What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Om January 21st, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the Class of 2020. Those elected by being on 75% of the ballots will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 26th.
Now, for the short-and-sweet version of my annual rant. The voting process is broken, and it lends itself to creating more such errors that the assorted “Veteran’s Committees” has limited power to fix. I’ll come back to that in a bit.
I’m casting this ballot as though I were a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). That means I get to vote for ten players I believe deserve induction into Cooperstown. The problem is this ballot has more than ten players worthy of induction. A while back on his radio show, Dan Patrick expressed a belief the induction process should be a one-time “thumbs up or down” vote; the guy is either a Hall-of-Famer or he isn’t, and there is no limit on the number of inductees.
It may be time to take a hard look at such an approach because there’s a logjam of players coming eligible in the near future, and this problem is compounded by the fact the BBWAA voters have clearly been softening their hard-line “nyet” on the “steroid” guys. But the process exists as it is, and while as much as it may need a bit of modernization, it’s what we have. That means I’m casting a traditional BBWAA ballot, but as I am wont to do on this blog, I’m going beyond that to at least begin a discussion on the players I believe should be inducted.
The players for whom I voted are noted in bold.
1) Derek Jeter
First-ballot lock. Now that Mariano Rivera broke the ice on that “nobody is unanimous” horse-shit, anybody who doesn’t vote for this guy on the first ballot should have all his pencils broken. We’ve asked this question before, and we’re going to ask it again: Is it possible Derek Jeter is the greatest Yankee ever?
2) Omar Vizquel
Yeah…I have two shortstops at the top of my ballot…fight me. For all the Ozzie Smith-o-philes who take communion on the concept Smith is the greatest shortstop of all time, consider that Vizquel was every bit as good defensively (11 Gold Gloves), played one the toughest positions in the game at a high level into his mid-40s, and was a far better offensive player. Don’t look now, but Vizquel finished his career less than a season shy of 3,000 hits, and had over 400 stolen bases.
3) Barry Bonds
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said it, but it look like i need to at least one more time. In going counter to the prevailing opinion amongst the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA); I don’t care about the steroid issue; I never did. I’m on record saying the whole issue is much ado about nothing, and I’ve stated my reasons for believing that on more than one occasion. Besides, if all the sudden moralists in the BBWAA want to exclude “cheaters’” then we have to go back and remove everybody in the Hall of Fame who ever corked a bat, doctored a ball, or stole a sign. If you were to do that, Cooperstown would be deserted. Like it or not, the fact that all the “cheaters” we’re still trying to win. Any of the aforementioned types of “cheating” were all about gaining some sort of competitive advantage in the pursuit of victory. The bottom line: Barry Bonds might very well the best player I ever saw.
4) Roger Clemens
See my comments above on the “steroid” matter. The bottom line on Clemens: a solid argument can be made he’s amongst the top three dominant right-handed pitchers of all-time
5) Gary Sheffield
Start with the numbers….292 BA, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI. End with fact Sheffield is overwhelmingly regarded as one of the game’s best pure “dead red” hitters. There wasn’t anybody’s fastball he couldn’t turn around; he’s easily the best pure fastball hitter I ever saw.
6) Larry Walker
Enter the following search in your web browser: “players who put up gaudy number’s in a hitter’s era in a hitter’s ballpark.” Three names you’ll get are Chuck Klein, Lefty O’Doul, and Larry Walker. This is a guy for whom I’ve had a change of heart, largely because numbers are one thing, but this guy was a feared hitter for a long time.
7) Todd Helton
See Larry Walker. Helton should be in a “Mussina/Pettitte” style package deal (see “Andy Pettitte” below) with Walker…even if it is starting to look like Andy Pettitte may not get in.
8) Jeff Kent
In terms of offensive production, Kent was one of the best second-basemen of all time. He was a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger winner, and he won the 2000 NL MVP. He is the only second basemen to have six consecutive seasons with 100 RBI and eight such seasons all-together. The only second baseman with more 100-RBI seasons is Honus Wagner.
9) Curt Schilling
Now that Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Bert Blyleven have all been inducted, Schilling is the only eligible pitcher with more than 3,000 K’s who is not in the Hall of Fame.
