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Hall of Fame Results 2012: Ranting from the Edge
Great Player, Classy Guy
Ranting about the Future
I’m so happy to see Barry Larkin enter the Hall of Fame. Great player and a classy guy…
Here is the rest of the ballot breakdown:
Jack Morris - 382 votes (66.7 percent)
Jeff Bagwell - 321 (56)
Lee Smith - 290 (50.6)
Tim Raines - 279 (48.7)
Edgar Martinez - 209 (36.5)
Alan Trammell - 211 (36.8)
Fred McGriff - 137 (23.9)
Larry Walker - 131 (22.9)
Mark McGwire - 112 (19.5)
Don Mattingly - 102 (17.8)
Dale Murphy - 83 (14.5)
Rafael Palmeiro - 72 (12.6)
Bernie Williams - 55 (9.6)
Juan Gonzalez - 23 votes (four percent)
Vinny Castilla - 6 (1)
Tim Salmon - 5 (0.9)
Bill Mueller - 4 (0.5)
Brad Radke - 2 (0.3)
Javy Lopez - 1 (0.2)
Eric Young - 1 (0.2)
Jeromy Burnitz - 0
Brian Jordan - 0
Terry Mulholland - 0
Phil Nevin - 0
Ruben Sierra - 0
Tony Womack - 0
I was wrong I my previous Hall-of-Fame rant. Nobody voted for Tony Womack, but someone did vote for Eric Young. I stand corrected.
But these bonehead voters really dropped the ball on everyone else. I wonder how many of the actual voters know anything about sabremetrics and how they can be used to really measure a player’s value. That being said, I don’t know a lot, but I do know this – steroids, HGH, PEDs are bad for you. I’m not convinced, however, that they had any long-term effect on the talent level of any baseball player.
I just re-examined the list of players we know are at least “questionable” as per the Mitchell Report. I used the Mitchell Report because it is fairly reliable and it lists the highest amount of players we can talk about. I have to say that while there are a few superstars in the list (i.e. Bonds, Clemens, Sheffield), and a few players who had some big years (Todd Hundley is on the list as is Jason Giambi), there are no players who BECAME superstars and were able to maintain any level of success. The report is littered with players who were all good (you have to be to get to the Major Leagues) but not great, nor did they become so.
Many players were backups, utility guys, fourth outfielders and relievers (which I just don’t understand). Many were taking HGH, admittedly to HEAL faster from injuries. Many were trying to get an edge but don’t really seem to have ever benefitted from taking anything. The facts are the facts. Baseball might be boring to many fans, but you have to be extremely skilled to play this sport at the top levels. You might be the strongest person on the planet, but if you can’t hit a 95 mph fastball, or a looping curve, or read the seams on a slider, you have no chance of hitting a baseball…
And that’s the sticking point to the foolishness behind the voting for the Hall-of-Fame. Can you argue that Mark McGwire hit more home runs because he did steroids. Sure, that’s possible, likely even for the shots that would have been warning track shots. Can you argue that he hit home runs BECAUSE of steroids. No, actually you can’t. When he got to the majors he hit 49 as a rookie. He could always hit home runs – and lots of them. He always had the strength and the proper swing mechanics and, oh yeah, he could hit a baseball too. He’s not some common player who, all of a sudden, burst onto the scene. Neither, for that matter, is Barry Bonds. Bonds was a jerk, but he was also an awesome player before he bulked up into the Michelin man.
I’m not a Roger Clemens fan either but anyone who thinks he got better because of steroids is fooling themselves. Did he heal faster? Probably. But a pitcher getting stronger will not translate into more speed on a fastball, or better snap on a curveball. It also won’t help you locate your pitches. If you don’t have those things when you hit the major leagues – nobody can teach them to you and you certainly can’t find them in a bottle of anything. When Clemens hit the majors he was throwing gas right from the beginning and he could locate it very well.
In fact, the only players I could see who would really benefit are those guys with warning track power AND the right swing to hit home runs. Those guys might get a boost in home runs and subsequently… money. If HGH is proven to help you heal faster, then I can see where players with injuries could benefit as well. But seriously, if you don’t have the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball, getting stronger won’t really help you all that much.
That’s where the Hall-of-Fame issues come into play. The only guys we care about are the guys that have a shot at the Hall-of-Fame. Nobody cares about Mark Carreon being on the list since his numbers aren’t Hall-worthy but someone like Manny Ramirez we care about because his numbers are. The voters have to figure out whether a player is Hall-worthy based on his numbers. Just because a guy took something, doesn’t mean he benefitted from it (and we need to understand that many players of the 50’s, 60’s and70’s were on amphetamines – maybe not as ethically challenging but certainly a performance enhancer just the same).
For those players on the ballot, or will be, who voters think are questionable – go by the numbers please. I don’t see any mention of Jeff Bagwell anywhere in any report about steroids and his numbers are insane, HOW DID HE GET PASSED OVER AGAIN? What happens when Mike Piazza hits the ballot? He isn’t mentioned anywhere either but I’ve read that there are “suspicions”. Sorry but I just don’t buy it. I’m the rare Mets fan who wasn’t a Piazza fan (I just never warmed to the guy) but you can’t deny his numbers, especially as a catcher. If he isn’t a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, then there aren’t any.
And let’s set the record straight here on Mark McGwire a little bit further. During the Home-Run Chase in 1998 we all knew he was on androstendione, and we knew what it was. It was in his locker. WE ALL KEPT APPLAUDING ANYWAY. It is the height of conflicts-of-interest that the same writers who benefitted from that story (and those of other steroid-outed players) are now voting to keep those players out of the Hall of Fame. McGwire and Sosa did not save baseball, but they did bring an awful lot of interest back to the game with their chase of Roger Maris’ record. It kept the baseball writers writing, and it kept us reading and now it’s being held against them. Here’s another interesting stat – McGwire has 6 All-Star game appearances before his 2 injury shortened years in 1993-94 and he has 6 after as well – the same goes for his MVP balloting, 5 times before the injuries and 5 times after as well. Upon further review, McGwire’s got a pretty complete batting record both before and after his injury years. Anyone who suggests that his hitting acumen comes strictly from steroids can only be classified as an idiot.
Does anybody really doubt that Rafael Palmeiro was a great hitter?? His early career shows that he was a very good hitter even when he first came to the majors. And while he has 3000 Hits and 500 Home Runs he also has over 1800 RBIs. I don’t care how you feel about his Congressional hearing or subsequent outing as a steroid user – his numbers are insane, even in his early career.
To get back to my opening statement, I looked at Roger Clemens again and used a sabremetric called WAR which values a player by Wins Above Replacement player (which is like a triple A player) and guess what? Clemens early career was as great as his later career. For his career, Clemens WAR never goes below 0 and only once goes over 10, in 1997. When you look at all of the steroids-era players that we worry about on the ballot, they all have the same kind of breakdown. They were always superior players and steroids may have made them look bigger, but it probably didn’t change their career curve too much. Just as it didn’t change anyone else’s career curve. We need to get over it, put it behind us, vote in the guys we know SHOULD be in based on their numbers and move on.
For baseball stats including sabremetric stats which might help you decide who YOU think desrves to be in the Hall-of-Fame, click here:
I know there are strong opinions about steroids out there so feel free to disagree - that's what makes baseball discussions so much fun...