Is on the ballot for the first time. I remember him primarily as being one of the few quality players on some very horrible Brewers teams. He was a player that came and went via a couple of block buster trades (first arriving in a 2000 deadline deal from Cleveland that brought Bob Wickman to the Indians....and also featured Marco Scutaro as the immortal player to be named later.
After hitting plenty of homers in the first few years at Miller Park, he got shipped out west to Arizona after the 2003 season in a blockbuster deal that the Brewers got the upper hand in. While Richie Sexson only played 23 games in an Arizona uniform, the Brewers got several useful pieces in return such as Chris Capuano, Craig Counsell and Lyle Overbay who got regular playing time as the Brewers slowly inched their way towards respectability.
However, when it comes to the hall, not a chance. Yeah he had a couple 45 home run seasons but he did this when those type of seasons were a dime a dozen and he complemented it with defense that was well below replacement level (-12.3 dWAR) for his career. There is basically zero precedent for a player of his profile getting into Cooperstown.
My preconceived impression before reviewing the numbers is that Smith is on the ballot due to getting to spend several years as the designated ninth inning pitcher. Granted he did rack up a lot of saves and led the league in this total four times (1983, 1991, 1992 & 1994) but like pitching wins opportunity can play as big a role as ability. He did have a nice era+ 132 but also didn't have the type of shutdown WHIP (1.25) you'd like to see with a designated ninth inning pitcher.
Another thing going against him is that he only had three seasons with a WAR above 3, with none of these coming after 1986. There is some precedence for a player of his caliber to get in (he ranks favorably on the Hall of Fame Monitor statistic and Rollie Fingers & Bruce Sutter are amongst his similars). However, the vast majority of whats out there indicates that hes not a hall of famer.
Hey, his OPS+ (105) matches that of Jack Morris, lets put Snow in the hall of fame. In all seriousness, no. He did win five gold gloves, all in seasons where he posted a negative dWAR. If he played more than 7 games of his career with the Yankees he could have been over-rated like Derek Jeter. I'd be surprised if he even gets a vote.
For better or worse, Sosa is one of the poster child of everything that people decided was wrong (after the fact) about late 90s baseball, although it was okay at the time because it helped boost performance in the years after the 1994 strike.
Sosa hit a lot of home runs and was very good for a five year stretch (OPS+ over 150 from 1998 through 2002). At the same time, his performance before and after this spike was highly pedestrian which brought his OPS+ 128, something you would expect better out of for someone who hit 600+ home runs which at the surface makes his case muddled.
On a numerical standpoint, his case is much stronger than I anticipated. Out of the 5 HOF statistic monitors, Sosa ranks favorably in three of them and all of his top ten similars are either in the hall (Schmidt, Jackson, Killebrew, Mathews, Mantel, Stargel & McCovey) or have not been retired long enough to be eligible (Thome, Griffey & Sheffield). I came into this not sure whether he's a yes or no but coming out of this posting definitively in the yes crowd.