Monday, July 30, 2007

Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame ceremony was this weekend, and some of my friends from back home in DC traveled up to attend since Cal Ripken was going to be inducted. And we got to talking about future inductions, which had me looking at the list of eligible guys for each year. Assume I’m not even considering them for the Hall and just talking about their careers unless I expressly say otherwise.

2008:

Brady Anderson – I hear he’s still got sideburns, which is tremendous. He was a solid player. I always enjoyed watching him for the Orioles. He of course is best known for his bizarre one year 50 HR performance, which combined with his tremendous physique at that time raised a lot of suspicions.

Andy Benes – He had a few good years, but not much consistency at a high level.

Delino DeShields – I have fond memories of Delino when he came up with the Expos. He was a fun player to watch with his speed and hustle. I also remember his Upper Deck rookie card in 1990 well, although I’m not sure why.

Shawon Dunston – First overall pick of the 1982 draft. That didn’t turn out too well.

Chuck Finley - Hot wife. Crazy, but hot. Actually a pretty good pitcher during a period of inflated offense.

Travis Fryman – Very reliable player. He’s the sort of solid, unspectacular guy with limited upside that I never draft on my fantasy teams.

David Justice – When I first became a baseball fan, David Justice was the man. I thought of him as a future Hall of Fame type for sure. Unfortunately that didn’t come together. Still, he had a nice career. I think he’s a guy that deserves to remain on the ballot for a couple years, although obviously he’s never coming close to being elected.

Chuck Knoblauch – Think he regrets his trade demand from the Twins? The pressure of the Yankees killed his career. He’s not even 40 yet, and he had as good of, if not a better, start to his career than Craig Biggio.

Mike Morgan – Generic name, generic career. Wonder if he gets a sympathy vote from someone.

Robb Nen – Wow, he’s already eligible? Short career, but when he was on he was a great pitcher.

Tim Raines – “Rock” had a solid career. Oodles of stolen bases, and a good hitter with a lot of hits, too. He’s the best candidate from the 2008 class, but I don’t see him getting in. Certainly not first ballot.

Greg Swindell – Can you believe he pitched 17 years? He had one really strong year in 1988 but mostly was just around.

Randy Velarde – Who’d he pay to get on the ballot?

Mark Wohlers – See “Randy Velarde.”

2009:

Steve Avery – He’ll ultimately be remembered as the answer to a trivia question – the third member of the Braves’ young trio of Avery, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

Jay Bell – Solid major leaguer. Good fielder, good hitter. Mostly played out of the spotlight, though.

John Burkett – I’ve blocked out most of his career, as I still remember him almost exclusively as a Giant (although I recall him in a Red Sox and Ranger cap as well).

David Cone – I liked David Cone a lot. He was even cool with me when he was with the Yankees, which was quite the feat. I remember being in awe of him having a 20-3 record and 2.22 ERA in 1988, which just looked absolutely ridiculous as far as numbers go (and is for that matter). He managed to get in at least one really strong season for every team he played for. He was a very good pitcher during an era where it was hard for pitchers, and absolutely deserves Hall consideration even if he isn’t going to make it.

Mike Bordick – He was the guy the Orioles signed to move Cal Ripken permanently to third base. It turned out okay, but Bordick was nothing special. I’ll always remember Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell shilling for Bordick, and I could never figure out why.

Ron Gant – Had his peak with the Braves, just like David Justice. But for whatever reason, he never seemed like as big of a deal.

Mark Grace – Great name, great player. I don’t think he’s a Hall of Fame level guy, but I’d certainly be willing to entertain the notion. Very good defense and contact hitting, but ultimately that isn’t what people in this era want out of a first baseman.

Rickey Henderson – Finally a yes. Clearly he’s a Hall of Famer. First ballot. Greatest leadoff man of all time.

Denny Neagle – His contract with Colorado was a mistake of staggering proportions.

Dean Palmer – I didn’t realize until looking at his stats how many times he hit close to or over 30 homers and close to or over 100 RBI. Speaks to the era, because he totally was under the radar with that.

Dan Plesac – An average middle reliever. He wouldn’t be on the ballot if he didn’t have saves at the beginning of his career, and I don’t much care about saves anyway.

