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Top Five Baseball Players Who Should Be In The Hall of Fame

Updated on January 11, 2012

Which Hall of Fame Candidates Are Most Deserving?

The Baseball Hall of Fame considers itself to be above the other sports halls of fame. It was the first, and it is very selective in its membership. Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) members vote on eligible players each year, and those receiving 75% of the vote are inducted into the Hall.

My biggest problem with hall of fame voting is that the writers are not very good at their job. In order to gain membership into the BBWAA a writer must cover a major league team for a major newspaper for ten years. You would think the 700 qualifying members would know a thing or two about baseball. Based on the way they vote, I can assure you they do not.

Here is my list of five players who currently appear on the BBWAA ballot who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame:

1. Jeff Bagwell

Excluded from my list are players who have been caught buying or using performance enhancing drugs, or have been named by other players as users. Jeff Bagwell does not fit into that category. The only reason voters have not elected Bagwell yet is because they suspect he was using PEDs. That's the only logical explanation for excluding a man who was one of the greatest hitters of his generation, and a decent first baseman to boot.

Here's something to think about: Jeff Bagwell's career OPS+, which is on-base percentage plus slugging adjusted by ballpark is 149. This is a stat where 100 is the league average. 149 is fantastic. How great is it? It's higher than Ken Griffey Jr or Alex Rodriguez's career OPS+.

Bagwell's WAR (wins above replacement) is 79.9, the highest of any eligible non-steroid player on the ballot. It's about 10 wins higher than Derek Jeter, who will be a first ballot hall of famer.

Bagwell won Rookie of the Year, an MVP award, a Gold Glove, and was selected to four All Star teams despite playing one of the most competitive positions of his era. Remember, he had to compete against guys like Mark McGwire, Fred McGriff, and Jim Thome. Bagwell finished his career with 969 extra-base hits, over 3,000 runs+RBI, and an incredible .408 on-base percentage. People also forget that Bagwell could steal bases as well. He had two 30 stolen base seasons and is one of just a handful of players to have multiple 40/30 seasons.

2. Tim Raines

I've written about Tim Raines before. Here are a few of the bullet points:

  • 808 career stolen bases
  • One of the best stolen base success percentages (84.7%) in history for a player who stole more than 200 bases. Much higher success rate than Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock.
  • .385 on-base percentage
  • 64.6 career WAR. Just to compare, Hall of Famer Lou Brock's is 39.1.
  • During the lockout-shortened 1981 season, Tim Raines had 71 steals in just 88 games. He was on pace to shatter the single-season record that year.
  • 7-time All Star

3. Alan Trammell

I realize this is one selection that might surprise a lot of people. They perhaps didn't have a chance to see Trammell in his prime or haven't looked at his career stats.

Alan Trammell wasn't a great hitter, but he was certainly above average. He finished with a .285 career average, over 1,000 RBI and over 1,200 runs. He stole 236 bases in his career.

Trammell was best known for his fielding ability. He won four Gold Gloves at shortstop, and this helped him make 6 All Star teams. He also finished in the top 25 in MVP voting 7 times. Trammell's career WAR of 66.9 is among the highest of eligible candidates.

Side note: Trammell's double play mate, Lou Whitaker, also deserves serious Hall of Fame consideration. He was dropped from the ballot after failing to receive 5% of the vote, but I hope that some day the Veteran's Committee will select him for induction.

4. Edgar Martinez

This selection will always be controversial because Martinez spent most of his career as a designated hitter. There are currently no full-time DH's in the Hall of Fame. I think that needs to change, and Martinez is the man to do it.

Martinez wasn't just a good hitter, he was a great hitter. Look at the stats, and you'll realize he was one of the most potent hitters of his generation, which is saying a lot considering the era he played in.

Even though he wasn't considered a home run hitter, Martinez still slugged 300 dingers in his career. That's not too shabby for a guy with a .312 career average and a ridiculous .418 on-base percentage. He had over 500 doubles and made 7 All Star teams. He finished his career with a 67.2 WAR, which he did without the benefit of defense (defensive wins above replacement are added to offensive wins above replacement to compute WAR).

5. Larry Walker

I know the argument people make. Larry Walker played in Colorado before they started using the humidor to make the balls heavier. That's true, but Larry Walker would have put up Hall of Fame numbers with or without the thin Denver air.

Here's how I can prove that Larry Walker is worthy: a career 140 OPS+. That's on-base percentage plus slugging adjusted for ballpark and compared to the league average. As I said before, the league average OPS+ is 100. Players higher than 120 usually make the Hall of Fame unless they were a terrible fielder. 140 is almost a guaranteed spot in the Hall of Fame. Remember, this stat adjusts for the fact that Walker played in a favorable home ballpark for part of his career.

So why hasn't Larry Walker received more than 23% support from the voters? Was his fielding terrible? Nope, that's not the answer. Walker was a fantastic outfielder, earning 7 Gold Gloves. Was it a lack of power? Are 383 home runs and 916 extra-base hits a sign of low power? Try again. Perhaps he didn't get on base enough. Well, his career average was only .313 and his on-base percentage was just .400. A lack of speed? Well, that's really reaching if you're using it as criteria against a player, but you can't use it against Walker. 230 career stolen bases (and just 76 times caught stealing) and 62 career triples.

Walker's career WAR is 67.3, almost 30 WAR more than Hall of Fame outfielder Chuck Klein. 30 WAR would be a decent number for a career, and that's about how much better Walker was than another outfielder who is already in the HOF.

Tell me why I'm right or wrong

Submit a Comment

  • FreddyCaple profile image

    FreddyCaple 

    6 years ago from Louisville, Ky

    Bagwell is the only guy I'm really "iffy" about on your list. Simply because I have not made up my mind on how I feel about the way steroids/HGH changed the game. I would also submit that perhaps Dale Murphy belongs. He was a dominant player in the 1980's. freddysopenmind.blogspot.com

  • The Macs profile image

    The Macs 

    6 years ago from Peoria, IL

    Couldn't agree more with Tim Raines. Should have been a first ballot HOFer, not just because I bought myself a baby-blue Tim Raines Expos jersey and mesh hat for myself as a 12 year old in 1987 living in Illinois.

  • I am DB Cooper profile imageAUTHOR

    I am DB Cooper 

    6 years ago from Whereabouts unknown at this time

    Thanks for the feedback. I agree that Keith Hernandez should be in, but he doesn't qualify for this list because he's no longer on the BBWAA ballot because he received under 5% of the vote in 2004. I suspect two things were holding him back: his involvement in the Pittsburgh drug trials in the 1980's and the tarnished image of Hernandez as a coke addict, and a comment he made a long time ago that Don Mattingly was a better fielder than him. Whether he recognized it or not, Keith Hernandez was perhaps the best defensive first baseman to ever play the game, and the stats show he was far better than Mattingly in that regard. I think some voters looked at Hernandez's hitting and thought "oh, that's not any more impressive than Mattingly's, and he said himself he wasn't as good a fielder, so if we're not voting for Mattingly why vote for Hernandez?"

  • dblyn profile image

    dblyn 

    6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

    Right with you there on all 5 players. Here's one more, Keith Hernandez whose career WAR is 61, he has an MVP, Batting Title, 2 World Series Rings, and 11 Gold Gloves..an an OPS+ of 128 for his career

  • Fullerman5000 profile image

    Ryan Fuller 

    6 years ago from Louisiana, USA

    I agree with all five of these players especially bagwell. they have the numbers and they all deserve to be there. great hub.

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