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July 21, 2009

The Hall of Fame Class of 2011

I’ve been saying this for a few years and I’ll say it again…the BBWAA will have their hands full when it comes to the 2011 election.

In the mix will be one guy who was found guilty of taking performance enhancing drugs and another that just about everyone and their mother thinks did. Add to that combo a few of “good guys”, a prick or two and you’ve got the recipe for a great vote.
Buckle up.


John Franco.
Why not start with one of the “good guys”? Here’s the rub with Franco, while I believe he is most certainly Hall-worthy…I can’t put him in until Lee Smith gets his number punched. Franco compiled a huge number of saves over his 21 year career. His 424 saves rank him fourth all-time behind Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and, you guessed it…Smith. He is third in games finished behind, again, Hoffman and Smith. Franco was a four time All-Star and twice brought home the Rolaids Relief Man Award. A quiet closer, he compiled a 90-87 record (decent considering his role…Hoffman’s career mark is 57-67) and a 2.89 ERA.

Jeff Bagwell.
Here’s the deal with me and Bagwell…I always ADMIRED Bagwell, but was never a huge Bagwell guy until AFTER he hung up his spikes. I respect the Hell out of the man for leaving the game after only 15 seasons. He could have very well hung around to pad some numbers to his already bloated 449 home run and 1529 RBI totals. But he chose not to. He could have left Houston a number of times. But he chose not to. His .948 OPS is 23rd all-time and the only Hall eligible player that is higher on that list and NOT enshrined is Mark McGwire. Bagwell was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 and followed it up three seasons later with the National League MVP award. A career .297 hitter, Bagwell also appeared in four All-Star Games and was twice (yes, TWICE) a 30-30 man. And...he had a bitchin' goatee.

OUT (in random order).

Kevin Brown.
Brown’s 211-144 record isn’t as impressive as the .594 winning percentage it carries with it. Of course, that is only the tip of the iceberg for the hot and cold hurler. A 3.28 career ERA, 2397 Ks and 13 seasons with ten or more victories makes Brown a hard choice to NOT put on the bubble. One ring, six All-Star Games and seven Gold Gloves…sorry Brown. If David Cone can’t sniff the halls of Cooperstown…you can’t either.

John Olerud.
The College Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time World Champion isn’t going to get much love from Cooperstown. While his .295 career average and 2239 hits is impressive…he was WAY overshadowed by other great first basemen throughout his career. Here’s a fun fact…Olerud is one of only TWO players to hit for the cycle in both leagues. Can you name the other?

Tino Martinez.
Another overshadowed first baseman (and probably rightfully so), Martinez is only mentioned here because there are some out there (I’m looking your way Yankees fans) that think guys like Tino, Bernie Williams and Paul O’Neill deserve a spot up on the wall. But here’s the thing…none of them hold a candle to Don Mattingly, and last year, “Donnie Baseball” couldn’t muster more than 11.9%.

BJ Surhoff, Marquis Grissom, Bret Boone, Al Leiter, 1987 National League Rookie of the Year Benito Santiago, Carlos Baerga, 1994 National League Rookie of the Year Raul Mondesi, Bobby Higginson, Wilson Alvarez, Rey Sanchez, Charles Johnson, Jose Offerman, Ugueth “currently serving a 14-year prison sentence” Urbina, Ismael Valdez, Dan Wilson, Paul Quantrill, Cal Eldred, Kirk Rueter and Steve Reed.


Larry Walker.
Good friend of The HOVG, David Allan is going to KILL me for putting Walker “on the bubble” and Bagwell in the Hall of Fame, so here’s the deal…read what he had to say about Walker back in January and make up your own mind.

Juan Gonzalez.
Possibly the hardest player to characterize on this list is Gonzalez. I’m a fan, through and through. I always bought into the “Juan Gone” hype, the two MVP awards and the monster long balls. His 1996-1999 stretch is, arguably, one of the best of the 90s and in any other era…he’s in. But was the dude clean? Are his numbers going to go the way of McGwire and be pushed to the side in favor of steroid allegations considering some of his teammates?

Which brings me to…

Rafael Palmeiro.
Beautiful mustache or’s hard to look at Palmeiro’s numbers and not get pissed off. 3020 hits, 569 home runs, 1835 RBI…all spectacular, albeit wasted, numbers. His 5388 total bases ranks him tenth all-time and the afore mentioned hits and home runs total makes him one of only FOUR players to have 3000 hits and 500 dongs. That being said, there isn’t a snowball’s chance that a guy who pointed his finger to Congress and proclaimed “I have never used steroids, period” gets in a mere six years after being found guilty of doing the opposite.

