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Derek Jeter tops Hall of Fame candidates in ballots released Monday; Paul Konerko eligible for first time

Konerko put up a .279 average, 439 home runs and 1,412 RBI. But in the last 30 years, including Konerko’s career from 1997 to 2014, 20 players hit more homers than he did.

The White Sox’ Paul Konerko follows the flight of his solo home run against the Rays in Game 4 of the American League Division Series in 2008.
The White Sox’ Paul Konerko follows the flight of his solo home run against the Rays in Game 4 of the American League Division Series in 2008.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

There seems little doubt Derek Jeter will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame once voters mark the ballots released Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Whether by traditional numbers (.310 batting average, 260 home runs, 1,311 RBI) or advanced metrics (72.4 bWAR, compared with the 67.0 average for Hall of Famers at his position), the longtime Yankees shortstop seems to be a lock.

Throw in the postseason boost he’ll get from a World Series MVP award in 2000 and five championships in seven World Series appearances, and the biggest question seems to be whether he’ll be the BBWAA’s second unanimous pick, following former teammate Mariano Rivera last year.

What about the rest of the ballot? Let’s look at a few intriguing names and numbers:

The top two

In 144 years of major-league baseball, only 31 players have career bWARs of 100 or higher. They include Barry Bonds (fourth in history at 162.8) and Roger Clemens (eighth at 139.2).

Bonds and Clemens have been the best players on the ballot every year since 2013, but links to performance-enhancing drugs have slowed their candidacies.

With 75 percent of votes needed for election, Clemens received 59.5 percent and Bonds 59.1 percent last year. Those are up only slightly from 57.3 percent for Clemens and 56.4 percent for Bonds a year earlier.

Other holdovers

Curt Schilling, who was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in a 20-year career with five teams, finished fifth last year with 60.9 percent of the votes.

He’s a strong by-the-numbers candidate, with a 79.5 bWAR that tops the 73.2 average for starting pitchers in the Hall. By JAWS, which averages career value with seven-year peak value, Schilling’s 64.1 tops the Hall average of 61.5.

Holdovers Larry Walker (72.7 bWAR, 58.7 JAWS), Manny Ramirez (69.3, 54.7) and Scott Rolen (70.2, 56.9) exceed Hall averages at their positions. But Walker (54.6 percent of the votes last year) is in his last year on the ballot, Ramirez (22.8 percent) has three positive PED tests on his record and Rolen (21.2 dWAR, sixth in history at third base and 45th at all positions) has more of his value tied up in defense than voters seem to prefer.

Other newbies

After Jeter, the next-best bWAR among first-time eligibles is 60.0 with a 50.8 JAWS by right fielder Bobby Abreu. Abreu hit .291 with 288 homers and 1,363 RBI for six teams in 18 seasons. His WAR and JAWS are below Hall averages, making his a second- or third-tier candidacy.

One intriguing name for White Sox fans is first baseman Paul Konerko. Konerko put up a .279 average, 439 homers and 1,412 RBI. But in the last 30 years, including Konerko’s career from 1997 to 2014, 20 players hit more homers than he did.

Konerko’s numbers don’t pop from the crowd, and that shows in a 27.7 bWAR that’s well below the 66.8 average for Hall first basemen — a group that includes recent Sox inductees Frank Thomas (73.9) and Jim Thome (72.9).