Friday, January 6, 2017

Hall of Fame 2017

This is my ballot, should I have one, for this year's Hall of Fame vote. In order, top down.

A voter is allowed to vote for as many as ten players, but I struggled to reach that number. Ans as you read my reasoning, I could lose one from this list pretty easily.

So, here you go:

Vladimir Guerrero...was one of my favorite players to watch. You never knew what he was capable of. Be it a single to right on a pitch that bounced to the plate, hit a moon shot to the upper deck, or throw a runner out trying to take third with a throw from the howitzer of an arm, Vlad was truly a five tool player.

While being known for his defense (his arm, mainly, he never did win a Gold Glove Award.

He eclipsed the 300/400/500 plateau four times.

He was the third player (Willie Mays and Larry Walker) to collect 33 homers, 33 stolen bases and hit better than .333 in a season, had four seasons with 200 hits and 30 homers (only Lou Gehrig had more, with seven), was the first Expo/National to reach 40 homers in a season, and became one of six players with 200 hits in each league.

He had 91 go ahead home runs as an Expo, the team record. Second and third place were Andre Dawson (78) and Gary Carter (68).

He is the first player since Stan Musial to retire with 400 or more homers, and less than 1,000 strikeouts.

During one training camp early in his career, he pulled a hamstring running out a double, and according to legend, homered in his next at-bat so he wouldn't have to run.

He garnered MVP votes in twelve of his seventeen seasons, winning the award in 2004.

He had the fifth highest hit total, fourth highest batting average and eighth most homers during the 00's.

Ivan Rodriguez...or just Pudge. Pudge is regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in history. He won thirteen gold love awards, and seven silver sluggers as well, testament to his offensive prowess.

He won one MVP award, and finished with MVP votes in five other seasons.

He is the all-time leader in games caught, and also holds the record for the highest caught stealing percentage, at 45.7%.. He is the youngest Texas Ranger to homer. He is the first catcher to have more than one season with forty or more doubles, and holds the single season record for hits, doubles and home runs by an American League catcher.

He won more gold gloves, and has more hits than any other catcher.

In 1999, he became the eight catcher with 100 runs scored and 100 runs batted in during a single season. Six of the other catcher are already in the Hall. (Darrell Porter was the other)

Edgar Martinez...It is obvious that Edgar's position as a designated hitter is being held against him in the eyes of voters. The DH as much as it is disliked by many has been a part of the game for more than forty years. Get over it. In a couple of years, David Ortiz will be on the ballot, and will garner many votes, which is great for him, but a huge disservice to Edgar Martinez.

Edgar was one of the best pure right handed hitters the game had seen in many years. In looking at the 300/400/500 parameter mentioned above, it is worth noting that Edgar had eight such seasons, including seven of those in a row. Andre Dawson and Robin Yount never had one. Craig Biggio and Paul Molitor did it twice.

In fact, looking at Edgar's career slash line, .312/.418/.515, only seven players have a career slash line higher than that. Ted Williams, Dan Brouthers, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Jimmie Foxx, Babe Ruth and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

He had 2 seasons with 25 homers, 50 doubles and 110 walks. It has only been done two other times.

He is one of twelve players with 830extra base-hits and and on base percentage better than .415. Ten of those are Hall of Famers, and Barry Bonds is the eleventh.

He had the third best on base percentage in the nineties, and holds the single season record for slugging percentage and doubles for a designated hitter.

The Edgar Martinez Award is presented to the top designated hitter in the American League each season. It is the only offensive award named for a player who is not enshrined in Cooperstown.

Jeff Bagwell...for reasons that escape me, Jeff Bagwell hasn't been elected to the Hall of Fame yet. Perhaps it is the hint of performance enhancing drugs, which doesn't seem fair. He was not implicated in any of the major scandals. In 2003, when a hundred plus players names were 'leaked' as failing PED tests, Bagwell's name was not among them. He claimed and maintained his innocence , and I have no reason to doubt his claims.

But is he Hall worthy?

Yes, by far.

He was the Rookie of the Year in 1991, and the NL MVP in 1994. He spent his entire fifteen year career as an Astro, coming over from the Red Sox in a memorable deal for reliever Larry Andersen. In ten of those fifteen seasons, he finished the season with MVP voting recognition (the one win, and five other top ten finishes).

