The Baseball Writers’ Association of America unveiled today that they will enshrine four players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jim Thome is the most meaningful to White Sox fans, because he played out a terrific four-year stint in Chicago as part of a 22-year career. After winning the World Series in 2005, the Sox traded Aaron Rowand and Gio Gonzalez to the Phillies to make Thome their DH, and he proceeded to mash his way to a .265/.391/.542 line on the South Side. He’ll be wearing an Indians cap because of his 12-plus years in Cleveland, but he hit his 500th home run with the Sox, plus the Blackout home run in 2008. Thome made it in on his first ballot.
Chipper Jones spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves, and is one of the all-time greats at a position that’s terribly underrepresented in the Hall. Larry becomes just the 17th third baseman to be enshrined, but the switch-hitter’s 85 career WAR, .303/.401/.529 triple-slash, and 468 home runs definitely make him one of the most deserving.
Vladimir Guerrero spent most of his playing days with the Expos and Angels, and is one of the first players people think of when they hear the phrase “bad-ball hitter”. He could swing at practically any pitch, which was very entertaining when it worked out. Even so, he was so incredible at making contact that his career strikeout rate was only 10.9 percent, and he managed a .318 batting average and 449 home runs.
Trevor Hoffman was one of baseball’s great closers, and although he doesn’t have the WAR to back up his candidacy relative to starters or position players, he was still one of the best at his position for a long time. Traditional voters love the 601 saves, which was a baseball record for a short period, and his longevity with the Padres.
The BBWAA last elected four players to the Hall of Fame in 2015. They’ve only elected five in a single class once, and that was the initial 1936 class of Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson.
Steroids continue to be a highly divisive issue among voters, as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of the game’s most talented and most tainted players, fall short once again. So does Edgar Martinez, who continues to get dinged for being primarily a designated hitter despite dominating with the bat.
As Ken wrote earlier today, the South Side Sox electorate also voted in favor of Thome, Jones, and Guerrero on our mock ballot, though Hoffman didn’t quite make it.
The four newest Hall of Fame members will officially be inducted on July 29 as part of Hall of Fame weekend in Cooperstown.