He didn’t play last year and was pretty clearly done anyway, but yesterday Gary Sheffield made it official and retired from baseball. Which, of course, leads to the question that is always asked when a player of stature retires. Hall of Fame?
I think the answer here is yes he’s deserving, but no he’s not going to make it. Not by a longshot.
His resume is damn solid. Way better than many players who are already in the Hall, as he himself noted in the story linked above. He was a nine-time All-Star with a career line of .292/.393/.514 and 509 homers. He didn’t lead the league in anything too many times and was never an MVP, but he had many seasons that, had they earned him the MVP, wouldn’t have been embarrassing to the award. Many of those seasons came before there was general acceptance of just how awesome it was to get on base at a .450 clip so he was under the radar while everyone was oohing and ahhing the big RBI men. He did a lot of things well rather than just one thing and had a lot of excellent seasons rather than one standalone boffo one and that’s usually a recipe for being underestimated.
Of course, had Sheffield not been a famously difficult personality who shuffled around from club-to-club during his career — and had he not been implicated in the PED mess — we would be having a very different conversation about all of this. But he was and he did and I think those things are going to mean that he gets way less support than he otherwise deserves. He’s going to get the Kevin Brown treatment.