And now I’m back, from outer space….well maybe not that far away, but pretty far from the nearest internet connection. I just spent a long weekend in upstate New York where my parents had rented a cabin on the water. No internet, a TV that had 18 channels (16 of which were PBS) and a paper whose sports section was awesome in its lack of coverage.
There were a few bonuses. I got to see my family (including my niece aka The Greatest Baby in the World) and got to spend a couple of late nights discussing sports, music and movies with my brother in law over copious amounts of beer. The beers of choice for this occasion were LaBatt Blue Light, and courtesy of my uncle lots of Bud Light and…shudder… Busch.
One of the topics discussed was the Hall of Fame. On a similar trip a few years ago the two of us drove over to Cooperstown to see Cal Ripken, Jr. inducted. It definitely ranked in the top five sports moments in my life and will probably be the last Oriole inducted for quite some time. We also agreed that we had to go back some day because we needed waaaaaayyyy more time to look at the exhibits.
During our discussion we talked about the next few years and who would be inducted. It wasn’t an in-depth, fact filled conversation. After all we didn’t have internet access (and did I mention the copious amounts of beer). In the end we agreed there were few sure-fire, first ballot hall of famers in the next few years which might have an interesting side effect - the induction of one or more suspected steroid users.
So for lack of anything else to write about, and to get a jump on next year’s talking heads I’m going to break down the next Hall of Fame class. For fun I’m going to break it down two ways:
1. Gut feeling. This is super unscientific. Looking at the eligible names I will just pull out the ones I think should be on based on what I remember about them.
2. Statistical Evidence. I will then take the players I picked and see if I can find some sort of evidence as to why they should be inducted other than the fact that they had a cool baseball card or seemed to kick the crap out of the O’s every time they played them.
I haven’t seen an official list so I’m basing the list of names I’m using on what I could scrounge up on the internet (I.e. Wikipedia). So here we go!
2010 Hall of Fame Ballot
First Time Eligible Players:
Paul Abbott, Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Andy Ashby, Danny Bautista, Brian Boehringer, Darren Bragg, Dave Burba, Ellis Burks, Greg Colbrunn, Mike Fetters, Brook Fordyce, Andrés Galarraga, Karim Garcia, Tom Goodwin, Ricky Gutierrez, Jimmy Haynes, Pat Hentgen, Sterling Hitchcock, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Curt Leskanic, Josias Manzanillo, Edgar Martinez, Brent Mayne, Fred McGriff, Mark McLemore, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Scott Service, Chris Stynes, Scott Sullivan, Todd Van Poppel, John Vander Wal, Robin Ventura, Fernando Viña, Turk Wendell and Todd Zeile.
Gut Feeling Inductees:
Please note nine of the first time eligible players played for the Orioles at some point in their career. Also, while Manzanillo might not make the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown he should be a first ballot inductee for the gruesome injury Hall of Fame. According to Wikipedia, “suffered a grisly injury while pitching for the Seattle Mariners. Not wearing a cup, he took a Manny Ramirez line drive to the groin that led to an operation to remove one of his testicles.”
Roberto Alomar - Simply put he was the best second baseman of the 90’s. He was in twelve straight All Star games and was awarded 10 Gold Gloves. Nine seasons he hit over .300 and in two of them he drove in 100 runs (1999 and 2001). During his prime he scored 100 runs six times and swiped at least 30 bases eight times.
Career wise he ended up with 2,724 hits and 504 doubles. Not known as a home run hitter he only had 215 in his career, but he did manage to swipe 474 bases. In the field he had a fielding percentage of .984 in his 17 seasons.
Those numbers should be good enough for a first ballot induction. As much as I would like to see him in the Hall as an Oriole it will probably be a Blue Jays hat on his plaque.
Barry Larkin - This could be more of gut feeling then any other guy I picked. He played forever and he played for one team. He seems like a nice guy. Other than Ozzie Smith he was probably the most recognizable National League shortstop in the early 90’s.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. Starting with awards and accolades: twelve All Star games, 4 Gold Gloves and an MVP title in 1995. Not too shabby, but not great. He hit .295 for his career, racking up 2,340 hits along the way. Only 198 home runs and 960 RBI during his 19 career season make it hard to justify him as one of the elites. Also, take into consideration that he never led the National League in any offensive category in any season.
Numbers that make up a very good career, but upon further review he doesn’t make it in on his first try. Maybe later on down the line.
Edgar Martinez - A most interesting case. There are two glaring facts that people like to bring up when his career is discussed - he played in obscurity in Seattle and he was just a DH. I say poppycock! After all he did play 563 games at third base in his career. Granted his .946 career fielding average isn’t garnering any Brooks Robinson comparisons, but at least he tried.
He was one of the elite right handed hitters in baseball during the 90’s. He never had 200 hits his detractors cry out! What about his .356 average in 1995 and his .343 average in 1992, I retort. In 2000 he drove in 145 runs and hit 37 home runs. He is a member of the 300 home run club and the 500 double club (309 and 514 respectively).
Let’s see who has 500 doubles and isn’t in the Hall of Fame:
Pete Rose (746) - banned
Craig Biggio (668) - not eligible
Barry Bonds (601) - not eligible
Luis Gonzalez (596) - active
Rafael Palmerio (585) - not eligible
Ivan Rodriguez (538) - active
Al Oliver (529) - didn’t have 300 home runs
Dave Parker (526) - Why isn’t he in the Hall?
Manny Ramirez (520) - active
Ken Griffey, Jr. (515) - active
That’s two eligible players that haven’t made it. I feel comfortable that the voters will do the right thing and vote him in. Bonus for voting him in - he would be the first player to done the Mariners’ cap on his plague.
Fred McGriff - The Crime Dog! All I have to say - 493 home runs. Everybody around him on that number has been voted in. He has been anointed as a “clean player” by those who have that power to anoint players as such. I will ignore that simply compare him to someone with similar numbers who is already in - Willie Stargell
McGriff vs. Stargell
Seasons 19 21
Hits 2490 2232
Home Runs 493 475
RBI 1550 1540
Average .284 .282
Stolen Bases 72 17
It seems cut and dried to me. The only question should be under what hat is he inducted. There is an outside chance he goes in as a Ray, but I have a feeling it will be the Braves or Blue Jays that get the nod.
So there we have it. On final review three first ballot hall of famers get in next year. That’s bad news for the holdovers like Mark McGwire and Andre Dawson. Perhaps in 2011 (maybe I’ll get around to doing that this week as well!).