In part II of the HoF ballot, I'll try to get the rest of the way there with the other 21 candidates. Up next is:
Charles Johnson - No
940 hits; 167 HR; 570 RBI; .245 lifetime avg.
There are a number of good catchers on this years ballot, but I must admit I expected Johnsons numbers to be better. I recall him as an excellent defensive catcher for the Marlin teams of the 90's and he was definitely on that '97 World Championship club. He also had some pop at times, hitting 31 HR in 2000 splitting time between Baltimore and Chicago. Four more times he hit 18 or more. It was the avg. that hurt as he hit over .300 only once in that same year of 2000. He was not a Hall of Famer.
Barry Larkin - Yes
2,340 hits; 198 HR; 960 RBI; 379 SB; .295 lifetime avg.
This is a year of quite a few 90's team anchors. Larkin was the Reds' Cal Ripken. He didn't get to the same numbers and did not have the power Ripken had, but Larkin was a bit of a middle man in the SS position. He was a bit smaller than Ripken so he did not get lumped in with that big SS of the future like A-Rod, Garciaparra and Jeter did later. Yet Larkin had more pop that a typical short-stop of that time. And he could run. And he could field. The Wizard he was not, but 12 All Star nods go along with 3 gold gloves and 2 seasons in the top 10 in MVP voting, winning the award in 1995. What Alomar above was for the American League, Larkin was to the National League during this time. He entirely deserves to go into the Hall, though may have to wait a couple of years.
That was the comment last year and I am still amazed that he didn't get more attention in the voting. Larkin was every bit the short stop that Alomar was a second baseman. In fact, he was better. I am afraid he won't get in again this year but I hope the Hall does not make him wait long.
Al Leiter - No
162-132 record; 3.80 ERA; 1,974 K
It is almost sad that I don't even waste a thought on Leiter's candidacy as he was a strong pitcher for a fairly long time. He was certainly the better pitcher among the Leiter brothers. But he never won 20. In fact, he only won 15 or more 4 times in his career (19 seasons.) He had some strong years late in his career, however, and should be remembered fondly by Mets fans.
Edgar Martinez - Yes
2,247 hits; 309 HR; 1,261 RBI; .312 lifetime avg.
The average says something, no doubt. But as a lifetime DH, it is hard to really take stock of the player. Without fielding, one must only look at the offensive numbers and frankly...they just don't add up. I recall in the day, Martinez was the best at what he did. For nearly a decade, Martinez anchored those Mariners teams. As feared as he might have been, however, I just don't think his numbers stack up. Is it something to say you were the best DH ever? Maybe I just don't respect the position.
That is what I wrote last year as I said "No" on Edgar. I have changed my mind. Or better yet, others have done it for me. When you consider that Edgar retired after 18 seasons with a line that looks like this - .312 AVG/.418 OBP/.515 SLG - you really have to think. That is for a career. Those numbers are excellent for a season and very few men have done that for their entire careers. We are talking the cream of the baseball crop (men like Ruth, Gehrig and Williams.) I admit, the DH thing still bugs me, but I can recognize a great hitter when I see one (or when I rethink his numbers) and Martinez was clearly one of the best hitters to ever play the game. My vote has changed to "Yes."
Tino Martinez - No
1,925 hits; 339 HR; 1,271 RBI; .271 lifetime avg.
While he did a great job anchoring those great Yankee teams of the late 90's after coming over from Seattle, I cannot really say in any way that Tino was a Hall man. Good player with a nice 5 year peak, but he does not belong with the elite.
Don Mattingly - No
2,153 hits; 222 HR; 1,099 RBI; .307 lifetime avg.
I'd love to say that the avg. helps Mattingly as certainly his 9 gold gloves suggest as well. But his real numbers just don't add up. Just because he anchored a decade of losing Yankees teams doesn't give him entrance into the HoF. He had a very popular baseball card but that reputation just doesn't translate into a HoF career. Sorry Donnie Baseball.
Fred McGriff - Yes
2,490 hits; 493 HR; 1,550 RBI; .284 lifetime avg
Hits and avg don't give him the credit he deserves. Those 493 home runs do. Between 1988 and 1994 McGriff hit over 30 home runs each season. In fact, he had 7 additional seasons in which he hit at least 20 per year, 3 more times topping 30. Six times he landed in the top 10 in MVP voting, getting as close as 4th in 1993. It was a monster season and one that Braves fans will remember forever. And while he doesn't have the gold gloves to show it, he was a pretty darn good 1st baseman. I'll readily admit that the Crime Dog is a borderline hall of famer, but he should not be punished for not getting to 500 HR. He remains a hall of fame player.
Mark McGwire - Yes
1,626 hits; 583 HR; 1,414 RBI; .263 lifetime avg.
