The New Year is almost here, so that means it's time for some good old Hall of Fame discussion. Cast your vote by clicking here, 10 votes per person and hit "none" if you don't want to put anyone in. This year features a pretty weak first year class and some veterans hoping to get in before next years barrage of talent hits the ballot. Here is my take on the candidates:
Jeff Bagwell (Astros) - This is Bagwell's second time on the ballot. Last year he received 41.7 percent of the vote. Bagwell put up some amazing numbers during his 15 year career. His career slash line is .297/.408/.540. He has 449 homers, 1529 RBIs and 202 SBs. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1991, the MVP in 1994 and has very similar career stats to Frank Thomas (including the exact birthday). His career BWar is 79.9 and his KenWar is pretty good as well. While Bagwell did put up these numbers during the steroid era, there is no direct linkage to him. He gets my vote.
Jeromy Burnitz ( Mets, Indians, Brewers, Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, Pirates) - Burnitz put up a career slash line of .253/.345/.481. He ended his career with a surprising 315 homers while falling 19 RBI's short of 1,000. He had some big years on the Brewers teams of the late 90s and early 2000s. That being said, he's not close to a Hall of Famer as his 17.6 BWar indicates. One and done.
Vinny Castilla ( Braves, Rockies, Rays, Astros, Nationals, Padres) - Castilla was a monster from '95-'99. During that time he hit at least 32 homers (with three 40 homer seasons), at least 90 RBI's (topping out at 144 in '98) and hit at least .300 every year but one (.275 in '99). When he was traded to the Rays in 2000, his career slumped. He still hit decently after that injury plagued 2000 season, but nowhere near his previous heights. He had one last stand in a return to the Rockies in 2004 where he hit 35 homers and knocked in 131, but 2 years later he would be out of baseball. His career BWar was 16.4. He had a very good career, but not good enough for my vote.
Juan Gonzalez (Rangers, Tigers, Indians, Royals) - 2nd year on ballot (5.2% last year). Igor was a monster in the 90s. He had five seasons over 40 home runs, a triple slash line of .295/.343/.561, two MVP awards ('96 and '98), 434 career homers and 1,404 RBIs. However, after the '99 season he was traded to the Tigers. Juan didn't like the dimensions at Comerica Park and turned down an 8 year $140 million dollar offer from Detroit. It was a terrible decision that cost him more than 100 million dollars. In 2001, he signed a 1 year $10 million dollar deal with the Indians and put up 35 homers and 140 RBI's in the last big season of his career. He never played 100 games in a season after that and in 2005, he had one at bat for the Indians. He tore his hamstring off the bone running out a grounder to first and never played in the majors again. He finished his career with a BWar of 33.5. While I think he was just as good as an offensive player as Dale Murphy... Gonzalez poor attitude, steroid allegations and the way his career ended will probably see to it that this is his final time on the ballot. I'm not voting for him either.
Brian Jordan (Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers, Rangers)- Jordan was the 3rd best two sport athlete of the era, behind Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Jordan was a defensive back on the Falcons from 1989-1991. The Cardinals gave him a signing bonus to quit playing football and Jordan took them up on the offer. He hit 184 homers, stole 119 bags and knocked in 821 runs with a slash line of .282/.333/.455 and ended up playing until he was 39 years old. Solid financial move to leave the NFL, but that doesn't get you in the Hall of Fame. Another one and done.
Barry Larkin (Reds) - 3rd year on ballot, 62.1% last year. Larkin was a great player. He should have been in 2 years ago. His career slash line is .295/.371/.444, he won the MVP in 1996, was a key member of the World Champion Reds team in 1990, was a 12 time all star and played his entire 19 year career on one team. He was overshadowed by Ozzie Smith, but in my opinion was the better player of the two. Has a BWar of 68.9 and a KenWar much higher than that. He's got my vote.
Javy Lopez (Braves, Orioles, Red Sox) - Lopez was the catcher of the great Atlanta Braves staffs. He also hit 260 career homers with a slash of .287/.337/.491. His career year came in 2003 when he hit 43 homers and 109 RBIs for the Braves. He was out of baseball 3 years later. He had some power and should get some credit for being the backstop for the Braves run, but he wasn't as good as Mike Piazza, Jorge Posada or Ivan Rodriguez. I'm not going to vote for him, but he may get enough votes to stay on the ballot for next year.
Edgar Martinez (Mariners) - 3rd year on ballot, 32.9% last year. Now that Harold Baines is unfortunately off of the ballot, I will give my support to Edgar Martinez every year he is still on. It is ridiculous that people still don't give credit to the DH. It's been a position for 40 years now. Martinez was a great hitter, with a career line of .312/.418/.515. He's got a BWar of 67.2, almost exclusively with the bat. Get him in there.
