Here's to the stars who fell off the HOF ballot

January 24th, 2023

Congratulations to Scott Rolen on joining Fred McGriff in the Baseball Hall of Fame’s class of 2023. But let’s take a moment to honor those who fell from the ballot Tuesday. These 13 players either did not receive the requisite 5 percent of the votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America to continue on the ballot or, in the case of Jeff Kent, didn’t receive the 75 percent needed for induction on his 10th and final year on the ballot.

Their Cooperstown hopes are dashed – for now. Some of these players could be reconsidered by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee, which elected McGriff unanimously this cycle. Those seeking induction will just have to be patient as that committee next meets in 2025 to vote on possible inductees for the class of ‘26.

Still, today can be a day of celebration for this group. All of these players spent at least 10 full seasons in the Majors, which makes them members of a small club already. Multi-time All-Stars, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winners, MVPs, Cy Young recipients and World Series champions – everyone below can claim at least one of those achievements. Let’s give them their due.

Jeff Kent (55.4 WAR, 181 votes, 46.5 percent)
Through his first five seasons, it seemed unlikely that Kent would become the best power-hitting second baseman in AL/NL history. But following a 1996 trade to the Giants, his career really took off.

Over the next six seasons with the Giants, Kent averaged a .297/.368/.535 slash line with 29 homers and 115 RBIs. He made three All-Star teams, won three Silver Sluggers and finished inside the top 10 for NL MVP four times. He won the award in 2000, when he bashed 33 homers and posted a 162 OPS+. After the Giants won the pennant in 2002, Kent signed with Houston, where his production fell off a little bit. However, he was commonly 20 percent better than league average by OPS+, and no Astros fan will forget his walk-off home run to win Game 5 of that season’s NLCS.

Kent’s career ended following four seasons with the Dodgers. By the time he retired at age 40, his 377 homers and 1,518 RBIs were the most by any second baseman, records that still stand. His 984 extra-base hits trail only Craig Biggio (1,014) and Rogers Hornsby (1,011) at the keystone.

John Lackey (37.3 WAR, 1 vote, 0.3 percent)
Lackey’s 2002 rookie year featured a storybook ending as he threw five innings in Game 7 of the World Series versus the Giants en route to picking up the win and helping the Angels clinch the franchise’s first championship.

Not usually considered an ace, Lackey never racked up outrageous strikeout totals and made only one All-Star squad, but he was a consistently dependable starter for a bevy of contending teams. He averaged 197 innings per season from 2003-16. And his 3.29 postseason ERA was significantly better than his 3.95 mark during the regular season. Besides the 2002 finale, Lackey was also credited with the win in the Game 6 clincher of the 2013 World Series for the Red Sox, and he assisted the Cubs in breaking their curse in ‘16. Only six pitchers have made more playoff starts in the Wild Card Era than Lackey’s 23.

A 188-game winner, Lackey’s regular-season apex occurred in his All-Star campaign of 2007. He picked up 19 victories, paced the American League with a 3.01 ERA and finished third in the Cy Young voting.

Jered Weaver (34.6 WAR, 0 votes)
A Southern California kid and the Angels’ first-round Draft pick in 2004, Weaver broke into the league in ‘06 and won 11 of his 13 decisions while compiling a 2.56 ERA over 123 innings. Then, just as Lackey’s time as an Angel was ending in 2009, Weaver announced his presence as the team’s new staff leader and one of the best pitchers in baseball.

In 2010, Weaver made his first of three All-Star teams and led MLB with 233 strikeouts. In 2011, he recorded a career-best 2.41 ERA over 235 2/3 innings and was the runner-up to Justin Verlander for the Cy Young Award. In 2012, Weaver secured 20 wins while leading the junior circuit with a 1.02 WHIP. He also tossed a no-hitter versus the Twins, which would have been Weaver’s second involvement in a no-no if not for a severe case of “weird baseball.”

