|Player||Years on the Ballot||2008 Vote %||2007 Vote %||2006 Vote%|
Players need 75% of the vote to get inducted and 5% to remain on the ballot for next year. After 15 years on the ballot, they are dropped from consideration.
Rickey Henderson had the most impressive MLB career in my lifetime, hands down. Not only should he receive the honor of being inducted on his first ballot, but the vote should be unanimous. Let’s see whether the baseball writers will be able to put aside the man’s personality and keep it to baseball.
Jim Rice is in his 15th and final year of eligibility. It would be criminal if the man who spent a decade as the most feared hitter in the American League was shut out. Stringing him along all these years is cruel punishment for a surly attitude and the unlucky timing of playing during a pitcher’s era.
And it’s time to induct Lee Smith. He broke the career saves record before Hoffman’s and Rivera’s MLB careers began. He’s still 3rd behind only those two, with no one even close behind. Hopefully Goose opened the door for him in 2008.
Maybe next year:
Tim Raines will hopefully get a big boost this year, setting him up for induction in 2010 or 2011. He was easily the best leadoff hitter in the NL through the first half of 1980s, among a group that includes Vince Coleman, Lonnie Smith, Willie McGee and Steve Sax all in the primes of their careers. Then he was the second-best leadoff hitter in the NL through the later 80s, after Tony Gwynn, still better than all those other guys. 808 career steals is 5th all-time, 3rd among players who retired after 1930.
Don Mattingly. The responsible disclosure here is that I’m a Yankee fan. So in the eyes of most people reading this, that confirms that I’m a homer. Donnie Baseball was regarded as the best player in the game for about 6 years. Isn’t that all Sandy Koufax ever did? He also sports the highest fielding percentage in the history of the game. He’s at least a borderline player. Comparing career numbers, it’s simply insane that Kirby Puckett was a first-ballot guy and Mattingly languishes barely above the minimum % to stay on the ballot.
Blyleven is 5th in career strikeouts. I guess I’d say he’s a borderline case. Looking at his stats, he was usually among the top 6 or 7 pitchers in the league. He played in an historically favorable period for pitchers as his career ended just as the juiced-ball era began. He never felt like more than a middle-order workhorse type pitcher to me, rather than a guy you expect to dominate a lineup. I’m sure that’s a little unfair since I’m too young to remember him in his prime, but looking at his stats, he seems like a classic compiler to me, like Phil Neikro, who I don’t think belongs in the Hall of Fame despite his 300 wins.
Tommy John. Again, I have no sympathy for stats compilers. And the fortune of having Tommy John surgery named after him fails to impress me. I’m tempted to acknowledge a more personal bias against Tommy John and Phil Neikro. I remember well both players (along with Phil’s brother, Joe Neikro) starting for the Yanks on very competitive teams from 1984-1987 which always fell just short of the playoffs. The problem was always the lack of pitching and while John and the Neikros weren’t the problem, the vision of these old guys in their 40s who couldn’t fill out the seat of their pants seemed emblematic of the team’s narrow shortcomings of that era. Of course the real failure was in letting go of good young pitching talent like Jose Rijo, Doug Drabek and Bob Tewksberry before they blossomed. Anyway…
Andre Dawson. Just short of borderline. A player I remember well enough, I always thought he was a over-rated, Very inconsistent counting stats despite playing in decent enough lineups. More often than not he was a run-of-the-mill middle-order power-hitter.
Jack Morris. He’s one of the great World Series starters in recent history and he managed to hang around a bit longer than a lot of the other good pitchers of his day but there’s just a few too many mediocre years mixed in there.
Mark McGwire. 580 career home runs and shattering Maris’ single season mark (and briefly holding the record) shouldn’t be enough for a 1 dimensional slugger who’s career defines the juiced ball era. This line must be drawn. In two years, Rafael Palmeiro will become eligible. Two years after that, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds (if both stay retired). In my opinion, none of these men deserves enshrinement.