Results tagged ‘ Hall of Fame ’

My HOF ballot for 2011 — why I voted them in

I voted for Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Rafael Palmeiro, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.

With the steroid era now beginning to fully infect the election process for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this was one of the toughest ballots I’ve had to deal with since my first vote in 1992.

I’ve often thought that you have to take the players from that era on a case-by-case basis, but I’ve changed my opinion. The Mitchell Report revealed that great pitchers (Roger Clemens and Eric Gagne) were perhaps as guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs as great hitters (McGwire and Barry Bonds). It named utility players, bit players, lower level players and the top players. Thus, the playing field must be considered level. Otherwise, except for rare cases, no one really knows who did what.

Under those circumstances I believe as a voter that everyone should be painted with the same brush. Either you vote all the qualified candidates in or you don’t vote for anyone who is remotely suspected.

As a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America I take this vote very seriously. I have no desire to be judge, juror or soothsayer. So I’ve decided to judge those players within the context of the era during which they played, and if they’re deserving, vote them in.

Thus, my ballot includes a player who failed a drug test (Palmeiro), a player who recently admitted that he used steroids (McGwire), and another who was tainted by the cocaine era of the 1980s (Raines). I believe all of them statistically belong in a Hall of Fame that already includes the likes of Gaylord Perry, who brashly admitted to throwing the spitter when he was active from 1962-83. That pitch was outlawed by Major League Baseball in 1920.

Palmeiro — on the ballot for the first time — may be statistically on the bubble to some, but not to me. His 569 homers and 3, 020 hits places him in rarified company as only the fourth player in Major League history to amass more than 500 homers and 3,000 base hits. The other three? Their names are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray.

I’ve been among the 25 percent to vote for McGwire every year he’s been on the ballot. His 583 homers — 70 of them in 1998 and 65 in ’99 — are good enough. The home run race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa in ’98 put baseball back on the map after the strike that devastated the sport only a few years earlier. Since the steroid precusor Andro was found in McGwire’s locker  — like many — I’ve long suspected him of using PEDs. His public apology doesn’t change anything.

I’ve never voted for Raines, but listening to Andre Dawson talk about him during his induction speech in Cooperstown this year made me take another look at Tim’s record. Certainly, he was the National League’s version of Rickey Henderson before his personal problems affected his career. He played 24 seasons, had 808 stolen bases, 2,605 hits and batted .294. Tony Perez was elected to the Hall with 2,732 hits and a .279 batting average.

Raines was an easy decision. Rafi and Big Mac weren’t. A voter can select as many as 10 players on the ballot. I checked off the first eight and left two spots open.

Alomar and Blyleven were slam dunks. I always vote for Smith and Trammell and won’t give Barry Larkin a nod until the former Detroit shortstop receives his due. Their career stats are too similar. McGriff, like Dawson and Jim Rice before him, deserves a strong look. He should not be held accountable because he finished seven short of 500 homers. Neither Rice nor Dawson even came close to 500. Both are in the Hall.  Edgar deserves strong consideration even though he spent most of his career as a designated hitter. And like Rice who had a great decade as a hitter, Morris should be elected because no one touched him for 10 years as a pitcher, either.

After that, I went out and spoke to a number of writers and editors I respect about using the blank spots for McGwire and Palmeiro. With that input in mind, and in the end, I determined that voting for them was the right thing to do.

Note on Jeff Bagwell: His numbers are very similar to Steve Garvey — Bags .297 batting average to
.294 for the Garv, 2,314 hits to 2,599, 449 homers to 272, 1,529 RBIs to 1,308 . But
Garvey had two NL Championship Series MVPs, an NL MVP, an All-Star MVP, the longest
consecutive game playing streak in NL history (1,207), one of the
highest fielding percentages as a first baseman (.996) and an errorless
season (1984). Garvey also played on five NL pennant winners and a World
Series winner in ’81 with the Dodgers. Bagwell did almost none of this with
the Astros. And Garvey didn’t get a sniff from the writers for the HOF.
That’s why I didn’t vote for Bagwell.
 

 
 

Garv, Boss my picks on new Hall of Fame ballot

I don’t vote for the 12 people who are on the latest Veterans edition of the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. That will have to wait until early next month when the annual list is sent out to eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

But if I was on the 16-member Expansion era committee, which is charged with voting by the Dec. 6 Winters Meetings in Orlando, Fla., the choices would be easy: I’d go with the Garv and the Boss.