Don Mattingly (Yankees) - 12th year on ballot, 13.6% last year. From 1984-1987, there wasn't a better hitter in the game than Donnie Baseball. Unfortunately, his back injuries turned him from sure fire Hall of Famer to Mark Grace, as his 30 homer power dipped to the teens. He hit 222 homers, with 1,099 RBI's and a slash line of .307/.358/.471 and BWar of 39.8. I wouldn't fault anyone for voting for Mattingly. He was as scary as they came for the opposition during his prime. I just don't think he had a long enough prime and that is unfortunate.
Fred McGriff (Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Rays, Cubs, Dodgers) 3rd year on ballot, 17.9% last year. The Crime Dog had one of my favorite swings and used it to tally up 493 homers, 1,550 RBIs, .284/.377/.509 slash and a BWar of 50.5. He had ten 30 homer seasons. I think McGriff's career may have been overshadowed by some guys like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, who are both confirmed steroid guys. I didn't vote for him last year, but I gave myself the opportunity to change my mind. So this year, I'm going to give a vote to McGriff.
Mark McGwire (A's, Cardinals) 6th year on ballot, 19.8% last year. People said that maybe if McGwire came out and admitted his steroid usage, his Hall voting would take a jump. It didn't. He lost 4 percent and was under 20% for the first time. I don't see much changing this year. His 583 homers, 1,414 RBIs, 1987 Rookie of the Year, 12 All Star games and his remarkable 1998 home run chase will probably end up going to the Veterans Committee. I've decided to give the vote I once gave to him to McGriff.
Jack Morris- (Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Indians) 13th year on ballot, 53.5% last year. Uh oh. Here comes the portion of the program where TDogg and I collide. In my opinion, Morris is a Hall of Famer. No question about it. He was the ace of 3 World Series teams, pitched one of the greatest games I've ever seen pitched, won 254 games, was as durable as they came and from start to finish was the best AL pitcher in the 1980s. People like to say his 3.90 ERA is too high for Hall standards, but it is obvious he hung on a little longer than he should have and put up ERA's of 6.19 and 5.60 in his last two seasons. I don't think you should hold that against him.
Bill Mueller- (Giants, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers) Mueller led the league in hitting once (.326 in 2003) and was part of the 2004 Red Sox team that broke the Curse of the Bambino. Other than that, there is nothing to mention. No chance.
Terry Mulholland- ( Phillies and 10 more teams) Mulholland had a nice stretch in the early 90s as a starter with the Phillies, even leading the league in CGs in 1992 with 12. Then in 1994 he went to the Yankees and got hammered to the tune of a 6.49 ERA and was used mostly as a LOOGY (and not a very good one) for the last 12 years of his career. No chance.
Dale Murphy- (Braves, Phillies, Rockies) 14th year on ballot, 12.6% last year. Murphy, in my opinion, is a lot like Juan Gonzalez. Both power hitting outfielders, both 2 time MVPs, both feared hitters, both fell off hard and fast. Gonzalez had the better numbers but the steroid implications bring him down. Murphy had a collapse at age 32 that was viewed as one of the worst until Adam Dunn came along. Murphy never rebounded. His line sits at .265/.346/.469 with 398 homers and 1,266 RBIs. I didn't vote for Gonzalez and I'm not voting for Murphy either, though he will probably stay on the ballot.
Phil Nevin- (Astros, Tigers, Angels, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Twins) I can't believe Nevin hit 41 homers in 2001. I also can't believe I am researching Phil Nevin for the Hall of Fame. Enough. No Chance.
Rafael Palmeiro- (Cubs, Rangers, Orioles) 2nd year on ballot, 11% last year. The guy has some unbelievable counting stats. 3,020 hits, 569 dingers, 1,835 RBI's, a .288/.371/.515 career line. He should be a sure fire Hall of Famer. Unfortunately for him, Jose Canseco called him out and Palmeiro eventually tested positive which basically ruined all of his remarkable accomplishments. I'm not voting for him this year. Next year, we won't be able to just dust these guys under the rug though. Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens will all be up for induction.
Brad Radke- (Twins) Although he was a thorn in the White Sox side for many years, Radke didn't play long enough (retired at age 33) or well enough (148-139, 4.22 ERA) to garnish any consideration for the Hall. No Chance.
Tim Raines- (Expos, White Sox, Yankees, A's, Orioles, Marlins) 5th year on ballot, 37.5% last year. Tim Raines is another guy that should already be in the Hall. From 1981-1987 he was a stud. He had an OBP of at least .390 in six of those seasons, and stole 70 bases in six of them as well. He was an All Star in every one of those 7 years. Then from 1988-1995, he was a very solid player for the Expos and White Sox. He still got on base and stole bases at an extremely high rate. Then he became a bench player from 1996-2002, but still played very well in that role until his last year on the Marlins. Apparently he's being punished for not being as good as Rickey Henderson, although nobody was as good as Rickey Henderson.
