Category Archives: ‘Hall Of Fame Debate’

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will ‘The 500 Home Run Club’ Ever Guarantee Enshrinement Into Cooperstown Again?

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will ‘The 500 Home Run Club’  Ever Guarantee Enshrinement Into Cooperstown Again?

For a good stretch of baseball’s grand history, ‘The 500 Home Runs Club’ was full of elite and immortal players that defined the role of run producer and slugger.  Sure, some of the players were quite a bit more than that, but all of them were responsible for driving in a tremendous amount of runs via the long ball.

Then, the steroid era hit.  And pretty soon, new members of the once-elite club were springing up all over the place.  And quite often.  The one-time uber-elite group was getting cloudy and crowded.  All of a sudden, ‘The 500 HR Club’ began to look a little different.  And being in the club did not hold the same level of esteem as it once did.

Today, with the game ‘cleaned up’, can that perception change?  Will the ‘500 Home Runs Club’ once again define offensive greatness?

There are only three eligible members of the ‘500 HR Club’ that have not been inducted into Cooperstown.  And they have all been linked to steroids – Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro.  We also have two future possible electees that have been linked to steroids and climbed past 500 home runs – Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez.  I am purposely keeping Alex Rodriguez’s name out of the conversation as he is still considered to be ‘active’.

But, after that, are we in the clear?

Frank Thomas’ 2014 Hall of Fame election certainly helps.  And the future election of Ken Griffey, Jr. adds some serious weight to the ‘Club’ again.  And while I may not be his biggest supporter, Jim Thome’s 600+ home runs is certainly going to add some gusto to the club as well when he gets electecd into the Hall of Fame.

3-Time MVP, Albert Pujols is on his way.  Adam Dunn is going to get there.  World Series MVP, David Ortiz has a solid chance too.

So, my question tonight is this – Can the ‘500 Home Runs Club’ once again be what it once was???

500 home run club

‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ – Todd Helton VS Lance Berkman

‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ – Todd Helton VS Lance Berkman

Before we get into the number-crunching, let me say that the conversation about either one of these players and their potential induction into Cooperstown as a Baseball Hall of Famer is a fun one.  Both players were stars.  And while never may have been tagged as ‘the best’ over the course of a season or multiple seasons, they both performed at superstar levels for many, many years.

Would I vote either of them into the Hall of Fame?  That is a great question, and one worth some time to think about.

But, we can put them in a steel-cage and let their numbers battle to help determine which one had a better career.

So, that is what we will do.

And here are the numbers:

Helton Berkman
Seasons 17 15
Games 2,247 1,879
Hits 2,519 1,905
200 Hit Seasons 2 0
150-199 Hit Seasons 9 7
Batting Average 0.316 0.293
.300+ Seasons 12 5
Batting Titles 1 0
On-Base % 0.414 0.406
Walks Drawn 1335 1201
Strikeouts 1175 1300
Doubles 592 422
Triples 37 30
Home Runs 369 366
30-39 HR Seasons 4 4
40+ HR Seasons 2 2
Stolen Bases 37 86
Runs Scored 1,401 1,146
100-Run Seasons 6 5
RBI 1,406 1,234
100-RBI Seasons 5 6
All-Star 5 6
Gold Glove 3 0
Silver Slugger 3 0
ROY 0 0
MVP 0 0
Postseasons 2 5
WS Titles 0 1

 

And now, time to break it down and cast a vote.

Ultimately for me, the players can be judged on a few base areas of the game: hitting, run production, defense, and star status.

While Lance Berkman was a supreme hitter, Todd Helton’s overall numbers are much better and more impressive.  His number of seasons above .300 is exceptional – 12 out of 17.

Power numbers are solid for both, and each offered similar home run, RBI, and run production.

Todd Helton won three Gold Glove Awards for defensive excellence at First base while Berkman was never recognized as an elite defender.

Lastly, Todd Helton is without a doubt the greatest Colorado Rockies player of all-time (to this point) and he has been the face of the franchise for 20+ years.  Lance Berkman is an Astros legend, and deserves his spot as one of the team’s best offensive players, but he has company there with Biggio, Bagwell, etc.

