Gary Sheffield play for 8 teams in 22 years in that hurts his hall of fame chances. He was more a Florida Marlin playing there six seasons. However even there he played in only part of two of the seasons playing four full seasons. He did help them to a World Championship.
Sheffield played from 100 games (Mets) for the eight teams up to 558 games (with the Marlins). Ironically, he earned the most WAR in his career with the Dodgers (17 WAR). This is ironic to me because I don’t even remember him playing for the Dodgers. On a seasonal basis his earning 11.2 WAR with two years in Atlanta was his best.
Sheffield went to the post season 6 years, once with the Marlins, twice with the Braves and three times with the Yankees. He only appeared in the World Series with the Marlins in 1997 when they defeated the Indians. He didn’t have the best post season record, but had some great series, solid series and some poor series. He did walk a lot in the post season making his on base percentage higher in the post season then the regular season.
Sheffield had more good years in his 30s that his 20s. This was during the steroid era. However, Sheffield also had a temper and would get moody. He had some up and down seasons in his 20s. Also there could have been injuries.
Let us look at his career. He started in Milwaukee and was called up at age 19 for a September look in 1988. He was a shortstop. As a 20-year-old he had some struggles and was moved to third base and called the team raciest. He mentioned Jim Gantner as a white guy who had been there 13 years and had never done anything. He had a point as Gantner had a 17-year career and I don’t have him in my top 1,000. I do have him 92nd at second base. Milwaukee seemed to have no idea what to do with him. After four years of dealing with this problem and not getting consistent production he was treaded to San Diego.
San Diego knew the 23-year-old had a lot of talent and he showed it the next year winning the batting title. His play for San Diego wasn’t that great the next year. Although he wasn’t hitting bad, he is shown as having negative WAR for the Padres that year. During the season the Padres traded Sheffield to the Marlins. He played very similar in both places and it was basically a wasted year.
The next year Florida moved Sheffield to right field. He wasn’t a much better fielder there than third base. However, there wasn’t as much pressure playing right field as third base. He had some injuries in 1994 and 1995 but had a great year in 1996. In 1997 he was hurt again, but with the talent around them he helped the Marlins win the World Series. After that the Marlins decided to strip the team. They traded Sheffield in 1998 to the Dodgers in the Mike Piazza trade. Florida then traded Piazza to the Mets just stripping their roster.
In his 3rd season with the Dodgers starting at age 31 Sheffield had six straight seasons of 4.0 or more WAR. It was his best consistent streak of his career. The first two of those seasons were with the Dodgers. He was playing well but criticized the direction the team was heading, and he argued for a higher salary. He hadn’t got rid of his rowdy ways. The Dodgers traded him to Atlanta.
Sheffield had a few controversies in his career. He was quick to call out racists, but he never seemed to work it out with the team. He went to the press. He then said more Latin players were in the majors than black players as they never complained. That seems like stereotyping to me. I’m sure Sheffield had some valid complaints. However, going to the press wasn’t going to help the situation. They just put more flames on the fire. I wish someone could have sat down and worked with him as he seemed unhappy his whole time in majors, except maybe in Florida.