Greg Vaughn – He had a combined 95 home runs and 237 RBI from 1998-1999 and finished with 355 home runs. Again, this was a crazy era for power hitting.

Mo Vaughn – It’s too bad Mo Vaughn doesn’t end up in the Hall of Fame. He was a really great hitter, nice guy, and unlike most of the guys on the list, he was really one of the game’s elite players for a few years there. But his career was cut short.

Matt Williams – Very good hitter. He had a nice run with the Giants, and then a resurgence with the D-Backs. He won’t get in though.

Mike Williams – The first guy who I couldn’t immediately identify. Not Mitch Williams, right? And not Mike Williams the wide receiver? Oh yeah, Mike Williams the mediocre reliever for the Phillies. God bless the guy, but he really shouldn’t be on the ballot.

2010:Roberto Alomar – Yes. Beautiful hitter, beautiful fielder, nearly 3000 hits. Yes, his career rapidly fell apart after the trade to the Mets. But that doesn’t diminish his earlier career. He belongs in the Hall.

Kevin Appier – I wonder if he would have been more highly regarded if he didn’t play in KC most of his career.

Rod Beck – R.I.P.

Ellis Burks – I give him credit for resilience. He looked like a guy seriously on the decline with the Red Sox, but then he revitalized his career with the Rockies. Then again it looked like he was done, and he came back with the Giants and Red Sox. He feels like a guy that didn’t live up to his potential but his stats are respectable.

Andres Galaragga – Another guy with unexpectedly strong stats, which just emphasizes how hard it’s going to be to evaluate hitters in this generation. I always liked the Big Cat. Really good seasons for the Expos, Braves and Rockies.

Pat Hentgen – His career started off so well that I always expected him to regain that success, but he never did.

Mike Jackson – I remember his name a lot better than his career.

Eric Karros – Played 12 straight seasons with the Dodgers, which is impressive in the current era. Good first baseman, but nothing special.

Barry Larkin – 12 time all star, 9 silver sluggers, 3 gold gloves and an MVP. He’s going to get Hall support for sure. He’s close, but I’m not sure he gets in. He just doesn’t feel quite special enough to me. Certainly the best shortstop in the NL during that period, though.

Edgar Martinez – Excellent professional hitter. I expect him to get a small amount of support, but it will never grow. Too many excellent hitters to consider and he was mostly a DH.

Fred McGriff – Another tough call. Almost 500 home runs and 2,500 hits. He’d probably have a better shot if he had one season that really stood out.

Shane Reynolds – I had totally forgotten he played his last two seasons in uniforms other than the Astros uniform. Competent third starter type.

Robin Ventura – I think he should get in, just so they can put him getting popped by Nolan Ryan on his plaque.

Todd Zeile – He played for a whopping 11 different teams.

2011:

Wilson Alvarez – I remember him more for the disastrous contract he signed with the D-Rays than anything. Boy, what a cursed franchise.

Carlos Baerga – Great name, and great career peak. Too bad it didn’t last very long.

Jeff Bagwell – I lean yes. If he could have played a few more years in the bigs he’d likely be an easy choice. But he was a feared slugger for pretty much his entire career, and one of the top players in the majors.

Bret Boone – I thought he would fall off after his freaky good year in 2001, but he maintained it a few more years after that.

Kevin Brown – I might get laughed at for this, but I would seriously consider him. Not just as in he should be looked at, but as in I think he might belong in. He doesn’t have the wins that most hall of famers do, but this is a guy with a 3.28 career ERA in a hitter’s era. Top six for Cy Young 5 times. Top 2 for ERA 4 times. He was a really good pitcher.

John Franco – I think of his career as ending around 1997, so it’s amazing he kept going for so long. Good pitcher. Won’t go to the hall of fame, but a guy you want in your bullpen.

Juan Gonzalez – He sure started like a hall of famer. Then it all fell apart. He doesn’t get in.

Marquis Grissom – He was just a guy that was around.

Mike Hampton – He’s not a hall of famer, but he’s got something more valuable: lots and lots of money.

Al Leiter – He had a solid career. Doesn’t really stand out.