10) Sammy Sosa
600+ career home runs, and if the only argument you have against him is the shop-worn “steroid” thing…well, I’ve already covered that crap. This guy came up one home run short of five straight 50+ HR seasons, and had nine consecutive 100 RBI campaigns. If steroids made the player, then name me somebody else with those kind of numbers. Again, I’m waiting…
In other words, this is about if I didn’t need to limit my voting to ten players. I get to go “thumbs up, thumbs down” on every guy on the ballot. This was an idea espoused by sports-radio guru and all-around broadcast legend Dan Patrick. In this case, if I were allowed to vote for as many players as I wished, here’s five who would be on my ballot (in alphabetical order).
I’m a big fan of guys who are exclusive lists. In Abreu’s case, he is one of only eight players with at least eight seasons with 100 runs scored, 100 runs driven in, and drawing 100 walks. The others on the list are Barry Bonds, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, and Ted Williams.. If you think that cake needs some icing, consider that Abreu hit better than .300 six times, led the National League in doubles with 50 in 2002, and ended up with 572 two-baggers for his career, and led the majors in triples with 11 in 1999.
If you’re still not sold, let’s try another of those “list” things. Bobby Abreu is one of only two players in history with at least 1,400 runs scored, 1,400 walks, 1,300 RBI. and 400 stolen bases. The other was Barry Bonds,
Easily one of the most-feared sluggers of his era, Adam Dunn totaled 462 home runs in his career. Dunn also makes another one of my lists being one of only 12 players to hit 40 home runs in in six seasons. The other are Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Harmon Killebrew, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Sammy Sosa, Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols, and Jim Thome.
Here’s more of those pesky lists. Andruw Jones is one of only six outfielders to have won at least 10 Gold Glove Awards. The other five are Roberto Clemente, Ken Griffey, Jr., Al Kaline, and Ichiro Suzuki. When it comes to players with at least 10 Gold Gloves, Jones’ 434 career home runs leaves him trailing only Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mike Schmidt.
To me this guy is the “poster child” for what I like to call the “eyeball test.” His numbers are solidly in downtown “Debatable City,” but this guy might be one of the great “big game pitchers” of all-time. He shares a lot of similar issues with Mike Mussina in terms of being a “down the rotation” kind of guy, and there’s still people out there who won’t forget his role in the chemical McCarthyism of steroids. He and Mussina should come as a matched set; induct one, you induct the other.
While Wagner never led the league in saves while racking up 422 in his career, he was one the dominant closers of his time, and he belongs on the list of all-time guys in that role. And yes, I know I’ve changed my mind on Wagner, but that’s the beauty of intelligence; it allows for such a change.
I’m not going to re-hash my position on the whole steroid issue, but I do need to make clear my stance on Manny Ramirez. Obviously, Ramirez is one of the great righty sluggers of all-time. His career numbers of .312 batting average, 555 home runs, and 1,831 RBIs put him solidly on the “Boardwalk/Park Place” end of the baseball Monopoly board. But as far as I’m concerned, he can stay in baseball jail right next to Pete Rose. That may seem inconsistent given my position on “performance-enhancing drugs,” but if the self-appointed steroid moralists need the proverbial “pound of flesh” from somebody, there’s nobody more deserving than Manny Ramirez.
That’s because for all of the “pearl clutching” about players deemed to be tainted with the broad brush of PEDs, Manny is the only one on this ballot with actual suspensions on his record. That means that after Bud Selig and baseball pulled their collective head of the steroid sand and actually made AND enforced rules about this stuff, Manny was the scofflaw who on multiple occasions did the crime and did the time. That’s a major distinction because guys like Bonds and Clemens came from the “Wild West” era before rules, testing, and penalties were in place. That’s why I would vote for them and not Ramirez.
The common “wisdom” is that Derek Jeter is a “lock.” After that, it’s anybody’s guess. That likely means a large number of worthy inductees will still be on the ballot with more coming in the next five years.
I’ve compiled a list of the notable players who become eligible for induction in each of the next five years. Players who are eligible have played 10 seasons of Major League Baseball and have been retired from for five full seasons.
