July 30, 2011

"The Machine" Reaches Another Milestone

Friday night, Albert Pujols was able to cross another milestone off his already lengthy list of career achievements.

With an eighth inning double off the Chicago Cubs Carlos Marmol, the St. Louis Cardinals superstar became the 12th fastest player in Major League history to reach 2000 career hits.

Among the 18 active big leaguers with 2000 hits, the nine-time All-Star and three-time National League MVP is the third-fastest to reach the milestone in terms of the fewest at-bats needed and the fourth fastest in terms of games played.

Pujols also became just the fifth player in Cardinals history to reach the milestone with the club, trailing only Stan Musial (3630), Lou Brock (2713), Rogers Hornsby (2110) and Enos Slaughter (2064).

Brock was the last to do the deed back in 1974.

"It's an honor," Pujols told reporters following the game. "I'm blessed to be in the same name with Stan Musial and the great players in the past. What can I say? It's been a blessing."

What’s next for the 31-year-old?

Assuming “The Machine” can get seven more home runs, 36 RBI and raises his average north of .300 (a tall task given he is currently hitting .274), he’d not only become the only player to have started his career with eleven straight seasons with 30 homers, 100 RBI and a .300 batting average…but he’d also be the only player to have done it in eleven straight seasons.


July 29, 2011

Boy Bands and Mustaches? Sure!

Alright, gang...it's time to embrace your new favorite minor league baseball team.

The Everett AquaSox.

For some reason, four members of the Class A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners decided to not only (A) lip synch to the Backstreet Boys but (B) the uploaded the results to YouTube. 

Sure, it's not pretty...but I stuck with it the entire time.  And I'm not completely sure why.


Now...if the video posted above (and lovingly stolen from Hot Clicks) doesn't get you going (and should it?), feast your eyes on the glory that is the "Name the Sox 'Stache" video posted over at the team's website.

As the story goes...courtesy of The Sun Break.

A few weeks ago, the 2010 AquaSox pitching staff decided to grow mustaches. Slowly but surely the mustaches have crept on to the faces of over a dozen players. Can you match the man to the mustache?

Sure, the video is a year old. And sure, the boys should've cultivated their lower nose gardens a little longer before putting them on the internets for the world to see.

But...you've gotta admire their moxy.


July 28, 2011

Hideki Irabu (1969-2011)

Wow. Is a lead line really all that necessary when it comes to a story like this?

This, from the fine folks over at the Thirty Mile Zone.

Former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead yesterday in his California home and law enforcement sources tell TMZ, it appears he committed suicide by hanging himself.

L.A. County Coroner is still trying to locate next of kin.

Hideki played for the Yankees, Expos, and Rangers, last pitching in the big leagues in 2002. He won World Series rings with the Yanks in 1998 and 1999.

Irabu was 42.

Yikes.

And here's the part where you include the obligatory career re-cap...courtesy of Wikipedia!

Over the course of six MLB seasons, Irabu's career totals are 126 games, 514 innings, 34 wins, 35 losses, 16 saves, 405 strikeouts, and a 5.15 ERA. His Japanese totals for eleven seasons are 273 games, 1,286 1/3 innings, 72 wins, 69 losses, 11 saves, 1,282 strikeouts, and a 3.55 ERA.

Thankfully, the memory of Irabu will live on through re-runs of "Seinfeld".



July 26, 2011

Dave Parker Talks Hall of Fame

This time of year, you hear plenty of talk about who should be in the Hall of Fame and who shouldn't.

So when I heard from a buddy of mine that he was going to see Dave Parker make an appearance in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I knew immediately that if "The Cobra" talked to the media...he'd make his opinion on his Hall of Fame credentials known to whoever would listen.

Thankfully, Reggie Hayes from The News-Sentinel was there and, thankfully, Parker did not disappoint.

Here are some highlights from what baseball's first million dollar player had to say.

"I figure I was the most dominant player through my era.  I'm not in the Hall of Fame, but all the Hall of Famers know what I brought to the table. My numbers are as good as most Hall of Famers who went in over the last five or six years. I just hope I get in while I'm vertical.”

“It couldn't be because I was unquotable. It couldn't be because of the numbers, because my numbers are there. It's political, for whatever reason.”

“I was one of the most quotable guys in baseball.  'When the leaves turn brown, I'll be wearing the batting crown.'"

Nicely done, Cobra.

I said it before and I'll say it again...if baseball had a "Badass Hall of Fame”, Dave Parker would have made it in long ago.