Tino Martinez – Valuable part of the best 90s Yankees teams and a solid major league career.

Raul Mondesi – I always felt like he had tremendous talent but could never put it all together. He ultimately didn’t have a very noteworthy career.

Hideo Nomo – Nomo, on the other hand, had a very noteworthy career. He was something really special when he debuted, both in terms of his actual performance and in terms of the significance it took on. He was probably the most important player in the importation of top Japanese talent, and a great pitcher for the Dodgers before other teams started to figure out how to hit him.

John Olerud – Olerud was a memorable figure with the helmet on the field, the .363 season, and jumping straight to the majors. Nice player for sure.

Rafael Palmeiro – Even in the 90s, 3,000 hits and 500 homers gets you in. And I’m not disqualifying anyone for steroids based on my assumption that anyone could be using during this period and most probably were.

Troy Percival – Very good closer for the Angels.

Benito Santiago – He had a very interesting career. He was a noteworthy player for the Padres, then seemingly vanished prior to a resurgence with the Giants.

Ugueth Urbina – He won’t be making the hall of fame, and he wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony anyway.

Larry Walker – He benefited from Coors Field, but he was very good for the Expos too. He also was a solid fielder. He had a very nice career.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Phil said...

Raines objectively is a lock Hall of Famer, one of the sixty or so best players ever to play the game. He boasts a lifetime .386 OBP with a .425 SLUG and has plenty of peak value as he was legitimate top 5 MVP candidate annually from 1983-1987. Comparatively, Tony Gwynn's numbers are a .388 OBP and a .459 SLG with a shorter peak, and less defensive and base running value. If Gwynn's a Hall of Famer and a far weaker player like Lou Brock (.343/.410) is, Raines must be in. I do fear for his candidacy though as he didn't ring any of the big lifetime achievement bells (3,000 hits, etc.) and didn't play for many high-profile teams.

I'd have loved to see how Greg Swindell's career would hav eplayed out had he he not woefully overworked at the University of Texas and in Cleveland. From 1988-1992 (his age 27 season), he put up an average ERAs about .60 runs better than league average. Then the injuries started piling up when he signed a large contract with Houston and he never was the same.

Knoblauch's probably the second best player on this ballot, but doesn't have the longevity or enough defensive value to merit Hall inducton. He played only nine full season putting up excellent OBPs for a second basemen with so-so power and excellent baserunning (SB% around 78%). He's in the Nomar Garciaparra / Jesse Barfield class of players: Hall of Famers if you consider only up to age 30.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous CF Kane said...

Yeah, it doesn't look like there'll be too many inductees in the near future, eh? This would bode well for yer Goose Gossage's of the game, who should be in by now but haven't been able to get enough support, as they have to put somebody in every year. Rickey is clearly a lock, has been since 1986, at least. After that? Tough call. I agree that Rock Raines was a pretty solid ballplayer for a number of years, but, as Phil has pointed out, there isn't that big achievement to point to, and if his old teammate Andre Dawson can't get it, I cannot see Raines getting in. Imagine if that Expos team had stayed together and been able to get to a Series or two.
I agree that, at one time, Alomar seemed a shoe-in, but his decline was so rapid, and since he didn't make it to 3000 hits, I'd guess that he's more of a 'maybe'. I think Larkin has a claim, but a lot of older baseball guys will tell you that if Davey Concepcion isn't it, Larkin shouldn't get in. David Cone could make a claim, but yet again, I think he'll have to wait on line for awhile..guys like Bert Blyleven have a lot more wins and they still aren't in. Jim Kaat, too. I think the 'Coors Factor' will damage Larry Walker, who was probably the best player in the game for a couple of years, and the Big Cat Galarraga. I could almost make a claim for David Justice, because he was always a very good player, and seemed to be in the playoffs every year for the entirety of the 1990's, but I don't believe he ever really had the MVP-type season that voters will look for...just a really solid hitter who always made teams better but...eventually, I could write this about Kenny Lofton, too. Guys like this get overlooked all the time.
I think context is going to be an even bigger decider in the near future for HOF. Phil makes a case about Lou Brock, and how his stats stack up against Raines, etc. He's right, but Brock played in an era where his value as a basestealer made him much more of an x factor in games...that, his relative consistency, the fact that he was on some pennant winners in a huge baseball town like St. Louis, and those 3000 hits made the nut pretty easy. I never saw Brock in his prime, but I saw Raines, and his first few years he was nearly as good as Rickey--who is still the best player I've ever seen in my 30 years of baseball watching--unfortunately his cocaine problems and other factors made him 'just' another player as time went on. I wouldn't complain if he made it, but I'd be surprised if he did. If Jim Rice isn't it, then I doubt if Raines would make it. Same thing with Bagwell--solid power hitter, but not a ton of impact on the game.
I am as pleased as you are, Todd, that Brady Anderson still has the sideburns. Did you ever hear the rumours about him and Bagwell (Buff, not Jeff) back in the day? Supposedly they shared an affinity for juice..which helped explain his 50 homer year, although certainly not the burns.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Dave S. said...