If it were not for the 583 home runs, nobody would even discuss McGwire, frankly. He was no stud on the defense and he only gets credit (rightly) for his home runs. That he broke the record in 1998 gives him an added bonus, but without him so did Sammy Sosa and does anybody really think Sosa is a hall of famer? That said, McGwire hit 49 home runs in his rookie season and if steroids are what is keeping you from looking at McGwire's actual career, then you need to look again. This guy was a masher, and with Conseco and Eckersley, anchored those late 80's Oakland teams as well as the pre-Pujols Cardinals. He made a name for himself in the baseball world and so his numbers do not matter as much anymore. You could liken him to Pete Rose or Sandy Koufax...either way, he belongs in the Hall.
That was last year. My thoughts have not changed, but McGwire did come out and admit his PED usage as he transitioned to hitting coach for the Cardinals. I doubt it will help his Hall case and in fact, may hurt it with the way some voters wish to punish such players. See Bagwell this year and he's never had any proof or insinuation that he used. McGwire will likely have to wait a long time to get into the Hall if he ever does.
Raul Mondesi - No
1,589 hits; 271 HR; 860 RBI; .273 lifetime avg.
Here is another Dodger RoY on the ballot and one that should have ended up a HoF player. From 1995 to 2001, he was a guy you wanted on your team hitting over 20 HR each year. By 2005, he was completely washed up and a joke in the field and at the plate (trust me...I recall his short stay in Atlanta.) Looks like it will be Piazza that finally gets a 90's Dodger RoY in the Hall.
Jack Morris - No
254-186 record; 3.90 lifetime ERA; 2,478 K; 175 complete games and 28 shutouts
There are two serious pitchers on this HoF ballot (again.) When you compare Morris with Blyleven...well, is there really a comparison? If Bert comes out ahead, and still has not gained entry to the HoF, then why should Morris expect anything more? 254 wins is impressive as is the 1991 World Series game 7 where he pitched 10 innings of shutout ball...the last time that happened in a WS game (or perhaps any other.) I recall him very much, but then I am a Braves fan. Was he a hall of famer? I am not so sure. That 3.90 lifetime ERA really smarts for his case. But he has a case, I will grant you that. I just would not vote for him...not right now at least.
Dale Murphy - Yes
2,111 hits; 398 HR; 1,266 RBI; .265 lifetime avg.
Bill James used a criteria some years back called the Keltner list. It is based on a specific player's borderline stats and asks questions to see if a player really deserves enshrinement. Of all the baseball blogs I visit, Mac Thomason's Braves Journal is the best for my team. There he looks at Dale Murphy's Keltner list. Of course I am a Braves fan, as well as a Murphy fan (actually met him in person at a Morman church in Roswell, GA where I grew up.) Murphy deserves the distinction of being one of the top 2 or 3 players in his decade of the 80's, yet he is now considered borderline. I've mentioned Albert Belle before but I bring it up again to discuss Murphy. Belle ended his storied career with 381 HRs compared to Murphy's 398. Belle had 1,239 RBI to Dale's 1,266. Belle only had 1,726 hits to Murphy's 2,111. But Belle only played for 12 seasons. Murphy played for 18. If Belle is not a hall of famer (and he dropped off the ballot in his first year of appearance with only 19 votes or 3.5% of the vote) then Murphy is not. I happen to think Belle is deserving, and thus so too is Murphy. At least that is what makes sense as a Braves and baseball fan. In truth, Murphy seems to fall in with Mattingly (and Larkin actually in a way) - so many years with one team, and the stud of that team, but not enough to gain entry. The Hall of very, very (very) good.
John Olerud - No
2,239 hits; 255 HR; 1,230 RBI; .295 lifetime avg.
Olerud might get in just for that hat he wore at first base. In truth, his numbers are actually better than I expected to see when I checked. But as a first baseman, and with so many great ones coming down the pike soon (as well as on this same ballot) I cannot vote for Olerud. I recall him with Toronto as his team broke my heart in 1992 and then later with the Mets. Good guy, but not a Hall guy.
Rafael Palmeiro - Yes
3,020 hits (24th all-time); 569 HR (12th all-time); 1,835 RBI (15th all-time); .288 lifetime avg.
Recall the old time numbers that used to get a guy into the Hall? Well, look above as those numbers should usher any other man right in. There are only 3 other men that ever played the game that had at least 3,000 hits, 500 HR and 1,600 RBI. Their names are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray. Not Barry Bonds. Not Babe Ruth. Not Stan Musial. Not Ted Williams. But Raffy did it. Then add to that 4 All Star games, 3 gold gloves and landing in the top 20 in MVP voting ten different times during his career. He's 79th all-time in WAR (a newer statistic but a good one) but outside of Scott Rolen immediately above him, the rest of the names are elite guys. Finally, one must add his positive test for PEDs just a few years after wagging his finger at Congress as he flatly denied any such usage. This man's case is a tough one and I can guarantee he will not be elected to the Hall in this or any other year by the writers. I say that is a shame. He may not have been the flashiest player, but he was sturdy in the manner of Aaron and that is how he compiled such awesome numbers. I vote "Yes."
