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16 players fall off after 1st year on HOF ballot

January 21, 2020

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected two new members to the Hall of Fame, as announced Tuesday on MLB Network. Yankees legend Derek Jeter was selected on his first ballot with 99.7 percent of the vote, and former Expos, Rockies and Cardinals great Larry Walker was selected in his

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected two new members to the Hall of Fame, as announced Tuesday on MLB Network. Yankees legend Derek Jeter was selected on his first ballot with 99.7 percent of the vote, and former Expos, Rockies and Cardinals great Larry Walker was selected in his 10th and final year, garnering 76.6 percent. Those two join former catcher Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller, who were selected by the Today’s Game Era Committee in December, to complete the 2020 Class, which will be formally inducted on July 26 in Cooperstown.

Jeter’s election brings the number of first-ballot Hall of Famers since 2014 to 13. But for many candidates, the first appearance on the BBWAA ballot is also the last, as they are unable to receive the 5 percent or more of the vote required to remain eligible for the next year. Aside from Jeter getting in, the only other first-year candidate to reach 5 percent was Bobby Abreu, who narrowly survived, with 5.5 percent.

Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Here’s a look at the 16 accomplished careers of the first-timers who went one-and-done in 2020, in order of their career wins above replacement (WAR), according to Baseball Reference.

Complete 2020 Hall of Fame election results

Jason Giambi (50.5 WAR): Giambi emerged as one of the game’s great sluggers with the Athletics, breaking out in 1999 before taking American League MVP honors in 2000 and following that with a runner-up finish in ‘01. After that, the Yankees inked him to a seven-year, $120 million contract. He put up big numbers for New York, but in 2005, admitted to having used performance-enhancing drugs in the past. After his contract with the Yankees expired, Giambi went on to play for the A’s (again), Rockies and Indians. In all, he hit 440 home runs with a .916 OPS over a 20-year career that included five All-Star selections.

Cliff Lee (42.8 WAR): You would have been hard-pressed to find a better starting pitcher than Lee from 2008-14. In fact, only one starter had a better ERA+ during that period than Lee’s 138 -- Clayton Kershaw (151). Lee was the AL Cy Young Award winner in ‘08, his final full year with the Indians. He then bounced to the Phillies, Mariners, Rangers, and back to the Phillies, but continued to pitch well through his age-35 season, before injuries ended his career. The left-hander retired with a 3.52 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 13 seasons that included four All-Star appearances, plus a 2.52 ERA in 11 postseason starts.

Rafael Furcal (39.4 WAR): For 14 seasons, Furcal was a speedster atop the lineup for the Braves, Dodgers, Cardinals and Marlins. The shortstop was voted NL Rookie of the Year in 2000, when he posted a .776 OPS and stole 40 bases for Atlanta. He was a three-time All-Star and stole 314 bases overall. He was also on the 2011 World Series champion Cardinals club that beat the Rangers in a dramatic seven-game Fall Classic.

Eric Chavez (37.5 WAR): Chavez was at his peak from 2001-06, when the third baseman slashed .273/.352/.495 (122 OPS+) with 199 home runs and six straight AL Gold Glove Awards for the A’s. Unfortunately for Chavez, injuries prevented him from ever again compiling 400 plate appearances in a season, although he played for eight more years with the A’s, Yankees and D-backs. Overall, he posted an .818 OPS with 260 homers in a 17-year career.

Josh Beckett (35.6 WAR): Beckett is most remembered for his incredible postseason in 2003, when he led the Marlins to a World Series title over the Yankees. The right-hander posted a 2.11 ERA over six playoff starts, including a World Series Game 6 masterpiece in which he tossed a five-hit shutout, clinching the championship, as well as a World Series MVP Award. Four years later, Beckett was named ALCS MVP for the Red Sox before Boston won its second World Series title in four seasons by sweeping the Rockies. Beckett had another memorable moment while with the Dodgers in 2014, when he tossed a no-hitter against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Overall, he had a 3.88 career ERA and 1.23 WHIP, and was selected as an All-Star three times over a 14-year career.

