Getty Images

Many aspects of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote this year are noteworthy, but toward the top of the list for me is Gary Sheffield's final chance. Sheffield got 55% of the vote last season and needs to jump all the way to 75% this time around in order to gain induction into the Hall, otherwise he falls off the ballot moving forward. This is his 10th and final try to be voted in by baseball writers.

I'm resigned to Sheffield falling short in the quest for 75%. He's polling around the mid-70s% in Ryan Thibodaux's tracking, but the lag in public vs. private ballots we've seen on him in years past means he's likely to fall about 10 percentage points. 

For me, this is a miss by the 1/3 or so of the voting body who won't vote for Sheffield. 

He's there on some numbers. 

Sheff was a career .292/.393/.514 hitter across parts of 22 seasons in 10,947 plate appearances -- appearing, in order, for the Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers and Mets. He posted a 140 OPS+ and a Hall of Fame slash line in large volume. He hit over .300 in eight qualifying seasons, topped .400 in on-base percentage eight times and was above .500 slugging 10 times. 

Among right fielders, Sheffield ranks eighth in runs (1,636), 18th in hits (2,689), 20th in doubles (467), seventh in home runs (509), eighth in RBI (1,676) and fifth in walks (1,475). The hit total might seem low, but he was an OPS monster. Among all positions, he ranks 35th in total bases and 30th in times on base. Also a monster on run production, he's one of just 23 players in history to top 1,600 in both RBI and runs. 

He's not there on other numbers, specifically those with a defensive component. 

In career WAR, Sheffield's 60.5 is decently below the average Hall of Fame right fielder (71.1), though he's ahead of Hall of Famers like Vladimir Guerrero, Enos Slaughter, "Wee" Willie Keeler, Sam Rice, Kiki Cuyler and Chuck Klein. He's 19th overall at the position. JAWS, which meshes career WAR with WAR7 (top seven WAR seasons) to account for peak candidates, likes him even less. He's 24th, behind non-Hall players like Dwight Evans, Reggie Smith, Bobby Abreu and Bobby Bonds, though still ahead of Slaughter, Klein, Rice, Cuyler and several others. 

For me, Sheffield just feels like a Hall of Famer and I think that's an important part of the equation to consider at times. 

I'm 45 years old, so when Sheff debuted in 1988, I was 10. He was an All-Star and won a batting title when I was in 8th grade. When he won the World Series with the Marlins, I was a freshman in college. By my post-college years, he was well-established as one of the most feared bats of his generation. I just assumed he'd one day be a Hall of Famer and didn't really think it would be all that tough of a choice for the voters. Isn't part of the reason we have a Hall of Fame is so the greatest players we grew up with -- while falling in love with the sport -- would be enshrined in it? In turn, we'd then be more likely to visit the place as adults, right? 

I mean, c'mon. This was a major, fearsome power hitter who walked more than he struck out. He had the signature bat waggle that no one in my generation will ever forget. Little kids mimicked it. Hell, adults still do it. When he dug in the batter's box, it was a big deal for around 15 years. 

This is the Hall of Fame, right?

I know for a fact a lot of this stuff doesn't matter to some voters, because I've asked a few. It does to me, though I won't get a say on Sheffield (my first official vote comes next year). 

For others, there are reasons to knock Sheffield down a peg or two. 

There's the defensive detraction, and it's significant. Sheffield's defensive WAR, for example, is -27.7, which drags down his overall WAR, as discussed above. Being so a poor defender that you're forced to DH didn't seem to hurt Frank Thomas or Jim Thome or Edgar Martinez or David Ortiz. If you want to discuss players who played the field and hurt their team instead of serving as a DH, fine: Dave Winfield, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams, Willie Stargell, Harmon Killebrew, Lou Brock and Reggie Jackson (oh and Miguel Cabrera) all had pretty strongly negative defensive WAR scores in their careers yet made the Hall of Fame. To be fair, though, Sheffield's defensive WAR was the worst of any name I mentioned here. 

There's always the whole "Sheffield was a bad teammate" thing which is nebulous at minimum and certainly can't be proven. He was part of six different playoff teams for three franchises and won the World Series once, too. He was immature when he debuted and in the ensuing few seasons, but he was 19, 20, 21 years old (who among us!?!?). Some reporters didn't like his personality but I hardly see how that should matter (full disclosure: I interviewed him once and he was very kind and personable. I also wouldn't have been swayed if he wasn't).

And of course, there's the loose PED connection. He was named in the Mitchell Report as a player who used steroids, though he's long publicly disputed the claim. He recently wondered why Congress didn't call him to testify in 2005 when it called the likes of Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, among others. 

PED testing was implemented by Major League Baseball for the 2004 season. Palmeiro was suspended. Manny Ramírez was twice. A-Rod was caught along with Ryan Braun and others in a scandal. Sosa's career took a nosedive. 

Sheffield never tested positive while finishing second in AL MVP voting in 2004 and eighth in 2005 at ages 35 and 36, respectively. Still, there will be hard-liners who don't want anyone even mentioned with PEDs to make the Hall of Fame. If the stance is consistently applied, I accept that.

When it comes down to the teeth of the arguments: On the side against Sheffield, there is the Mitchell Report, his defense and some stuff about his personality. On the side for him, there's a gaudy offensive resume that puts him among the best offensive producers in baseball history. Even leaving aside the "fame" part for his fearsome presence in the box along with the immortal bat waggle, I like my side better. 

Gary Sheffield will very likely fall off the ballot this year without making it to Cooperstown. I believe this to be a mistake.