Why Steve Garvey never made it during his 15 years on the Writer’s ballot has always been a mystery to me. I voted for him every time, although he always finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. Despite his obvious impact on Major League Baseball, this is George Steinbrenner’s first time on a ballot considered by any configuration of the Vets committee with the express purpose of voting for owners.

The Garv: National League MVP in 1974, All-Star MVP in 1974 when he won his spot as a write in, NL Championship Series MVP twice — once in 1978 for the Dodgers and again in ’84 with the Padres when he had the single best offensive NLCS game I’ve ever seen: 4-for-5, 5 RBIs, and a walk-off, two-run homer to win Game 4 in San Diego against the Cubs. Still an NL record 1,207 consecutive games played. Need I go on?

The Boss: Made free agency what it is today with his signings of Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage from 1976-78. Under his sometimes chaotic guidance the Yankees won seven World Series and 11 American League pennants after he bought the club in 1973. The rest of what today constitutes the American League East has won the Fall Classic a TOTAL of five times during that same period — Toronto and Boston twice each, Baltimore once. If the Hall is about numbers, those are incredible numbers.

This is not to say there aren’t plenty of other worthy people on the new Vet ballot. Marvin Miller and Pat Gillick should also be elected. I’ve also always thought that Ron Guidry and Ted Simmons have been seriously overlooked.

But if I were among the august Gang of 16 my first choices would be the Garv and the Boss. To garner the necessary 75 percent they each need 12 of the 16 votes. I’ll be waiting.

Pettitte starting to look like Hall of Fame candidate

As we entered the 2009 baseball season I never thought I’d mention the words Andy Pettitte and Hall of Fame in the same sentence. But the Yankee left-hander’s 4-0 performance in the postseason and his 2-0 exclamation point in the World Series has me starting to think in those terms.

Pettitte, now 37, hasn’t determined whether he’s coming back next season.

“I’m not sure,” Pettitte said in the din of the clubhouse celebration after the Yanks clinched their 27th World Series title by vanquishing the Phillies. “I’ll need to get home
and talk to my family. I’ll need to talk to the Yankees and find out
where they’re at, and then I can probably start trying to figure out
what I’d like to do.”

Even if he doesn’t come back, his resume after 15 seasons has to warrant some serious HOF consideration. Pettitte already has a 229-135 record for a .629 regular season-winning percentage. His 18 postseason wins — five of them in the World Series — are the most in Major League history. John Smoltz, who had 15 postseason wins for the Atlanta Braves, only recorded two of them in the Fall Classic. With 213 wins and 154 saves, Smoltz is considered a very formidable Hall of Fame candidate, although his Braves won the World Series only once in five chances.

Pettitte also compares favorably to Yankee Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, another left-hander who was elected with a record of 236-106 and a .690 winning percentage in 17 regular seasons. The man also nicknamed “Chairman of the Board” had a record 10 victories in 11 World Series. Ford played in an era when the pennant winners in each league went directly to the World Series. There were no qualifying rounds. Ford’s Yankees won six of them.

Pettitte has now played in the World Series eight times, seven with the Yankees and one with the Astros. He’s won five, all with the Yankees. That’s no mean feat, considering the fact that in his era a team must get through three grueling rounds of playoffs to be crowned champions. This year, he won the clincher in each round against the Twins, Angels and Phillies.

Ford, 10-8, in the World Series, only started 22 postseason games. Pettitte has started 40 and he’s 18-9. Sandy Koufax, one of the premier left-handers in baseball history, won 165 games in 12 seasons with the Dodgers and added four wins in eight World Series appearances, seven of them starts. Koufax is the rare exception to the rule: a pitcher who was elected to the Hall based on six great seasons, the last six of his injury-prone career.

As a Hall-of-Fame voter, it’s a no-brainer that Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will be first ballot electees to the Hall of Fame. Barring injury, Jeter will become the first Yankee with 3,000 hits and he’s already the leading shortstop all-time in that category.  Rivera is second behind Trevor Hoffman with 526 regular-season saves. But he’s light years ahead of Hoffman in both postseason statistics and opportunities, with eight wins, 39 saves and a 0.74 ERA. Two of those wins and 11 of those saves have come in the World Series.

Of course, any discussion of Pettitte for the Hall will have to include consideration of his admitted use of human growth hormone (HGH). But Ford scuffed and doctored baseballs with the help of Elston Howard, one of his catchers. So where does a voter draw the line?

Off those great Yankees teams in Ford’s era — 1950-67 — Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra are also in the Hall of Fame. From this era, circa 1995-2009, I’m now inclined to consider Pettitte in the same breath as Jeter and Rivera.

 

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