Tim Salmon- (Angels) The 1993 Rookie of the Year was a pretty consistent hitter for the Angels. He ended up with 299 homers and 1,016 RBIs while hitting .282/.385/.498. He is among the franchise leaders in all career categories and should eventually get his number 15 jersey retired. He won't be going to the Hall of Fame, however.
Ruben Sierra- (Rangers, A's, Yankees, Tigers, Reds, Blue Jays, White Sox, Mariners, Twins) Sierra is one of my favorite players as a kid. He came to the big leagues in 1986 as a 20 year old. In '87 he hit 30 homers and knocked in 109. In 1989, he hit .306/.347/.543 with 35 doubles, 14 triples, 29 homers and 119 RBIs. His career took a downward turn in 1992 when he was traded to Oakland for Jose Canseco. In 1993, he hit 22 homers and knocked in 101 RBIs, but also only had a .678 OPS. After 1996, Sierra sort of disappeared for awhile. He hit 3 homers and knocked in 12 for the Blue Jays and Reds in '97. In '98, he played in 27 games with the White Sox and hit 4 homers before being released on May 29. He didn't play in the majors in '99, but resurfaced with the Rangers for 20 games in 2000. In 2001, he hit 23 bombs for the Rangers. In 2004, he hit 17 with the Yankees. He ended his career playing 14 games for the Twins in 2006. No, he's not a Hall of Famer... but whether it was his style, his name or just because he seemed like a Roberto Clemente clone in the late 80s, I will always have a spot in my heart for Ruben Sierra.
Lee Smith- (Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Expos) 10th year on ballot, 45.3% last year. Smith retired with a then record 478 saves. He was one of the first modern closers and a pretty dominant reliever for most of his 18 seasons in the majors. He started closing in 1982, and threw 100+ innings his first 3 seasons. Slowly that started going down to pretty much a 1:1 ratio for appearances: innings. In 1993, Smith appeared in 63 games, threw 58 innings and saved 46 ball games. All the while though, he posted a solid number of saves. For better or worse, Smith pretty much changed the game. He gets my vote.
Alan Trammell- (Tigers) 11th year on ballot, 24.3% last year. Trammell is another one of the guys that I can't believe isn't in. At least he is in better shape than Lou Whitaker, who didn't get 5% on his first try, but thats a story for another day. Trammell was overshadowed by Cal Ripken in the AL. No, he wasn't as good as Ripken was, but he was a great player in his own right. Trammell had 2,365 hits, 185 homers, 1,003 RBIs, 236 SBs, .285/.352/.415 slash and played very good defense. He played 20 seasons all with the Tigers and along with Whitaker formed one of the greatest double play duo's I've ever seen. He gets my support.
Larry Walker- (Expos, Rockies, Cardinals) 2nd year on ballot, 20.3% last year. Walker was a 3 time batting champ, with a slash line of .313/.400/.565. He popped 383 homers and knocked in 1,311 runs while stealing 230 bags. He definitely has a Hall of Fame peak, and will probably get more support than he had last year but I can't pull the trigger on him.
Bernie Williams- (Yankees) Williams was a big part of the rebirth of the Yankees. He played with them his entire 16 year career and put up fairly good numbers. He hit .297/.381/.477 with 287 homers and 1,257 RBIs. He also made an incredible 545 career playoff plate appearances, and hit .275/.371/.480 with 22 homers and 80 RBIs. He also had 5 all star appearances and 4 gold gloves while putting up a BWar of 47.3 (that is after taking off 12 wins for defense). Williams was a good player on a great team and was very visible to all baseball fans throughout the 90s and early 2000s. He is probably the best of the bunch out of the first year candidates, but I'm going to leave him off of my ballot.
Tony Womack- (Pirates, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Cubs, Cardinals, Yankees, Reds) He stole a lot of bases in the late '90s, but if Womack gets in, Juan Pierre is a shoe in. No chance.
Eric Young- (Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, Brewers, Giants, Rangers, Padres) .283/.359/.390 with 465 stolen bases and 79 homers. EY was a good ballplayer to have on your team, but he's just a few steps above Womack as far as Hall consideration. No Chance.
There you have it. I voted in 8 guys this year, which is probably my lowest ever. I'm a big hall kind of guy and normally would use all 10 of my votes. I'm going with Bagwell, Larkin, E. Martinez, McGriff, Morris, Raines, L. Smith and Trammell. I'm avoiding the steroid issue again until next year, when there is going to have to be some decisions made. Cast your votes, maximum of 10 per person, if you don't think anyone should make it select none so the numbers reflect your stinginess.
Have a safe and happy New year. Hopefully 2012 will be better than 2011 for our White Sox.