Can we state the obvious before we talk and analyze who should be in the MLB Hall of Fame? Its ridiculous. Its, at times, laughable. I don’t understand how players who aren’t hall of famers for 10 years of voting are suddenly Hall of Famers NOW? What has Bert Blyleven done differently? Did his numbers get BETTER? Did he pick up a few wins in the booth working for ESPN? No. The system is ridiculous where if 5 or 10 percent of the people vote for you? You stay on the list… well for 15 years, then? You’re at the mercy of the veteran’s voting. C’mon, people. If you’re not a Hall of Famer within 3, hell I’ll give you FIVE… FIVE years after you’re elible. If you’re NOT a Hall of Famer then? How the HELL are you a Hall of Famer 11, 12, or 15 years after you first become “Hall Eligible”.

JMB:  On its surface, I could agree with that argument, but let’s
remember too that people have their biases.  As older voters leave and
new ones come, new ideas, standards, and ideas come to light, and even subtle cronyism (or event he opposite) can be removed.  Also, how we judge a player especially with statistics has drastically changed with the rise of Sabermetrics and what stats are “most important” – re: Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young this year.

Gools:  Let me preface this by saying that I don’t believe in the penalties for steroids.  At least not with what we know (or more likely don’t know) right now.  Sure, certain players have admitted, others have been caught, still others are suspected.  But I don’t see the reasoning in penalizing them when we don’t know who did what, where or when.  The Hall of Fame is there to enshrine the greatest players of all-time, and it’s usually broken down by era.  So, I’m throwing out the steroids and will just call those from that time, members of the juiced era.  Do you really know that Greg Maddux or Cal Ripken weren’t juicing?  No, and neither do I.  I’m not okay with assumptions defining history.

My No’s

Bert Blyleven is on his 13th try… I don’t understand how he wasn’t good enough, and now suddenly is. He had a long, impressive career, but not a Hall of Fame Career… and you know who’s helped point that out? The Hall of Fame, for more than a decade. He finished as high as 3rd for a Cy Young, which happened twice, and that’s as close to a post season accolade I could find. His career wasn’t about amazing other worldly accomplishments. It was about a workman like effort year in and year out. People talk about being 13 wins away from 300… well he only won 20 games once. He only won 19 games, once. His most impressive numbers are his complete games and innings pitched. Again, he worked, and worked and worked… He pitched long enough to get numbers that nip at the heels of Hall of Famers… an amazing feat, but not something that gets him into MY Hall of Fame.

JMB:  Bert Blyleven IS in my Hall of Fame, and I do judge somewhat by consistency and longevity.  I’m not going to knock a guy for not
winning the Cy Young or MVP awards which can be won by one year
wonders and are subject to the same biases at times at the HOF.
Remember, if a guy is undervalued during his career there’s a good
chance he could be undervalued by the Hall of Fame voters.  Also, wins are a tricky thing to judge – again he won 20 games only once, but now look at the pitchers who are quite good who aren’t reaching 20 – double digits sure, but 20 isn’t such a magic number anymore.  Also,
let’s not underestimate the value of what Blyleven did to well, beyond
the 287 wins.  I have to give credit to ESPN’s Jim Caple for some of
these stats.

3,701 K’s  – He was third when he retired, and even now here’s who is
ahead of him:  Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens, and Randy
Johnson, not a bad group, and speaks to his WICKED curveball

60 Shutouts – 9th all time – Walter Johnson, Grover Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, Eddie Plank, Warren Spahn, Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver – again that’s a good group of stoppers.

242 Complete Games – That’s an INCREDIBLE amount.  To put that in
perspective with some HOF pitchers – it’s more than contemporaries Jim Palmer (211), more than Tom Seaver (231), and astronomical compared to Roger Clemens (a similarly great pitcher with overlapping careers) who had only 118.

Also, Blyleven pitcher for two world series champions and was money in the post season going 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA.

More or less, Bert was a work horse, but he was a darn good one.  I
don’t think I’d take him over a Seaver, Gibson, etc, but he compares
favorably in key categories with some of the greats.

