Sheffield not elected to Hall in first year on ballot

Slugger hit 509 home runs while playing for eight teams in 22 seasons

Sheffield not elected to Hall in first year on ballot

Gary Sheffield said in November that it was an honor to be considered for the Hall of Fame. After voting results from his first year on the ballot, it looks like he'll have a while for consideration.

While three first-timers on the Hall of Fame ballot gained induction, Sheffield wasn't one of them. He nearly fell into the opposite end and off the ballot.

He received votes on 64 out of 549 ballots submitted, or 11.7 percent. It was more than enough to keep him on the ballot for next year, but not nearly enough to make him a serious candidate for induction for now.

It was a surprisingly low vote total for a 500-homer slugger. The question now is, why?

According to several reports, Hall of Fame voters averaged more than eight players per ballot this year, with a maximum 10 allowed. That means several voters likely had decisions to make on who to leave off.

Whether his mention in Major League Baseball's Mitchell Report had any impact is another issue. Sheffield was named over a 2003 FedEx receipt from Sheffield to BALCO, found when authorities searched the home of Greg Anderson, a former trainer to Barry Bonds.

Sheffield worked out with Bonds in 2001. Sheffield told a grand jury and said in his 2007 biography "Inside Power" that he took a cream given to him by Anderson to help heal a knee injury, but did not know whether it contained any illegal substances. He said he was never contacted by investigators for the Mitchell Report for his side.

Sheffield never tested positive, and has not been mentioned in a report since.

"My position stays the same: I said then I didn't, and I say now I didn't," Sheffield said in November. "You look at what's come out since and nothing has been mentioned and nothing will be mentioned.

"Anytime somebody comes out in a report you hadn't spoken to, that's like putting somebody on trial without speaking to them. That's something I've always known to be unfair. So I don't worry about it."

By most standards, Sheffield has the numbers. His 509 career homers cross the threshold long considered an admission ticket to Cooperstown. His 1,676 RBIs put him 26th on the all-time list, with 19 Hall of Famers ahead of him and many more behind him. His 4,737 total bases rank 30th all time. His .292 average ranks 14th among the 500-homer sluggers, just behind Frank Robinson.

In terms of Win Probability Added, Sheffield did more for his teams' chances of winning than all but 15 players in history, according to baseball-reference.com.

His dominance in his prime is tougher to measure. He was never a league MVP, though his seasons on .500 teams in San Diego in 1992 and Florida in 1996 arguably deserved more consideration. He was a batting champion in 1992 at age 23, and led the National League with a 1.090 OPS in 1996, but never led in home runs or RBIs.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.