July 22, 2010

The Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Provided the BBWAA is still sticking to their guns and not voting in players who have been linked to steroids, the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 looks to be one of most heralded classes ever.

Not since 2001, has Cooperstown welcomed three or more first-timers through its doors. 2014 could (and should) add four.

IN.

Greg Maddux.
What can be said about Maddux that everyone doesn’t already know? 355 wins compared to 227 losses, a career 3.16 ERA and 3371 strikeouts. Add to that four straight Cy Young Awards, 18 straight Gold Gloves, eight All-Star Games, having his number retired by two teams…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

"The Big Hurt” finally hung up his spikes with a career batting average of .301, 521 home runs, 1704 RBI and close to 2500 base hits. Did you know…the two-time American League MVP is the only player in baseball history to have seven consecutive seasons of a .300 average, 100 runs, 100 RBI, 20 home runs and at least 100 walks? Yup, the guy was Albert Pujols before Albert Pujols was.


Tom Glavine.
Only in a year where Greg Maddux is up for induction will Glavine be the second-best pitcher on the ballot. With a 305-203 record...dude is easily one of the best lefties over the last 25 years. Five years with 20-plus wins and two Cy Young Awards (four other seasons in the top five voting) stack up nicely alongside his ten All-Star appearances and one World Series ring. Not bad for a guy who, alledgedly, is a far better hockey player than a baseball player.


Jeff Kent.
Kent and his lip curtain have a long road ahead of them. Is his legendary prickliness toward the media enough to keep him on the bubble…or do his numbers as one of the best second basemen ever win out? The 2000 National League MVP amassed 2461 hits, 377 home runs and a .290 batting average. Four times a Silver Slugger, five times an All-Star and for six years…playing in that long shadow of Barry Bonds. I put him in, not because of the womb broom…but because he is just THAT much better than Ryne Sandberg and Joe Morgan.

OUT (in random order).

Kenny Rogers.
“The Gambler” tossed his perfect game 15 years ago NEXT Tuesday (July 28, 1994), so it is only appropriate he gets brought up as a 2014 Hall candidate. Unfortunately, he’s going to be watching from home like the rest of us. The guy was a wizard on the bump…five Gold Gloves, 219 wins and close to 2000 strikeouts, but what is most impressive is that he is the all-time leader in pickoffs with 93.

Moises Alou.
Alou had a much better career than a lot of people realize, but just because he is underrated...he doesn’t deserve a plaque in Cooperstown. Over his 17 year career, Alou boasted a .303 career batting average, just under 2200 career hits and 332 home runs. Considering he finally got his crack at the bigs at age 25…it’s hard to imagine what kind of numbers he would have had if he broke in five years prior.

Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Jose Cruz Jr., Ray Durham, Damion Easley, Keith Foulke, Eric Gagne, Scott Hatteberg, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Jon Lieber, Esteban Loaiza, Paul Lo Duca, Matt Morris, Trot Nixon, Jay Payton, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Shannon Stewart, Mike Timlin, Steve Trachsel and Jose Vidro.

ON THE BUBBLE.

Mike Mussina.
To me, “Moose” is an interesting case. On paper, you see a HUGE winning percentage (.638), a brilliant 270 and 153 record and 2813 Ks. His career ERA is 3.68 and one could argue that had he not toiled for more than half of his career in Baltimore…he would be as much of a Hall candidate as Tom Glavine. However, Glavine had five seasons with more than 20 wins. Mussina, while he’s hit double digits in wins seventeen straight years, only his 20 once. The Cy Young award has eluded Mussina as well. Unfortunately, six top five finishes and no hardware doesn’t make for the best Hall of Fame case.

Luis Gonzalez.
In 2001, “Gonzo” hit .325 with 57 home runs and 142 RBI and led the Diamondbacks to a World Series title. Still serviceable last season at 41, Gonzalez was an every day player for the Marlins and is still looking for work. With 354 home runs, it isn’t likely that Gonzalez will get to 400. That being said, he is nine hits from 2600 and 61 RBI from 1500. Only one player that is Hall eligible (Harold Baines) has more than 1500 RBI and has yet to be enshrined in Cooperstown. There are no Hall eligible players with more doubles than “Gonzo” that have yet to get called to the Hall. If he never plays again…Gonzalez is a tough call.

Hideo Nomo.
Ask anyone what they think of Nomo and his Hall chances and they’ll likely laugh in your face. However, he is the guy who is credited with paving the way for Japanese players to make their way to the Majors. After a brief, yet successful, career in Japan, Nomo hit the states and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 1995. He’s the only Japanese player to have thrown a no-hitter (he threw two…one in each league) and finished his abbreviated MLB career with four seasons with more than 200 strikeouts and a 123-109 record. But…without Nomo, there would be no Ichiro. Let’s not forget how he took the league by storm in 1995 and made it okay for Major League teams to take a chance on Asian players.

So there you have it...the re-hashes. Tomorrow brings a fresh look at the Class of 2015.

Monday: 2011
Tuesday: 2012
Wednesday: 2013


BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

Dean Hybl said...

I made a similar comment about Curt Schilling to what I will say about Mike Mussina.

Given the amazing reduction in offensive production and return to prominence of so many starting pitchers (back to numbers from 1992 and before) in the last couple years, in my opinion, that makes the performances of Mussina, Schilling, Smoltz, Wells and others who all pitched primarily during the steroid era and are "on the bubble" all the more credible and certainly worthy of great consideration if not HOF induction.

Specifically for Mussina, he won 270 games pitching in the toughest division in baseball and the division with likely more steroid users than any other. If he had pitched in the NL, with no DH and fewer steroid users (at least a few less than the AL), he certainly would have won as many games as Glavine if not more.

His ERA in 1992, generally considered to be right before the start of the steroid era was 2.54. So, imagine what he might have done if the steroid era had never occurred.

As for Mussina winning 20 games only once. He was 16-5 when the strike hit in 1994 and 19-9 despite missing starts due to the strike in 1995. Don Sutton won 20 games only once and is in the HOF. Mussina was a very steady pitcher and considering the era, his 3.68 ERA is actually not all that bad.