Jacoby Ellsbury (31.2 WAR, 0 votes)
Blazing speed was always Ellsbury’s calling card. His legs helped feed America during the 2007 World Series. The following year, he paced the American League with 50 steals and then crushed that mark – and the Red Sox’s single-season record – with 70 stolen bases in 2009. No player has nabbed as many bags since.

However, Ellsbury’s 2011 season was on another level. That’s because after hitting just 30 homers through his first six seasons in pro ball, the lefty swinger surprisingly muscled up for 32 home runs and topped the Majors with 83 extra-base hits and 364 total bases. Ellsbury's superb showing netted him an All-Star Game appearance, a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger and a second-place finish in the AL MVP voting.

Jhonny Peralta (30.4 WAR, 0 votes)
The 22-year-old Peralta wasn’t weighed down by taking over the starting shortstop job for Cleveland in 2005; he totaled a 5.1 bWAR during his first full season, which ranked second among all American League shortstops. Peralta connected for 24 homers that year – the most by a Cleveland shortstop in nearly half a century – and had five 20-homer seasons across his 15-year career.

A three-time All-Star, Peralta also captured his fair share of postseason moments. He registered an .832 OPS through his first 45 playoff games split between Cleveland and Detroit. That success included a two-homer night as the Tigers clinched the 2012 pennant against the Yankees, and a three-run shot versus the Red Sox during the 2007 ALCS.

Jayson Werth (29.2 WAR, 0 votes)
Speaking of big postseason home runs, Werth has a lot of experience in that field. His walk-off blast in the 2012 NLDS is the stuff of legend for Nationals fans. Werth also went deep during the 2008 World Series for the victorious Phillies and then put together a .275/.473/.725 slash line with seven homers the following postseason as Philadelphia repeated as National League champions.

The hirsute outfielder was sidetracked by injuries during the early stages of his MLB career, but he was able to fulfill his potential once he signed with the Phils before the ‘07 season. Werth averaged a 128 OPS+ over the next eight years. That span included an All-Star Game selection in 2009 and four seasons in which he received MVP votes.

Matt Cain (29.1 WAR, 0 votes)
Cain, a 13-year veteran with the Giants, threw at least 200 innings each year from 2007-12 and made three All-Star teams during that period. His 26.2 bWAR over those six years placed him among the top 10 starting pitchers. The right-hander set career highs in wins (16), ERA (2.79), WHIP (1.04) and strikeouts (193) in 2012, a season in which he also authored a perfect game.

A three-time World Series champion, Cain was at the head of San Francisco’s rotation during its runs to the title in 2010 and 2012, and he pitched to a 2.10 ERA through eight postseason starts. He didn’t allow an earned run in 21 1/3 frames during the 2010 playoffs. Two years later, he went seven strong innings in Game 4 of the Fall Classic as the Giants completed their sweep of the Tigers.

J.J. Hardy (28.1 WAR, 0 votes)
Hardy’s impact at the plate and in the field may have been overshadowed by other talented shortstops during his 13-year career as he made just two All-Star teams. But from 2007-14, he compiled the fifth-best WAR at his position (26.2) while his 153 home runs trailed only Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez. He recorded five 20-homer seasons between Milwaukee and Baltimore and topped out with 30 home runs with the Orioles in 2011.

The following year, Hardy began a run of three consecutive Gold Gloves at shortstop, the position at which he played all of his more than 13,000 innings in the big leagues. Hardy tallied 84 Defensive Runs Saved throughout his career, the third-most by a qualified shortstop since the metric’s inception in 2003.

Mike Napoli (26.3 WAR, 1 vote, 0.3 percent)
Boy, there sure are a lot of former Angels on this list. Napoli showed the baseball world what he was all about in his first at-bat in the Majors as he homered off of Justin Verlander in 2006. Although he rose through Los Angeles’ Minor League system as a catcher, Napoli was never proficient behind the plate. He was, however, a feared slugger who mashed left-handers to the tune of an .892 career OPS. The owner of 267 career homers, Napoli completed eight seasons with at least 20 dingers. He hit 30 while also recording a .320 average and a 1.046 OPS for the pennant-winning 2011 Rangers. He boasted a .914 OPS during that postseason and followed that up in 2012 with his lone All-Star selection.

