Hall of Fame ballots were sent out the other day and this may be the most stacked ballot in the history of the HOF voting, with no less than 8 legitimate HOFers (steroid argument aside) on the ballot and I would argue of the 36 guys who are on the ballot, at 10 of them deserve to be in the Hall, no questions asked. My list:
Considering I doubt that the BBWAA can pull its head out of its ass, I think that we see Biggio, Maddux and Glavine this year get elected, but that is it. The guys who are hurt most by the stupidity of the BBWAA are the fringe guys like Alan Trammell, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. These guys are not going to get as much support as they should, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them ends up dropping off the ballot.
Speaking of which, this is thankfully the last year we have to hear about the Jack Morris as HOFer argument. I have expressed my feelings about that in the past, so it is time again to play spot the HOFer. Which one of these guys would you vote for/suggest is a HOF pitcher?
It is pretty obvious that players A and D were far and away better than the other 2 and A was very dominant in the post season (not that D was a slouch either). Player A is Curt Schilling, who received roughly half of the vote total as Jack Morris last year. Player D is Mike Mussina, who is on the ballot for the first time. Players B and C, forgetting the win total for the moment, look like they are roughly the same player. Player B? Kenny Rogers. Player C? Jack Morris. Still think Morris looks like a HOFer? Morris is arguably the 5th best pitcher on the ballot this year and there is no way in hell he should get elected before Maddux, Glavine, Schilling or Mussina.
The baseball draft has passed, and, while it will be a few years before you know how well your favorite team did, there are a ton of great “hindsight” stories that have come out of the draft. Dave Schoenfield hit on a few of them in a recent article. Here are a few of my favorites:
1966: Reggie Jackson falls into A’s lap
In one of the more famous draft blunders, the Mets’ had the No. 1 pick and passed on Arizona State outfielder Jackson to select a high school catcher named Steve Chilcott, who would battle injuries and never reach the majors. “It was a position pick,” said Joe McDonald, a Mets executive at the time. “We did not feel we had an adequate catching prospect in the organization.”
Position pick my butt – the real story behind this was that the Mets were concerned about Jackson (who is actually half black-half Mexican) having a white girlfriend. Keep in mind this was 1966 at the height of the civil rights movement.
1966: Braves draft Tom Seaver
The Braves? Yep. Atlanta selected Seaver in the now non-existent January secondary phase of the draft (for players who had previously been drafted). Seaver, pitching at USC, had been drafted the previous June by the Dodgers, but didn’t sign after the Dodgers turned down his $70,000 asking price. The Braves took him with the 20th pick of the January phase, setting off a weird chain of events. The Braves signed Seaver for $40,000, but commissioner Spike Eckert ruled Seaver was ineligible to sign because USC had already played two exhibition games (Seaver didn’t pitch). But the NCAA then declared Seaver ineligible, because he had signed a pro contract. So Eckert ruled that any team willing to match the Braves’ offer would enter a lottery. The Mets, Phillies and Indians matched, and the Mets won the lottery.
This one is little known. Talk about a big SNAFU – the signing disaster probably cost the Braves a couple of pennants and is directly responsible for the Mets winning a couple of them and for one of the most memorable teams ever – the 1969 Miracle Mets. Yes, Seaver was that good. It kind of made up for not drafting Reggie.
1976: Trammell and Morris … and Ozzie (sort of)
In 1976, the Tigers had one of the great drafts ever, selecting Steve Kemp in the January phase and then Alan Trammell (second round), Dan Petry (fourth round), and Jack Morris (fifth round). Trammell and Morris aren’t in the Hall of Fame yet, but both could get there someday. No team has ever drafted (and signed) two future Hall of Famers in the same draft. The kicker: They also drafted Ozzie Smith in the seventh round, but he didn’t sign, and the Padres selected him the following year.
I had no idea about this one. That is one hell of a draft even if Ozzie did not sign. I don’t think Morris is a HOFer, but he was one heck of a 5th round pick.
1988: Dodgers draft Mike Piazza … in 62nd round
Maybe the most famous late-round pick, Piazza was the Dodgers’ final pick that year — the 1,390th pick overall out of 1,395.
Yep, 5 players drafted after him and the Dodgers only picked him as a favor to his father. Spent 4 seasons in the minors raking the ball and got called up in late 1992 and stuck around the majors for another 15 seasons. Had a career 59.2 WAR according to baseball-reference.com, and posted a higher career WAR than any player taken in the first round of the 1988 draft. Only Robin Ventura was close at 55.9. The next highest was Brian Jordan at 32.7. How did no one scout this guy?
This year the Hall of Fame ballot gets crowded and interesting. Steroids argument aside, you have two guys who statistically are among the 10 best players in the history of the game and 4 guys who have a strong case that they should be in the Hall, and those are just the guys who are on the ballot for the first time this year.
If I had a vote, my ballot would have the 10 name maximum on it this year and probably for the next 4 or 5 years. Here is how it would look (keep in mind the steroid questions are a non-issue for me):
The New Guys Barry Bonds – No brainer, only some guys named Babe Ruth and Cy Young have higher career WAR’s than Bonds Roger Clemens – Easily the most dominating pitcher of the last 40 years, which is saying a lot. Craig Biggio – He was overshadowed by the gaudy power numbers of his era, but this is a guy who hit, took walks, stole bases and won 4 Gold Gloves as a second baseman. Heck, he even switched to the outfield when the team asked him to. Basically he was the 1990’s version of Robin Yount. Mike Piazza – Arguably the best hitting catcher in MLB history. Not bad for a guy who was drafted in the 62nd round of the draft as a favor by Tommy LaSorda to Piazza’s father. Curt Schilling – Forget the bloody sock in 2004. Schilling was among the best in baseball for the better part of a decade, should have won at least one Cy Young award and is probably the best post season pitcher in the 2000’s and maybe the last 50 years.
