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January 5, 2011

The Hall of Fame Class of the Numbers

After a marathon Hall of Fame Eve live chat last night…I think one thing everybody can agree on is that baseball really is a game about numbers.

Whether you’re a metrics guy, a black/gray ink guy or something else…it’s the numbers that make you a fan.

56 games, 61* home runs (or 70 for that matter) and 4192 hits all mean something to someone.  And while we wait to see who going to get enshrined in Cooperstown next…here are some more numbers to play with.

Much is made of Bert Blyleven’s other stats (and the “zealots” out there know what I am talking about), but to me…his 3701 strikeouts is the most impressive. How impressive? Only two players (Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton) had more when Blyleven retired…and I think they’re both household names.

With 2866 career hits, Harold Baines has the most of any Hall-eligible player (not named Rafael Palmeiro…more on him later) not in the Hall of Fame. In his fifth year on the ballot, Baines is looking to improve upon the 6.1% of the vote he got last year.

All that was needed to get past the doors of the Hall of Fame last year was 405 votes. Andre Dawson made it in with 420. Bert Blyleven (400 votes) and Roberto Alomar (397) fell a combined 13 votes short…the closest any two players have gotten to getting in in the same year and didn’t.

Last year, Bert Blyleven (74.21%) and Roberto Alomar (73.65%) became the 22nd and 23rd players to receive more than 70% of the vote and not gotten into the Hall of Fame. That said, all 21 previous cats that cleared the barrier ended up making it in.

Of all the Hall of Famers enshrined…only 47 of them spent their entire big league careers playing for just one team. This year, Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell and Edgar Martinez look to add to that total. Larkin spent his career at shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, Bagwell (after being traded by the Boston Red Sox while in the minors) suited up in the Majors only for the Houston Astros and Martinez made a name for himself with the Seattle Mariners.

Much has been made about this being Bert Blyleven’s 14th time on the Hall of Fame ballot. Should he make it in this year, he’ll be only the third player (Rabbit Maranville and Bill Terry are the other two) that made it in on lucky number 14.

The slick fielding Roberto Alomar brought home ten Gold Gloves in an eleven year span (1991-2001)…the most of any second baseman in history. Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is next on the all-time list with eight.

After emphatically shaking his finger at Congress in March 2005, Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for using anabolic steroids in August of the same year. What resulted was a ten day suspension and, more than likely, a one way ticket out of the Hall of Fame.

Only six BBWAA Hall of Fame electees have been born outside of the United States...two others got in courtesy of the Veterans Committee. This year, the ballot of 33 consists of eight foreign born players including Hall of Fame frontrunners Bert Blyleven (Netherlands) and Roberto Alomar (Puerto Rico).

And lastly, I couldn’t leave without feeding my SABRmetric friends (do I have any?) at least one stat. Lenny Harris’ WAR of -0.9 is the worst by anyone on the Hall of Fame ballot since 1985 when Jesus Alou bested (worsted?) everyone with a ballot low -2.3.

So there you have it, gang…your Hall of Fame election by the numbers. Now sit back, relax and wait for the Class of 2011 to become official!

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