Retired slugger Albert Belle, who played for the Chicago White Sox for 2 seasons from 1997-1998, is on the Contemporary Baseball Committee Hall of Fame Ballot.
If he can receive 12 of 16 votes from the committee, he'll be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The results will be announced Sunday, December 4th.
Is Belle deserving of the honor? He certainly has a case based on his statistics. Belle carries a career OPS of .933 and an OPS+ of 144, both are rate statistics of a Hall of Famer.
On the other hand, he only played 12 seasons due to early retirement and finished with just 1726 hits, below the typical minimum of 2000 needed for induction.
Albert Belle was a fantastic Major League Baseball player for a long time.
After a great start to his career with the Cleveland Indians where he was robbed of the 1995 AL MVP, Belle left the team in disgust after 1996, signing a 5 year-55 million dollar deal with the rival Chicago White Sox. That would be the last time Jerry Reinsdorf would ever set the free agent market.
Belle had a down year with the White Sox in 1997 but still made the all-star team. In 1998, he put together one of the greatest seasons in White Sox history.
Overshadowed by Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, Belle played all 163 games in 1998 hitting 48 doubles and a still-White Sox record 49 home runs.
His 200 hits were good for a .328 batting average, a .655 slugging average, and a league-leading 1.055 OPS. After that season, he opted out to sign with the Baltimore Orioles, a move he says he now regrets.
It's not impossible for Belle to get elected. His 381 home runs and 40.1 career WAR are similar to that of teammate Harold Baines, who was elected through the same committee in 2019.
If he gets elected, he might go in wearing a White Sox cap. The committee includes his former teammate Frank Thomas as well as Kenny Williams. They might be inclined to vote for him.
Of course, Albert Belle made plenty of enemies during and after his Major League career as well, thanks to personality and legal issues. The committee might be more inclined to select one of the "nice guys" on the ballot like Dale Murphy, Fred McGriff, or Don Mattingly.
Of the players not linked to steroids, Belle is the third-best player, behind Curt Schilling (80 pitching WAR), and Fred McGriff (493 HR). He was certainly a more dominant player than Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly, although he may not have been as nice.
It seems pretty unlikely Belle will be elected due to the steepness of this ballot but crazier things have happened.
With that in mind, nobody thought that Harold Baines was going to get elected either and he did. It's possible the committee will remember Belle as one of the best sluggers of his era and elect him, as he has the highest OPS of any player on the ballot not named Barry Bonds. We'll find out soon.