My Hall of Fame ballot (cont.)
Posted: Friday December 28, 2007 11:46AM; Updated: Saturday December 29, 2007 10:21PM
Close, but not quite Cooperstown
7. Mattingly. Every year, I am more and more tempted to vote for him. But this makes it eight years I've resisted so far. One of the game's best players from 1984-89, a back injury sapped his strength and greatness. Won an MVP, a batting title, nine Gold Gloves and the hearts of New Yorkers. His career isn't all that different from Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett's (without the two World Series titles). I am still not there, but maybe next year.
8. Raines. He made the All-Star team his first seven seasons, then didn't make it the next 16. Certainly appeared to be on his way to Cooperstown early, and he lasted long enough to compile some impressive numbers, including 2,605 hits and 808 stolen bases. But for two-thirds of his career, he was merely a very good player, not an All-Star player. Good enough for review in future years, though.
9. Murphy. Double-MVP winner made seven All-Star teams, hit 398 home runs and was a credit to his profession. Flamed out just a little too quickly. Very close, but not quite.
10. Blyleven. Stat gurus love this guy, and it's understandable. One of the great compilers of his generation, he's fifth all-time in strikeouts, ninth in shutouts and 25th in wins. There's no doubt he was a superb talent who played a long time. But he was rarely among the ultra-elite in his 22-year career.
11. John. Frank Jobe gets the credit for the surgery. But this guy had a tremendous career, pitching for an entire generation (26 years, a record), winning 288 games and posting a lifetime 3.34 ERA. Very good in the postseason, as well. While he didn't have the strikeouts and shutouts of Blyleven, he did finish second in Cy Young voting twice. Right there with Blyleven.
12. Alan Trammell. The argument that the Tigers never would have traded Trammell straight-up for Ozzie Smith isn't completely unpersuasive. He played 20 seasons for Tigers and hit .300 in seven of them. Not far off.
Close to Close
13. Baines. A superb and consistent professional hitter who amassed some very nice stats in a pleasant career, including 2,866 hits and 1,628 RBIs, but never rose to the level of great. Never finished higher than ninth in MVP voting.
14. Lee Smith. Another of the great compilers. Was the career saves leader until Trevor Hoffman eclipsed him recently. Extremely good for a long, long time. But not a Hall of Famer.
Nice careers, not a chance
15. Robb Nen. Saved 314 games in only 10 seasons. Not a thought, though.
16. Chuck Finley. Disregarding that his recent years were known more for his tumultuous marriage to B-move star Tawny Kitaen, this guy won 200 games and finished in the top 10 in ERA five times. Better than you think, but clearly not a Hall of Famer.
17. David Justice. That lifetime .500 slugging percentage is only two points below Rice's lifetime mark. Had some huge homers, including the game-winner in the 1995 World Series Game 6 clincher, but didn't impress me as Cooperstown worthy (or anyone else, I assume).
18. Jose Rijo. Lost his chance when he missed five years due to injury. He made a comeback after a five-year absence, which eclipsed his 1990 World Series performance as his most impressive achievement. But overall, his career total of 116 victories isn't Cooperstown material.
19. Rod Beck. He didn't have to wait the prerequisite five years since he died this summer, sadly and suddenly at 38. Very good closer and a three-time All-Star. But not the dominator or even compiler that would make me look twice.
20. Chuck Knoblauch. Like Justice, he was a 1991 Rookie of the Year. And like Justice, he was cited as a Kirk Radomski customer by the Mitchell Report. Despite his world-class case of the yips, which may have been the only natural thing about him in those Yankees years, he was a productive leadoff hitter even in New York. Eventually though, his hard-partying ways and all-around bad attitude killed what looked like a potential Hall-of-Fame career.
How'd they make the ballot?
21. Shawon Dunston. Great guy who seemed to enjoyed everything and everyone, even his time with Barry Bonds. A No. 1 overall pick who stayed 18 seasons but never really became a star despite "8'' speed and an "8'' arm on a scout's 2-8 scale.
22. Travis Fryman. Nice player who made the All-Star team five times (remember, every team needs a rep, and the Tigers were often dreadful), yet did nothing else especially memorable. Truth be told, I needed the cheat sheet to recall the All-Star appearances, as well.
23. Brady Anderson. Mysteriously hit 50 home runs out of nowhere in 1996 and also stole a bunch of bases throughout his tenure in Baltimore. Not that I needed to study his accomplishments too closely, but I was surprised to learn that he hit only .256 for his career. If he gets a vote, I may demand a recount.
24. Todd Stottlemyre. Not a bad career. Not sure why I had to go through the exercise of reading his stats, however.
If not for one bad day in Washington ...
25. Mark McGwire. A clear Hall of Famer on his accomplishments. If anyone says otherwise, it's a complete copout. However, without the condo-like body (and the steroids), I seriously doubt he would have hit 70 home runs in a season.
Some will claim that he hasn't been proven to have taken performance enhancers, but almost three years later I can think of no other reason why he stonewalled Congress and refused to answer questions under oath about "the past'' after previously claiming he didn't partake in the hard stuff. It's true he helped save the game, but I suspect he did it for himself, not the game.
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