This year’s ballot for the Hall of Fame, sent to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America and due December 31, included the names of three former Cubs: Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano.
I think it’s safe to say that none of those three will get anywhere close to the number of votes needed for Hall induction.
I’m curious to know who you think among those three will receive votes from the writers. I doubt any of them will get shut out, and in fact, we know from Ryan Thibodaux, who’s created this detailed voting spreadsheet listing all publicly announced votes, that Sammy has received five votes. Neither Wood nor Zambrano has received a publicly-announced vote. (Both those notes are as of the date/time of this post.)
Sosa’s raw numbers do make a case, to some extent, for Hall induction. His 609 home runs rank ninth all-time. He is the only player to hit 60 home runs in a season three times. His 2001 season ranks as probably the greatest in Cubs history and one of the best in major-league history.
However, there’s the taint of his alleged PED use and the fact that he declined rapidly after his peak. He wasn’t a great outfielder.
As far as Wood and Zambrano are concerned, both of them, in my opinion, had Hall of Fame talent and ability. Wood’s career was ruined by injury, while Zambrano’s was ruined by his own actions. Wood has one singular achievement, the 20-strikeout game, and four seasons of 3 bWAR or more, but that’s not nearly enough for Hall induction. His career SO/9 innings ratio of 10.32 ranks fourth all-time among all pitchers with at least 1,000 innings, which is pretty impressive, but he threw just 1,380 innings in his career.
Through the 2008 season, Zambrano had posted 98 wins and 1,172 strikeouts, and was just 27 years old. He seemed a lock to post at least 200 wins, perhaps 250, and 2,500 strikeouts, with an outside shot at the 300-win or 3,000-strikeout milestones that have, up to now, nearly guaranteed Hall induction. Had he done all that, or even close, he’d at the very least been considered the greatest pitcher in Cubs history. His career fell apart after that for reasons we’re all familiar with. Consider that Big Z hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2012, but is only two and a half years older than Jon Lester.
Zambrano was also one of the best-hitting pitchers of all time, hitting 24 home runs, which is tied for eighth-most among all players who were primarily pitchers. He generated 6.3 bWAR as a hitter. Here’s video of a home run he hit against the Pirates at Wrigley Field August 30, 2010:
I’m reasonably certain Sosa will get the most votes among these three. So instead of asking you who’ll get the most votes among all three former Cubs, I’ll simply ask you whether you think Wood or Zambrano will get the most votes, since if I put all three in a poll, Sosa likely wins it in a landslide. Also, will either get over the five percent threshold to remain on the ballot in future years?
Who will get more Hall of Fame votes?
This poll is closed