First ballot.

His toothy grin would surely be up on that stage praising Willie Stargell and condemning Marge Schott. Sitting behind him in whatever the “Badass Hall of Fame” requires inductees to wear (I imagine a blazer and a fedora…perhaps accented with a cane) would be such luminaries as Dick Allen and Albert Belle.

A seven-time All-Star, the 1978 National League MVP collected 2712 hits, hit 339 home runs and knocked in 1493 runs during his career. But, unfortunately, this past Hall of Fame voting cycle was the last for Parker.

So, until that “Badass Hall of Fame” gets built…we’ll have to just wonder what the career .290 hitter would have had in store for us when he gave his speech. But does he lose points for pitching 7-Up?


Eric Wedge Kills Angels

Was it worth it?  Really...was it?

In the midst of a franchise worst losing streak, Seattle Mariners skipper did the unthinkable this past weekend. He decided to shed that beautiful lip sweater.

I'd like to go on...but I've got to go cry myself to sleep. Here's what the boys at Larry Brown Sports had to say:

We’ve seen players go to crazy lengths to try and break slumps, so it’s not as if this is something new. We’ve seen them wear thongs, practice voodoo and even shave their entire body in attempts to turn things around, and most of the time it works. For Wedge sadly, it didn’t.

The Mariners manager explained his decision to chop off the ‘stache, saying “Drastic measures I guess. I just wanted to get the reaction out there that I’ve been getting from everybody and hopefully lighten them up a little bit.”

Oh, and in case you were wondering how the Mariners have done since baseball's Ron Swanson shaved his 'stache...they're winless and have lost their last sixteen contests.

"This is a crime against nature that shall not be tolerated by the American Mustache Institute (AMI) nor the Mustached American community we represent," AMI's Chief Executive Officer Abraham Froman said Tuesday morning.

And if my colleagues with the AMI have taught me anything it is this..."when you shave a mustache, an angel in heaven dies and falls to earth".

Angel blood is on your hands, Wedge.  The.  Blood.  Is.  On...forgot about it.

You kill angels, dude.


July 25, 2011

This Week in Baseball Cards: July 25

The Hall of Very Good was awash with Hall of Fame talk this past week.  Fittingly...it also appeared as if an Old Timers Game broke out.
Here's Bo Rosny with this week's installment of "This Week in Baseball Cards".

This week The Hall discussed the chances of various former Major Leaguers entering that other Hall. One controversial suggestion is Julio Franco, who we called “our generation’s Satchel Paige". Here’s Franco in his younger days, with a rookie card from 1984 Topps.


Franco was not the only rookie in that Topps set, and another player with a 1984 rookie card must have read our piece on the potential Class of 2013 and decided that he wanted to take the crown as the 21-century Leroy Robert Paige. 52-year old Tony Phillips is making a comeback, as we reported on Tuesday, with Jose Canseco’s Yuma Scorpions.


Finally, I wanted to show another card of this guy, but apparently there’s now some kind of filter for those whose eyes can’t handle this player’s brilliance. Fine, here’s a card of D**** J****. Hope I didn’t hurt your eyes.


Remember, you can check out Bo's daily insights over at his site...Baseball Cards Come to Life.


Behind-the-Scenes with C.J. Wilson

During the All-Star Game festivities of a few weeks ago, you saw a bunch of players and their buddies documenting the events.

But, I'd wager, a majority of those videos are going to show the Home Run Derby and, possibly, the game itself.

That's where friend of The Hall (and no stranger to the camera), Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson comes in.

You see, the lefty (and his crew) decided to let the camera roll off the field. And what we're left with, is, well...you can see for yourself.

Oh, and that part where Wilson is happy that now he might get a chance to bat in the World Series? Suffice it to say, it reminds me of the time when The Hall interviewed the All-Star two summers ago.

HOVG: Alright, I had to get that out of the way. It seems every interview with you online talks about three things…you being a technology nut, Tommy John surgery and being a “free spirt”. I’d like to try and take it a different direction…if at all possible. In your first game, you give up a single to the only batter you faced…then in the next inning, you get lifted for a pinch hitter. You’re down 12-5…why not let you hit?!? You were quite the hitter in college, right?

CJ: Why not let me hit? It's a puzzling question that I still am upset about five seasons later.

HOVG: Would you ever petition (Rangers manager) Ron Washington to let you hit in some ballgames or, as a reliever, is that a moot point?