Dave Parker - No
2,712 hits; 339 HR; 1,493 RBI; .290 lifetime avg.
This guy is a hard one. He reminds me much of Jim Rice with his numbers. They are not as good as ballot-mate Harold Baines, but Parker played the field and at an earlier time. He is not on the ballot much longer. He also reminds a bit of Dick Allen, with a feared history but not enough numbers to seal the deal. They are not quite the 3,000 hits you want to see, nor even at 400 HR. Not getting to 1,500 RBI really kills his case as I didn't see him play in person. But recall that Allen only played for 15 seasons. Parker for 19. Allen still had more HRs. And both probably belong in the HoF.
That was last year's write up and with the ballot as huge as it is this year, I have to give that vote to another. I wonder if Parker deals with this a lot. He was a great player but remains borderline and my sympathies are occupied elsewhere this year.
Tim Raines - Yes
2,605 hits; 980 RBI; 808 SB (5th all time); .294 lifetime avg.
Rock Raines is the poor man's Rickey Henderson. I really don't know anybody that argues that point. If Rickey gets into the Hall, which he rightly has, then Raines needs to follow close after as he was nearly a carbon copy. Perhaps the coke thing keeps him out. Or perhaps people have not considered him fully just yet. Either way, he belongs.
Kirk Rueter - No
130-92 record; 4.27 ERA; 818 K
The man is only on the ballot because he played for 13 years (a minimum of ten being required.) He only won 15 or more games twice in that time. Not meant for the Hall.
Benito Santiago - No
1,830 hits; 217 HR; 920 RBI; .263 lifetime avg.
Santiago had a neat trick of being able to throw guys out at second from his knees. He was also excellent with a pitching staff. An outstanding defensive catcher but not a man that built Hall numbers, even as a catcher. He did hit 30 homers in 1996, but only hit .300 or better twice and never had 100 RBI for a season. Rookie of the Year in 1987 and 5 All Star appearances seem to be his reward for a lengthy career solely as a catcher.
Lee Smith - No
71-92 record; 3.03 lifetime ERA; 478 saves (3rd all time); 1,251 K
The man that at one time owned the all time saves record, now he must compete with Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. He's not in the same company, though he is close. If Sutter and Gossage are in the Hall, then so too should Smith see induction. He really is part of that triumvirate. And a 3.03 lifetime ERA...not bad for a reliever as he was for 18 seasons.
That was last year. The ballot is much larger this time and frankly, there are more deserving guys. I may vote for him in future when the ballot clears up some, but that will not happen for a while.
B.J. Surhoff - No
2,326 hits; 188 HR; 1,153 RBI; .282 lifetime avg.
Surhoff had a lengthy career as a pain in the ass. That was the way the other teams looked at him, I am sure. He was never great but always able to get a hit when the team needed it and drove the other team crazy. He only hit 20 or more homers three times, however. He was a good hitter but not a hall of famer.
Alan Trammell - No
2,365 hits; 185 HR; 1,003 RBI; 236 SB; .285 lifetime avg.
Look, I understand that Whitaker and Trammell were the double play combo for the AL during the 80's. They were like Stockton and Malone in the NBA. Whitaker had but a day on the ballot. Trammell has stayed as an early version of what Ripken made popular. Yet I just do not see the numbers to justify his enshrinement. Where Ripken had over 3,000 hits, Trammell never got near that number. Where Cal had over 1,600 RBI, Trammell was not even close. Ripken far outweighed him in homers. Trammell only wins in avg. and perhaps gold gloves. We know who the superior player is. Trammell is not it. Nor does he belong in the hall, at least on this ballot.
That was last year's write up and I still will not vote for Trammell this year. However, I think he ultimately belongs in the Hall (so does Whitaker, probably.) He may need to be a Vets guy.
Larry Walker - No
2,160 hits; 383 HR; 1,311 RBI; .313 lifetime avg.
Walker is another guy that I might give more of a look if the ballot was not so large this year. MVP in '97, he was also in the top 10 in voting 3 other times. He won 7 gold gloves in his career and went to 5 All Star games. He was a hell of a hitter, leading his league three times over his career. I will grant you that he is borderline (and that is why he does not get my vote this year) but he deserves some more scrutiny over time and I hope he remains on the ballot in future years so he gets a solid second look.
* * *
And there it is. My full ballot looks like this:
Only allowed ten votes so some good players must wait - Baines, Morris, Parker, Smith, Trammell and Walker. I suspect all will continue to have their champions in years to come (well, except perhaps Baines...I think I am the only person that actually thinks he may deserve a spot in the Hall.)
Results will be announced January 5, 2011. I suspect that only Alomar and Blyleven will be elected this year. Maybe Bagwell if he is lucky. I cannot see anyone else getting there considering their numbers last year (Morris and Larkin will not move from the 50% range to 75% that quickly.) And if you want some idea of what future years might look like, please revisit my post from last year looking at the Hall future. The ballot will remain crowded for some years to come. That is all.