Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Baseball Hall Of Fame - Class of 2008

Some interesting names appear on the nomination list for the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. Mark McGwire's inclusion marks the second (of what, sadly, will be many) opportunity for voters to sound off on The Steroid Era. Bristol In My Rear View Mirror presents the entire list below, with comments on each. Enjoy the Bill Simmons-esque groupings below:

The "We're Listed Because, By Rule, We Have To Be" Group
Brady Anderson - A more obvious 'roid aided player. C'mon, are you kidding?
Chuck Finley - Better known for getting smacked by a blitzed Tawny Kittan.
Todd Stottlemyre - Dad was better.
Robb Nen - A dominant closer when healthy, he just didn't last long enough. Still, an impressive career.
Jose Rijo - Too bad his career was filled with so many injuries, or else he could have been a great one.
Travis Fryman - Nice player, who helped several of us to fantasy league titles, but not a Hall of Famer.

The "Who Will Be The First True DH Elected" Group
Harold Baines - We're not counting Paul Molitor as a true DH - he cut his teeth playing infield before going the "extend my career" route by DH toward the end. Would you believe that Molitor played at least 50 games at five different positions, not counting his stints at DH? Baines is remembered as perhaps the quintessential DH, a true hitting machine. Is he the one? Not this year, maybe someday in the future as a Veterans entry.

The Closer Not Named Gossage
Rod Beck - A guy who would have been a blast to have a beer with, which unfortunately doesn't result in many HOF votes. RIP, Shooter.

The Recent Near Misses/Enough Votes To Be Optimistic
Goose Gossage - Now or never for the Goose. A true reliever, as opposed to closer - he would enter games in the 7th with guys on base, escape the jam, then finish the game. They don't make them like this anymore. If Sutter is in, you have to let Gossage in too.
Jim Rice - A stud; his 1978 season (46-139-.315) would have been legendary if the Sox didn't collapse. Another case of a guy who didn't exactly endear himself to writers, which ultimately hurts the HOF cause.
Bert Blyleven - Getting closer, but could be overshadowed by the two names above.
Andre Dawson - The Hawk was a true pro, and one can only imagine what kind of career he would have had if not for the cement like turf in Montreal screwing up his knees.
Jack Morris - If only for Game 7 of the '91 Series. Morris would routinely throw 250+ innings per year, which is unheard of today, and his 254 career wins rank 40th of all time. Also, a winning percentage of .577, with 145 complete games. Perhaps the most dominant pitcher of his era, which the Hall must acknowledge.
Lee Smith - #2 All time in Saves, but won't get in before the Goose. The save total, while impressive, isn't enough, otherwise John Franco would be getting votes.

Great Players, No Support (Yet)
Dale Murphy - 2 MVP's, 7 All-Star games, a truly feared player in his prime. The only problem? His prime didn't last very long. Needs a stronger showing than last year, when he garnered only 9%.
Dave Parker - Another monster player, who hit for power (339 HR) as well as average (.290 lifetime). Throw in an absolute cannon of an arm and you have a player who deserves consideration.
Don Mattingly - An amazing hitter, as well as a Gold Glove (9 times) first baseman, Donnie Baseball's only knock will be the relatively short career he had. Never making the post-season didn't help from an exposure point of view, even though he played for the Yankees.
Alan Trammell - Twenty seasons with one team, part of one of the all time great double play combinations (with Lou Whitaker), excelled in the post season. He'll also need to boost his percentage this time around if he expects to make a run at this.

The Ongoing Controversial Guys List
Mark McGwire - Did not appear in the Mitchell Report, but his case is well documented. He will likely get incremental increases each year, as some writers feel the need to "punish" him by delaying support.
Chuck Knoblauch - Appeared in the Mitchell Report. Not that he had much of a prayer anyway, but that sure won't help him. Also, most guys in the Hall never had issues throwing to first base.

First Timers Who Will Eventually Get Strong Consideration
Tim Raines - Might see some punishment delay due to the nose candy issues, but should eventually merit strong consideration.

First Timer, Little To No Eventual Chance
Shawon Dunston - Never lived up to the hype, but nevertheless had a decent career. His arm could be its own exhibit.

Great Players, Not HOF Material
Dave Concepcion - Use the Phil Rizzuto defense here: the starting shortstop on the reigning dynasty of his era. If that works, we'll see Davey in the Hall in about 40 years or so. A steady defender who patented the one hop throw off of the turf.
Tommy John - A special mention is deserved for having a surgery named after you, no? Points for longevity, and doing what he did after what had been up till then a career wrecking injury.
David Justice - He was married to Halle Berry, which always, always has to be mentioned. Oh, and he could play a bit too, but there is no way he ever makes the Hall. Actually, losing Halle Berry should work against him.

The Verdict:
We're betting on Gossage and Rice, with Dawson and Blyleven inching closer (in the 50-65% range), but falling just short.

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