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Early Look at the 2012 HOF Candidates

By Mike Silva ~ January 6th, 2011. Filed under: Hall of Fame, Mike Silva.

To wrap up this 24 hours of Hall of Fame, I decided to take an early look at the 2012 ballot, and perhaps project who I would support, and maybe lay out some questions that could be answered over the next twelve months.

It appears that Barry Larkin might have the best shot for induction in 2012. He certainly has impressive numbers, but the fact only there are only five seasons that are of Hall of Fame caliber should keep him out, at least in my opinion.  Perhaps injuries are the reason for this, but I can’t point to a five to ten year period of consistent Hall of Fame numbers during his career. This is exactly why I don’t support Allan Trammell either, and the BBWAA agrees.

Jack Morris won over 250 ballgames in his career, and I will continue to support him for that reason, just like I supported Blyleven for his peripheral numbers. Andy Pettitte played for upper echelon teams throughout his career and may not reach that plateau. If Morris was a Yankees during that same period we may be looking at a 300 game winner. Let’s not discount win totals for the best pitcher of the eighties.

I pleaded in a post yesterday for the BBWAA to deemphasize PED’s in the voting process, and stick to the numbers, or at the very least, the eye test in evaluating players from the nineties. I won’t hold my breath for that to happen, which is why I don’t expect to see movement on names such as Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire. All three will continue to get my support as I believe they have the credentials for the Hall of Fame. Maybe the one benefactor of this behavior is that Fred McGriff gets more of a look because he is presumed “clean,” although I feel he is more of a compiler than dominant player during his time.

Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez will probably continue to get a third of the support, or less, because of factors beyond their control. Walker will be penalized for Coors Field, where he held a career OPS of 1.172. To put it in perspective, this is higher than any career totals for a member of the Hall of Fame, including Babe Ruth. Factoring in a potential “juiced ball” to the rarified air of Colorado, take away from his results. The “eye test” told me Walker was a very good player, but not a Hall of Famer. Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame, as he was one of the best hitters in baseball from 1995-2003. Eight seasons of with a BA over .300, OBP over .400, SLG over .500. Every player with eight or more such seasons is in the Hall of Fame, with the exception of Barry Bonds. Why the “DH” is not considered a position is another BBWAA mystery that gives me a headache.

Now that Blyleven has been elected, Tim Raines may take his place as the “sabermetrician cause.” The best leadoff hitter this side of Rickey Henderson is someone that I changed my mind on over the last couple of years. For his career he had over 2,600 hits, 808 stolen bases, and a career OPS of .810. Unlike Larkin, there was a clear period of consistency, as a large bulk of his production came in the eighties while playing in Montreal.

Lee Smith has received more support than I could have imagined, but closers are like the DH, and his career is more about longevity than dominance. If Smith gets in, then John Franco should as well.

There are three interesting first timers on the ballot: Bernie Williams, Vinny Castilla, and Javy Lopez. Castilla, even with Colorado, doesn’t have the numbers, but there are a few impressive years in the late nineties. Lopez has interesting totals for a catcher (260 homers, .828 OPS), but playing in the steroid era will keep him far away from consideration. Not to mention the fact he was lousy defensively, and he played 150+ games in a season just once. On the other hand, Bernie Williams might have a case. He has just under a decade of consistent Hall of Fame performance from 1995 to 2002. The problem is his drop off after age 33 keeps him from 300 homers, or 2,500 hits, two benchmarks that would have made his candidacy stronger. I say no to Bernie Williams for the same reasons I don’t support Don Mattingly: just not enough Hall of Fame seasons.

In the end I think Larkin will be elected, and we will continue to debate the issue of Performance Enhancing Drugs. The real fun will start in 2013, when Clemens, Piazza, Bonds, and Biggio are up for election.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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2 Responses to Early Look at the 2012 HOF Candidates

  1. Russ

    The Case for Bernie…

    The Stat Monkeys will look at his totals .297/.477/.858 287 hr 2333 hits, 5 100+RBI yrs, an OPS+ of +125 & a batting title (plus finished in the Top 4 in the AL 4 times, and the Top 3 three times) and say “just short”. He also was a 5 time All Star, won 4 Gold Gloves (despite his arm), a Silver Slugger and he received MVP votes 6 times. However, his post season numbers are of an elite HOF level including 22 post season home runs and a lifetime .321/.413/.962 in the ALCS and the ALCS MVP in ’96. Stat guys will probably say no, guys who look at impact, big moments and being clutch at crunch time, will say yes. Are his post season numbers going to be enough to put him over the top? Will the voters have the insight to examine them and not just his reg. season career totals when judging his career? For the record, his lifetime regular season numbers are better than or similar to many in the HOF already (Say, Billy Williams .290/.492/.853 OPS+ 133) so you wonder if one more year would have put him over the top. There are people who consider Edgar Martinez & Bobby Abreu as future Hall of Famers, and if they are candidates then so is Bernie, who in addition to similar numbers has far more intangibles than either of those guys.

    Either way, for the record, count me as a “Bernie guy”

    Oh yeah, one more stat that’s kind of important….4 rings.

    Bernie .297/.477/.858 (1 Batting Title, 4 Top 4 finishes)
    Puckett .313/.477/.837 (1 Batting Title, 4 Top 4 finishes)

    Both 6 Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers — Puckett 6, Bernie 1
    Hits — Bernie 2333, Puckett 2304
    …OPS + Bernie 125, Puckett 124
    HRs — Bernie 287, Puckett 204

    Bernie .297/.477/.858
    Yount .285/.430/.772

    Gold Gloves — Yount had 1 (BW 6)
    Silver Sluggers Yount had 3 (BW 1)
    …Yount never won a batting title but had an MVP

    HRS — Yount 251 (BW 287)

    Only edge for Yount is 3000+ hits

    On the Billy Williams comparison, he never won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and had 1 batting title (2 2nd place MVP finishes)

    Bernie definately compares to those guys, and that’s just 3 randomly chosen Hall of Famers. I’m sure if you look there are more that will only strengthen the case for Bernie. Then there is the political factor as he was not only well liked by media and teammates but it’s hard to find a negative word from anyone on Bernie as a person.

  2. Jeff Linville

    The idea that Fred McGriff wasn’t dominant is utterly mistaken. The man finished in the top four for home runs SEVEN times while playing for Toronto and San Diego.
    People only heard his name once he joined the Atlanta Braves. By then he was a very good, but not great hitter. He could no longer turn his hips into the ball as well and began hitting the ball the other way all the time.
    His homers went down, but he really earned them by driving them out to straightaway center and left-center.
    Still, he hit 25 or more home runs for 13 seasons. That is remarkable. He finishes 26th all-time with a physique that couldn’t possibly have been steroid-enhanced.
    I think you just inspired me to write my next column.

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