CJ: I'm a decent hitter, but realistically, (I won’t hit) until I'm a starter or a National Leaguer. American League closers don't get a lot of at bats, so I'm just going to take my batting practice homers and call it what it is...unfortunate.

Enjoy!


July 24, 2011

It's Official! Alomar, Blyleven and Gillick Get Inducted

"Only the top one percent makes the Hall of Fame."
National Basball Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark

From Yogi Berra to Rickey Henderson, Sandy Koufax to Tony Gwynn…all the game’s greats were there.

In fact, 47 of the 65 living Hall of Famers were in attendance Sunday to watch Cooperstown’s Class of 2011 get inducted and true to form, the ceremony did not disappoint.

"My time in Toronto was the best of my career," baseball’s newest Hall of Famer, second baseman Roberto Alomar told the Blue Jays fans in the crowd.  "You embraced me from day one, you worked with me throughout my ups and downs, and I am so proud to represent you as the first Toronto Blue Jay inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame."

In 2010, Alomar missed induction by just eight votes. His 73.7% of the vote was the highest percentage of votes in any player's first year on the ballot without being elected.

A year later, he would receive 90% of the vote.

Alomar finished his big league career with more Gold Gloves (ten) than any other second baseman out there, a .300 batting average, 2724 hits and two World Series rings.

He is the third Puerto Rican in the Hall of Fame, after Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda.

Fellow inductee Bert Blyleven’s road to the Hall of Fame was a little bumpier than Alomar’s. It took the former pitcher 14 tries to get in.

In 1999, the hurler’s second year on the ballot, he mustered only 14.1% of the vote…a far cry from the 79.7% he received this past January.

It’s been a great couple of weeks for the former pitcher. During a recent game, the Minnesota Twins retired Blyleven’s number.

For his career, he amassed 287 wins, 3701 strikeouts (good for fifth all-time), an equally impressive 60 shutouts and a 3.31 ERA. Not too shabby for 22 big league seasons.

And while much of the day’s attention was focused on Alomar, Blyleven and one of the game’s finest general managers, Pat Gillick, there was a tribute to those Hall of Famers who have passed since last year’s induction…Bob Feller, Sparky Anderson, Duke Snider, Harmon Killebrew and Dick Williams.

"I don't even feel like being here," Hall of Famer Johnny Bench said of his missing colleagues. "I'm doing it for Bert and Roberto. It's just the worst year ever.”

Also noticeably absent was 2003 inductee Gary Carter who could not make it to Cooperstown because he is in Florida battling glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.

But that didn’t stop him from reaching out to Blyleven on the eve of the pitcher’s big day.

"He apologized because he couldn't be here," Blyleven told The New York Post. "It was pretty touching."

So, with the 2011 induction now in the books…is it time to start looking ahead to next year’s induction ceremony?

With no shoe-ins among the first ballot guys, will 12-time All-Star Barry Larkin make his way in? Will we see anyone at the podium?

Only time will tell.

But until then, let’s not be so quick to push Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick off the Clark Sports Center stage. It’s still 2011. It’s still their year to shine.


July 23, 2011

Countdown to Cooperstown: Class of 2016 (so far)

The three years prior to the 2016 induction could, based on the "who's in" and "who's out" arguments, be some of the most explosive years the Baseball Hall of Fame has ever seen.

Thankfully, the first ballot guys of the potential Class of 2016 might bring it all back down to Earth.

However it all shakes out, 2016 also looks to be the third year in a row that someone could argue a unanimous selection. And while no one will ever get 100% of the vote...it is hard to believe that anyone would not vote for the two pitchers mentioned or Ken Griffey Jr.

IN.

Ken Griffey Jr.
When Griffey finally gets into the Hall of Fame, it'll be the final step of an epic journey that started on Opening Day 1989.  But what can be said about Junior that you don't already know?  630 career home runs, 1836 RBI and 2781 hits pretty much make him a shoe-in.  And if that isn't good enough...how about ten Gold Gloves, 13 All-Star Game appearances and that 1997 American League MVP award?  Yeah...thought so.

Trevor Hoffman.
Hoffman is a tricky one.  If he was on the ballot this year, he'd make it in based on the fact that he is the all-time saves leader and the only closer in the history of the game with more than 600 saves.  Five years from now, however, he'll be second to Mariano Rivera.  Now, the Hall of Fame has been unkind to some other closers (Lee Smith anyone?)...but I have a feeling that Hoffman and his 601 saves eventually make their way to Cooperstown.

OUT (in random order).