For me this battle is strong, but one man comes out on top every time (except stolen bases) and that player is Todd Helton.

He gets my vote!!

Helton

And now, it is your turn to vote – Todd Helton VS Lance Berkman

 

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Tim Raines’ Vote Tally From His 7th Ballot

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Tim Raines’ Vote Tally From His 7th Ballot

When the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame voting was announced, I was pretty eager to see how Tim Raines’ vote went after the shutout from 2013’s voting.

And after achieving 52.2% of the vote in 2013, I was hoping that Raines would creep up to 60% with the vote from 2014.

But, the opposite happened – he dropped.  From 297 votes to 263.  For Tim Raines, and his fans, this is not a good sign.

Raines is one of the most accomplished offensive players left on the Hall of Fame ballot, but he has some serious competition from his peers.  Guys like Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, and Jeff Bagwell are all taking votes from him.  And as long as players like Edgar Martinez and Alan Trammell remain on the ballot, they too will take votes from Raines.

Will his vote tallies over the next 7-8 years increase enough for him to gain the needed 75% for enshrinement?  Sadly, it is not looking good.

Raines has never seen a ‘big bump’ in votes on any of his ballots.  And between the solid competition for votes that he is currently facing, and with some of the names on the horizon that will surely grab votes and attention, Raines may be instantly thrown into a Dale Murphy or Jack Morris position – highly respected, but not elected.

Tim Raines

What do you think?  Will a big bump in votes head his way in the coming years or are there too many qualified players on the ballot for him to truly make a move toward 75%?

What are your thoughts?

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Mike Piazza’s Vote Tally From His Second Ballot

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Mike Piazza’s Vote Tally From His Second Ballot

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a Mike Piazza fan.  No, he did not do anything personal to me to make me feel this way, I just never got on board with him.  It may be the fact that he played for ‘my team’ for just 5 games back in 1998 or it could be the fact that when with the Mets he crushed ‘my team’ pretty regularly.

While I don’t care for him, I absolutely respect him.  His offensive game was unreal, and he was more than fair behind the plate.

It does seem that the BBWAA does not respect him though.

On his first Hall of Fame ballot, Piazza accumulated 329 votes which was good for 57.8% of the vote.  And then in 2013, he pulled in 355 votes while earning 62.2% of the vote.  I would have given him my vote on both ballots.  And I think that he should have been selected for enshrinement in 2013.

This improvement in votes captured shows that Piazza is heading in the right direction.  But based on the percentage change from 2012 to 2013, he is still 3-4 years away from getting to the needed 75%.

What is taking so long??

Isn’t Mike Piazza often tagged as the ‘Best Hitting Catcher Of All-Time’???

His offensive numbers are certainly Hall-worthy:  .308 batting average, .377 on-base percentage (mostly from the clean-up spot), 2,127 hits, 344 doubles, 427 home runs, 1,048 runs scored, 1,335 RBI, and 3,768 total bases.  All of this screams ‘Hall of Fame’.  He also raked in six 30/100 seasons and narrowly missed the number during three more seasons.  So, his production was strong – and very consistent.

Why the slow collection of votes??

Is it the ‘pretty boy’ image?  Is it the lack of superior play behind the plate?  The lack of postseason success?

Mike Piazza is a former Rookie Of The Year.  He was a 12-time All-Star.  He won 10 Silver Slugger Awards during his career.  Piazza never won an MVP Award, but he finished in the Top 9 during seven different seasons.

Of all of the eligible offensive players on the ballot, I would select Mike Piazza as a Hall of Famer before any of them.  Before Craig Biggio, before Jeff Bagwell, and even before my beloved Tim Raines.

Am I missing something??

Mike Piazza Photo

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Jeff Bagwell’s Vote Tally From His Fourth Ballot

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Jeff Bagwell’s Vote Tally From His Fourth Ballot

When Jeff Bagwell’s name hit the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot, it was the fourth time he had been up for election.