Brian Roberts (30.4 WAR): Roberts was a solid middle infielder who played all but one of his 14 Major League seasons with the Orioles (he finished his career with the Yankees in 2014). A two-time All-Star, Roberts led the AL with 50 doubles in 2004 and 50 steals in ‘07. He also led the Majors with 56 doubles in ‘09. For his career, he slashed .276/.347/.409 with 285 steals.

Alfonso Soriano (28.2 WAR): Soriano was a 30-home run, 30-steal player in four seasons, including in 2006, when he became the fourth player in Major League history to join the 40-40 club (46 home runs and 41 steals for the Nationals). From 2002-06, he had an .865 OPS while averaging 36 homers and 29 steals per season. After spending the first five seasons of his career with the Yankees, he became a key offensive force for the Rangers, Nationals and Cubs through ‘12. The following season, he was traded back to the Yankees, where he finished his career. In all, he hit 412 homers and stole 289 bases. He was a seven-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2004 All-Star Game, when he went 2-for-3 with a homer off Roger Clemens.

Carlos Pena (25.1 WAR): Pena was a slugging first baseman who played for the Rangers, A’s, Tigers, Red Sox, Rays, Cubs, Astros and Royals over a 14-year Major League career. His best years came as a member of the Rays -- in four seasons with Tampa Bay from 2007-10, he posted an .844 OPS with 144 home runs, winning a Silver Slugger Award in ‘07, a Gold Glove Award in ‘08, and earning an All-Star selection in ‘09, when he led the AL with 39 homers. In ‘08, he helped the Rays reach the World Series by smashing three homers in the ALCS vs. the Red Sox. When it was all said and done, Pena finished with an .808 career OPS (117 OPS+) and 286 home runs.

Paul Konerko (27.7 WAR): Konerko became a White Sox icon, spending 16 of his 18 seasons on the South Side of Chicago. Drafted 13th overall in 1994 by the Dodgers, he was traded to the Reds and, eventually, the White Sox, debuting for them in ‘99. Over his long tenure with Chicago, he was a six-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2005 ALCS against the Angels, hitting two of his five home runs that postseason, which ended with the White Sox winning their first championship in 88 years. Konerko finished with 439 career home runs.

Chone Figgins (22.2 WAR): A speedy utility man for the Angels, Mariners and Dodgers from 2002-14, Figgins stole 341 bases in his career, was an All-Star in 2009, and received MVP votes in four seasons.

Raul Ibanez (20.4 WAR): Ibanez hit 305 home runs over a 19-year career with the Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Yankees and Angels, including 278 in his age-30 season or after. He had a career year in 2009 with Philadelphia, helping the Phillies reach the World Series for a second consecutive year by posting an .899 OPS and 34 homers in an All-Star campaign.

Brad Penny (19 WAR): Penny helped the Marlins win the 2003 World Series by yielding just three earned runs over 12 1/3 innings in two starts against the Yankees. He was an All-Star in 2006 and ‘07 with the Dodgers, finishing third in NL Cy Young Award voting in ‘07. Overall, he posted a 4.29 ERA in 14 seasons, also pitching for the Red Sox, Giants, Cardinals, Tigers and Marlins.

Adam Dunn (17.4 WAR): Dunn belted 462 career home runs -- most of them of the tape-measure variety -- tied with Jose Canseco for 37th all-time. He was a two-time All-Star while playing for the Reds, D-backs, Nationals, White Sox and Athletics from 2001-14.

J.J. Putz (13.1 WAR): Putz was a strong right-handed reliever for the Mariners, Mets, White Sox and D-backs from 2003-14, finishing with 189 saves and a 3.08 ERA in 12 seasons, which included an All-Star selection in 2007.

Jose Valverde (11.5 WAR): Valverde was a three-time All-Star while pitching for the D-backs, Astros, Tigers and Mets from 2003-14. He led the Majors in saves in 2007 (47) and ‘11 (49), and led the NL in ‘08 (44). In all, he saved 288 games with a 3.27 ERA for his career.

Heath Bell (7.1 WAR): Bell’s peak came from 2009-11 with the Padres, when he was one of the best closers in the game. Over that stretch, he had a 2.36 ERA and 132 saves, earning three All-Star selections. In 11 Major League seasons overall, he had 168 saves and a 3.49 ERA, also pitching for the Mets, Marlins, D-backs and Rays.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.