Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Bagwell’

Stability

September 4, 2017

Johnny Bench, Reds

Over at one of my favorite blogs, The Hall of Miller and Eric, they are running a “Mount Rushmore” of each team. As you might expect that means they are picking four players to represent the best of each franchise. But there is a kicker there. The player must have played his entire career with the same team. That means no Warren Spahn at the Braves, no Duke Snider with the Dodgers, no Yogi Berra with the Yanks (he had nine at bats with the Mets).

Now all that, especially the loss of Snider and Dazzy Vance with the Dodgers, got me to looking for players who spent their entire career with one team. Now it had to be significant time with the team, after all Moonlight Graham spent his entire Major League career with one team. I figured it would be loaded with old-time players, players who were faced with the reserve clause. Surprisingly, there were a lot of modern guys on the list. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of just a few of the players who never changed teams.

First base: Lou Gehrig, Jeff Bagwell, Willie Stargell

Second Base: Charlie Gehringer, Jackie Robinson (he was traded but never played for a second team, opting to retire instead), Craig Biggio

Shortstop: Cal Ripken, Luke Appling, PeeWee Reese, Phil Rizzuto

Third Base: Brooks Robinson, Chipper Jones, George Brett, Mike Schmidt

Outfield: Mel Ott, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Al Kaline, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski

Catcher: Johnny Bench, Roy Campanella

Left-Handed Pitchers: Whitey Ford, Carl Hubbell, Sandy Koufax

Right-Handed Pitchers: Walter Johnson, Bob Gibson, Bob Feller, Don Drysdale, Mariano Rivera

Not a bad lot, right?

One quick note. Honus Wagner came up with the Louisville Colonels and ended up with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s not quite the same as being traded or leaving via free agency. Barney Dreyfuss owned both teams and when the National League contracted he moved all his good players to Pittsburgh and let Louisville go. I’m not sure how to deal with that, so I left him off. You might differ.

The Class of 2017

January 18, 2017

According to MLB.com the BBWAA has elected Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez to the Hall of Fame. They will enter the Hall along with Bud Selig and John Schuerholz as the Class of 2017. Trevor Hoffman and Vlad Guerrero came closest to election without making it.  Comments to follow.

10 For the 2017 Hall of Fame

November 23, 2016
A Roy Campanella statue at the Hall of Fame

A Roy Campanella statue at the Hall of Fame

With the new Hall of Fame ballot out, it’s time to announce to a breathless, adoring audience my 10 picks for the Hall. I always vote for 10 no matter the list (well, I can make exceptions, but not many) because it gives me a chance to acknowledge a personal favorite who I know doesn’t seriously belong in Cooperstown (unless he pays for a ticket) but who deserves at least a mention as a stalwart. So now for the breathless and adoring crew (and the rest of you too) is the 2017 list:

1 Jeff Bagwell–after Albert Pujols the best first baseman in the last 30 years. One MVP award, a World Series appearance at the end of his career. There is some question about steroids, but not enough to worry me.

2. Trevor Hoffman–arguably the finest reliever in the National League. He’s second in saves, but has the same problem as any other reliever; too few innings pitched. I’d still take him as the best in NL history.

3. Jeff Kent–overlooked at second base. He’s something of a borderline case for me, but ultimately I think I’d take him. Has an MVP and lots of good numbers.

4. Edgar Martinez–came up late because the idiots at Seattle were idiots. Probably the best Designated Hitter ever. They named the DH Award for him (but then there’s an award for everything and you have to name them for somebody). I don’t hold being a DH against a player. It’s been a position for 40 years and isn’t going away so we’re going to have to deal with it.

5. Mike Mussina–has the problem of never winning a Series, or of having a lot of 20 win seasons. Still one of the better pitchers of the era although he gets lost behind Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, Randy Johnson, etc.

6. Tim Raines–Please, Lord, it’s almost the end for his time on the ballot. Let the BBWAA finally figure out he was really, really, really good.

7. Curt Schilling–bloody sock or not, he was a terrific postseason pitcher, a premier pitcher on multiple pennant winning teams (don’t forget the Phils) and a consistent thrower. Unfortunately, his political views may create a problem for him, but remember he’s being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame not to the State House.

8. Larry Walker–I don’t want to hear about Coors Field. He was terrific in Montreal, great in Colorado, damned good on the road with the Rockies, and still pretty fair while with the Cardinals late in his career.

9. Vlad Guerrero–the Will Rogers of the late 20th Century. He never met a pitch he didn’t like. Not much of a fielder, but the man could hit a white ball in a snowstorm. I can’t imagine he gets in on the first try, but I’d take him.

10. Jorge Posada–catchers have lower numbers to begin with, but Posada was a mainstay on a ton of Yankees teams that won a lot of games. He fit the 1990s Yanks mold of being very good at a lot of things. Again, I don’t think he’ll make it (after all he’s not Yogi Berra or Bill Dickey) but Jeter wasn’t the only player on that team worthy of consideration.

All of which brings me to the question of who I left off. The obvious new name is Ivan Rodriguez. He’s one of the handful of players you can legitimately call the greatest catcher ever (although I wouldn’t), but there is the stench of steroids hanging over him. Until that is resolved he joins Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa as guys you couldn’t pay me to vote for (well, maybe for enough money). I’m sorry to have left off Fred McGriff who I think suffers from ending just short of 500 home runs and looking like a piker after the steroids era. I’d like to have thrown a vote toward Tim Wakefield. And frankly, I’d like to give J.D. Drew a shout out. He deserves remembering, but he’s not really a Hall of Famer.

That’s my list and I’m sticking to it.

Nine Thoughts on the 2016 Hall of Fame Class

January 7, 2016

As baseball uses nine men in the field and nine men in the batting order, here’s nine random thoughts on the just concluded Hall of Fame voting:
1. First and foremost, congratulations to both Ken Griffey, Jr, the second best player from Donora, Pennsylvania (behind Stan Musial) and Mike Piazza on election to Cooperstown.

2. Three people didn’t vote for Griffey, but his 99% of the vote is the highest percentage ever. I read a lot of stuff saying Griffey could be the first unanimous selection. Come on, team, Babe Ruth wasn’t unanimous and neither Joe DiMaggio nor Yogi Berra made it on the first ballot so who could possibly believe that anyone was going to be unanimous? It renews my faith in the writers. I’ve said for years that they’re a poor group to pick the Hall of Fame and the three guys proved me right again.

3. Piazza is by far the more interesting choice. There are the steroid rumors around him that are just that, rumors. But there is the possibility that they are true. If, in his induction speech Piazza were to say “Yeah, I used the stuff,” then it becomes much more difficult for voters to keep out players who acknowledge they used stuff (McGwire) or are accused (Clemens, Bonds), or who flunked a test (Palmeiro). It will be interesting to see where this goes. None of this is meant to imply that I believe Piazza used anything but coffee while playing.

4. The culling of the deadweight among the voters allowed for some interesting results. Major jumps by Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Mike Mussina, Curt Shilling, and Edgar Martinez are unthinkable without a change in the voters. It may be a signal that all are on the road to Cooperstown (or maybe not).

5. The loss of the “old guard” type voters helped both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but not a lot. Neither went up as much as 10% and now we have six years left to see if they can continue gaining ground and how much of that ground they’ll gain. I was certain, until this vote, that the writers were going to kick them down the road to the Vets Committee and let them (the Vets Committee) make the hard choices. Maybe that’s changed. Next year will tell us much about how that’s going to work.

6. Jim Edmonds is not a Hall of Famer, the voters said so. OK, maybe he isn’t, but he’s better than 2% of the vote, a lot better. It’s a shame he won’t get another chance until the Veteran’s Committee has its say. Alan Trammell is not a Hall of Famer. At least he had 15 years and got 40% of the vote. I think they’re wrong, but now we get to see what the Veteran’s Committee says. And Mark McGwire is not a Hall of Famer although he had only 10 years to make his case. It appears he will be the test case for my kick it down the road to the Vets Committee theory (Geez, I’m writing about the Vets Committee a lot, aren’t I?).

7. Trevor Hoffman didn’t get in but got enough votes to appear a viable candidate for enshrinement on a later ballot. I think he needed that because I’m not sure he could sustain a long, gradual rise before getting over the 75% threshold. The problem is Mariano Rivera. When Rivera becomes eligible he should get in easily and Hoffman can no longer say he has the most saves of anyone eligible (and saves do seem to matter a lot to the voters). I was stunned Billy Wagner didn’t do better. At least he stayed on the ballot.

8. Next year adds Vlad Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, and Manny Ramirez (among others) to the ballot, making it again a large ballot. I do wish they’d dump the 10 vote rule. I wonder how much that hurt players like Edmonds?

9. All in all, with the exception of what happened to Edmonds and Trammell, I’m pleased with the results. Two worthy candidates got in, a handful of other candidates made major strides toward possible election. That’s not bad. Again congrats to Griffey and Piazza. Now I wonder which cap Piazza will wear on his plaque.

2016 Hall of Fame Ballot and My Take

November 16, 2015

As usual, I have an opinion on this year’s Hall of Fame voting for the Class of 2016. And as is equally usual, I’m more than willing to share that opinion with the rest of the world; a world that I know is deathlessly waiting to hear exactly what I think on most anything. There is humility in my family; I just don’t have any of it.

Here’s my ballot for the Class of 2016 (are you reading, BBWAA?). As there’s still a limit of 10 votes, I’m going to continue my policy of “If they’re going to give me 10 votes, I’m gonna take ’em.” Here’s my picks, new guys first, in the order they show up on the Hall of Fame website.

Ken Griffey, Jr.–You had that one, right? There’ll be a lot of worshipful commentary on him, but let me remind you that after he left Seattle he was something of a mild bust. He had some good years, but was also hurt a lot. A lot of people thought he would run past Henry Aaron on the home run list, and he didn’t even make it beyond Willie Mays. Still, he’s exactly what they envisioned as a Hall of Famer way back when they started the place.

Trevor Hoffman–when he retired he had the record for most saves in MLB history. He’s since dropped to second, but remains one of only two men with 600 or more saves. Against his enshrinement is the fact that he only led the National League in saves twice in 18 years, didn’t do particularly well in the postseason, and seemed to blow a lot of saves in critical situations. I think he needs to get in pretty quickly because of the impending arrival of Mariano Rivera on the ballot. If he’s not in by then, he could have a lot of trouble making it.

Jim Edmonds–I’ve seen a lot of center fielders in my day (stretching back into the 1950s) and Edmonds is one of the very best I saw. He is, to me, one of the 10 top center fielders ever (although others will disagree) and should be in Cooperstown. Having said that, I can’t imagine he’ll make it this time because the “first ballot mythology” will leave him out, which beggars the question how’d he get better six years after his retirement than he was five years after his retirement?

And now the holdovers, again in the order they appear on the Hall of Fame website.

Mike Piazza–Probably the best hitting catcher ever. Not noted as having a particularly good arm, but not an absolute bust of a defensive catcher. He’s been steadily rising in the voting and this may be his year, but the entire steroid issue may cause him to fall short again.

Jeff Bagwell–other than Albert Pujols, he’s the very best first baseman I ever saw.

Tim Raines–Why the heck isn’t he already in?

Curt Schilling–Staff mainstay on multiple pennant winners and multiple World Series champions. He was co-MVP of the 2001 World Series and is famous for more than his bloody sock. An early opponent of steroids, his lack of wins and his comments on politics will probably make it hard for him to get in.

Edgar Martinez–Still the best Designated Hitter ever. As long as it’s a position on the team, a person holding it down cannot be excluded from the Hall of Fame simply because he plays it.

Alan Trammell–His last chance. I’ve supported him for 15 years and am not about to stop now. One of the best shortstops ever, one of the best of his era (better with a bat than Ozzie Smith and not that much weaker in the field), and the top Detroit shortstop in team history.

Larry Walker–He’s going to be hurt by Coors Field, but the arm was great whatever field he occupied. He won batting titles (and a home run title) only with Colorado, but was an All Star with Montreal also. He was still darned good the last two years in St. Louis including an excellent postseason in 2004 (not so much in 2005).

That’s the list. If the Hall had added the two positions requested by the writers I would probably have gone with Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent (but don’t hold me to that).  Of the new guys I’d like to see several (Kendall, Wagner, Eckstein, Anderson) get enough votes to stay around for a while so we can get multiple chances to look over their qualifications. I really can’t see any of them getting in, but I’d like to see them hang around. And I hope Fred McGriff stays on too. It is the last chance for Mark McGwire and I fully expect the writers to punt him (and the other steroid boys) down the road for the Veteran’s Committee to make the final decision. It’s a lot less hassle for the writers.

Feel free to disagree with my list.

My Picks for the 2015 Hall of Fame Vote

November 28, 2014

Every year I post, once the Hall of Fame ballot comes out, my choices for the Hall of Fame. As the Hall gives each voter 10 votes, I, in the grand tradition of Southern Politics, take every vote I can get. So I always vote for 10, knowing many fewer will make it. But I look at it this way, it’s a chance to produce my “Jim DeShaies Vote”. For those of you who don’t remember, DeShaies was a Houston pitcher who played long enough to get on the Hall of Fame ballot. He worked in broadcasting and in 2001 started a campaign to get a vote for the Hall. He got exactly one.

Knowing that half of you are having major heart palpitations and breathing problems waiting breathlessly (see what I mean about breathing problems?) for my announcement, here we go, in alphabetic order new guys first and holdovers later.

1. Randy Johnson–if you don’t know why, you haven’t been paying attention.

2. Pedro Martinez–see Johnson above.

3. John Smoltz–Smoltz was the third of the great Atlanta triumvirate (Maddux and Glavine being the others) of the 1990s. Unlike the other two he didn’t win 300 games. He did, however, produce 154 saves. With Atlanta usually having bullpen problems, Smoltz gave up his starter role and spent a bit more than three seasons working as the closer (primarily 2002-2004 and much of 2001 in the same role) . He led the NL in saves one of those years (2002). Later he went back to starting and led the NL in wins. He has a Cy Young Award. A couple of injuries and the three + years in the bullpen cost him a shot at 300 wins. I’d vote for him anyway.

Now the holdovers:

4. Jeff Bagwell–premier first baseman in the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st Century. Won an MVP in strike shortened 1994. Hit 449 home runs with 1529 RBIs in a 15 year career. Had nine seasons of 5+ WAR (Baseball Reference.com version) and two others just under five. His OPS+ is 149. He suffers from the taint of being a good power hitter in the steroid era.

5. Craig Biggio–teammate of Bagwell at Houston. Has 3000 hits, is fifth in career doubles (behind Speaker, Rose, Musial, and Cobb). Early in his career he was thrown out stealing a lot, but got much better as his career progressed. Led the NL in steals in 1994. He began as a catcher, moved to the outfield, and to second base. Many times a player is moved to hide his glove; in Biggio’s case he moved to fill a hole. He led the NL in both putouts and assists several times. His OPS+ is 112 and his WAR 65.1.

6. Edgar Martinez–Martinez is arguably the best DH ever. Baseball gives out an annual award for the best DH. In 2004, the award was named for Martinez. He won the award five times (David Ortiz has won it seven times). He won two batting titles, along with two doubles and one RBI title. His OPS+ is 147 and his WAR is 68.3 (despite spending almost no time in the field). Unlike a lot of people, I don’t degrade a player because he is a DH. If you think about it, most players are truly one-dimensional (pitchers generally don’t hit well, many hitters are terrible fielders) and by this time, the DH is so firmly established in the American League that I can’t imagine it being deleted any time soon. That being the case, I think we have to acknowledge the contribution of the DH.

7. Don Mattingly–It’s Mattingly’s last year on the ballot and I’ve voted for him every year so I’m not about to stop now. I know the career is short, but it is centered around a very high peak. His OPS+ is 127 and his WAR 42.2. He has a batting title, two hits titles, an RBI title, three doubles titles, and an MVP. He also hit .417 with a home run and six RBIs in his only postseason experience. And before anyone asks, I was supporting him long before he began managing the Dodgers.

8. Mike Piazza–Speaking of the Dodgers, I never thought I’d be able to say that it’s possible the greatest Dodgers catcher wasn’t Roy Campanella. But Piazza makes that a true possibility. One of the best hitting catchers, he was chided for not being a particularly good throwing catcher. That’s a particular problem when Campanella is the all time leader in caught stealing percentage (Piazza’s 23% isn’t in the top 400). But Piazza was Rookie of the Year, led the NL in OPS+ twice, hit 427 home runs, has an OPS+ of 143 and a 59.4 WAR (BTW his defensive WAR isn’t all that good, but it’s seldom a negative). He’s never going to get into the Hall on his fielding (few do) but he may be the best hitting catcher ever. As with Bagwell, the steroid era problems create difficulties in electing him.

9. Tim Raines–Raines is arguably the finest leadoff hitter in NL history. He won a batting title, led the league in runs four times, in doubles once, and picked up four stolen base titles. He had the misfortune of playing at the same time as Rickey Henderson and that’s always hurt his chances to be seen independently. There’s also a nomad phase to the end of his career that is fairly lengthy and pulls down a lot of his numbers. And then, of course, there’s the lupus issue that cost him a year and the drug problem that has hampered his case. He finished with a 123 OPS+ and 69.1 WAR.

10. Alan Trammel–You can easily argue that Trammell is the best shortstop in Detroit history. He helped the 1984 team to a World Series, then won the Series MVP. He finished second in the 1987 MVP race and garnered 12 first place votes in the process. As a shortstop he almost never led the AL in any major fielding stat, but was generally well into the upper half of the league in fielding. His OPS is 110 and his WAR is 70.4 (22.0 defensive WAR).

Who am I leaving out? Actually a lot of guys. Without picking any of the steroid boys, there’s still a lot of interesting names on this ballot. At various times I’ve touted the case for Mike Mussina, Fred McGriff, Larry Walker, and Jeff Kent. Now I can add in Nomar Garciaparra as someone I’d like to take a longer look at for addition to the Hall.

There you go, team. Now you pick ’em.

 

2014 Hall of Fame Picks

December 3, 2013
Edgar Martinez

Edgar Martinez

After taking some time to digest the new Hall of Fame ballot for 2014, it’s time to share with my adoring public (that would be you, team) my choices for enshrinement in Cooperstown. Remember, each voter is allowed to pick ten candidates, but may pick less. It’s a dumb rule because sometimes (not very often) there’s more than 10 good candidates, but it’s the rule. Believing that if they’re going to give me 10 votes, I’m going to take them. Here’s my list of 10. the new guys first.

Greg Maddux: If you have to ask why, you haven’t been paying attention.

Tom Glavine: see comment on Maddux above.

Frank Thomas: I’m tempted to make the same comment I just made on the two pitchers, but there’s more to Thomas that should be said. He was a leader in the fight against steroids, even trying to put together a voluntary anti-steroid testing. It failed, but it was a good effort. I think he played enough first base that his subsequent years as a designated hitter won’t be held against him. Besides, in this year of Auburn miracles (Thomas played tight end at Auburn) shouldn’t a former Auburn Tiger get in? 🙂

Jeff Bagwell:  Best 1st baseman in the last 25 years not named Pujols. Apparently worries about steroids have hurt him.

Craig Biggio: Got the 3000 hits that seems to be an automatic entry into Cooperstown. Played three positions (second base, catcher, and center field) and did credibly at all three. There seems to be no steroid questions about him. His team got to a number of playoffs without winning a championship. He did OK in some of the playoff series, not so good in others.

Mike Piazza: Best hitting catcher of the last 25 years, maybe ever (if you’re looking strictly at hitting). It’s his catching that is in question. He was considered sub par, but did lead his league in both putouts and assists a couple of times (and also in errors and passed balls). There are steroid questions about him, but no allegations that have been even vaguely substantiated. That makes him something of a poster boy for the whole steroid question. Did he or didn’t he?  I don’t know, but I’m guessing no. That makes this a vulnerable choice if he gets in and it’s later proved he took them.

Edgar Martinez: The ultimate DH. The knock is always that he didn’t do anything but hit. Well, neither did Ted Williams or any number of other marginal outfielders like Rickey Henderson. Got hung up in the Mariners minor league system (and you wonder why they don’t win) and came up somewhat late. Hit for average and for power. Before his legs gave out, he was getting better in the field, but was never going to be first-rate at third.

Don Mattingly: Over at “The On Deck Circle” website, Bill Miller makes an excellent case for Mattingly. Let me suggest you read it (see the blogroll at the right of this page for a link). I want to add one thing only to it. I’ve been concerned that Alan Trammell’s failure as Detroit manager has inhibited his chances for the Hall of Fame because it’s the last thing most of the writers saw him do. That’s a shame. By the same logic, Mattingly’s recent success with LA should not be used as a reason to add him to Cooperstown.

Jack  Morris: Big time pitcher from the 1980s and 1990s. I’ve  supported him for years and am not about to change my mind when it’s his last hurrah on the ballot.

Larry Walker: Gets knocked for his time in Coors Field , but was a great outfielder with a tremendous arm wherever he played. He hit well in Montreal in the early part of his career. Won an MVP while in Colorado. He hit better in Denver (who doesn’t?) but maintained good average and power numbers in visiting ballparks.

All of this brings me to the part of this year’s voting that I hate. I have to leave off a number of quality players that I might otherwise vote for enshrinement in Cooperstown. I think it’s a shame to leave out Tim Raines, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammell, and Jeff Kent, but I only get 10 votes (what an absurd rule). Maybe next year, fellas.

Which leads me to the man I don’t know what to do with: Hideo Nomo. I want to make a very fine distinction here. I believe Nomo is a Hall of Famer. I do not believe he is a Hall of Fame quality pitcher. He was a good pitcher, a solid pitcher. He won the Rookie of the Year award. He has a perfect game. He was good, just not great. So I cannot see putting him into Cooperstown as a player. But as a contributor to the game he is extremely important. Without him Ichiro Suzuki does not win an MVP or a Rookie of the Year award. Hedeki Matsui does not become a World Series MVP. Yu Darvish does not become one of the most feared pitchers in the American League. Without Nomo blazing the trail no Japanese player is going to get a chance to shine in the Major Leagues. And I  suppose it’s fair to add players from Korea and Taiwan to that list. Nomo is for East Asian players, in a very real sense, the equivalent of Jackie Robinson for black American players or Roberto Clemente for dark Latin players. He simply wasn’t as good a player as either Robinson or Clemente. It becomes, simply, a question of great player versus important player. I hope that Cooperstown will find some way to create a special ballot so Nomo can be acknowledged as the most important Japanese player in the history of Major League Baseball. But I won’t hold my breath waiting.

Voting for the Hall, 2013 Version

November 30, 2012

With the new Hall of Fame ballot finally official, it’s time to weigh in on who should make the pilgrimage to Cooperstown for enshrinement. The official rules allow a voter to pick up to 10 candidates. Believing that you should vote as many times as they’ll let you, I always take all 10 votes. Sometimes there aren’t really 10 guys I think should be in, but I like to take the time to acknowledge a particular favorite, or to try to insure that a player remains on the ballot for another year so that he gets a better look the next time. I know that’s not the way the vote is supposed to go, but I still like doing it that way. I’ll get to them in a minute, but I want to comment on two other aspects of Hall voting first.

The Steroids issue clouds this entire ballot and will do so for some time. On a personal level I would never vote for someone I was sure or heavily suspected had used the damned things. I know others disagree, but that’s my position. So it means that guys like Barry Bonds (Mark McGwire, etc.) would never appear on my ballot, unless I could be convinced that the steroid allegations were wrong. Much of the defense of these guys comes down to the “character clause” in the Hall of Fame criteria. The argument seems to go something like this, “There are  con men, and thugs in the Hall so what’s a little steroids among players?” The problem is that it is different. Being a con man or a thug doesn’t impact the way the game is played in the same way that steroids do. If Ty Cobb  was a thug (and I have no problem agreeing with those who say he was) it didn’t change how he hit the ball or how he ran the bases. If Hack Wilson was an alcoholic (and he probably was) it meant that he was out of the game early because he could no longer perform. Steroids do the exact opposite of alcohol in that they prolong a career artificially. And frankly if you know your baseball history (and I presume that if you read this site, you do) then you know the “character clause” was put in place to keep out the likes of Joe Jackson, whose actions materially harmed the game, not some slug of a human being who could hit anything. From its beginning the clause was meant to deal directly with what was going on during games, not with what a player was doing off the field. In that sense, it’s very poorly worded. And I’m aware this argument isn’t the most clearly worded paragraph I ever wrote, but this is more of an emotional issue than it is a rational issue.

Another problem I have with the Hall vote is who votes. You ever meet one of these guys? Some of them are great guys, some are jerks. In other words they are about like most people. And like most people they know very little about the history of the game. They may know one team, but seldom know the others well. Sure they can read a boxscore, but we all know that it doesn’t really give you more than a cursory feel for what went on. Further, it’s “writers” who do the voting, not “media” types. Bob Costas doesn’t get a vote. Neither does Vin Scully. You think they don’t know as much about the game as the “writers”?  Sure they do, but they are excluded from voting. I’d like to see the voting system changed. I’ve suggested before the SABR guys do the job, but I’m not sur they aren’t so steeped in stats that they can’t see the non-statistical aspects of the game.  I saw on ESPN some guy (forget who) suggest that the writers (expanded to include electronic media also) pick 10 players off the ballot, then a committee of experts vote on who gets in (the NFL does something close to that) with a minimum number of people having to be  chosen. I think there are holes in the plan (like a minimum number having to be elected) but it’s worth a close look. To me the big problem is deciding who is and who isn’t an “expert” (I’m absolutely sure I and my readers are. So maybe we should be the group.).

So there’s my soap box. Below are my picks for this year. I know you’ve been dying to find them out, so here they are (alphabetically). Feel free to disagree with any of them (or with the two points above). It’s a free internet and you have the right to be wrong.

1. Jeff Bagwell–In my opinion, Bagwell is the best 1st baseman of the last 25 years who is eligible for the Hall (Pujols isn’t yet). His numbers are good enough to make it. I’m going to leave it at that because Bill Miller at “The On Deck Circle” makes a case for Bagwell on his blog (see blogroll at right) and I’m not going to be  able to top Bill’s commentary.

2. Craig Biggio–I always thought that Bill James had it wrong by making Biggio the best player of his era, but not by much. He was a good hitter, got the magic 3000 hits, could play the outfield, second base, catch, and do all of them well. He helped his team to a number of playoff spots, but they never won a ring. I don’t hold that against him.

3. Edgar Martinez–Enough already with the “he’s only a  DH”. How many really great hitting/fielding combinations are there in the Hall? Do you think Ozzie Smith is in because he could hit or that Ted Williams is in for his ability to field the Green Monster? Guys who could do only one thing well are all over the Hall of Fame. Paul Molitor is in and he was primarily a DH. Martinez was a superb hitter, had power,  and got hung up in the Mariners minor league system (no wonder they seldom win). Once he got to the Majors, he could hit anything.

4. Don Mattingly–Was always a favorite of mine. He hit well, played a good enough first base, and was a team leader. His career is short (as are a lot of Cooperstown inductees) but much of it was superior. It’s enough for a Dodgers fan to support a Yankees player (forget where he now manages) for the Hall, but Mattingly gets my vote.

5. Jack Morris–One of the best “money” pitchers I ever saw. He’s going to get a lot of support for his 1991 World Series performance, but he was better than just one game. He led three teams to the World Series (Detroit, Minnesota, Toronto) and each won. He pitched well in two (not the Toronto victory). He is the victim of one of the more convoluted arguments in Hall of Fame voting. The same people who claim he shouldn’t be in because of his high ERA are many of the same people who tell us that ERA is an overrated stat (Make up your minds, folks).

6. Mike Piazza–Best hitting catcher I ever saw, which is tough for a Roy Campanella fan to say. The knock on him is that he wasn’t much of a catcher. Well, he led the league in putouts, assists, errors, passed balls. Quite a mixed bag. As he aged he became known as a good handler of pitchers, especially as young hurlers. I’m not sure how true that was, because it seems to be said of a lot of aging catchers. Whether true or not, he gets onto my ballot for his hitting.

7. Curt Schilling–Two words: bloody sock. OK, there’s more. He was an ace (or co-ace) on three World Series winners, won a lot of games, struck out a ton of batters, and was one of the leading anti-steroids spokesmen. He is, however, something of  a loud mouth. Put a (bloody) sock in it, Curt.

8. Tim Raines–Will someone please explain to the writers that Raines was a great player?

9. Alan Trammell–Overlooked and underappreciated. I wonder how much his disastrous managing stint in Detroit hurts his chances?

10. Larry Walker–I don’t want to hear about Coors Field. He played wonderfully in Montreal, hit well in any park, and had a cannon masquerading as an arm.

So that’s my list. I really miss not being able to vote for Kenny Lofton, Julio Franco, Jeff Conine, and Bernie Williams. I’m not sure any of them belong in Cooperstown, but all meet one of the two categories I mentioned in my first paragraph. Maybe next year, fellas.

The January 2011 Hall Vote

December 6, 2010

I promised before I left that I’d comment on the writer’s vote for the Hall of Fame. That’s the vote that will be announced in January (not the one that’s coming this week). I commented that because they let you vote for ten, I’d vote for ten. Here they are in alphabetical order, holdovers first:

Roberto Alomar: Probably the finest second baseman of his era. Missed out by a handful of votes last time.

Bert Blyleven: I think this is the most important person who can be voted in. The writer’s haven’t elected a starting pitcher with less than 300 wins since Fergie Jenkins (the Vets Committee put in Jim Bunning). With all the excellent pitchers coming available with less than 300 wins (Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, etc) someone has to break through or we’re going to see a lot of worthy candidates dismissed. Hopefully Blyleven will be the player that opens the door.

Barry Larkin: If Alomar is the finest second baseman of his era, Larkin is the finest shortstop. He has an MVP and a World Series ring. Both should eventually help his cause. I’m not sure either should.

Edgar Martinez: One of the best hitters I ever saw. I don’t want to hear “Well, he was mainly a DH and not much of a fielder.” Putting Paul Molitor into the Hall of Fame should end the DH issue and besides there are a lot of Hall members who were lousy fielders.

Don Mattingly: The argument against him is that his career is short. So was Ralph Kiner’s (and Dizzy Dean’s and Sandy Koufax’s). For a handful of years he was one of the best players in the game and possibly the best. He was a good enough first baseman and a wonderful hitter.

Jack Morris: He was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s (which alone isn’t enough to get him into the Hall). His ERA is big for a Hall of Famer, but the latest statistics show us how much ERA can be overrated. He has multiple rings and his game 7 of the 1991 World Series was masterful. A dominant pitcher who may be helped by the explosion of new stats.

Tim Raines: One of the great base stealers ever. He has a batting title to go with all those stolen bases. I think his nomad phase toward the end of his career hurts him a lot.

Alan Trammell: Great, great shortstop. If Ozzie Smith was the premier shortstop of  his era in the NL, Trammell was, with the possible exception of Cal Ripken, the premier shortstop of the AL. Trammell hit better  than Smith and was a heck of a shortstop (if not quite so acrobatic as Smith). I think Trammell gets hurt because of the comparison to Ripken, rather than to Smith. He also has a ring. I’d be interested to know how much his disastrous stint as Tigers manager hurts his chances.

Jeff Bagwell: An MVP, a heck of a hitter, a team leader. He got hurt and missed out on 500 home runs but is still a Hall of Famer. To me, the only sure-fire Hall of Famer on the new list.

Larry Walker: I could say a lot about him, but I’ll simply suggest you go to Bill Miller’s site at The On Deck Circle (link to the right) for a fine overview of Walker’s career and qualifications. Sorry, Bill, but you didn’t convince me to vote for him. I’d already decided that.

So there’s my ten. Feel free to disagree.

There’s one player on the list I’m sorry to leave off, Tino Martinez. I think he may be shorted on the ballot, but hope he stays on so he gets more chances. I’m not sure he really belongs in the Hall, but I’d like to see him get a chance. I think a closer look at his stats is in order (and I want to do a later post on him and this so-called “Core Four” nonsense).