In using the offensive statistical guideline of 300/400/500 (batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage) as a mark of greatness, we find that Bagwell achieved five of these seasons in his career. Plus, as seems to have been forgotten, he played more than half of his career with the Astrodome, a cavernous pitcher friendly facility, as his home field.

In 1994, he became the first player since Babe Ruth to slug .750 with 15 or more stolen bases in a season. He and Ruth are the only ones to ever accomplish this feat.

Twice in his career, he totaled 30 stolen bases, 30 doubles, 40 homers and 100 walks. No other player has done that even once.

He led all major league baseball in runs produced during his career, from 1991-2005.

In his first fourteen seasons, his home run tally was 446. Barry Bonds had 432.

In 1999, he reached based a record 331 times, establishing a record for a right handed batter.

He holds the National League record for runs scored in a season, with 152 in 2000), had the ninth highest Runs Scored total during the nineties, along with the fourth highest on base percentage during that same time. He also holds the record for the most career homer hit by anyone born in Massachusetts.

He would have my vote.

Trevor Hoffman...Relief pitching is such a tough thing to gauge historically. The game has evolved in the last ten or so years to rely more heavily on the bullpens anymore. Saves are the statistic that come to the forefront when trying to evaluate a reliever's worth, and value to his team.

When talking about legacies that would make a reliever "Hall of Fame worthy", it seems now, more than ever, one must look beyond the black and white numbers and rely on anecdotal evidence to make their decisions.

But I'm not sure that is entirely fair.

The gold standard for relief pitchers is Mariano Rivera.. He was the anchor of the Yankees bullpen for many years, and will no doubt be a first ballot Hall of Famer. His 652 saves for relievers are the 763 of Barry Bonds for hitters.

So let's compare Hoffman with Rivera.

Hoffman, the first reliever to 500 saves, then the first to 600, finished with 601. Over his eighteen year career, he led the league in saves just two times. (Rivera led three times in nineteen) He eclipsed forty saves in a season nine times, the same as Rivera. Hoffman averaged 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings, while Rivera averaged 8.3.

Trevor had the tenth highest saves total during the nineties, and the second most during the oughts. He had four consecutive seasons of forty or more saves in a season, but he is the only pitcher to have done that twice.

Some have argued that a lot of Hoffman's saves were 'hollow' or 'empty' as in not having much weight or impact on the overall season. Easy saves that he just 'lucked' into. I have looked. I have not seen an 'easy save' as a statistical category. He had 31 saves in his career where he struck out every batter he faced, which is the record.

As far as a pitcher's saves not having an impact, one must recognize that 2010 was the last season that a saves leader was a World Series champion, and that as recently as 2014, neither league leader's teams made the playoffs. Does that diminish their saves totals? (for the record, it was Craig Kimbrel of the Braves, and Fernando Rodney of the Mariners)

And surely it's not because Rivera has more post-season appearances than Hoffman, which he does by a long shot, because if that were true than how did Ted Williams, who appeared in as many World Series as Hoffman, ever make it to the Hall.

This is Hoffman's second year on the ballot, and I hope he makes it in. I feel he is worthy, and would have my vote.

Jeff Kent...this one I waffle on. I got to know Jeff somewhat when he played for the Knoxville Blue Jays in 1991. his manager, John Stearns told me that Jeff was going to "make his cake", meaning that he would be in the big leagues before long. And Stearns was right. The two of them were pretty close. Let's just say it was not a coincidence that Kent took Stearns' number 12 when it became available after his trade to the Mets.

That being said, I do sometimes try to be objective, and can over compensate and be a harsher critic when it comes to analyzing his stats. In seventeen seasons, he had seven times that he received votes for post season awards including his NL MVP in 2000.

He was an offensive threat at second base, which is not a usual offensive position. He drove in ninety or more runs in nine straight seasons, and has the most career home runs for a second baseman.

His aloofness and fiery competitive spirit didn't make him many friends among the media. He had a few clubhouse incidents with teammates during his career, most notably with equally aloof teammate Barry Bonds in San Francisco which may also have tarnished him in the eyes of voters.

Of the players on my list, he would be the last one on my ballot. Personally, I would like to see him in the Hall, but I may be being selfish on that front.

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