Three Isn't Enough
Three players were elected to the Hall of Fame today, and I couldn’t disagree with any of the three choices. Certainly, Greg Maddux is a no-brainer. Tom Glavine is not far behind. I wouldn’t have been shocked had Frank Thomas not been elected, but I wholeheartedly agree that he is a Hall of Famer.
But only three?
I believe the Hall of Fame should maintain incredibly high standards and only the elite should be included. However, with the loaded ballot, I was surprised there weren’t four.
I thought Craig Biggio would be elected. I think he should have been. In fact, I thought he had a better shot than Thomas. He logged more than 3,000 hits while playing two demanding positions. He was an All-Star as both a catcher and second baseman. Of all the hitters on the ballot this year, only Barry Bonds scored more runs and only Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro had more total bases and more runs produced than Biggio. And no hitter on the ballot had more hits or doubles. I suspect the long-time Astro will get elected next year after falling two votes shy.
I am not surprised that Jack Morris did not gain election, but I think he should have. I know his 3.90 ERA is high by Hall standards and I appreciate voters being judicious. However, during his era, no pitcher in the American League was more feared by hitters than the righthander. His Hall of Fame fate is now in the veterans committee’s hands.
Also on my ballot
First of all, there’s no need to make an on-the-field argument, but here goes anyway: Just about any stat or metric you want to use for the players currently on the Hall of Fame ballot will see Bonds’ name at the top of the list. The few that he’s not No. 1 include hits (3rd), average (8th), doubles (2nd) and steals (2nd). Clearly, his performance is among the best of all-time. The only question for some is how much of that performance was artificially enhanced. The answer is that we really don’t know. Furthermore, during Bonds’ stellar career, not once did MLB or its players punish, or threaten to punish, him for breaking baseball’s rules. Not once.
I don’t understand how any voter could have Clemens on their ballot and not Bonds, and vice versa. They are either judged solely on their on-the-field performance, or disqualified by their PED use. But there had to have been a few voters that accept Clemens but do not accept Bonds as a Hall of Famer.
For a pitcher who spent his entire career in the brutal American League East, Mussina posted incredible numbers. He was the ultimate professional who rarely missed starts. For 17 seasons, he averaged 31 starts per season. He won 20 games only once, but won 17 or more eight times. In the expansion era (1961-present), only nine pitchers have a better ERA+ than Mussina. The stat somewhat levels the playing field across eras because it compares a pitcher’s ERA to the league average and makes adjustments for ballparks. And among the nine better are four Hall of Famers and Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz and Kevin Brown.
Rock Raines is on my ballot because he was consistently one of the most feared offensive weapons throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. He toiled primarily in obscurity in Montreal, and was the No. 1 victim of owners’ collusion in 1987. The deeper into sabermetrics you go, the better Raines looks.
Just off my ballot
It is crystal clear that the current roster of voters doesn’t appreciate the inflated stats of the Steroid Era. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens received less support this year than last year. Their vote totals combined wouldn’t be enough to gain election. Also notable is that Rafael Palmeiro, with 3,020 hits, 569 home runs, 1,835 RBIs and 1,663 runs didn’t garner enough votes to stay on the ballot. Those are numbers that only Willie Mays and Hank Aaron can match.
Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have Palmeiro on my ballot either. Aside from the positive PED test, his stats were terribly hollow. His lifetime .288 average in an offensive era is rather pedestrian. But with those numbers, I’m amazed that only 25 voters gave him the nod.
These Guys Got Votes?
In all of their wisdom, somehow a few voters managed to check the boxes for Kenny Rogers, Armando Benitez and — get this — Jacque Jones. Really?
A Look Ahead
Next year we could see an even larger class of players elected. I would think that Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio will get the call. Many believe that Pedro Martinez will join them as well. And Mike Piazza is not that far away having received votes on 62.2 percent of this year’s ballots in an overly crowded field.
Here’s hoping that Jack Morris gains favor with the veterans committee over the years. And I believe that the committee, comprised primarily of former players, will look less favorably on PED use than the writers do.