Sheffield plateaus in HOF vote; Torii gets 5%

Detroit Tigers

While slugger Gary Sheffield received 160 votes in his eighth year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame, other former Tigers remain well out of consideration for induction to Cooperstown.

No ex-Tiger received the 75 percent share of votes needed for induction, though Sheffield remains by far the closest among voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Torii Hunter received 21 votes in his second year on the ballot, selected on just over five percent of ballots submitted, to remain under consideration for next year.

Joe Nathan received 17 votes, two shy of five percent, while Prince Fielder received two votes, in their first and only year on the ballot.

Sheffield, who hit 44 of his 509 career home runs as a Tiger in 2007 and 2008, received the same percentage of votes (40.6) as last year. He has two more years to make the case that his stretch as one of baseball’s most feared hitters warrants a closer look. His 509 home runs put him 26th on MLB’s all-time list, and his 1,676 RBIs put him 30th according to Baseball-Reference, with 21 Hall of Famers ahead of him. His 4,737 total bases rank 35th all time.

In terms of Win Probability Added, Sheffield did more for his teams’ chances of winning than all but 20 players in history, according to Baseball-Reference.

“I really believe there’s a stretch — and a good long stretch — where Gary Sheffield was the most feared hitter in baseball,” former Tigers manager Jim Leyland said a few years ago. “He was the guy who at the time had the best bat speed of any hitter in the big leagues.”

Though Fielder spent most of his 12-year playing career with the Milwaukee Brewers, he was a headline signing by the Tigers when he came to Detroit as a free agent 10 years ago, signing a nine-year, $214 million contract. The son of former Tigers great Cecil Fielder batted .313 with 30 homers, 108 RBIs and a .940 OPS to help push the Tigers to an American League pennant in 2012, then hit .279 with 25 homers the following season to help the Tigers to their third straight AL Central title. He was an All-Star in both seasons and won the Home Run Derby as a Tiger at the 2012 Midsummer Classic in Kansas City. Detroit traded him to Texas after the 2013 season for Ian Kinsler.

A year after Fielder arrived, Hunter joined him, signing as a free agent. The Motor City was more of a pit stop for Hunter, comprising just two seasons near the end of his 19-year career. The longtime Twins great was an All-Star as a Tiger in 2013, batting .304 with 17 homers and 84 RBIs. Ironically, he’ll forever be remembered for tumbling over Fenway Park’s right-field fence to try to take away a grand slam from David Ortiz in Game 2 of the ALCS that postseason. Ortiz was the only player to receive enough votes for induction this year.

Nathan recorded 36 of his 377 career saves as a Tiger, with 35 of them coming in 2014 — his last full season in the Majors.

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