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Hall of Fame Debate 2012
2012 National Baseball Hall of Fame
2012 Hall of Fame Ballot
It’s that time again, Hall of Fame debate time!! I have to say that I’m not sure the debating will be difficult to deal with this year. I’ve said for years that Blyleven deserved to be in, and now he is. I’ve said before that I believe Jim Kaat deserves to be in as well and he is being reevaluated by the Veterans’ Committee so we’ll see where that goes (The Veterans Committee overwhelmingly voted in Ron Santo this year but did not vote in Gil Hodges or Jim Kaat – Santo is a great choice that comes one year too late.). My only other choice is Keith Hernandez but since he’s off the ballot, there’s no use talking up his chances.
That being said, Keith’s career blows away almost all of the newcomers to this year’s ballot. The complete ballot looks like this:
Jeff Bagwell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Juan Gonzalez, Brian Jordan, Barry Larkin, Javy Lopez, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Dale Murphy, Phil Nevin, Rafael Palmeiro, Brad Radke, Tim Raines, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker, Bernie Williams, Tony Womack, Eric Young
Who belongs in? The debate starts with Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell and Jack Morris who all belong in.
After that my choices are Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Rafael Palmeiro. Please don’t come at me with steroid mania. I know that Palmeiro tested positive and that he denied it, and the whole Congressional hearing thing. None of it matters. Steroids might make you stronger, but it doesn’t improve your hand-eye coordination. You can argue about his 500 home runs, but 3000 Hits is an altogether different story. This guy could flat out hit. His 1800+ RBIs are pretty impressive as well. He won’t get in anytime soon but he should.
Several players on the list were good, really good, but not lights-out great. In this category falls Edgar Martinez, Bernie Williams, Larry Walker and Tim Raines. Many of the other players on the list had good-great seasons here and there but really don’t belong on this list. How many of you out there really feel Tony Womack is a Hall-of-Famer??
Yankees fans constantly make the case for Don Mattingly. As a New Yorker myself, I’ve done the research and while Donnie Baseball’s numbers are very similar to that of other Hall-of-Famers like Kirby Puckett, it’s his severe career curve that gets held against him. For seven years Mattingly is a beast on the field – his numbers are insane. Then he hurt his back and his numbers the next 8 years really tumble off the cliff. Altogether his numbers compare well, but that relatively short period of dominance gets held against him. I’m not a Mattingly apologist, I’m an admitted Keith Hernandez fan not a Mattingly fan but I think Mattingly supporters have a legitimate gripe. There are a few Hall of Famers who are in based on a short period of dominance, most notably Sandy Koufax.
Then again, Hernandez fans, like myself, also have a legitimate gripe. Hernandez’ hitting stats aren’t quite Hall-worthy but his fielding dominance is and if Ozzie Smith gets in based on his defense, why doesn’t Hernandez. Besides the aforementioned Kaat, Hernandez is the only other player with more than 10 Gold Gloves NOT in the Hall of Fame. Greg Maddux and Ken Griffey Jr. aren’t eligible yet so they don’t count – and they are both first ballot hall-of-famers anyway.
Being a National League fan, I saw Larkin and Bagwell firsthand and there is no question they belong in the Hall of Fame. Jack Morris I predominantly know from his exceptional World Series appearances. Coupled with a stellar career – he should be in as well, despite is high ERA (3.90).
My View on Steroids-related Players
I've said this before about the Steroid Era players - be eductetd before judging these players. There isn't a superstar player among the Mitchell Report-related players (or any other outed players for that matter) who BECAME a superstar due to steroids. In fact, the only guys we even care about are the players who arguably didn't need to take steroids to begin with. Guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens were superstars from the day they hit the big leagues. Guys with suspicious numbers were not, and never became superstars. Guys like David Segui never became superstars due to steroids. In the end, we may come to realize that steroids, while illegal, and ethically problematic, didn't really do anything to help these players. Sure it made them bigger and stronger, but this isn't football where strength matters, this is baseball where the skill set is very different and the most important thing for hitting home runs is hand-eye coordination and swing mechanics, not just strength. For pitchers, it's even more mind-boggling. Strength has nothing to do with how fast you throw a baseball so I'm not sure how steroids helped them besides helping them heal faster between games. Everyone involved in baseball wants the steroid era issues to go away, and I understand that, but I think we need to better judge what really happened before we judge these players any more.
Just my humble opinion there...