The Returning Guys Jeff Bagwell – He needs to be in. The guy could hit and run and field and, unfortunately, got lost in the shuffle by playing his entire career in Houston. Alan Trammell – Larkin is in, Trammell was better. Rafael Palmiero – Do I need to say anything more than 500 HR and 3000 hits? Tim Raines – I think last year was “The Rock’s” last, best chance. The ballot is too crowded and I don’t think he has enough support. Mark McGwire – The guy was a masher but he was the modern version of Ralph Kiner.
Sadly, I think that Jack Morris will get in this season, despite being less than qualified and not even being better than another guy who should not be anywhere close to getting elected – David Wells. Don’t believe me, look it up. Wells and Morris had very similar regular season numbers and Wells was a better post season pitcher than Morris.
My prediction for election – Morris is the only guy who gets in because the writers are idiots and won’t vote for anyone they suspect might have been involved with steroids, even without proof.
I think Reggie Jackson just needs to stop talking. He recently had some things to say about a number of subjects in a recent Sports Illustrated interview. First off, he decided to comment about Alex Rodriguez:
“Al’s a very good friend,” Jackson said of the New York Yankees third baseman in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. “But I think there are real questions about his numbers. As much as I like him, what he admitted about his usage does cloud some of his records.”
If someone such as Rodriguez or Bonds or anyone else that has been linked to PED use is voted into the Hall by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Jackson predicts there will be a boycott.
“If any of those guys get in, no Hall of Famer will attend,” Jackson told SI.
Ok fine, I have no problem that he believes that no HOFers will attend if someone who was actually caught with using or admits to using steroids gets elected. I however, don’t believe it is the case since most of the HOFers make a ton of money at the various autograph sessions held during election weekend. I also don’t like the “admitted usage clouds some of his records” line. We know that there was a rampant use of greenies in the 1960’s and 1970’s, which happens to encompass most of Reggie’s prime years. We are just about sure that Hank Aaron used them (although has never actually admitted it, but he doesn’t deny it either), so wouldn’t that mean the record was tainted anyway?
Where it gets interesting is when he was asked about Andy Pettitte:
Jackson, 66, left the door open a bit for himself in regards to Andy Pettitte. He thinks the Yankees’ left-hander eventually will be voted into the Hall, making Pettitte a different case compared to other alleged or admitted users.
“The question is going to be a guy like Andy Pettitte, who admitted that he got involved for a while, but who is so universally respected in the game,” Jackson told SI. “I think he’ll get in, but there will be a lot of (members) who won’t go.”
Jackson seemed to indicate to SI that if Pettitte were inducted into the Hall he still may attend.
“He’s an awfully good friend,” Jackson said. “I’ve known Andy since he was 20. I’ll leave it there.”
Maybe I am reading this wrong, but it sure sounds like Reggie is saying that it is OK to elect someone who has admitted to using steroids as long as they are well liked by people in the game of baseball. So basically, Bonds, ARod, Clemens and Palmiero – you are all out because we never liked you. Andy Pettitte, come on in because you are actually a nice guy.
Where he really pissed me off was when he got to the part about the current Hall of Fame enshrines:
“I didn’t see Kirby Puckett as a Hall of Famer,” Jackson told SI. “I didn’t see Gary Carter as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Don Sutton as a Hall of Famer. I didn’t see Phil Niekro as a Hall of Famer. As much as I like Jim Rice, I’m not so sure he’s a Hall of Famer.”
OK, I am fine with Sutton, Niekro and Rice not being HOFers. Sutton and Niekro were compilers and Rice had a pretty short peak, oh, sort of like Reggie’s one time teammate, Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter. Funny how Reggie does not mention him. Puckett was probably borderline, but he was still putting up an OPS+ of around 130 when he retired at age 35 from glaucoma. I do think had Puckett played even 3 or 4 more years at around league average, he would have gone from borderline to solid HOF selection, so we will forgive that one. Gary Carter – one of the 10 best catchers to play the game not a HOFer? He unfortunately played in the same era as Johnny Bench and he played most of his prime in Montreal. If either of those 2 situations had not happened, Carter would be remembered in a better light.
And for the finale:
Jackson didn’t think Bert Blyleven should be voted in, either.
“Blyleven wasn’t even the dominant pitcher of his era; it was Jack Morris,” Jackson said.
So many things wrong with that statement. Blyleven was 5 years older and had already racked up 122 wins before Jack Morris became a semi-regular on the Tigers roster in 1978, which, just based on the historical numbers for pitchers, meant that 1970-1978 would be Blyleven’s prime years and 1979-1992 were his decline years. Just a quick and dirty look at Morris and Blyleven between 1979 and 1992:
Blyleven did miss an entire season with an injury in 1991 and came back in 1992 at age 42 with little success and then retired. Morris has the edge in IP and Wins, which you would expect from a pitcher 5 years younger during that range, but Blyleven was actually as good, if not better than Morris over the 13 year period.
Then again, we all know the best pitcher of that era was Dave Stieb anyway.