Gools:  I am with JMB on this one.  Blyleven is a HOF pitcher.  He didn’t make it in on earlier ballots because baseball writers are inherently uneducated.  They have certain numbers and awards in mind that players must meet.  CY Young?  Bartolo Colon has a CY Young just because he was on a good team and fell into 20 wins.  CY Youngs are a good measuring stick, but you can’t be penalized because the writer’s didn’t like your numbers.  Wins for a pitcher are THE MOST OVERRATED stat in all of sports, and maybe the non-stathead baseball community is coming to that realization after CY Young awards to Greinke and King Felix in back-to-back years.  Pitchers can throw a perfect game and not get a win.  Think about that.  Go 9 innings, no baserunners and your team doesn’t score a single run.  In comes Mr. Reliever, your team tallies that all-important run and boom, your buddy in the bullpen has 1 more Win than you do.  Pitchers control walks, strikeouts and to a degree HRs.  Batting Average Against (BAA) is dependant on how good your defense is behind you, and wins are dependant on your team scoring and your 1-inning magical wonders not blowing your lead late in games.  Bert was a big time workhorse in terms of longevity and durability and while he was in there he was a top tier pitcher.  Throw in postseason success on top of a great career and Bert should’ve been in earlier, and he will get in this time around.

Mark McGwire did things people thought impossible. He did things people thought were inhuman… turns out? They were right. I’m not even gonna harp on the Steroids/Andro/whatever… too much. He was on it. Pitchers were on it. I get that, but the fact is McGwire hit homeruns. Lots and lots of tape measure shots. That’s… really what he did while he was in St. Louis. He was a bad defender. He didn’t hit for average. He hit homeruns, while sporting the physique of the Incredible Hulk. He only had 1,043 other hits, and was a lifetime .263 hitter. Not a Hall of Famer. (Neither is Sosa.)

JMB:  This is a VERY tough thing to consider.  Do you only take 5 tool
players or do you take players who do one thing really well?  Look at
Ozzie Smith – an AMAZING fielder, but a .262 lifetime batting average
and not much else offensively to note?   You can argue about McGwire’s fielding abilities.  He’s not GREAT, but he ranks 61st ALL-TIME in defending the position, which compares quite favorably to other 1B who are recognizable or who are in the Hall.

If you take Mac’s career and boil it down to an average season you
get:  50 HR     122 RBI         101 Runs        and  .263 Avg.  – the average is low,
but that’s some impressive production in an “average” year.  Maybe Mac isn’t HOF-worthy in the end, but I don’t think he’s so easy to
dismiss.

Gools: 50 HR 122 RBI 101 Runs .263 Avg. – that’s his average season.  Over the course of 16 years!  That’s greatness.  Please, let’s not get hung up on Batting Average.  The idea of baseball is not to make outs and to score runs.  Mark’s OBP was .393  (better than the likes of Joe Morgan, Honus Wagner, Frank Robinson, Tony Gwynn – ever hear of these guys?), and he had 9 seasons over .400.  That means that he was on base 4 out of every 10 times at the plate; throw-in that he is…oh, I don’t know…10th on the all-time HR list and I think right there he is a HOF.  Steroids, you say?  See my first paragraph – penalize 1 guy, penalize every single, solitary one of them.  As far as defense, he was above average by every current statistical measure – Defensive Zone Rating, Dewan Fielding Metrics.  Was he great?  No, but he was better than good.  If you are going to use errors or fielding percentage, check your black and white screen TV at the door and get with the times.

Kevin Brown was a talented pitcher who had a great six year run. A run of a lifetime… but it doesn’t get him into the Hall. We’re talking about the most elite club in sports. Also the hardest to get into (in part due to the ridiculous nature of the voting process I railed against). A good pitcher who had a GREAT stretch of seasons, but not a Hall of Famer.

JMB:  I have to agree here and my gut feeling, but “gut feeling” is
the same thing that keeps Blyleven out without really looking at the
numbers.  He actually compares quite favorably to his contemporaries such as John Smoltz and Curt Schilling who have post-season sizzle for their Hall cases.  I think he should get in, but NOT this year.

