I should state ahead of time that I feel there are a number of players in the HOF that should not be there, and I am more strict in my opinion on who deserves to be there than the BBWAA (and the previous Veterans Committee) is.
- Roberto Alomar (2B) - .300 BA, 2724 hits, 210 HRs, 1134 RBIs, 474 SBs, 12 All Star games, 10 Gold Gloves, 5 Top 10 MVP voting finishes. Before the last three years of Alomar's career, no one had any doubt about him being a first ballot HOFer, but the collapse of his ability at age 34 was sudden, and more people remember Alomar spitting on John Hirschbeck and the recent accusations about his sexuality and endangering the life of his girlfriend than of him being the best 2B of his era. Of the 14 players who also appeared in 12 All Star games, 8 are in the Hall, 3 are either still active or not yet eligible (A-Rod, Manny, Piazza), Alomar, Larkin (1st time on the ballot) and McGwire. Alomar sits 10th all-time in HRs by a 2B, 4th in SBs (I believe), and 6th in hits. What the voters will do: he will be elected in the first year, though it will be close. What the voters should do: he deserves the HOF.
- Kevin Appier (P) - (169-137) career record, 3.74 ERA, 1994 K's, 1 All-Star game, 1 Top 3 Cy Young, Top 3 Rookie of the Year. If elected, Kevin's ERA would be the 2nd highest (ahead of Red Ruffing) and .07 behind Ted Lyons. What the voters will do: Kevin will not receive enough votes to stay on the ballot. What the voters should do: Thanks for playing Kevin!
- Harold Baines (OF/DH) - .289 BA, 2866 hits, 384 HRs, 1628 RBIs, 6 All-Star Games, 2 Top 10 MVP finishes. As Harold was nearing the end of his career, my friend Big Joe and I worried about Baines closing in on the magical 3000 hit number. If he reached, he was almost assured of making the HOF...but was he worthy? Fortunately he fell short, and with only 5.9% yes votes on last year's ballot, Baines will probably not be on the ballot after this year. In my opinion, he is the Don Sutton of hitters, the only difference being Sutton reached the magical number for pitchers. I'm actually selling Don a bit short here, as he did finish in the top 5 of Cy Young voting 5 different times. Baines has more HRs than Bench, Cepeda and Jim Rice, and 12 of the 15 players behind him in RBI are in the Hall (the others being Dawson, Thome and McGriff). So why is Harold Baines getting so little love from the voters? Because as he moved into the DH position full-time and stayed serviceable for the next fourteen years, offensive statistics jumped. If he had started his career ten years earlier, and had the same statistics, I have no doubt voters would have debated as they did with Jim Rice...and eventually voting him in. What the voters will do: Baines will miss the cut this year. What the voters should do: An accumulator of stats, Baines never put together the type of season voters look for when elected someone to the Hall. This will be his last year.
- Bert Blyleven (P) - (287-250) career record, 3.31 ERA, 3701 K's, 2 All Star games, 3 Top 5 Cy Young voting. I like Bert Blyleven. I really do...I think he's funny as an announcer, and I love that as the pitching coach of The Netherlands in this past year's WBC they pitched above their heads. Personally, I think this will be the final straw that gets him elected into the HOF, but I'm still not convinced. I have outlined my case against his election before in this blog, but I'll summarize here: there are eight pitchers elected already from his contemporaries. He didn't have any great seasons like some of the pitchers will lesser career stats, and didn't reach the magical number needed to put him over the top. His supporters argue the teams he played for were horrible, but the facts don't support this, as the average W-L record of his teams (without his record) was 80-82. Average. Check out some of the HOF pitchers winning % in comparison to their teams sometime. In addition, when given a minimal amount of support of runs (3 runs or less, he won less often than any of those HOF pitchers...38% of the time). By comparison, Seaver won 50% of the time when given 2 runs or less. But if he gets elected, I'll listen to his speech, and welcome the first Dutch player in the Hall. What the voters will do: Welcome Bert to Cooperstown. What the voters should do: Look past the wins and K's.
- Ellis Burks (OF) - .291 BA, 2107 hits, 352 HRs, 1206 RBIs, 181 SBs, 2 All-Star Games, 1 Top 3 MVP finish. A victim of not being able to stay healthy (only 1 season w/ 600 ABs, 2 seasons with 146+ games), Burks is given too little credit for his offensive ability due to him playing almost 5 years in Colorado. The fact is, however, that only 1 season (1996) falls out of line with the rest of his career. He hit .344 for San Francisco in 2000, hit 30 HRs twice outside of Denver (2x while there). But that 1996 made skeptics of most of us. What the voters will do: One and done. What the voters should do: One and done.