Garret Anderson.

The Angels' franchise leader in just about every offensive category, Anderson quietly put together one of the better careers of the last 20 years.  That said, there's no way dude gets into the Hall of Fame.  Simply put, while his .293 batting average, 2529 career hits and 522 doubles are the mark of a great career...there are too many others that fared much better.

Mike Hampton, Bobby Howry, Randy Winn, Troy Glaus, Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell, Brad Ausmus, Mark Grudzielanek and Mike Sweeney.

ON THE BUBBLE.

Andy Pettitte.
Alright, how soon until people completely forget Pettitte's admission to using steroids?  I only ask because while some of his contemporaries while be left out in the Cooperstown cold, there are plenty of people out there that believe the five-time World Series champ has done enough to be enshrined.  What do I think?  I love the rings, his post season prowess and his 240-138 career record...but the 3.88 ERA and only 2251 isn't impressing me.

Billy Wagner.
It's quite possible that after Mariano Rivera surpasses Trevor Hoffman as the all-time saves leader, the career of Wagner will begin to come into focus.  Right now, he sits fifth all-time in saves (with 422) and carries with him a 2.31 career ERA...half a run better than Hoffman.  And while I'm saying Hoffman is "IN" and Wagner is "On the Bubble"...I'm not so sure that Wagner doesn't get in first.  We'll see.

Jim Edmonds.
"Jimmy Baseball" is one of those players that if, in 2016, he got 50% or 5% I wouldn't be surprised.  His numbers, while pretty good, aren't great.  But then again...you can plenty worse than his eight Gold Gloves and 393 home runs. 


So there you have it, gang...your week-long look ahead at the next five years of first ballot-eligible Hall of Famers comes to a close.  In case you missed any of them, check them out.

Monday:  2012
Tuesday:  2013
Wednesday:  2014
Thursday:  2015


 

July 22, 2011

"Le Capitaine Expo: The First Steve Rogers"

When I first saw the preview for the movie "Captain America: The First Avenger"...I knew I needed to see it and I had three reasons why.

One...the obvious. I dig the character and it looks fantastic.

Two..."The First Avenger" shares a name with one of my favorite mustachioed hurlers of the 80s.  And let's be honest, anytime you can reminisce about the Montreal Expos...you win.

And, lastly, a certain friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) used to use the name "Steve Rogers" when out at the strip club. And no, not because of the comic book hero...but, rather, as a shout out to the pitcher.

Confused yet?

Thankfully, Michael Clair from one of my favorite sites (Old Time Family Baseball) broke down the differences (and similarities) of the two men named Steve Rogers.

Steve Rogers was a 4-F civilian who hated the Nazis so much that he was willing to became a human subject for the Super Soldier Serum, eventually transforming into Captain America.

Steve Rogers is also a man from Jackson City, Missouri, who, ironically, played his entire career with the Montreal Expos of Not-America. He is also the only Steve Rogers to ever grace a Major League box score.

Despite twice leading the league in losses, 1974 and 1976, and upsetting his manager, Dick Williams, for not being a big game pitcher, Rogers actually had a pretty spectacular career. In 13 seasons, the longest tenure for any player who spent their entire career with "les Expos", Rogers won 158 games while posting a 3.17 ERA, good enough for a career ERA+ of 116.

Unfortunately, it’s his lone postseason relief appearance that is Rogers’ legacy. Just as Captain America must continuously relive Bucky’s fiery death atop a rocket, so too must the baseball playing version have his own rocket related memory.

With the score tied at one in the 1981 NLCS, Rogers was brought on to pitch the top of the ninth inning. With two outs, Rick Monday stepped to the plate. On a 3-1 pitch, Monday took Rogers’ offering and blasted the ball over the fence, ending the Expos season.

Is Rick Monday an anagram for Captain America’s arch nemesis, the Red Skull? No, it’s not.

But their first names both begin with R’s. Coincidence?

You decide.

Please, head over to Clair's site and read the entire piece...it's pretty special.


And in case you were wondering...I hit the midnight screening of "Captain America: The First Avenger" and I really, really dug it.  The only issue I had...not enough Warren Cromartie.

Sorry...confusing my Rogers again.


More on The Jeter Filter

Remember a couple of weeks ago after Derek Jeter became just the 28th member of baseball’s 3000 hit club I introduced you to the “Jeter Filter”?

Well, as it turns out, the thing is now blowing up.