Napoli spent the next couple of years in Boston, where he logged a 128 OPS+ for the 2013 world champs. He also made it back to the Fall Classic with Cleveland in 2016, a season in which he set career-bests in homers (34) and RBIs (101).

R.A. Dickey (23.7 WAR, 1 vote, 0.3 percent)
Dickey's name is now synonymous with the knuckleball, but he didn’t start throwing the pitch regularly until he was about 30 years old. Even then, he was a below-average hurler (87 ERA+) who started only 48 games through his age-34 season in 2009. It wasn’t until Dickey joined the Mets in 2010 that he really began to master the pitch. Over the next two seasons, he tossed 381 innings through 58 starts for New York, resulting in a solid 3.09 ERA.

But then came 2012, when the 37-year-old Dickey and his knuckler absolutely dominated the National League. He led the NL in strikeouts (230), innings pitched (233 2/3), complete games (5) and shutouts (3). He set a Mets franchise record with his 32 2/3 scoreless-innings streak. It culminated with a Cy Young Award, the only one for a knuckleballer to date.

Dickey was dealt to the Blue Jays following that memorable year and although he never reached those lofty heights again, he did earn double-digit victories in each of his next five seasons before retiring after his age-42 campaign with the Braves.

Bronson Arroyo (23.4 WAR, 1 vote, 0.3 percent)
Arroyo pitched a total of 204 1/3 innings through his first four years in the Majors, but starting in 2004 with the World Series champion Red Sox, he began to develop a reputation as a rubber-armed right-hander. Over the next decade, Arroyo averaged 33 starts and 207 innings per season. Only CC Sabathia surpassed Arroyo’s 199 quality starts in that span. In 2006, no pitcher threw more innings (240 2/3) or made more starts (35) than Arroyo, who also was selected to his only All-Star Game that summer with the Reds.

Arroyo spent nine of his 16 seasons with Cincinnati. His victory over the Giants in Game 2 of the 2012 NLDS – a one-hit masterpiece through seven innings against Madison Bumgarner – stands as the franchise’s most recent playoff win. It's one reason why Arroyo can call himself a Hall of Famer whenever he’s at Great American Ball Park.

Andre Ethier (21.5 WAR, 0 votes)
A second-round Draft pick by Oakland in 2003, Ethier became a star for the Dodgers soon after a 2005 trade to L.A. He spent his entire 12-year career with the club and exceeded a 120 OPS+ seven times. A two-time All-Star and .285 hitter, Ethier received MVP consideration after slamming a career-high 31 homers in 2009. Two years later, he was feted with a Gold Glove and also embarked on a 30-game hitting streak, one game shy of the franchise record.

Ethier registered a .773 OPS during the playoffs and was the Dodgers’ all-time leader in postseason games played (51) upon his 2017 retirement. His last at-bat in the Majors? A pinch-hit RBI single that accounted for Los Angeles’ only run in Game 7 of the Fall Classic versus Houston.

Huston Street (14.5 WAR, 1 vote, 0.3 percent)
Let's end with, of course, one more Angels alum. Street entered the league in 2005 after a legendary college career at the University of Texas and handled the transition with ease. He saved 23 games for the A’s in his debut year and recorded a 1.72 ERA over 78 1/3 frames, which helped him land the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Although he was often beset by injuries throughout his 13 years in the bigs, Street was extremely effective when healthy. From 2005-15, only Francisco Rodriguez and Jonathan Papelbon had a better ERA+ than Street’s 146 among relievers with at least 600 innings under their belt.

Relying on command much more than power, the undersized righty racked up at least 30 saves in a season for the A’s, Rockies, Padres and Angels. Street reached 40 in 2014 and 2015, and his 324 saves rank 20th on the all-time list.