Maybe I'm biased because I'm a Yankee fan, but Kevin Brown is NOT a hall of famer. He was a great pitcher in his prime, but that prime didn't last that long, and he was never one of the top 2 or 3 pitchers in the league. Unless I'm forgetting about something, he never won a Cy Young award. If you never even won a Cy Young, you better have had a pretty special overall career to warrant getting into the HOF, and he definitely did not.

On the other hand, I think you dismissed Edgar Martinez's chances way too easily. This guy really was one of the dominant hitters of his era and was very productive for a long time. I'm someone who does not discriminate against DHs (would you rather have him stinking it up in the field?); if the position exists, you have to give those people who played it a fair shake for the HOF. Paul Molitor played about half his career as a DH and the voters had no problem putting him in. Edgar is a definite Hall of Famer in my book.

I also have to comment on what you wrote about Rafael Palmiero. There is a big difference between thinking someone did steroids and knowing someone did; we KNOW that Palmiero did them. He stood up in front of Congress and acted like he was the paragon of baseball's virtue, then he tested positive for steroids. No matter what his numbers are, I don't think him or anyone else who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs should be allowed in the HOF. You're right that "anyone" could have been using during that time, but this isn't conjecture: we KNOW he did. He is a lying scumbag whose career will forever be tainted by his failed drug test.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

I don’t know if it’s a good idea to turn candidacy into an objective measure, even with baseball a stats oriented game. There are just too many variables in evaluation. For example, you cite Tony Gwynn’s very comparable OBP and SLG to Raines. But to me, the key to Gwynn is what a beautiful natural hitter he was. You may get on base exactly as many times with walks, but that ability to hit is what made Gwynn so special. And special ability to play is a big criterion for any candidate. That said, your points on Raines are well taken.

Andre Dawson always felt like a hall of famer to me. With the entrance of a ton of guys with similar stats to him, it could have one of two results. Either voters will view Dawson’s accomplishments or less noteworthy, or they’ll reevaluate what the numbers meant during his peak period. As far as Brady Anderson goes, I remember a poster of him from that era that rung bells big time. This might have been it:

http://www.outsidepitch.com/images/merch/brady_poster_2.jpg

Kevin Brown never won a Cy Young, but he finished sixth in 1992, second in 1996, third in 1998, sixth in 1999 and sixth in 2000. From 1989 to 2003, he had an ERA 3.60 or below 12 out of 14 years. He won 17 games or more in a season for the Rangers, Marlins, Padres and Dodgers. Baseball Prospectus crunched the numbers (http://baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=416), and came up with this list as the top pitchers of the 90s: Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, Kevin Appier, David Cone, Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina, John Smoltz, Chuck Finley.

As for Edgar Martinez, he never hit 40 home runs, and only had over 120 RBI once. To me in an era of really huge offense, he wasn’t that special. But I can see an argument for him. He was definitely a really good hitter.

Here’s my thinking on Palmeiro. Yes, he tested positive for steroids. But if we are to disqualify automatically the people who got caught, and consider those who don’t, then the hall of fame is considering based on stupidity and timing. If everyone’s cheating, but only a few get caught, I don’t think it’s fair to DQ those who get caught because they’re on the same level as everyone else and you’re essentially just using them as scapegoats.

8:06 AM  
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7:15 PM  

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