One of the most exciting times of the year for a baseball fan. The 2021 Hall of Fame Ballots were announced on Monday, and as always, it immediately stirs up some talk. Will Griffey, Jeter, Rivera, etc. be elected unanimously? Which first-time name on the ballot may sneak in? Just to name a few.
Some of the same stigmas still remain: Can the writers finally put Curt Schilling’s personality aside and give one of the best postseason pitchers ever a plaque? Is this the year Bonds and Clemens get enough votes with their time on the ballot winding down?
But one name that came to mind when I saw him on the ballot was interesting. Omar Vizquel.
On the surface, I thought Vizquel was a Hall of Famer. As a kid, growing up in the late 90’s & early 2000’s he was one of the best defensive players I’d seen play. He played on some great Cleveland teams in the late 90’s that included the dynamic double-play duo of Vizquel & 2011 HOF inductee Roberto Alomar. But, is there a case for Vizquel to get in this year?
Regardless if it’s this year or in the future: the biggest reason Vizquel gets into the Hall of Fame is because of his glove. To most baseball fans it’s an obvious statement, but nonetheless a true one. Vizquel won 11 Gold Gloves with three different teams. Most notably with the Indians, where he won 8 of those Gold Gloves and spent the majority of his prime. Those 11 Gold Gloves are second behind the great Ozzie Smith (13) for second all-time among shortstops. Some say Vizquel is the second-coming of Smith. If All-Star teams were based solely on defense, Vizquel would have appeared in three times as many Mid-Summer Classics.
Vizquel was a solid hitter, but this is Cooperstown. A lifetime .272 hitter probably won’t cut it, but he did compile 2,877 hits. Some people will look at the hits (along with the gold gloves) and say he’s an easy case for the Hall. He had his best season hitting statistically in 1999 when he had 191 hits and a .333 average. Besides that season, Vizquel didn’t reach the .300 mark. The 2800+ hits could be a case for Vizquel, but he did that over a 24-year career.
Whether you think Vizuqel is or isn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame, we still have to consider the ballot. This is his fourth year on the ballot. Even though Vizquel has climbed up to 52.6% on last year’s there’s probably not a big chance he gets to the 75% threshold this year.
2013 was the last time there wasn’t a name on the ballot elected. My guess is if anyone gets in it’s Curt Schilling. Schilling reached 70 % last year, and his numbers scream Hall of Fame. He is one of the best postseason pitchers of all-time, he owns 3000+ career strikeouts & 216 Wins and he has about four Cy Young worthy seasons. I understand that some of the voters might not like his personality, but I think this is the year that gets put aside to push Schilling to get to 75%.
Is Omar Vizquel a Hall of Famer? In my mind yes, but not in 2021. It will depend on future years ballots, but eventually he’ll have a plaque in Cooperstown.
Photo Credit: Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images