The Hall of Fame voting results came out yesterday, and four players are heading to Cooperstown to join the ranks of baseball’s all time greats. Former Met nemesis Chipper Jones is on the list, but New York Mets’ fans may have a bit more interest in one player who has fallen off the ballot. Left hander Johan Santana, who threw the first no hitter in franchise history back in 2012, received only 2.4% of the vote in his first year on the ballot. As a result, Santana has been removed from the ballot for failing to receive five percent of the total votes and isn’t eligible for any more writers votes (barring a big league comeback, which would reset his eligibility).
Santana’s problem was a career that was cut short by injury. Shortly after tossing the no hitter in 2012, Santana tore the capsule in his pitching shoulder for a second time and hasn’t pitched since. While his overall numbers aren’t as impressive as the players who have pitched full careers, but Santana was as dominant as any pitcher in the game for a six year stretch. Between 2003 and 2008, Santana went 98-42 with a 2.85 ERA in 213 starts while posting an incredible 1,358:308 strikeout to walk ratio. Santana also won both his Cy Young Awards during this stretch and has a higher career WAR than Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. Koufax, like Santana, was a dominant pitcher but had his career shortened due to chronic arthritis in his pitching arm.
Santana is still mulling a comeback, which he attempted as recently as 2015, but if it doesn’t work out he isn’t eligible for Hall of Fame discussion again until 2028. That would be the first time that Santana is eligible to have his case heard by the Modern Era committee, a group of 16 Hall of Famers, media members, and executives. Part of the problem for Santana was the rule limiting writers to no more than 10 candidates per ballot. The ballot has become overcrowded in recent years thanks to ongoing confusion about what to do with candidates who have ties to steroids. While Santana may have been able to stay on the ballot if writers weren’t limited to 10 votes, the amount of strong candidates on the board likely knocked him out of contention. No one is saying that Santana was a lock Hall of Famer, but he certainly pitched well enough to merit more than one year of discussion from the writers.