The media has covered all angles of the Hall Of Fame voting over the last 72 hours and I have allowed myself some time to sort through my feelings before stating my stance as to how I feel about Monday’s announcement that Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice are the 2 players elected to Cooperstown in the 2009 class.
This will be lengthy; but here are my thoughts. I am unable to cover all of the players that were eligible for the HOF this year, so I have narrowed it down to what I feel I can make the biggest arguments for or against.
1. Rickey Henderson is in.
It’s no surprise that Rickey made it into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot. Arguably the best player from the 1980’s and certainly the best lead-0ff hitter of all time, Rickey Henderson and the Hall of Fame are a natural fit. The shocker is that Rickey was left off of 28 ballots. 28 writers across the United States failed to include Rickey on their ballots. 1 is OK. 2 is understandable. But 28?? Are you kidding me? 28 baseball writers that are supposed to be educated on the topic they write about for a living left Rickey out?? How on earth could this have happened?? Are these guys all 19 years old and right out of high school? Maybe they never heard of Rickey. But even so, there has been more written about Henderson in the last 4 months than I have seen in the last 5 years. Somebody needs to investigate these 28 writers to see who they voted for.
With 94.8% of the vote, Rickey is #13 all-time for vote percentage earned. But if you look above his name at the list of guys with a higher % of votes earned it’s kind of puzzling. Tony Gwynn and George Brett were both incredible players. But is their talent greater than Henderson’s?? I don’t think so. Rickey brought more to the table from a talent perspective than either of these 2 guys. You can make the argument very easily that Gwynn was a 1-dimensional player and Brett maybe a 2-dimensional player. But Rickey had the speed, power, ability to hit, and above average defensive abilities. I would certainly think that Henderson belongs in the Top 10 list for voting percentage earned.
2. Jim Rice is in.
I was not surprised that Jim Rice got elected into the Hall this year. I just don’t care for it!! In my eyes, Rice was never a dynamic player. He put up some incredible numbers and in 1978 when he won the MVP award he was a monster. But 1 MVP award and a career with 2,452 hits, 382 home runs, 1,451 RBI and NO post season accomplishments does not earn you hall of fame eligibility in my books. There are too many other players in baseball’s recent past that have similar numbers or have had seasons like Rice’s MVP year that also do not belong in the Hall of Fame discussion. Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly were the heart and souls of their team’s offense and each could do what Rice did and sometimes they did it better than him. Are they all of a sudden going to get more consideration?? And these 2 guys were defensive studs, something that Rice cannot claim.
There are several blogs that often state that the HOF is for ‘Baseball’s Elite’. I could not agree any more. If Cooperstown had a wing dedicated to the really good, Jim Rice belongs as do Murphy and Mattingly. I just cannot picture his plaque alongside Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and ‘The Babe’. Sorry Jim.
My personal feeling is that Jim Rice’s election in the HOF lowers the standards. It also kind of reduces the majestic feel of guys like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
3. Andre Dawson misses the cut.
I didn’t expect ‘The Hawk’ to get voted in this year, but it still hurts to see him get little credit for an amazing career. In my eyes, Andre Dawson defined what a ‘5-tool player’ is. And when a player is scouted in today’s game, what is everyone looking for??? Yep, the guy with the ‘5-tools’. Dawson’s stats are extremely impressive considering that he was never really classified as a power hitter or a base stealing threat during his career. But with 438 homers and 314 steals, Dawson combined both skills to become an extremely well rounded player and annual MVP candidate. Did I mention he was a defensive stud and won 8 Gold Glove awards?? And that cannon of an arm he had in right field was amazing to watch when he would fire from the outfield to third base with amazing velocity and precision.
All along I have felt that 2010 was going to be Dawson’s year. With no ‘clear cut’ 1st ballot candidate on the list, the voters may send a few more votes Dawson’s way. Personally I would love to see him as the headliner for his induction class as he never really gets the attention he deserves.
I find it sad that ‘The Hawk’ got just 3 more votes this year than he did last year. It had appeared that his vote counts were headed in the right direction as they increased by 30-40 votes each year since his first year of eligibility in 2002. I guess we’ll have to wait until 2010 to see what the writer’s do with Andre.
4. Mark Grace narrowly misses the 5% mark.
I love Mark Grace. He was thrilling to cheer for. I am not blind though – Mark Grace is not a Hall of Fame baseball player. I just wanted to see ‘Gracey’ get enough votes to remain on the ballot for 15 years. He fell 5 votes short of that goal.
Again, if there was a wing at Cooperstown for the ‘Very Good’ players, Mark Grace has certainly earned his spot.
So there you have it. My 2 cents on this year’s baseball Hall of Fame vote. I don’t try to pretend that I am not biased, but I do love stats and try to let the numbers do the talking.
I have had a lot of fun reading up on other blogs over the last 3 days to see how everyone else feels about the voting. If you’re up for some honest and entertaining reading, check out these(Fielder’s Choice, Hawk to the Hall, Cardboard Junkie, Bad Wax, Rickey Henderson Collectibles) blogs to get a feel for how some other people view what transpired on Monday afternoon.