Hall of Fame votes are much like the very first elections in our nation’s history: many had opinions, but few had a vote (and for the record, Washington and Jefferson are first-ballot Hall of Famers; Adams much like Jack Morris — some great moments, but not Hall worthy).
The Hall of Fame Class of 2011 will be announced on Wednesday, and it’s likely to be large. It would have been larger still but for the suspicion that so many who are eligible made themselves larger — literally. With Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro eligible, it’s the first referendum on the performance-enhancing drugs era.
Here’s my take:
Roberto Alomar: Yes, yes, yes. Should be the first name on everyone’s ballot, and not just because it’s first alphabetically. Anyone who watched him with the Mets (2002-03), forget what you saw.
Harold Baines: No, and not just because he was once traded for Sammy Sosa. If you’re going to vote for a DH, see Edgar Martinez.
Jeff Bagwell: Yes. Hope the month of Larry Andersen the Red Sox traded Bagwell for — a New Englander, for Ted Williams’ sake — was worth it. 449 home runs, 488 doubles, a .948 OPS in a career mostly spent in the Astrodome.
Bert Blyleven: No, but with less conviction every year. He has a career .668 OPS against, a 3.31 ERA, 3,701 strikeouts, 287 wins and a lot of loyal lobbyists. Keeping him out for the 13 wins he didn’t get may amount to double jeopardy for his time spent in Cleveland.
Kevin Brown: Yes if enough Braves-haters have votes. Kept the Braves from the Series in 1997 (with the Marlins) and 1998 (Padres). 211 wins, a 3.28 ERA, five top-six Cy Young seasons, a .655 career OPS against (13 points less than Blyleven’s in a more offensive era). No vote here, but will get far less votes than he deserves, and if Byleven goes in, why shouldn’t Brown?
John Franco: No. Graduate of Brooklyn’s Lafayette High School, which already has one Hall of Fame left-hander (Sandy Koufax). A good run of seasons, but his .665 OPS against is worse than Kevin Brown’s, and Brown is a starter.
Juan Gonzalez: Yes, unless you punish the shortness of his career. Not here. Two-time MVP, 434 career home runs, .904 career OPS, four .600-plus slugging seasons, and two more in the .590s. Not to compare eras, but Jim Rice hit 52 less home runs in 1,669 more at-bats, and he’s in the Hall (though that’s why he shouldn’t be).
Barry Larkin: Still yes. Larkin hit 51% last year, but it will be hard to keep gaining against tougher competition — and he is competing for votes against other candidates as surely as if he’s in a primary. Nine .300 seasons, an MVP and two Gold Gloves.
Edgar Martinez: No, but. Hall of Fame offensive player — .933 OPS, 515 doubles, career .418 on-base percentage, but played in the field in just 592 career games (out of 2,055), including just 34 in his last 11 seasons. No vote here, but no candles lit in protest if he does get in someday.
Don Mattingly: No. A few great years don’t make a Hall of Famer, unless you’re Sandy Koufax. Goes into the Would Have Been a Hall of Famer, but for a bad back.
Fred McGriff: Yes, but he looked better last year when there wasn’t as much competition. .886 career OPS and 493 career home runs. Ask yourself this: If he had stuck around to hit seven more home runs, how much would his vote totals have improved?
Mark McGwire: No, because we’re not here to talk about the past. We’re not here to talk about 583 home runs or a career .982 OPS. After a Hall of Fame-like rookie season, he had four straight adequate but not Hall seasons. Wonder what happened next?
Jack Morris: No, no, a thousand times no. Or at least 15 years no. Morris was a good pitcher on some very good teams and won 254 games, but his 3.90 career ERA and .693 OPS are on the wrong side of the Hall divide. Yes, his 1-0, 10-inning, Series clincher in 1991 is worthy, but if Lonnie Smith doesn’t stumble on the bases, Morris loses 1-0 in nine and this discussion is over.
Dale Murphy: No. A couple of great years aren’t nearly enough. His career OPS is .815, the same as Barry Larkin, who played the middle of the infield.
John Olerud: No, but closer than you might think. Career .863 OPS, thanks to 500 doubles and a career .398 on-base percentage. Oh, and the Rickey Henderson and Olerud story — not true.
Rafael Palmeiro: No. Forget about the PED issue for a minute. Palmeiro is to batters what Don Sutton is to pitchers, reaping the benefits of a long career. He had 569 home runs and 3,020 hits — both Hall hallmarks — and somehow compiled only an .885 career OPS, eight points less than McGriff’s. Never higher than sixth in an MVP vote. First ballot in the Hall of Very Good and the Hall of Deny, Deny, Deny.
Dave Parker: No, but has only himself to blame. Was a Hall of Famer at age 28, before another drug era took over. Finished with an .810 OPS and all the comparisons to Andre Dawson and Jim Rice won’t erase that.
Tim Raines: Yes. He’s not Rickey Henderson, but who is. 808 steals, 1,330 walks, a .294 career average, second-best leadoff hitter of his generation. Career .810 OPS will hold him down.
Lee Smith: No, but there’s a case to be made. 478 career saves and three top-five Cy Young finishes. 3.03 ERA and .647 career OPS don’t demand Hall of Fame, though.
Alan Trammell: No, but I’d like to be convinced. Should have been MVP in 1987 (but no one wanted to face George Bell the next spring), but not enough good offensive seasons. .767 career OPS.
Larry Walker: No, because his home field was on steroids. Walker has a career .965 OPS, which is Hall worthy, but it’s 1.068 at home and .865 on the road. Nine full seasons in Colorado is enough to skew the numbers.
Stat of the Day
- This is the 14th year Bert Blyleven will be eligible. Last year he missed induction by five votes.
Quote of the Day
“The Hall of Fame is about fame, and Blyleven’s greatest fame came not while he was pitching well for five teams over 22 seasons but instead through his extended candidacy and the controversy surrounding it after he had retired.” Jon Heyman, SI.com