Players who are likely to be inducted or should be inducted are noted in red. Borderline players noted in green.
Mark Buerhle, A.J. Burnett, Michael Cuddyer, Dan Haren, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Adam LaRoche, Aramis Ramirez, Alex Rios, Nick Swisher, Dan Uggla, Barry Zito
Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Joe Nathan, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski, Jimmy Rollins, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira,
2022 will be the 10th and final year for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Curt Schilling if they are not elected by then.
Carlos Beltran, John Lackey, Jason Werth, Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Cain, Huston Street
2023 will be the 10th and final year for Jeff Kent if he is not elected by then.
Jose Bautista, Adrián Beltré, Bartolo Colon, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Jim Johnson, Victor Martinez, Joe Mauer, Brandon Phillips, Jose Reyes, James Shields, Chase Utley, David Wright, Brad Ziegler
2024 will be the 10th and final year for Gary Sheffield if he is not elected by then.
David Freese, Brian McCann, CC Sabathia, Ichiro Suzuki, Troy Tulowitzki
2024 will be the 10th and final year for Billy Wagner if he is not elected by then.
Ok…I can’t really argue with Marvin Miller’s induction, nor would I. The Hall of Fame is a de facto museum, and there’s really no debating that Miller changed the game. Likewise, this isn’t about Ted Simmons’ worthiness of induction; I’m not taking anything anyway from his enshrinement. If you are a regular reader of Dubsism, this is the annual rant on how the voting process for induction into the Hall of Fame is broken, and how now it has created two solid candidates for it’s “Most Egregious Exclusion.”
1) Fred McGriff
McGriff was denied induction during his ten years on the ballot; he only garnered 39.8% of the vote last year in his 10th and final appearance on the ballot. I simply do not understand how McGriff didn’t get the needed 75% needed for induction, especially when you consider during his decade on the ballot there was a year NOBODY was elected by the BBWAA, and several classes in which there were only one or two inductees.
The only reason I can fathom is the writer’s arbitrary “love/hate” relationship with “magic numbers.” If McGriff had notched seven more home runs, I don’t think there would be much debate on his deserving enshrinement. Besides, back in the day, 400 homers would have confirmed your ticket to Cooperstown. Never mind the fact McGriff’s 493 dingers tied him with Lou Gehrig and his 1,550 RBIs rates him ahead of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Willie Stargell. On top of that, McGriff was a five-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and he was the first player in the “live-ball” era to lead both the American and National Leagues in home runs. If that’s not a Hall of Fame resume, I don’t know what is.
And don’t forget those Tom Emanski videos…
2) Dale Murphy
I caught a ton of static for saying this last year, but I’m going to say it again.; the induction of Edgar Martinez and the exclusion of Dale Murphy represents a “lowering of the bar” for Cooperstown. There isn’t anybody being intellectually honest who would take Martinez on their team over Murphy in their respective primes; we’re talking about the induction of an above-average, part-time player over one the greatest players of the 1980s?
Seriously, it’s a fucking joke that Edgar Martinez was inducted ahead of Dale Murphy. Martinez may have had a higher career batting average, but they both had 18-year careers in which Murphy out-paced him in home runs and RBIs, won five Gold Gloves, was a seven-time All-Star and was the National League MVP twice. Again, who would you rather have; a guy who was one of the best all-around players in the game for close to a decade, or a guy who pulled his hamstrings while shaving?
Before you Martinez-o-philes start sharpening your crayons again, let’s look at two lists Murphy is on and Martinez isn’t.
The fact of the matter is that for the eight season between 1980-87, Dale Murphy was arguably the best player in the game. If you doubt that, look at where Murphy ranks in terms of production during those eight campaigns.
Am I the only one who noticed the only players who could out-pace Murphy are Hall-of-Famers themselves? That’s GOT to factor into any Hall-of-Fame discussion.
That leaves us with the latest example of how broken the voting process is. The multiple “Veteran’s Committees” need a significant change because they need broader abilities to “fix” the mistakes made by the BBWAA. If the flaws in the current voting procedure aren’t addressed, there’s an even bigger logjam coming in terms of the names who clearly belong in Cooperstown, but won’t get there because the writers are idiots.
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