victorino had one of the signature hits in the 2008 World Series run, hitting a grand slam off of CC Sabathia in Game 2 of the NLDS.
Victorino also won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013, hitting a grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS at Fenway Park.
In all likelihood, Victorino will fail to receive five percent on the ballot and fall off after one year. Still, he was a two-time All-Star and won four Gold Glove Awards, in addition to his postseason heroics, so “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” has a career he can be proud of.
The other former Phillie that is on the ballot for the first time is much less of a fan-favorite in the city. Five years after helping the New York Yankees to defeat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, A.J. Burnett signed a one-year/$15 million deal to don red pinstripes. In his lone season with the team, Burnett posted a 4.59 ERA and led baseball with 18 losses. His one year with the Phillies was so unsuccessful that he actually declined his half of the mutual option to come back for a second season making over $12 million.
25 total former players will appear on the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot. In addition to the two new Phillies, four other players that spent time with the Phillies are returning to the ballot – Curt Schilling, Scott Rolen, Bobby Abreu and Billy Wagner.
Schilling is in the ninth year on the ballot, meaning he only has two more cracks at being elected. Schilling received 70.0% of the vote in 2020, so he’s within striking distance of the 75% required to become a Hall of Famer. A six-time All-Star, Schilling spent eight-and-a-half seasons with the Phillies, including the 1993 season, where he was a key cog in the team’s improbable run to the World Series. Nationally, Schilling is probably more remembered as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox, franchises he won three combined World Series titles as a member of.
Rolen, who won the 1997 National League Rookie of the Year as a Phillie, is entering his fourth year on the ballot. He received 35.3% of the vote a year ago. One of the greatest defenders in baseball history, Rolen won eight Gold Glove Awards and was a seven-time All-Star. Rolen tops the average Hall of Fame third baseman in bWAR, JAWS and WAR 7, three key metrics that sabermetically-inclined voters lean on. Said voters and activists have helped Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker make huge strides and get elected to the Hall of Fame, so if they begin to really focus their attention on Rolen, he could see a huge spike in 2021.
Phillies’ Wall of Famer Bobby Abreu received 5.5% of the vote in 2020, barely staying on the ballot. Abreu spent eight-and-a-half years with the Phillies, and finished his career with a .291/.395/.475 slash line, 2,470 hits and 400 stolen bases. If Abreu had been an elite fielder, he would have an extremely compelling case. But despite winning one Gold Glove Award, Abreu largely received underwhelming defensive marks for the bulk of his career, which hurts his case.
Wagner is entering his sixth year on the ballot, having received 31.7% of the vote a year ago. The flamethrowing lefty is sixth in MLB history with 422 saves. Wagner – who spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons in Philadelphia – has significantly lower career marks in terms of ERA and FIP than recent electees Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith.
The 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced on Jan. 26.
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