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Hall Of Fame Debate: Cast Your Vote For Juan Gonzalez!!!

Hall Of Fame Debate: Cast Your Vote For Juan Gonzalez!!!

During the boom of the long-ball, there are few sluggers that put up the kind of numbers that Juan Gonzalez did.

During the 1990’s Gonzalez personified what you wanted out of the guy that batted clean-up for your team – home runs and run production.  From 1996-98, it could be said that Gonzalez was the most dynamic power hitter in the game.

His game was somewhat limited to the offensive side of the sport, but when it comes to offense, Juan Gonzalez put up numbers that many Hall Of Famers  would envy.

Gonzalez spent 17 seasons in the major leagues, playing 13 for the Texas Rangers.  And once he earned a full-time spot, in his third season with the team, he soared.  From 1991-2001, Gonzalez hit home runs at a rampant pace.  He connected for 40 or more dingers in five of those seasons, and had another 2 seasons of 35 and 39. 

The power led to a lot of runs being scored by the Texas offense and ‘Juan-Gone’ was responsible for a lot of runs crossing the plate in Texas’ favor.  He drove in 100 or more runs in eight different seasons, including one season of 157 RBI in 1998. 

While a solid slugger, Gonzalez did not fall into the ‘one-dimensional player’ group.  He is a lifetime .295 hitter and had seven seasons of at least 150 hits and five seasons in which he hit .300 or better.

Juan Gonzalez

Juan Gonzalez is a 3-time All-Star and a winner of 5 Silver Slugger Awards.  He captured the American League MVP Award in the 1996 and 1998 baseball seasons and also placed in 4th and 5th place in two other very successful campaigns. 

With all of the individual success that Juan Gonzalez had during his impressive MLB career, he only made the playoffs in four of his 17 seasons.  And in each of those four post-season match-ups, he and his teams were eliminated in the first round.

So, is Juan Gonzalez Hall of Fame worthy?

Should he be enshrined at Cooperstown among the greatest players to have ever played the game?

Like many of the sluggers that starred in the same era, Juan Gonzalez’s name has been linked to PED or steroids at some point over the last few years.  There are no reports , however, that have resulted in a positive test report for him.   Unfortunately, whether guilty or not, because the number of home runs that Gonzalez hit is similar to what others that have been positively linked to steroids have been able to amass, he is kind of guilty by association.

But, does he get your vote??

For me, it is a no-brainer!  Juan Gonzalez put up monster numbers during his prime seasons – many of which were greater than what the greatest sluggers in the game achieved.  And while a great source of power and run production, he did not excel at other areas of the game that would have established him as a ‘well-rounded’ player.  But, you cannot argue that for the role he had on offense, he was superb, even elite.

So, for me – YES, he deserves to be inducted.  And to be honest, I am shocked that he is off of the ballot already; after being on it for just one year and earning just 23 of 573 votes cast.  Maybe the writers know something that I don’t.  Maybe I missed an article somewhere.  Maybe being teammates with Canseco, Palmeiro, and A-Rod is enough to be ‘guilty by association.  Maybe, the writers have it all wrong…


Am I crazy??

Sound off.  Please!

Looking Ahead: The Hall Of Fame Class Of 2011

Looking Ahead:  The Hall Of Fame Class Of 2011

With the Hall of Fame still on my mind, I started thinking about what the Class of 2011 may look like.

Of the guys that missed the cut this year, I think that it is pretty safe to assume that Bert Blyleven and Robert0 Alomar will gain entry in 2011.  Besides those two, I don’t see anyone else that has been on the ballot prior picking up enough steam to grab 75% of the votes.

But, what about the guys on the ballot for the first time? 

Well, here is that list: 

2011: Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, John Olerud, Kevin Brown, Larry Walker, Juan Gonzalez, Tino Martinez, B.J. Surhoff, Marquis Grissom, John Franco, Bret Boone, Al Leiter, Benito Santiago, Carlos Baerga, Raul Mondesi, Bobby Higginson, Wilson Alvarez, Rey Sanchez, Charles Johnson, Jose Offerman, Ugueth Urbina, Ismael Valdez, Dan Wilson, Paul Quantrill, Cal Eldred, Kirk Rueter, Steve Reed

The list includes All-stars, MVPs, and World Series champions!!!  But once you start to look at the numbers, there are only 2 guys with a real shot at entry into Cooperstown; and for one of them, it may take a few years…

Those two guys are Jeff Bagwell & Rafael Palmeiro.

Lets start with Bagwell.  He’s a likable guy, and his numbers are solid.  A 15-year career that can be compared to the best first baemen from his era, Bagwell has a ROY and MVP award in his pocket.  He is also a 4-time All-star and winner of 3 Silver Slugger Trophies and 1 Gold Glove.  And while Bagwell hit close to .300 during the duration of his career, his 449 home runs and 2,314 hits leaves him well short of a few major milestones that usually guarantee enshrinement.

That takes us to Rafael Palmeiro.  He has all of the personal achievements.  Heck, he is 1 of just a small handful of players to reach both the 500 Home Runs plateau and 3,000 hits landmark.  But Raffy was never considered as the game’s best at any point during his playing days.  Sure, he was an All-star, and he won a few Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards, but Rafael was never elevated to elite status by winning MVP awards.  And then there is the whole steroid issue – it will loom over Rafael Palmeiro in the same manner that it has with Mark McGwire.  And that does not bode well for his chances; especially on his first ballot.

If I were voting, 3 players would get my vote – Blyleven, Alomar, and Palmeiro.  And while I like Jeff Bagwell, and Barry Larkin for that matter, I just need a few more years to think about how they rank among the best to have ever played the game…

Albert Pujols Puts Himself Alongside Elite Company

 By winning the 2008 Most Valuable Player in the National League, Albert Pujols has cemented his place as one of the game’s greats.  Pujols has won the award twice now with his first MVP trophy being picked up during the 2005 season.

Since 1980, only 7 other players in the game have won multiple MVP awards in a 4 year span.  Pujols now joins this elite group that includes:  Mike Schmidt, Dale Murphy, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Frank Thomas, and Juan Gonzalez.  If Albert is able to win one more award, the group becomes even more prestigious as it only includes Schmidt, Bonds, and A-Rod.

The odds??  Excellent.

In just 8 full seasons in the major leagues, Albert Pujols has a career average of .334.  With 1,531 hits and 319 home runs, Pujols is setting himself up to join the very exclusive 3000/500 club marking him as one of the best hitters the game has ever seen. 

When you take into consideration that Pujols has finished 2nd in the MVP race 3 times and 3rd 1 more time, I have to wonder if we are not taking Pujols’ amazing talent for granted.  Are we expecting his numbers to remain in this same pattern of .330/40/115 every year?  Thus, making it almost impossible for him to impress us any longer??  Is anything less than this considered a failure?