And while I thought that ‘Bags’ would secure enough votes to eclipse the 75% needed for election, I was very curious to see how his vote count would change with so many big-time names on the ballot.

The result?  As I thought, a dip in vote percentage.

Here is a look at how Bagwell’s vote count has looked since his first ballot:

Votes Vote %
2011 242 41.7
2012 321 56.0
2013 339 59.6
2014 310 54.3

As you can see, a slight dip in votes came when bigger names were added to the ballot.

So, what happens in 2015 and the future?

I think that we will see another big bump for Bagwell, but it might not come for a few more years.  I would think that after Piazza and Griffey and Pudge Rodriguez and maybe even Chipper Jones gets in is when we will finally see Bagwell tagged as ‘the best offensive player on the ballot’.  And when that happens, I think is when Bagwell will get the votes that he deserves.

Do I think he is a Hall of Famer?  Yes, without a doubt – he has the numbers.  But, he is also going to be up against players that were constant MVP threats, and better all-around players.  Bagwell will get into the Hall of Fame, but more than likely not until a few more ‘elite’ guys do first.

What do you think?  What will it take for Jeff Bagwell’s vote tally to climb and earn him a trip to Cooperstown?

Let me hear it.

Jeff Bagwell

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Jeff Kent’s Vote Tally From His First Ballot

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Jeff Kent’s Vote Tally From His First Ballot

After analyzing the complete 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame voting results, it was Mike Mussina’s name that I was most shocked by with the final number of votes received.  Right behind Mussina, was Jeff Kent.

While never a superstar or household name, Jeff Kent was often regarded as ‘the best offensive player at his position’.  His stretch from 1997-2005 was superb.

On his first ballot, Kent received just 87 votes earning him 15.2% of the required 75% needed for election to Cooperstown.

So, where does Jeff Kent go from here?  Can he make up the vast ground that separates him and the needed votes to be elected?

Kent is the all-time leader in home runs hit for a second baseman with 377 career round-trippers.  When compared to all other second baseman in the Hall of Fame, Kent ranks in third place with 1,518 RBI behind Nap Lajoe and Rogers Hornsby.  His lifetime batting average of .290 is five points higher than that of Ryne Sandberg and nineteen points higher than Joe Morgan.

Kent was a 5-time All-Star and a 4-time Silver Slugger winner.  He was a league MVP in 2000 and had three other ‘Top 9′ seasons for the award.

What I think the biggest argument about Kent’s career is when his numbers soared.  He took his game to another level when he joined the Giants in 1997.  It may be coincidental that his performance accelerated when he started hitting in a lineup that featured Barry Bonds.  Maybe it was Bonds’ presence that allowed for Kent to do what he did in San Fran as he did not achieve the same output while with the Mets or Indians in prior years.

Nonetheless, Jeff Kent has a huge mountain to climb in order to get to the Hall of Fame.  By comparison, Andre Dawson received 45% of the vote on his first ballot in 2002 and Jim Rice got 29.8% of the vote in 1995.  It took both of these guys a pretty long time to gain enshrinement – and each of them started with a lot more votes than what Kent got in round one.

Jeff Kent

What do you think?  Can Jeff Kent take on this uphill battle and emerge victorious?  If so, how long will it take for him to reach 75%?

Let me hear it!

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Mike Mussina’s Vote Tally From His First Ballot

Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Mike Mussina’s Vote Tally From His First Ballot

Well, as we all know by now, Mike Mussina did not get anywhere close to gaining entry into the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 when the votes were announced a few weeks back.

Actually, he did far worse than what I expected.  Of a total of 571 votes cast, Mussina secured just 116 good for 20.3% of the total, and well below the needed 75% to gain election.

So, what happens now?  Where does the voting for Mike Mussina go from here?

Does he follow the path of Jack Morris and hang around for a long time picking up votes year after year but never gaining access?  Or does, he slowly start to lose votes as new possible inductees take more votes from him, a la Fred McGriff?

