December 2, 2010
Breaking Down the 2011 Hall of Fame Ballot
All in all, there are 33 candidates (up from 26 last year)...19 newcomers and 14 holdovers. And while there are no shoe-ins...there are definitely some great storylines.
Last year, pitcher Bert Blyleven came five votes shy of induction. In this, his second-to-last time on the ballot, the Dutchman is looking to grow his 74.2% to the 75% necessary.
Also coming just short last year was Roberto Alomar. Along with Blyleven, he was one of two candidates that came within ten votes shy. With 397 votes (405 were needed), the second baseman received the most votes of any first-year candidate without being elected.
Two other players were named on more than half the ballots...pitcher Jack Morris (52.3%) and shortstop Barry Larkin (51.6%)
Other notable holdovers...Lee Smith (47.3%), Edgar Martinez (36.2%), Tim Raines (30.4%), Mark McGwire (23.7%), Alan Trammell (22.4%), Fred McGriff (21.5%), Don Mattingly (16.1%), Dale Murphy (11.7%) and Harold Baines (6.1%).
Dave Parker, who received 15.2% a year ago, will be appearing on his 15th and final ballot.
The most notable newcomer to this year's ballot is also, arguably, the most accomplished...Rafael Palmeiro.
Of course, the fact that Palmeiro is only one of four players with more than 3000 hits and 500 home runs (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray are the others) is overshadowed by that pesky steroid suspension that was handed down in August 2005.
While his 1835 RBI is spectacular and his 5,388 total bases rank him tenth all-time, 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.
Another player under the "did he" or "didn't he" cloud of suspicion is two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez. With a lifetime .295 batting average, 434 home runs and 1404 RBI...he would fit in well in Cooperstown. The fact that it is unknown if he was clean or not will make him lucky to see his name pop up on a quarter of the ballots.
A guy that stands to get a bunch of love is Astros legend Jeff Bagwell. "Bagpipes" played the game right compiling 449 home runs, 1517 runs scored, 1529 RBI and a .297 batting average before calling it quits in 2005.
Seven-time Gold Glove winner Larry Walker is also on the ballot for the first time. With a career .313 batting average, 383 home runs and 1311 RBI, the 1997 National League MVP is looking to become only the second Canadian-born player in the Hall of Fame.
Reliever John 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 Lee Smith. But until Smith gets the call...Franco won't get anywhere near Cooperstown.
Also on the ballot for the first time...Carlos Baerga, Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, Marquis Grissom, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, 1994 National League Rookie of the Year Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Kirk Reuter, 1987 National League Rookie of the Year Benito Santiago, and B.J. Surhoff.
Players receiving votes on 75 percent of the ballots will garner an invite to the enshrinement ceremony July 24th in Cooperstown. Results of the vote will be announced January 5th and each day until then, The Hall of Very Good will be breaking now one of the 33 candidates.
Alright, so let's jump back to the beginning...there are no shoe-ins this year, but Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar look to be the two guys with the best chance of enshrinement. Rafael Palmeiro would have been looking at being named on nine out of ten ballots if not for the failed steroid test. But unfortuantely, he won't be seeing the inside walls of the Hall of Fame without first buying a ticket.
So who do you think will make it this year? Let your voice be heard in the comments section!