Thursday, Kevin Kaduk mentioned Rob Spectre’s pet project over at Yahoo’s Big League Stew and later in the day…Jim Rome himself dropped the 4-1-1 (watch the clip below) on how you can rid yourself of those pesky Jeter headlines.

“If you told me in high school I'd eventually do something that ended up on ESPN,” Spectre responded to the news via Facebook. “I'd call you a liar.”

Now, I’m not saying the discovered this thing (honestly, I saw Jimmy Traina tweet about it first)…but, man, I do feel good for my boy Rob.

And in case you’re not up to speed on what exactly the “Jeter Filter” is…here’s the skinny.

Jeter Filter quickly and carefully scours the Internet for signs of Derek Jeter and removes him while you browse, making Jeter disappear...right before your very eyes.

Get a visual notification when Derek Jeter might be on the webpage you are viewing. If the Jeter Filter's search patterns are tripped, your address bar gets a subtle warning icon, serving as a cue you should navigate away immediately.

Job. Well. Done.


***The Jeter illustration used in this post was lifted from Big League Stew. Don't hate.***

Friday 5: Jeff Idelson

Two days from now, tens of thousands of people will converge on the county seat of Otsego County, New York to celebrate the induction of Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven and Pat Gillick to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The man behind the scenes is Jeff Idelson...a former Fenway Park vendor who worked his way up the ladder to become the New York Yankees director of media relations and publicity. In 2008, Idelson was named president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum after spending time as both the director of public relations and promotions and vice president of communications and education for the organization.

I recently had a chance to catch up with Idelson...here's that exchange.

HOVG: What's the typical day like for the Hall of Fame president?

IDELSON: There's nothing typical about my day which is why I love my job so much. I spend my time helping to run our great museum in Cooperstown, overseeing a staff of about 100, staying in touch with our 67 Hall of Famers, helping build strategic business to business relationships, fund raising, traveling, giving speeches and most importantly, following our great National Pastime.

HOVG:
There has to be a few of these...but what has been your favorite (or most memorable) "I can't believe I get to wake up and do this every day" moment?

IDELSON: There are many of these. Hall of Fame Weekend, when we present the plaques to our new inductees, and announcing the election results on MLB Network, are two of those moments.

HOVG: If you can answer this one...who are four or five guys that aren't in now that you'd like to see enshrined in your lifetime?

IDELSON: That's a tough question, as there are so many great players out there today. Some of the great moments for me was watching players I actually worked with earning election. Guys like Wade Boggs, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderon, Jim Rice. Those were special moments for me.

HOVG: Is it possible for you to put together a Hall of Fame Mt. Rushmore? This could be the four guys who best represent the Hall or your four personal favorites.

IDELSON: Hmmm. You think of some of the salient players in history, the game changers, and Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente and Cal Ripken Jr. come to mind. They represent equality, star power, diversity and durability.

HOVG: Who are you more excited to hear...Bert Blyleven or Roberto Alomar?

IDELSON: I am excited to hear them both, as well as Pat Gillick. I know all three will give really good speeches. Bert will surely talk about the land of opportunity, coming over from Holland, Roberto will talk about being from a baseball family, and Pat can speak to so many topics. Sunday will be a day of great speeches, for sure.

HOVG: Lastly...what would be your tips for someone planning their first visit to the Hall of Fame?

IDELSON: If you like Norman Rockwell meets Baseball Mecca, you are in for a treat. We are a small town of 2,000 that represents all that's great about baseball. The museum is a 50,000 square foot step back in time to your childhood, and the Hall of Fame Gallery is the centerpiece. If you like the game, allow most of a day. If you adore the game, bring a sleeping bag. You're in for a treat.

Make sure you watch for Jeff Idelson Sunday during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony...he'll be the one grinning ear-to-ear living out every one of our dreams.  And if you aren't following the "Hall Prez" on Twitter yet...why not?  He's easy to find...he's @HallofFamePrez.


July 21, 2011

Hideki Matsui Hits 500th Home Run

It's one of those "blink and you missed it" sort of achievements...but with a sixth inning home run Wednesday night against the Detroit Tigers, Hideki Matsui did something that no one else has ever done.

You see, the Oakland A's designated hitter became the first slugger to hit a combined 500 home runs in both Japan and here in the States.

25 Major Leaguers and eight Japanese ballplayers have reached the 500 mark. But for some reason...Matsui wasn't all that impressed with what he pulled off.

"It isn't like I've been aiming for this, because I don't really combine numbers from Japan and herem" the slugger told reporters after the game. "To me, they are two separate leagues."

