The Hall of Fame Ballot

It’s that time of year when baseball writers all over America will cast their votes for the Hall of Fame, an exciting time for people (like me) who are interested in that kind of stuff. So let’s take a quick look at the Hall of Fame ballot:

  • Returning players: Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Jack Morris, Barry Larkin, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Mark McGwire, Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Dave Parker, Dale Murphy, and Harold Baines
  • First Timers: Carlos Baerga, Jeff Bagwell, Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, John Franco, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Kirk Rueter, Benito Santiago, B. J. Surhoff, and Larry Walker

For me, there are only a couple of players who stick out. This is a year, much like last year, where there are no sure-fire hall of famers. Bert Blyleven has been passed over thirteen times already, and if he isn’t elected by 2012 he will lose eligibility. Personally, I think this is a joke. Blyleven sits at 5th on the career strikeouts list, 9th on the career shutouts list, finished in the top 10 in the AL in ERA 10 times (career 3.31 ERA), and for his career had 6.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He also finished his career with 287 wins. Blyleven is widely considered the best pitcher (who is eligible) who isn’t in the hall of fame, and after finishing at 74.2 percent (out of a required 75 percent) last year, I would be pretty surprised if Blyleven didn’t make it this year.

Roberto Alomar is the other player expected to be elected. Last season, in his first year of eligibility, Alomar received 73.2 percent of the votes required (8 shy). Alomar set the bar for all-around shortstops, making 12 straight all-star teams from 1990-2001, collecting over 2,700 hits, and finishing with a .300 career batting average. In addition to being a superb offensive player (he won four silver slugger awards), Alomar played top-notch defense, winning 10 gold glove awards. Most people expected Alomar to get in last year, and it was a bit of a surprise that he was passed over. If he were left out again, it would be borderline shocking.

Then, there are the guys on the fence. The players in this category include Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Kevin Brown. Palmeiro collected 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, but likely won’t be elected because of his ties to steroids, and the fact that lots of people seem to think he was a pretty good player that just somehow ended up with monstrous numbers. Kevin Brown put up outstanding career numbers, and played a huge part for the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins, but he was also linked to steroids. Bagwell put up a .297/.408/.540 line with 449 career homers in 15 seasons and was the 1994 NL MVP. Jack Morris collected a lot of wins, and has garnered a lot of votes, but personally I don’t think he belongs. Barry Larkin played 19 seasons, all with Cincinnati, and finished with an MVP award, 3 Gold Gloves, and 12 all-star appearances. Edgar Martinez is another interesting case – he got 36 percent of the vote last year, and if he is eventually elected he would be the first essentially full-time DH ever to be elected to the Hall (though Paul Molitor spent a lot of time there). Martinez was a career .312 hitter, and twice led the league in batting average. He won five silver slugger awards, and made six all-star teams. Last but not least is Larry Walker, who finished his career with a .313/.400/.565 line, 383 homers, an MVP, seven Gold Gloves, 5 all-star appearances, and a couple of truly transcendent seasons: in 1999, for example, he hit .379/.458/.710 (!) with 37 homers and 115 RBIs, and in 1997 he hit .366/.452/.720 with 49 home runs and 130 RBIs. Some people chalk those numbers up to the Coors Field effect, but still. Come on.

I would have to say that this year I expect Blyleven and Alomar to be elected, and no one else. Only two other players received more than 50 percent of the vote last year (Morris, 52 percent, and Larkin, 51), and while it is possible that a player like Larkin makes a big jump and gets elected, I don’t see it happening. I also don’t think that any of the first year players have strong enough cases to get in on their first ballot. If Roberto Alomar didn’t get in on his first try, I find it very unlikely that Jeff Bagwell or Larry Walker would, even though I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them get in sometime in the future.  I guess we will find out tomorrow!

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2 Responses

  1. how is carlos baerga even considered? the guy wasn’t even the best play at this position in the league at the time.

    • How about Lenny Harris? The dude is known as being something like the greatest pinch hitter of all time. Apparently that is enough to make you a HOF candidate, while ignoring the fact that pinch hitting means you aren’t good enough to start.

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