Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Rock, Bags and Pudge for the Hall. Who Else Deserved It?

Tim Raines is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I have wanted that for years -- and would still have wanted it if he had never played a game for the Yankees. He will almost certainly have a Montreal Expos cap on in the picture on his plaque.

Jeff Bagwell is also elected. Also overdue. Fantastic hitter, and probably the best player the Houston Astros have ever had. (It could also be Craig Biggio. Nolan Ryan was only there for 9 seasons.)

Ivan Rodriguez is elected. He joins Mike Piazza, elected last year, and who has both confessed and denied the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

So, now, there is no reason to not also elect Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Curt Schilling and... Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens.

Or are they just paving the way to elect the most notorious steroid cheat of all time, David Ortiz, and to keep sticking it to A-Rod and the Rocket? We shall see.


A player needs 75 percent of the vote to get in via the Baseball Writers Association of America. Bagwell got 86 percent. So did Raines. Rodriguez got 76 percent -- and, of the 3, he was the only one in his 1st year on the ballot.

Of the guys who didn't make it on this ballot...

* Jorge Posada, Magglio Ordonez, Edgar Renteria, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Casey Blake, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Carlos Guillen, Derrek Lee, Melvin Mora, Arthur Rhodes, Freddy Sanchez and Matt Stairs, all in their 1st year on the ballot, got less than 5 percent of the vote, and will thus never appear on another ballot of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Their future hopes, if any, rest with the Committee on Veterans. Don't expect any of them to ever make it.

* Trevor Hoffman, in his 2nd year, got 74 percent. He missed by the slimmest of margins. This suggests that he will get in next year, when the 1st-time eligibles will include Jim Thome (should be an easy choice), Chipper Jones (likely, though not necessarily on the 1st try), Omar Vizquel (ditto), Scott Rolen (possible, but probably not on the 1st try), Andruw Jones (ditto), Johnny Damon (probably won't make it until he reaches the Veterans' Committee) and Johan Santana (forget it).

* Vladimir Guerrero, in his 1st year, got 71 percent. This also suggests he'll get in, so, next year, it should be him, Hoffman, Thome, and possibly also Chipper.

* Edgar Martinez, in his 8th year, got 58 percent. I think he'll also have to wait for the Vets' Committee. I don't think he should get in. He just doesn't have the career stats, and the stats that he does have are inflated by playing home games in the Seattle Kingdome.

* Mike Mussina, another Yankee hero, in his 4th year, got 51 percent. Might he also have to wait for the Vets' Committee? That's a travesty.

* Lee Smith, in his 15th and final year on the ballot, got 34 percent. He's done by the way of the Writers. It's up to the Vets' Committee now. The problem is, the best reason to vote for him was that he was the all-time saves leader -- and now, he ranks 3rd, so that reason is gone.

* Larry Walker, in his 7th year, got 22 percent. Another who will probably have to wait for the Vets' Committee. He's a borderline case, not helped by having Coors Field in Denver as a home park for much of his career (hitting stats inflated by the thin air). I like him, but should he get in? The usual answer is something to the effect of, "If you can't immediately say, 'Yes,' then the answer is 'No.'"

* Fred McGriff, in his 8th year, got 21 percent. Come on, this guy hit 493 home runs, as many as Lou Gehrig, and (as far as we can tell) without pharmaceutical enhancement. And while he played 5 seasons in Atlanta and 2 at Wrigley Field, he also played 5 in Toronto, 2 in San Diego, 5 in Tampa Bay and 1 in Dodger Stadium. He belongs. But he'll probably have to wait until the Vets' Committee.

* Jeff Kent, in his 4th year, got 16 percent. The all-time leader in HRs by a 2nd baseman, but not a well-liked guy. Vets' Committee? Maybe.

* Billy Wagner, in his 2nd year, got 10 percent. Among lefthanders and among National League pitchers, only John Franco has more saves (by 2: 424 to 422). But Franco isn't in the Hall, and I don't think he ever will be. I don't think Wags will be, either.

Of all the players on the ballot, only 2 players had a lower percentage than last year: Schilling and Wagner.


Now, for the elephants in the room: The steroid users, those caught and those suspected.

* Roger Clemens, accused but never proven, 5th year: 54 percent. He gained 9 percent over last year. He won't get in in 2018, but the 2019 debutants, aside from Mariano Rivera, aren't obvious: Andy Pettitte (himself tainted due to his one-time use to recover from an injury in 2002), Miguel Tejada (caught cheating), Lance Berkman (suspected, but never proven, and probably wouldn't have gotten in anyway), Roy Halladay (clean, as far as we know, but a career ended early due to injury means he'll probably have to wait) and Todd Helton (clean, as far as we know).

* Barry Bonds, caught, 5th year: 54 percent -- 1 less vote than Clemens. Unless that 1 voter was going by the fact that Clemens went to court and beat the rap, while Bonds went to court and didn't beat it, I don't know how you split your vote: Either both should get in, or neither. Bonds also gained 9 percent over the year before. He might also have to wait until 2019.

* Curt Schilling, suspected, 5th year: 45 percent. He lost 7 percent over last year. It could be due to his political stances, but that's never stopped anybody from getting in before. If anything, baseball as an institution is conservative -- and we're talking about the institution of the game, not the players, who are members of a labor union (even if they, themselves, are somewhere to the right of General Patton). But Schilling could also be hurt by the way he's conducted himself, including his fraud case in Rhode Island. Still, unless you can prove he cheated, then his 3,000+ strikeouts and his big game reputation should put him in.

* Manny Ramirez, caught, 1st year: 24 percent. He'll probably have to wait as long as Bonds and the rest eventually end up waiting.

* Gary Sheffield, caught, 3rd year: 13 percent. He gained 2 percent over last year. It could be a while.

* Sammy Sosa, suspected, 5th year: 8 percent. He gained 2 percent over last year. It could also be a while, because, while he's never been caught, he really made himself look guilty during the St. Patrick's Day Massacre.

Speaking of guys whose chances were probably killed by that Congressional hearing of March 17, 2005:

* Mark McGwire, confessed: Dropped off the ballot last year, having received only 12 percent.

* Rafael Palmeiro, caught: Dropped off the ballot in 2004, having received only 4 percent.


Among the steroid cheats: If it no longer matters, then, of course, they should all get in. But if it does still matter, then, the least you can do is ask: Who would have put up Hall-worthy numbers if they'd never taken the stuff -- or hadn't been caught?

Would have made it anyway: Both Rodriguezes, Bonds, Ramirez, Schilling and Clemens.

Would not have made it anyway: Piazza, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Sheffield and Ortiz.

Regardless, Induction Day in the Summer of 2022 -- the 1st time A-Rod and the Big Fat Lying Cheating Bastard are eligible -- could end up being, as Arte Johnson would have said on Laugh-In, "Verrry intereshting... but shtupid."

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