Me – I think he will stick around for a while – but never get over the 55-60% mark.  There are a few pitchers on the ballot right now that I think are just as worthy, or possibly more, as Mussina.   And with the guys coming up on future ballots, I think he will be stuck in the shadows for a few more years before he may get a bigger bump from the voters.

Mussina

What do you think happens?

Hall Of Fame Debate: Looking Ahead To The Possible Class Of 2015

Hall Of Fame Debate: Looking Ahead To The Possible Class Of 2015

Ok, so now we know what players made the cut with the ‘Class of 2014′ and which ones will have to wait at least one more year to see if they earn election in 2015.

And we also know the players that will be eligible for the first time in 2015.

They are:  Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Paul Byrd, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, David Dellucci, Jermaine Dye, Alan Embree, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Mark Loretta, Pedro Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, Troy Percival, B.J. Ryan, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, Julian Tavarez, Jarrod Washburn, David Weathers

The list is interesting to say the least.  It is packed with All-stars, memory makers, and World Series champions.

But, is it packed with future Hall of Famers as well??

Well, at first glance, there are a few names that stand out for me – and probably you as well.  The names of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz stand out among the pitchers on the list.  And while there is no ‘top-tier’ offensive player on the ballot for the first time in 2015, the name of Gary Sheffield should make you at least pause for a few minutes.

To be honest, of the four guys mentioned above, not one of them can hold a candle to the single at-bat that Aaron Boone had in the World Series a few years ago.  But, when looking at the full careers, both regular and post season, this ballot is stacked at the top and then there is a major drop-off.

There is no Mike Piazza on this list.  Or Mike Mussina.  Or Jeff Kent.

So, what do you think – Four contenders and a bunch of pretenders or am I missing something??

NationalBaseballHallOfFameLogo

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will There Ever Be A Unanimous Election??

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will There Ever Be A Unanimous Election??

Johnny Bench did not do it…

Nolan Ryan did not do it…

Rickey Henderson did not do it…

And most recently, Greg Maddux did not do it.

Will it ever happen?  This is certainly a good topic for debate.  And timely too!

Ultimately, I think that there are just way too many voters in the Hall of Fame election process for all of them to agree to a 100% vote for any single player.  Will players get close?  Sure.  But, 100% of the vote is going to be very, very tough – especially when the voters seem to have such differing views as to what amounts to a Hall of Fame player.

At times over their careers, it seemed like guys like Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr, and Albert Pujols were all lined up to amass incredible numbers when their time for election was due.  But, things change.  And they change rapidly.  Injuries, change of scenery, rapid drop-off in production, etc. all lead to someone taking a vote or votes away.

Personally, I don’t believe that it will ever happen.

But, of all of the future eligible players, I think that the player with the best opportunity to get close to 100% is Mariano Rivera.  Numbers-wise, he is heads and shoulders above all relief pitchers.  Plus, he did it in the biggest media city in the US.  And he did a majority of it in pressure situations.  The biggest knock against him is that he ‘is just a closer’.  And that horrible phrase may be enough to keep a few votes out of his pocket too…

What do you think?  Will we ever see a player earn 100% of the votes cast for Hall of Fame induction?  Does that player exist today?

Let me hear it!!!

Hall of fame voting

Hall Of Fame Debate: Give Me Your Final 2014 Hall Of Fame Ballot

Hall Of Fame Debate: Give Me Your Final 2014 Hall Of Fame Ballot

This conversation may be as easy it gets – Simply tell me who would be on your final ballot if you had an opportunity to submit one.

The final voting will be announced next week and I am eager to see how mine compares to the final BWAA ballot and how yours stacks up as well, too.

As for mine, it goes something like this:

  1. Greg Maddux
  2. Tom Glavine
  3. Frank Thomas
  4. Craig Biggio

And that is it.  Just 4 players.

And while there are certainly more players on the list that I feel belong, I believe that these are the ones that get enshrined, and deservedly so, this year – my class of 2014.

And now it is your turn – Give Me Your Final 2014 Hall Of Fame Ballot.

NationalBaseballHallOfFameLogo