Time again for the Hall of Fame voting and much like every year, this is a time I enjoy as I pour over stats of players since retired but still somewhat fresh on my mind. And of course there are the carry overs that have their various detractors and champions. I do not have a HoF vote, but if I did it may go a little something like this:
Roberto Alomar - Yes
2,724 hits; 474 SB; 1,134 RBI; .300 lifetime avg.
He has lower numbers for what used to be the typical hall of famer, but recall he was a second baseman. He only had 210 HR, but I recall him coming up with a few well timed dingers. Mostly, however, he was just a hitter and a feared one. Feared because he knew how to swing the bat. He wasn't half bad as a fielder too. He was the clear best second baseman of his age for a lengthy period which is what the Hall tends to reward. I think it's likely a first year entry as long as the spitting incident doesn't hurt him. I don't think it will at this late date.
That's what I wrote last year. He did not get in that time, but I still say yes and I think he will get in this year. Sometimes the Hall just likes to make a player wait. I am fairly certain that DiMaggio did not get in on the first ballot. Huh???
Carlos Baerga - No
1,583 hits; 134 HR; 774 RBI; .291 lifetime avg.
You know, I recall Baerga being a better second baseman than his stats suggest. 14 seasons and only 1,583 hits. Didn't steal that many bases and his defense wasn't THAT good. His career took a huge dive at the end and one might suspect the dreaded steroids if he had a more sustained power game. As it is he topped 20 only twice in '92 and '93.
Jeff Bagwell - Yes
2,314 hits; 449 HR; 1,529 RBI; .297 lifetime avg.
I could easily add to the above, the only first baseman to have not just one but two 30/30 seasons. Any thought that Bagwell is not a hall of famer is completely misplaced. The only other first baseman I might take above Bags during the 90s might have been Frank Thomas. But we'll get to him in a few years. For now recognize that not only was Bagwell an above average defender for most of his career, he was also a beast at the plate before an arthritic shoulder took him down. He played 15 seasons prior to that and complied some damn fine numbers. Unfortunately, it is his first year on the ballot and recent years have taught that it may not happen for him this year. That would be a damn shame!
Harold Baines - No
2,866 hits; 384 HR; 1,628 RBI, .289 lifetime avg.
Baines has always been a bit of a quandary. His numbers look fairly good if not quite up to par for a hall of famer. The RBI speak out but the HR are low, especially for a man who played for a long time (22 seasons.) He was a bit of a statue in the field from what I recall, and extended his career for quite some time as a DH. While he used to look good to me for the Hall, another full time DH enters the ballot this year which offers a clear comparison. We'll look at those below but this year I have to say no to Harold Baines in the Hall.
That was last year's take and since Edgar didn't make it, I suspect Baines will not either. I admit, I waffle on him from time to time, but the ballot is starting to fill up as I mentioned last year this time and Baines will continue to fall.
Bert Blyleven - Yes
287-250 record; lifetime ERA of 3.31; 3,701 K (5th on the all time list); 242 complete games and 60 shutouts (last time you'll see those numbers)
The record must be what has kept Blyleven out of the Hall all these years. Otherwise I cannot figure it out. When he first got on the ballot, he was actually 3rd all time in strikeouts. Johnson and Clemens rightfully passed him but his numbers still speak up there. And I think everyone knows by now that his record is more a reflection on his teams than it is on himself. Years with losing teams will make a record look like that. Recall the argument with Phil Neikro, and to a lesser extent Nolan Ryan, was that you had to be a really good pitcher to lose that many games. That he came up 13 wins shy of 300 should not penalize him. Blyleven belongs in the Hall. Now.
Bret Boone - No
1,775 hits; 252 HR; 1,021 RBI; .266 life time avg.
Boone comes out a lot better than Baerga above, but when considered alongside Alomar still looking in from the outside, one could not justify a vote for him. And even without that modifier, Boone still does not belong. He has some good power numbers for a second baseman, but his hits remain low as does his average. He did win a few gold gloves and was 3rd in MVP voting in 2001. He was scrappy, from what I recall, but not a HoF guy.
Kevin Brown - No
211-144 lifetime record; 3.28 ERA; 2,397 K (good for 38th all time)
Brown will be a tough one for a lot of people. He is not really for me. He pitched 19 years and only won 20 games once. He never won a Cy Young. He is really best remember for his ginormous contract that did not pay off for the various clubs that ended up paying for it. Maybe I hold his last years as a Yankee against him, but while I respected Brown, I never considered him a hall of fame guy. I look at his numbers now and I still don't see it. A lot of people say the same thing about Blyleven above, but 287 beats 211 anytime. Brown was good, but not that good.
John Franco - No
90-87 record; 2.89 ERA; 424 saves (4th all time)
It would be tempting to vote for Franco as I did sometimes consider him for this place. As it is now, the ballot is huge and even if he was borderline, I could not vote for him this year with a 10 player limit. However, I must admit now that should the number of players one can vote for becomes as many as I want, I still would not vote for Franco. Lee Smith is 3rd all time, and he's not in. And below Franco is Billy Wagner and I'm not sure I'd vote for him as a Hall of Famer either. Relievers are still a very tough call.
Juan Gonzalez - No
1,936 hits; 434 HR; 1,404 RBI; .295 lifetime avg.
Juan Gone has some interesting stats and a few monster seasons capped by his two MVPs (that some call undeserved.) What he also carries with him is the reeking stench of steroids. While I do not try and base my thoughts on that alone, I cannot remove it from my mind as I ponder what his stats might look like without using. What is more, even if Gonzalez did not use? He still does not belong. 17 years and he didn't break 2,000 hits. The old time stats for a Hall guy are 3000 hits, 500 HR and 1600 RBI. Right or wrong, Gonzalez does not reach those unlike another proven steroid guy on this ballot.
Marquis Grissom - No
2,251 hits; 227 HR; 967 RBI; 429 SB; .272 lifetime avg.
As a Braves fan, I loved Marquis back in the day. He was a great center fielder while he played for the team but for his career, he began to tail off rather quickly. Still, he had five seasons of over 20 HR which is great for a center fielder. He stole over 400 bases, three times stealing 50 or more in a season and two of those were 76 and 78 bases stolen in '91 and '92. Moreover, Grissom was a member of that awesome '94 Montreal Expos team that will go down as the greatest team to never win a damn thing (and the one that was not allowed to break Atlanta's division winning streak.) Still, he does not quite live up to the Hall standards as he lacks the hits a lead-off type of guy requires.
Lenny Harris - No
1,055 hits; 37 HR; 369 RBI; .269 lifetime average
Harris is on this list because he was a hell of a pinch hitter. However, I have never seen a pinch hitter specialist make it into the hall on that basis alone. It won't happen this year either.
Bobby Higginson - No
1,336 hits; 187 HR; 709 RBI; .272 lifetime avg.
I recall when Higginson came up. He was supposed to be a super star. As it was, he was serviceable and actually ended up playing his entire career for one team, the Detroit Tigers. I admit I am at a loss as to why his career tailed off so precipitously in 2005. He only made it 11 years. Maybe he made his money (around $52 million all told) and went home. Whatever the reason, he was not a Hall of Famer.
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With a total of 33 guys on the ballot this year (and with 1500 words or so already spilled over the above 12), I'll return to this before the results are announced. I'll have them out by the end of the weekend. 21 more guys to go and some definite Hall bound guys to look at. Until next time, that is all.