Gools: I agree as well.  Kevin Brown was flat-out dominant, but for a brief time in baseball terms.  Other than about a 6-year stretch, he was injured, inconsistent and good, not great.  Maybe he deserved a CY Young or two (2nd and 3rd in different years), but he’s not an all-time great.

Edgar Martinez almost made it into my “maybe” pile. Hit 312 lifetime, and was an amazing offensive player, but that’s the thing. He didn’t play defense. He was just a DH. A great DH, but he didn’t play the field, meaning he played half the game. Before someone tries to make a pitching in the AL argument to me… a Pitcher affects more of every game than almost any position player. A DH gets 3-5 At Bats a game. In nine innings they’ll be responsible for 3 outs… that’s not enough impact for the Hall, hell it basically makes them relief pitchers.

JMB:  I agree but for different reasons.  I won’t DQ a guy for only
playing “half the game”, but if you only play half the game I expect
titanic numbers.  EM’s numbers are great, but not titanic.

Gools: I’m on-board with JMB again.  I think Edgar’s numbers are great, but for his lack of value in the field needed numbers more like McGwire at the plate.  I don’t think it ruins the Hall if he eventually gets in, but I don’t think he would get my vote.

My Maybe’s

Jeff Bagwell was a good hitter in baseball’s shadiest time. There is something very McGwire-esque about how his body expanded. Maybe that’s overly cynical. He was a much more well rounded player than McGwire. He won a gold glove. He hit for a much better average. His body broke down at the end of his career and cost him a shot at 500 HR. If he’s from another era, he’s a no doubt about it guy… because he came up through the Steroid/Hitter Friendly Parks era? I’m not so sure.

JMB:  Bagwell is IN on my ballot.  Yes he one but one gold glove, but
he was also stuck in the reigns of Mark Grace and JT Snow as “the
fielding 1B” of the league.  He was a quite good defensive player.
Bagwell is also the only 1B to be in the 30-30 club, showing he had
power and speed.  Lastly, although he played in the “steroid era”
let’s not forget for a large portion of his career he played in the
Astrodome where fly balls go to die.

Gools: IN.  100% IN.  Speed, Power, Defense.  He had them all and carried a futile franchise for a long time.  If he hadn’t had an arthritic shoulder, he would have put up the automatic HOF numbers.  Did he juice?  We’ll never know.  But it doesn’t matter – another slugger from the Juiced Era.

Rafael Palmereiro is closer to a yes. He got a suspension, after testing positive for PED’s. He claims not to know how the stuff got in his system saying, “Why would I do this in a season when I was going to get to 3,000 hits? It makes no sense. I would not put my career on the line. I would not put my reputation on the line and everything that I’ve accomplished throughout my career. … I’m not a crazy person. I’m not stupid. This is something that’s an unfortunate thing. It was an accident. I’m paying the price.” I don’t know, but he was a consistent hitter and is one of 4 men in the 3,000 hit / 500 home run clubs. He had 10 seasons with 37+ HR. 10 seasons with at least 100 RBIs, and 11 seasons with 30+ doubles.

JMB:  If I’m being consistent with my “I don’t give a crap about
PED’s” stance, then I have to put Raffy in.  3000 hits and 500 HR’s?
Impressive.

Gools:  Same here JMB.  I worked for The Orioles, and I remember the Sunday that the news broke when I was in the box office – it was devastating.  Disappointing.  Now that time has passed, I’m not sure if I believe him or not.  I just know that he was dumb enough to get caught and he will forever be tarnished in my mind for that.  All of that said, he deserves to be in the HOF – 3000 hits and 500 HRs are reserved numbers for only the greatest.  Throw in the sweetest swing (ok, maybe 2nd sweetest to Griffey – did he juice?  See where I’m going…), above average defense and longevity and Raffy gets my vote.

My Yes’s

Lee Smith. He held the Major League saves record for 13 years, 2 of which while he was Hall Eligible. Sadly the Hall just seems to have a dismissive attitude when it comes to Closers. When Smith got his first save, the career record was 272… Smith surpassed that number by 200. He consistently recorded 30+ saves a season in an era where only 5 or 6 closers got that many saves (as opposed to today’s game where nearly triple that many closers get at least 30 saves).

