Many thanks to the Royals for announcing this as I was running around trying to get ready for Christmas, but the team has given us fans the opportunity to vote on the next class for the team’s Hall of Fame. Kind of odd timing, but anyway, you now have less than a week to cast your vote–the deadline is Jan. 3 at 11:59 pm.
The ballot consists of six candidates, and you can only vote for three. That makes for some tough decisions, which is a bit unfortunate. I am in favor of a “big” Hall of Fame, at least at the team level. But rules are rules.
The ballot includes Carlos Beltran, Billy Butler, Johnny Damon, Jason Vargas, Yordano Ventura, and Ned Yost. Four of these are holdovers from the last round, in 2021. No one was elected that year; let’s hope that changes this year, as the team hasn’t put anyone in the Hall since Mike Sweeney in 2015. I know the franchise had some lean years, but there were still some bright spots.
Two of those were Beltran and Damon. Last time around, I was in favor of both being elected. I also supported Ventura being elected, despite his short career. However, the addition of Yost to the ballot and the three-selection rule complicates things. To me, Yost is a slam-dunk addition. The winningest manager (and yes, the losingest) in team history and one of only two managers to lead Kansas City to a World Series title? That’s pretty obviously a yes. So that’s one spot taken.
That’s counterbalanced with Vargas, who is a pretty easy elimination in my mind. While he was a vital part of the 2014 team and had a nice story as he recovered from Tommy John surgery to lead the majors in wins in 2018, that injury cost him most of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. As such, he only picked up 34 wins as a Royal, and that’s just not enough in my mind.
So, we’re down to four candidates for two spots on my ballot, and I have said before that all four deserve the honor. I still feel that way, and I would be thrilled if all four got the 75% of the vote needed for induction. At least all four should clear the 10% threshold to be considered next time around.
My top choice from this group of four would be Beltran. He easily had the best career of the four, ranking eighth in team history for position players with 24.8 bWAR. Five of the seven ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame, and the other two will be–Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez. As I wrote before, Beltran has a good argument for the big Hall of Fame, the one in Cooperstown. Obviously he didn’t accomplish all of that in Kansas City, but over a third of his career bWAR was compiled in Royal blue. And at least his candidacy here is unblemished by any trash can-related scandals.
My third choice is Butler. First, let me address why I would leave Ventura off this ballot. It’s simply a matter of longevity. As a key member of both the 2014 and 2015 teams, and an obviously exceptional talent who almost certainly would have made it with a full career. I do believe Ventura belongs, but it’s hard for me to vote for him over the other players who had six or eight years in a Royals uniform.
So that leaves me with a choice between Butler and Damon. It’s true that Damon has an advantage in bWAR, but of course Butler gets penalized there for being a DH (and, frankly, for the Royals trying him in left field for a bit and then trying to make him a first baseman). Yes, you could argue that defense is part of the job, but for Butler it really wasn’t. His job was to hit, and he did it well. He had a higher and longer peak than Damon as a Royal; Butler posted OPS+ numbers of 125, 134, 125, 138, and 116 from 2009-2013. Damon’s best years in KC were his last three, with OPS+ numbers of 100, 116, and 118 from 1998-2000. Butler also made an All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger award in 2012; Damon did neither. Throw in Butler’s importance to the 2014 team and I think he has a clearly better case.
Again, I want to emphasize that I think any of these candidates besides Vargas are good choices. But I would go with Beltran, Butler, and Yost, and hope Damon and Ventura can make it next time around.
One thought on “Assessing The Royals Hall Of Fame Ballot”
As a fan of baseball and probably nothing more than a casual fan of the Royals, I tried to go with the “name test” by just reading the names you listed and no further so that I didn’t read any of the statistics you noted. I have to say that Yost and Beltran were the only ones that I thought to myself they should probably be in out of that group. Of course I recognized the other four names (barely on Jason Vargas so he was automatically eliminated), but just couldn’t recall their significance for the Royals. I do remember Yordano’s star shining brightly but all too brief. Butler always seemed just very average to slightly above average in my mind, and Damon is always a Red Sox or Yankee in my head. Anyway, be interesting to see who the fans pick!