A golden retriever puppy? Seriously? Could we have more in common? Anyway, happy birthday January. Guess that solves the mystery of your not so common first name. Moving on to the yearly Hall of Fame discussion…
Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar are in. If I remember correctly I went on a miniature tirade last season when Alomar narrowly missed election. His easy trip to enshrinement this year was obviously the result of the first ballot distinction, a Hall of Fame voting trend I can actually live with. If you want to keep Alomar out for one year because he’s not quite 1st ballot material, I can at least understand that argument. Electing someone after 14 years, I don’t necessarily agree with. What is old Bert supposed to think? Hey, congrats on being one of the least convincing Hall of Famers of all-time.
It seemed to me that Hall of Fame voting always was about the stats. The benchmark number of home runs, wins, rbi, whatever the number there were levels that Hall of Fame voters wanted to see before they put a guy in Cooperstown. Many would argue now that they have wasted several years looking at the wrong numbers (Rbi, Wins, etc), but there was at least some method to the madness. What the process has turned into, though, is kind of the opposite. Now, it feels like all the stats are torn down for various reasons, and if the guy still has a leg to stand on, he gets in. There are admitted steroid users, players associated with steroids, players who simply played in the steroid era, and with Larry Walker’s presence on the ballot this year the first thin-air candidate. All of these factors, to varying degrees, reduce a player’s chances to get in.
Admitted steroid users (for the time being) have no chance. Mark McGwire can forget about it. When Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens come down the path, the voters will have a tougher call. The showing for Rafael Palmeiro this year can’t be too heartening for the players in the coming years. Despite a continued denial that he used PEDs, Palmeiro was named on a measly 11 percent of the ballots. Remember that Palmeiro has 500 home runs. AND 3000 hits. AND 1800 RBI. Not long ago any of those stats would have gotten him in, and the combination of the three would have given him no questions asked 1st ballot status. Now, 11 percent.
For Jeff Bagwell, I look at it as the test case for guys like Frank Thomas and maybe even Jim Thome. Bagwell was never caught doing anything, but you could certainly play 6 degrees of PEDs and get to his name pretty quickly. Unlike the admitted and suspected users, though, Bagwell’s numbers would likely have him on the fringe anyway. He certainly wasn’t a 1st ballot guy, but 450 homers, 1500 RBI, and a career average just below .300 probably would have eventually gotten him in. Now, he has to wade through speculation and guilt by association.
With Larry Walker, he’s another test case. He played in the suspicious era, but also in the greatest hitting park anyone has ever seen. It was the park that gave us Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla piling up ridiculous numbers. Walker was right there with them, clearly the most talented, but his achievements watered down none the less. He’s another guy that isn’t the perfect test case, because he was so riddled by injury that a lot of total stats don’t quite add up. He is a .313 career hitter though, and won seven gold gloves (for whatever they’re worth). Walker in some ways was his generation’s Jim Rice, but he has the added Coors Field impact. If Walker never gets in (a dubious 20% of the vote this year) and considering the rapid decline of Todd Helton’s career, voters may never have to really deal with Coors Field, now that the stats have somewhat returned to earth.
In the End, with this group, my votes are:
- Jack Morris
- Juan Gonzalez
- Barry Larkin