I have spent the better part of the past couple of weeks giving you my thoughts on a myriad of men who were eligible for election into the Baseball Hall of Fame (you can find link to all of those pieces in Is There Room for a DH – just scroll to the bottom for the other reviews). In case you missed it, here is how things played out in the voting that was announced yesterday. Remember, a player must appear on 75 percent of the ballots to gain enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
77.9% – Andre Dawson
72.4 – Bert Blyleven
73.7 – Roberto Alomar
52.3 – Jack Morris
51.6 – Barry Larkin
47.3 – Lee Smith
36.2 – Edgar Martinez
30.4 – Tim Raines
23.7 – Mark McGwire
22.4 – Alan Trammell
21.5 – Fred McGriff
Obviously only Dawson was enshrined. I don’t exactly get the warm and fuzzies there, but a strong case can clearly be made for him (I did just that arguing for him in a piece you can access in the link above. In fact, I previously covered Dawson, Alomar, Martinez, Raines, McGwire and McGriff). My thoughts on the others who gained at least 20 percent of the vote are as follows.
Bert Blyleven: 287 career victories (27th all-time), 3,071 Ks (5th), 4970 IP (14th). Ten times he finished in the top-10 in ERA, but he won 20 games only once, never led the league in victories or ERA, and basically was a very, very good pitcher for a very long time. Was never great, and if that is what the HOF is for, he shouldn’t make it (he never finished above third in the Cy Young voting). Also, how has he gone from 14.1 percent of the vote in his second year of eligibility (1999) to the cusp of enshrinement?
Roberto Alomar: See link above for my thoughts. Bottom line is that 12 All-Star appearances and 10 Gold Gloves should make you a mortal lock for HOF. What are the voters waiting for – Alomar to discover Adamantium (an X-Men reference for those of you that don’t get the inside joke)?
Jack Morris: Much has been made about the fact that his 3.90 ERA would be the worst of any pitcher in the Hall. Like Blyleven, he was very good for a long time but was he every truly great? You can make the argument he was great in big games, but there is more to a career than a World Series outing or two (ask Mr. Perfect, Don Larson). Morris won “only” 254 games, never finished as even the runner-up for the Cy Young Award, never led the league in ERA or WHIP, and only once paced his league in Ks (232 in 1983). One of the best who shouldn’t be in.
Barry Larkin: A case has been made by Jayson Stark of ESPN, and instead of rehashing all of it I will just link you to the piece titled Underrated Larkin Deserves Spot in Hall. Two salient points. (1) Larkin won nine Silver Slugger awards. There has only been one infielder in history with more than that and his name is Alex Rodriguez. (2) His .815 OPS isn’t great, but it’s better than Cal Ripken (.788) and is actually better than all but five shortstops since 1900 who have accrued at least 5,000 at-bats.
Lee Smith: His total of 478 saves is third all-time. He was named to seven All-Star teams, but at the same time he only finished in the top-10 of the Cy Young voting four times in 18 seasons and owns a 3.03 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, hardly awe inspiring numbers. Another case of really good but never really great despite the huge save total.
Edgar Martinez: See link above for my thoughts. I wasn’t at all surprised he didn’t get in, but with all the “Vote for Martinez” and “I Love Edgar” movements floating around, I’m surprised he only got a third of the vote. Will likely one day make it.
Tim Raines: See link above for my thoughts. A travesty. If he wasn’t one of the five best leadoff men of all-time I’ll eat my left shoe with nary an herb to spice it up.
Mark McGwire: See link above for my thoughts. Again, no shock he is on the outside looking in. Clearly voters are punishing him for his connection with performance enhancing drugs as you cannot, as a rational person, dispute his candidacy based on the numbers.
Alan Trammell: Rob Neyer, about as respected a man as there is at knowing the history of the game combined with sabermetric principles, said this week that Trammel is one of the 10-12 greatest shortstops of all-time. I don’t know if that is true or not, I’m inclined to take Neyer at his word, but I do know that Trammel made six All-Star teams, was a top-10 vote getter for MVP three times, won four Gold Gloves, had 2,365 hits and posted a .285 batting average. He also had a season for the ages in 1987 as he hit .343 with 28 homers, 105 RBI, 109 runs and 21 steals.
Fred McGriff: See link above for my thoughts. Using the smell test he just doesn’t make it. Mind numbingly consistent, he was never the best at his position or truly great.
When I have more time I might lament what the hell the voters are thinking, clearly at least a few of the men and women who make the decision when it comes to entry in the Hall need to be replaced for outright stupidity (what sane person would case a vote for David Segui? – and I’m not making that up, he got one vote this year). Luckily for them, I don’t have time to get into that right now because I’m sure I have a scathing review of the entire process germinating in my mind.
By Ray Flowers