Whatever. It's still wicked cool.

Oh...if you're keeping track, Matsui's blast (his seventh of this season) was number 168 of his Major League career. He hit 332 for the Yomiuri Giants.


Countdown to Cooperstown: Class of 2015

What's interesting about the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is the same as the Classes of 2013 and 2014...there are some definite shoe-ins.

Truth is, I don't know if the Hall of Fame has had back-to-back-to-back years with so many quality, legitimate first ballot candidates.  Honestly, I can't wait until the Class of 2012 gets enshrined a year from now so we can start talking about the circus atmosphere that will encompass the years that follow. 

IN.

Randy Johnson.

With five Cy Young Awards, a no-hitter and a perfect game...Johnson is pretty much as safe a lock to end up in Cooperstown as anyone who ever toed the rubber. Add in 303 wins, 4875 strikeouts, a World Series ring and ten All-Star appearances and yeah...it'll be interesting to see what knuckleheads don't believe he is worthy of going in on the first ballot.


Pedro Martinez.
Not that long ago, Martinez finally announced that he was officially retired.  Of course, by not playing in 2010...he is Hall-eligible a year earlier than some of the others that recently hung it up.  In or out?  Pedro has a  career .687 winning percentage, sub-3.00 ERA, three Cy Young Awards and is a Boston legend.


John Smoltz is a tricky one. At first glance, he doesn't look like he has the numbers to make it to the Hall of Fame. That said, when you look deeper...he's a pretty special player. In 2002 he became only the second pitcher (Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley is the other) to have had both a 20-win season and a 50-save season. The 1996 National League Cy Young award winner is also the only pitcher in major league history to top both 200 wins and 150 saves. Oh yeah, he also is just the 16th pitcher to surpass 3000 Ks for his career.


It is amazing to me how polarizing Gary Sheffield is. Me? I love the dude...and what's not to like? A career .292 batting average, 509 home runs and close to 2700 hits...the man is a hitting machine and performed at just about every stop during his 22-year career.


OUT (in random order).

Nomar Garciaparra.
Alright, reality check time. One of my favorite players of all-time is Nomar Garciaparra, so naturally...one would think that I would automatically pencil him in for a 2015 enshrinement. Unfortunately, his career numbers just aren't good enough. He started his career alongside Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter and, arguably, overshadowed them at first. However, injuries plagued the Whittier, California native, whereas the other two are legends.


Troy Percival.
It's pretty safe to say that I have a soft spot for closers. Just days ago, I said that John Franco is a Hall of Famer and took massive heat for it. For years, I've been trumpeting the efforts of Lee Smith. That said, I can't get behind Percival. His 358 saves (good for eighth all-time) is spectacular, but the dude never led the league and can't really hold a candle to some of his contemporaries.

Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Paul Byrd, Tony Clark, Jermaine Dye, Alan Embree, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar, Cliff Floyd, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Mark Loretta, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, B.J. Ryan, Jason Schmidt, Julian Tavarez, Jarrod Washburn and David Weathers

ON THE BUBBLE.

Carlos Delgado.
Delgado attempted a comeback late last year, but since he never made it back to bigs...here he sits as a first ballot guy in 2015.  Sitting 27 home runs shy of 500 for his career, with more than 2000 hits and 1500 RBI, Delgado is not that far from becoming the first player enshrined as a Blue Jay.

Missed any of the other re-hashes from this week?  Be sure to check out 2012, 2013 and 2014 because, tomorrow, your first look at 2016 hits the interwebs.

July 20, 2011

Countdown to Cooperstown: Class of 2014

So, let's re-cap.

I think we can all agree that no first ballot guys are going into The Hall of Fame a year from now and the cat with the best shot of being enshrined is Barry Larkin.

Then, in 2013, either the biggest class of first ballot guys gets in...or the biggest crop of first ballot guys gets snubbed.

Either way, 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!

Frank Thomas.
"The Big Hurt” 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 would 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.
Since it has been close to 17 years since “The Gambler” tossed his perfect game (July 28, 1994), 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. Dude finished up with 354 home runs, 2591 hits and 1439 RBI.  There are only four players that are Hall-eligible (Rafael Palmeiro, Harold Baines, Fred McGriff and Jeff Bagwell) that have more RBI and have 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.

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.

You can check out re-hashes of the first-timers on the 2012 and 2013 ballots.  Tomorrow brings you 015 and Friday...your first look at 2016.