In my last post I took a look at those players who merit Hall of Fame consideration, but who fall short of my personal line for the Hall of Fame. In this post I will examine those players whom I do think merit induction into the Hall of Fame, but who do not make my hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot. Once again, I will go in alphabetical order.
It kinda kills me to leave off Clemens. I don’t think I need to go over all of his accomplishments, by any rational standard; Clemens clearly was a Hall of Fame pitcher. However, on a crowded ballot, I think non-PED users should take precedence over PED users, and if I had a ballot, my single vote would not cause him to fall off. Clemens will have his case heard. Finally, I voted for four other pitchers.
I’m going to be honest, I never saw Jeff Kent play, never particularly considered Jeff Kent as an excellent ballplayer, until I took a close look at his numbers. Kent was an excellent hitter. His career counting numbers don’t appear like much (2,461 hits, 377 homers) his rate stats are much more impressive. Kent owns a .290/.356/.500 career slash line, good for a 123 OPS+ which ranks ahead of inductees Roberto Alomar (116) and Ryne Sandberg (114) as well as fellow ballot mate Craig Biggio (112). The meat of his career, when he played for San Francisco, had a .297/.368/.535 batting line, which contained an MVP season (which he won on the power of his 125 RBIs) and his 2002 season, where he was almost as good.
Jeff’s problem comes with his defense and baserunning. When he came up, many thought he looked like a brick out there in the field. He never won a Gold Glove. Baseball Reference seems to think he held second base to a draw (only 0.7 wins below replacement on the defensive end). He wasn’t a basestealer (94 career steals), although Baseball Reference again has him as an average runner (1 run above replacement for his career). In the end, Jeff’s bat was one of the best at his position in baseball history, combining solid on base skills with excellent power. Unfortunately, on a crowded ballot, he doesn’t quite make the top 10, and he may not even stay on the ballot longer than this year.
Edgar Martinez is the greatest designated hitter in baseball history. From the time he finally made the majors at age 27 to his retirement he destroyed the league. He is one of only a few players in baseball history to end his career with a .300/.400/.500 career line or better (.312/.418/.515). Martinez ended his career with an OPS+ of 147. However, Edgar’s problem has never been his hitting, as writers have long acknowledged that Martinez was a superb hitter. The question is, did Martinez hit enough to outweigh the fact that he didn’t play the field? In a word: yes. Martinez’s OPS+ ranks 41st all time, ahead of scores of Hall of Famers. However, the fact that he never played the field dissipates his value enough that he doesn’t quite make the ballot, which makes me sad because Martinez has languished on the ballot for too long.
Mark McGwire is arguably the greatest homerun hitter in the history of baseball. His 10.61 AB per HR rate is the lowest in baseball history, ahead of Ruth, Bonds and Aaron. Like Sammy Sosa, McGwire’s case is somewhat one sided; he hit a ton of homeruns. However, unlike Sosa, Big Mac walked a ton; he owns a .394 career on base percentage, which is incredibly high, even during the steroid era.
On a side note, McGwire is the only player, to my knowledge, to acknowledge his steroid use, apologize for it, and take actions to repent for his crimes. Yes, Mark adamantly refuses to state that the steroids allowed him to hit all of his homeruns, but in truth we will never know how much of it was the PEDs and how much of it was his talent and hard work.
Here are two players, one is in the Hall of Fame (elected by the BBWAA) and one is Alan Trammel, pick which is which.
.295/.371/.444 198 HR, 2,340 hits, 70.2 bWAR, 13th on JAWS, 116 OPS+
.285/.352/.415 185 HR, 2,365 hits, 70.3 bWAR, 11th on JAWS, 110 OPS+
Player B, you probably know, is Alan Trammel and Player A is, of course, Barry Larkin. There is an argument that Larkin as a better player than Trammel (a thin one) however, I haven’t heard a reasonable argument that the Hall of Fame line is between that razor thin difference between Trammel and Larkin. However, Trammel is not going to get elected to the Hall of Fame via the BBWAA, and on a crowded ballot, I have no room for him.
Walker is one of the greatest right fielders of all time. Yes, Walker’s .313/.400/.565 line is partially a product of his time in Coors Field, however, his 141 career OPS+ indicates an elite hitter. He was also an elite baserunner, 40 runs above average over his career according to Baseball Reference, and an excellent fielder, 7 well deserved Gold Gloves. Walker’s biggest problem was staying on the field, he played over 150 games only once in his career. However, once again I don’t think Walker is quite good enough to make my 10 player ballot. I am concerned he will fall off the ballot, and I pray he does not.