Roberts lands on HOF ballot for first time

November 18th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles won’t have any headliners in this year’s Hall of Fame class like last winter, when Mike Mussina earned the call to Cooperstown. But the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, released Monday, includes several players who enjoyed significant accomplishments in orange and black.

The one new name is former second baseman and current Orioles Radio Network analyst Brian Roberts, who is appearing on the ballot for the first time. Former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is widely viewed as the most likely newcomer to earn election, while former Orioles pitcher Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Larry Walker were the top holdover vote-getters from 2019.

Players must be named on 75 percent of ballots to earn election.

Arguably the best second baseman in Orioles history, Roberts’ immediate task will be to earn the 5 percent of the votes necessary to remain on the ballot. A two-time All-Star, Roberts spent 13 of his 14 big league seasons as a dynamic two-way player, twice leading the American League in doubles and once in stolen bases. But Roberts’ ties to performance-enhancing drugs -- he was named in the Mitchell Report and admitted in 2007 to using steroids -- make his already outside chances at Cooperstown an even longer shot.

A first-round Draft pick out of the University of South Carolina in 1999, Roberts made his MLB debut in 2001 and spent '03-09 as Baltimore’s everyday second baseman, earning All-Star selections in '05 and '09. He remained with the club through '13, though he averaged just 48 games from '10-13 due to various injuries. Roberts finished his playing career in '14 with the Yankees, and he began broadcasting for MASN, FOX and MLB Network in '16. He joined the Orioles Radio Network in '18.

Among second basemen, Roberts owns the franchise records for games played (1,327), at-bats (5,214), runs (810), hits (1,452), doubles (351), RBIs (521), walks (581) and steals (278). He ranks in the Top 10 in franchise history in runs scored, doubles and steals among players at any position.

Roberts slashed a combined .276/.347/.409 with 97 home runs, 367 doubles and 285 stolen bases over 14 big league seasons. He amassed 30.4 career Wins Above Replacement, including 7.3 WAR in 2005, his best season. Roberts earned down-ballot AL MVP Award votes that year after batting .314 with 45 doubles, 18 homers 27 stolen bases and a .903 OPS. He is a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame.

Other ballot players with Orioles ties:

Curt Schilling
Eighth year on ballot

Time is running out for Schilling to convince voters to look past his oft-divisive political views and vote to enshrine what is, on paper, a borderline Cooperstown resume. He is trending in the right direction, appearing on 60.9 percent of the 425 ballots cast a year ago after appearing on just 51.2 percent in 2018.

Schilling made his MLB debut with the Orioles in 1988 and had 44 appearances for the club over the next three seasons before being packaged with Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch in the infamous '91 trade with the Astros that netted Glenn Davis. Schilling went on to make six All-Star teams and win World Series rings with the D-backs and Red Sox, stringing together a 216-146 career record with a 3.46 ERA over 20 seasons.

Sammy Sosa
Eighth year on ballot

Sosa has never received more than 12.5 percent of the vote he did in 2013, his inaugural year on the ballot, and now appears in jeopardy of falling below the 5 percent threshold to remain eligible. He appeared on 8.5 percent of ballots in '19. Sosa spent the penultimate season of his 18-year career with the Orioles, appearing in 102 games for the club in 2005.

The former home-run champion went deep just 14 times that season, his lowest total since 1992. He did not play the next year and made his last MLB appearance in 2007 for the Rangers.

Dwight Evans
Modern Baseball Era ballot

One of 10 players on this year’s Modern Baseball Era ballot, Evans is beloved in Boston for the 19 seasons he spent as a Red Sox standout. He finished his career with one season in Baltimore, appearing in 101 games in 1991.

Eligible but did not make ballot
Joe Saunders, Nate McLouth

The full ballot
Bobby Abreu, Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Barry Bonds, Eric Chávez, Roger Clemens, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Raúl Ibañez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Konerko, Cliff Lee, Carlos Peña, Brad Penny, Andy Pettitte, J.J. Putz, Manny Ramírez, Brian Roberts, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso Soriano, Sammy Sosa, José Valverde, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker