Champions on Display MLB

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Voting For the Hall of Fame

So the votes are in and we'll have two new members to the Hall of Fame this year. It's not surprising that Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. made the cut. Piazza was the best offensive catcher since Carter and Fisk hung up their cleats. And Junior is the best position player I have ever seen in my life. A defining moment of all the times I have been to Fenway Park will be when I saw Junior, on a dead run, make an over the shoulder catch at the Triangle in center field.

I was surprised others did not make it in. If I were a voter for the Hall (and I'm not), my ballot would have looked like this:

  • Mike Piazza
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Trevor Hoffman
  • Curt Schilling
  • Mike Mussina
  • Larry Walker

To me the other two no-brainers on that list are Jeff Bagwell and Trevor Hoffman. Bagwell was a monster at first base. Rookie of the Year in 1991. He won the MVP, albeit in the 1994 strike-shortened season. Of course, that same year he pulled off an amazing feat by averaging more than one RBI per game (116 in 110 games). His lifetime JAWS of 63.9 ranks 6th all-time for first basemen. Bagwell is 64th all-time in total WAR. Hoffman is one of only two closers to have 600+ saves (the other being Mariano Rivera). No one else even has 500 saves. A lifetime ERA of 2.87. Eighth all-time in WHIP (1.058). And you could make a strong argument that he should have won the 1998 NL Cy Young Award.

Then you have the ones that you have to argue for. Curt Schilling never won the Cy Young. But he came in second three times. He had two dominant years back-to-back in 2001-02. In both those years he was the Sporting News NL Pitcher of the Year. From 2001-04 his average was 18-7 with a 3.11 ERA (ERA+ 150)and 252 strikeouts. But his true value came in the post-season. In 12 series his record was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.968 WHIP. In the World Series those numbers were 4-1 | 2.06 ERA | 0.896 WHIP. His 80.7 WAR is 26th all-time for pitchers. His career WHIP of 1.127 is in the top 50 all-time. Most impressively, his K/BB ratio of 4.383 is second all-time, trailing only Tommy Bond, who pitched before there were airplanes.

Mike Mussina was in the top 6 of Cy Young voting in 9 of his 18 years. He registered 11+ wins per year for 17 straight years, only missing out in his rookie season. That alone is an amazing feat. He won seven Gold Gloves as a pitcher. 24th all-time in WAR for pitchers (82.7). 33rd all-time in wins with 270. 19th in strikeouts. One of only 12 pitchers to have a WAR higher than 80 with 270+ wins and 2800+ strikeouts. His consistency was probably why he wasn't appreciated more.

Larry Walker in his hey-day was a monster. If you look at his prime three years (1997-99) you see a dominant batter at the height of his powers. His average over those three years: .369 BA | 36 HR | 104 RBI | .451 OBP | 1.141 OPS. Throw in a MVP award in 1997 while you're at it. Seven Gold Gloves. .313 lifetime batting average. 15th all-time in OPS. His fielding percentage in right field (.986) is 30th all-time. He contributed at the plate and in the field.

So yeah, I am one of those guys who doesn't vote for Tim Raines because while he was good at a lot of things he was only great at stealing bases. I can't vote for Bonds or Clemens because of the PED issue, although I think they will get in before their 10 years are up. I feel bad for Alan Trammel; had he played 10 years later or if sabermetrics came along 10 years earlier I think he'd be in.

But I think this would be a ballot you could look at and defend. No glaring absences. None of that "No one should be a unanimous 1st year inductee" crap.