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January 5, 2012

The Hall of Fame Class of the Numbers

After missing Hall of Fame induction by a combined 13 votes in 2010, Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven got the numbers they needed a year later to get enshrined in 2011.

And I think we can all agree...whether you’re a metrics guy, a black/gray ink guy or something else, it’s the numbers that make you a fan.

4192 hits, 56 games and 61* (or for that matter 70...maybe 73?) home runs 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.

Actress Holly Hunter brought home the Academy Award for her 1993 role as a mute pianist in "The Piano".  Coincidentally, just a few weeks before its US release, Hunter's cousin, then-California Angels outfielder Tim Salmon was name the American League Rookie of the Year.

Closer Lee Smith's 478 career saves is third all-time behind only Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman and the most of any closer not in Cooperstown.  By comparison, Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley  and Rollie Fingers have 390 and 341 saves respectively.  Lastly, the big righty held the Major League record from 1993 to 2006. 

In 1989, Brian Jordan was selected in the seventh round (173rd overall) of the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.  While he never made it to the pros with the Bills, he did play three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, playing in alongside fellow two-sports star Deion Sanders.  In 36 games, Jordan collected five interceptions, four sacks and two safeties.

My favorite era of baseball is the 1980s and for that reason...Jack Morris' 162 wins in that decade is pretty impressive. Morris went 162-119 (good for a .577 winning percentage) and exhibited his amazing consistency by finishing in the top ten of the Cy Young Award voting in half of the decade’s contests.

In 1998, Juan Gonzalez reached 101 RBI mark before the All-Star break.  With that feat, the eventual American League MVP became the first player (and still most recent) to do so since Hank Greenberg in 1935.  In April 1998, "Juan Gone" drove in 35 runs...a Major League record for the month that still stands.

As if four World Series wins with the New York Yankees isn't impressive enough...Bernie Williams is also the career leader in postseason RBI with 80.  Tops among active players?  Williams' former  teammate Derek Jeter with 59.

Say what you want about Jack Morris (and many people do), you can't question his consistency and durability.  And while they are the reason to induct someone, Morris was the epitome of a pitching "Iron Horse". Matter of fact, this innings hog (he had eleven seasons of more than 235 innings pitched) holds the record for most consecutive opening day starts with 14.

The Silver Slugger Award is one of those awards that, while probably pretty cool to receive, has to be the baseball equivalent of a "Hallmark Holiday".  Sure, it's not a major award, but only three players (Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza and Alex Rodriguez) have taken home more trophies than Barry Larkin.  With nine to his credit, the former shortstop has more than anyone else at his position.

An accomplished jazz guitarist, former outfielder Bernie Williams has also released two studio albums.  His second effort ("Moving Forward") made it on to five different Billboard charts...peaking at number two on the Contemporary Jazz charts.  At the 2009 Latin Grammy Awards, it was even nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album.

And lastly, I couldn’t end this without feeding my SABRmetric friends at least one stat. While Tony Womack's career WAR of 1.2 is pitiful, it is nowhere near Lenny Harris’ -0.9 from last year...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 2012 to become official!

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