JMB:  Total agreement.  The Hall treats Closers like the Football Hall
of Fame treats kickers and punters.  Yet, Lee’s accomplishments in his
era were amazing.

Gools:  Total disagreement here.  Saves are so overrated, and a stat that wasn’t even recorded until the last 30 years.  It’s a pitcher coming in and recording 3 out of 27 outs with a lead of 1-3 runs.  Three outs before you give up 3 runs, or even 2 runs and you get this special little stat!  Lee Smith was very good, but he’s the beneficiary of a stat creation.  What about the 1000s of pitchers before him that weren’t credited with the same stat?  (CAVEAT: I would vote for Rivera – but not based on SVs.  Based on the fact that he was the most dominant reliever in the history of the game.  Regular season, postseason, whatever.  He came in and got 3,4,5,6 outs and has ridiculously low ERA and WHIP.)

Barry Larkin was both a good hitter and terrific defender. He hit .295. Stole 379 bases. He was a 12 time all-star and a three time gold glove winner in an era where he play a good chunk with Ozzie Smith. Larkin, along with Cal Ripken Jr. have been the benchmarks for the “new era” of short stop that can play stellar defense and hit. They led the way to the boom of Nomar, A-Rod, Jeter, etc where you have big, fast, athletic, and crazy talented shortstops that aren’t soley “Wizards” on the field.

JMB:  Total agreement – he was the NL equivalent to Ripken in style,
and was a better defender in my opinion.

Gools:  Larkin was pretty darn good.  No doubt about it.  And I’m on the fence with him, but let’s stop with the Ripken comparisons.  Ripken was 89.9 Wins Abover Replacement (WAR) value over the course of his career while Larkin was 68.9 WAR.  That means that Cal was 20 wins better than Larkin over the course of their careers.  That doesn’t mean that Barry isn’t deserving of a possible HOF induction, but he’s not worthy of Ripkenesque comparisons.  You want a fair comparison?  Alan Trammell.  66.9 WAR, and Trammell is losing steam on the ballot because he didn’t hit 400 HRs like Cal and played next to Lou Whitaker who took some of his spotlight.  Meanwhile Larkin had the NL SS spotlight to himself.  I say that Larkin’s supporters should be Trammell’s supporters and vice versa.  Put both in or leave both out.  Gun to my head, I vote for both.  They were top 3 SS of their generation – behind only Rip.

Roberto Alomar may be most remembered for spitting on an umpire… which is unfortunate, becaue he was a helluva baseball player, too. Some have thought Robby not being a “first ballot” hall of famer last year was in large part due to the incident. Alomar was a switch hitter who had over 2700 hits, 200 HR, and 450 steals. He also had a career fielding percentage of .984, which is higher than Hall of Famer, Joe Morgan’s. His numbers are very comparable to Morgan’s as well as Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg. He SHOULD have been voted in last year!

JMB:  Total agreement – and he’s really paying the price for his bad
behavior.  He was an amazing 2Bman and he a key component on
WS-winning teams.  Also, considering he compares favorably to Bill
James’ favorite Joe Morgan speaks well for his talents.

Gools:  Absolute no brainer.  Should’ve been in on the first ballot, but the writers are dimwits.  His spitting incident and recent allegations of infecting his woman with HIV kept him out.  Maybe he’s a crappy human being, but he was one of the greatest 2B of ALL-TIME.  Sweet-swinging, smoothest defender.  Just flat-out ridiculous.

Gools:  Hey guys, did you forget someone?  What about Tim Raines?!?!?  He’s never going to get in at this rate of people forgetting, and he should’ve been a 1st ballot HOF!  He’s the 2nd greatest leadoff hitter only to some guy by the name of Ricky.  Check out ESPN’s Rob Neyer to illustrate my point; it’s ludacrious that Raines is so low on the ballot: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hof10/columns/story?columnist=neyer_rob&id=4784578