Yesterday, I looked at the 2010 ballot and in the next couple of days…2012, 2013 and 2014 will be chronicled.

BallHype: hype it up!


David Allan said...

You better mean Hall Eligible right now, and not in 2011. Bagwell OPS .948, vs. My boy Larry Walker .965.

You're right I'm going to kill you. Actually that's not true. On the bubble better take into consideration the Coors bias of the writers. Which I think should be tossed out the window, cause Larry Walker...and when we retires Toddy Helton, should both be getting into to The Hall without buying a pass like you or I if you know what I mean.

Great stuff....

Jesus Melendez said...

Is Larry Walker going to get better between now and 2011...or do you know something we don't?

In all seriousness, I think Bagwell's numbers and consistency make him Hall-worthy. And while I call Walker "on the bubble"...I DID post your case for him and not mine. Haha.

E said...

Palmeiro will be the litmus test for the steroid class of 2013. If he gets no votes, it doesn't look good for all the suspect players becoming eligible in the next few years.

I suspect that this year, some of the guys that have previously been on the ballot will get in, because it's kinda a stretch to vote a lot of these 2011 guys in first ballot when there's better players already waiting to get in. And the year after...well, when your post tomorrow reads, "IN: NONE," I think that's another good opportunity to play catchup.

Interesting fact about Franco: During his three decade-long career, Franco never once finished in the top five per decade in saves. Rivera, Hoffman, Smith and every other closer already in the Hall did it at least once.

Something to think about.

Brandon said...

Franco's a close call for me; I think saves are a somewhat overrated statistic and the only closers who really deserve the hall, in my mind, are guys like Mariano Rivera who were just absolutely exceptional for a long, long time. John Franco doesn't really fit that bill.

I'd put Bags in, although not as readily as I think some others would.

Kevin Brown is borderline for me. All your other "outs" I agree with 100%.

Larry Walker is out for me. I'm sorry, but the guys road lines (.278/.370/.495 for his career) simply are too far out of line with his home ones (.348/.431/.637.) His career road OPS is .865; at home it was 1.068. I think he was a very good player, who deserves to garner some Hall votes for sure. But when you consider Coors field, which is a realistic concern, he's not really Hall of Fame material. I don't think it would be a travesty if he got in, but I wouldn't vote for him, I don't think.

Gonzalez is tough. When he played he was excellent. His .295/.343/.561 line for his career is fantastic, even though the OBP is a tad low. But his actual numbers (under 2000 hits, 434 homers, 1400 RBI, 1000 runs) leave a lot to be desired. When you factor in the numbers of some of the guys who will be Hall in the near future, Juan Gone's numbers just don't stack up really well. If he had had the longevity of, say, Rafael Palmeiro, he'd be an easy "Yes" vote. But it's hard to get into the hall after doing next to nothing past your 33rd birthday.

Obviously Palmeiro's numbers are Hall worthy. This is simply a moral issue. I don't know how I'd vote, but I'd bet anything that he wont get in right away. He probably will half a dozen years down the line, though.

The last thing I'd like to note is about the Walker/Rice's a damn good one. Rice really was helped by his home park about the same amount that Larry Walker was (Rice's splits: .277/.330/.459 away, .320/.374/.546 home.) That doesn't really change how I feel about Walker though...although it may be a hint about how I feel about Rice :-)

Jesus Melendez said...

If you are going to discredit the longevity of a John Franco...then let's please remove Phil Niekro, Don Sutton, Bert Blyleven and Tommy John from the Hall and any future Hall discussions.

And yes, like the DH...I believe the closer holds a significant role in baseball.

Rusty Shackleford said...

I had no idea that Kevin Brown ever retired. Interesting. I still believe that his numbers were, shall we say, bloated?

I always thought something was up with Rafael. He stunk in Chicago ans was nothing more then a slap hitter. Then he turned into a bulked up power hitter. Natural? I think not.

Anyways, I say....

Larry Walker
Jeff Bagwell

John Franco

That's all.

Johnstone said...

Agree that saves are overrated, but it's hard to ignore Franco's longevity and ERA+.