Is Joe West the umpiring version of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 19: Umpire Joe West #22 at Minute Maid Park as the Cleveland Indians play the Houston Astros on July 19, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - JULY 19: Umpire Joe West #22 at Minute Maid Park as the Cleveland Indians play the Houston Astros on July 19, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

MLB officially announced that umpire Joe West (and four other MLB umpires) has retired. West, 69, had been umpired in the majors from 1976 through 1999 and from 2002 through 2021 (he missed 2000 and 2001 due to the mass resignation of MLB umpires as a failed collective bargaining ploy in the 1999 season that cost West and 21 others their jobs).

West retires as the all-time leader in regular-season games umpired with 5,460, passing umpiring legend Bill Klem in May 2021 as Klem umpired 5,360 regular-season games. West also umpired in the second-most postseason games of all time with 130 (the only umpire with more is fellow retiree Gerry Davis).

He also is tied for the most World Series started their MLB career after World War II with six (1992, 1997, 2005, 2009, 2012, and 2016). He’s tied with the aforementioned Davis and a few others. The all-time record holder is the aforementioned Klem with 18.

However, when Klem got his first World Series, there were only 12 full-time MLB umpires (now there are 76) and umpires could umpire in the World Series every season. Klem umpired in every World Series from 1908 through 1926 with the exceptions of 1910, 1919, 1921, 1923, and 1925. Now, umpires can, at a maximum, umpire in the World Series every other year … but it has been accomplished fewer than two dozen times. Oftentimes, it’s four or more years in between a World Series for umpires.

But Joe West may face the same fate as Barry Bonds: not getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame

With his retirement, Joe West will, at minimum, be up for consideration for the Today’s Game Era Committee ballot next year. There will be a lot people who will be eligible who weren’t the last time the ballot was voted upon in 2019. Among them are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling … and West.

The former three are, undoubtedly, Hall of Famers based on their resumés, but they all have at least one thing against them: steroids and/or they weren’t the most media-friendly people.

West, based on his MLB accomplishments, whether or not fans like him, has a Hall of Fame resumé. Despite being one of the weakest umpires in MLB when calling balls and strikes in the 2021 regular season based on public MLB numbers, he called a perfect game, according to MLB’s private scoring system for umpires.

In his penultimate time behind the plate in the playoffs (Game 3 of the 2018 ALCS), West missed only one pitch, per MLB’s private scoring system. That means that, in his final two postseason plate jobs, West got 325 of the 326 callable pitches correct, or 99.7 percent. Both games were the best-called games of each postseason.

But, since he’s an umpire and has been known to make his opinions public on a number of different things (COVID, politics, thoughts on Adrian Beltre, etc.) and injecting himself in areas where he shouldn’t necessarily, West could fall into the same category as the others: not in the Hall of Fame.

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West thinks that he is a Hall of Famer but that doesn’t mean that the Today’s Game Era Ballot will vote him in or even but him on the ballot. If West does get in, though, he would be only the 11th umpire in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The one that was most recently inducted was the late Doug Harvey, who umpired from 1962 through 1992 and he was inducted while he was still alive as part of the Class of 2010.