Vizquel falls short of Hall as vote total dips

January 27th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- For the first time since he joined the Hall of Fame ballot in 2018, former Indians shortstop did not see a jump in his vote total.

Vizquel received 197 of 401 votes cast (49.1 percent) by tenured members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, as announced Tuesday on MLB Network. In 2018, he earned 37 percent of the vote before jumping to 42.8 percent in ’19. When he received 52.6 percent of the vote in ‘20, it appeared as though he was on a steady climb to reach the 75 percent threshold within the next few years before this slight setback. Vizquel now has six more years to attempt to reach that mark.

The drop in votes comes just over a month after The Athletic reported that Vizquel’s wife, Blanca, has accused him of domestic abuse. Vizquel denied the allegations, although he was taken into police custody in 2016 after an incident at the couple's Seattle-area home in Sammamish, Wash., according to that report. No charges were filed.

That same report stated that Vizquel is being investigated by MLB for a clubhouse incident that arose from when he was managing the Double-A Birmingham Barons, an affiliate of the White Sox, in 2019. While a Hall of Fame vote is largely cast based on a player’s baseball abilities and contributions to a team, writers are also instructed to consider a player’s integrity, sportsmanship and character.

For the first time since 2013 and the ninth time since voting began in 1936, no player was elected into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA.

While Vizquel suffered a setback in his vote totals, another former member of the Tribe, Jeff Kent -- who received 27.5 percent of the vote in 2020 -- saw a jump to 32.4 percent of the vote this year. Manny Ramirez received the same percentage of the vote as he did in '20 at 28.2. Kent has two years left to get inducted, while Ramirez has five.

If it was only up to his defense, Vizquel could’ve easily been inducted in his first year on the ballot. He won a Gold Glove Award each season from 1993 through 2001 and picked up two more from '05-06 with the Giants, giving him a total of 11 in his career. He sits atop the leaderboard in career fielding percentage as a shortstop with .985 and he turned the most double plays at shortstop in MLB history with 1,734. Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is second with 1,590 over a 19-year span.

The hesitation to vote for Vizquel -- based solely on on-field production -- is spurred from his offensive numbers. In 2,968 career games in his 24-year career, Vizquel batted .272/.336/.352 with 2,877 hits, 951 RBIs and 404 stolen bases with three All-Star selections. In 11 seasons (1994-2004) with the Tribe, he hit .283 with 1,616 hits, 906 runs scored, 60 homers and 584 RBIs. He had a standout offensive year in 1999, slashing .333/.397/.436 with 42 stolen bases and a career-high 112 runs scored to earn his second consecutive All-Star selection.

Vizquel’s offensive numbers are similar to Smith’s. The defensive wizard who played for 19 years and was a first-ballot inductee hit .262/.337/.328 in his career. However, Smith’s 87 OPS+ just tops Vizquel’s 82 OPS+, which would be tied for the lowest of Hall of Fame shortstops with Luis Aparicio and Rabbit Maranville. Smith also bested Vizquel in stolen bases (by 176) and walks (by 44), and he flashed the most leather of all shortstops in the Hall of Fame with 44.2 defensive bWAR. If Vizquel is elected in, he’d sit sixth at defensive bWAR (29.5) among Hall of Fame shortstops.