Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Breaking Down the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame Candidates

Photo Credit: sportsfantalking.com
We're about a month away from the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2012 being announced. For kicks, I've broken the candidates down into four categories: Just Happy to be on the Ballot, Not Quite Hall of Famers, Guys Mired in Controversy, and My Hall of Famers.

The Just Happy to be on the Ballot guys are all stars in their own right. Every one of them did something to be on the ballot. That said, none of them deserve to be on the ballot for very long. The Hall of Fame is reserved for greatness. These guys are destined for the Hall of Very Good.

The Not Quite Hall of Famers are guys that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame conversation, but in my mind still don't make the cut. However, I wouldn't cry foul if any of the guys on this list make it in someday.

The Guys Mired in Controversy list is reserved for your guys tainted by steroids. All things being equal, they're probably Hall of Famers, but due to their alleged or admitted indiscretions, these guys may never see the Hall. At least Pete Rose will have company.

Finally, My Hall of Famers are the guys I'd elect if I was actually a voter. Most of the guys on my list were on my mock ballot last year as well, but last year only Bert Blyleven and Robby Alomar made the cut. As a result, they're back on the ballot this year. So without further ado, here's how I break down the 2012 candidates:


Jeromy Burnitz - The slugging lefty had some decent power years eclipsing 30 home runs 6 times in his 14 year career, but his overall numbers leave a lot to be desired: lifetime average .253, only one all star appearance, 1447 hits.
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Vinny Castilla - If this was the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame we were talking about then Castilla would be a no brainer. One of the best position players ever to come out of Mexico, Castilla's numbers are largely tainted by his time in Colorado where he hit 191 of his 320 home runs. An original Rockie, Castilla was a two-time all star and slugged 40 or more homers 3 times in his 16 year career.
Photo Credit: fanpix.net

Brian Jordan - Less heralded than fellow two-sport athletes Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, Jordan played 3 years in the NFL as a safety for the Atlanta Falcons in addition to his 15 year major league baseball career. Jordan gave up football once he reached the majors with St. Louis and had a solid, but largely unspectacular career. Jordan hit .282 but hit just 184 home runs and had just 1454 hits while making just one all star team.
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Bill Mueller - I got to see Mueller play a lot growing up as he was with the Giants when I lived in the Bay Area and then a member of the Red Sox when I moved to Boston. Mueller is a great complimentary piece, and played a major role on the Sox '04 team. But other than winning a batting title and a silver slugger in '03, Mueller's career doesn't really scream Hall of Famer. Never an all-star, Mueller hit .291 but had just 1229 hits and 85 home runs in his career.
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Terry Mulholland - There are a lot of good things that Mulholland did during his 20 big league seasons. He started the 1993 all-star game for the National League, he threw a no-hitter, and he threw a league best 12 complete games in 1992. But Mulholland had a losing record in his career (124-142), an ERA well over 4, and according to baseball-reference.com, the players his stats align most closely with include Jeff Fassero and Dave Burba.
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Phil Nevin - Nevin was taken with the first overall pick of the 1992 draft by the Astros who passed on a chance to take a scrappy shortstop named Derek Jeter. Nevin was a productive major leaguer, but he's no Jeter. In 12 seasons, Nevin hit .270 with 208 home runs and was named to one all star team in 2001.
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Brad Radke - Radke was the face of the Twins rotation for over a decade winning 20 games in 1997 and leading the Twins to the playoffs 4 times in his career. However for his career Radke was just 148-139 with an ERA of 4.22 and made just one all star team in his 12 year career.
Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com

Tim Salmon - One of the Angels all-time greats, Salmon slugged 299 homers and hit .282 in 14 seasons with the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles franchise. Salmon was the 1993 AL Rookie of the Year and helped lead the Angels to the 2002 World Series Title while hitting .346 with a pair of home runs against the Giants. Still, Salmon never made an all star team and won just one silver slugger award in his career.
Photo Credit: bleacherreport.com

Tony Womack - Womack is perhaps best known for driving in the tying run in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning. Otherwise he made one all star team, led the league in steals 3 times and finished his 13 year career with an average of .273.
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Eric Young - Young hit the first home run in Rockies history in 1993 and had a solid 15 year career hitting .283 with 465 stolen bases. Young was an all star in 1996 and won the silver slugger award for second baseman that same year.
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Javy Lopez - In my mind Javy Lopez was better than he actually was, but maybe that's because the Braves were so good for so long that so many of their players seemed larger than life. Lopez wasn't a slouch though, hitting .287 over 15 seasons with 260 home runs. Lopez made three all star teams and was the 1996 NLCS MVP when he hit .542 in a 7 game series against St. Louis.
Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Fred McGriff - The Crime Dog played 19 years in the majors, but fell just short of the 500 homer milestone and never hit 40 home runs in a season. He made 5 all star teams and was the all star game MVP in 1994 and he won 3 silver slugger awards while hitting .284 and amassing 2490 hits. While certainly a dominant bat in his day, his failing to reach that magic number of 500 during the juiced ball era works against him in my mind and that keeps him out of the Hall.
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Ruben Sierra - Sierra played 20 years in the majors and was an all star 4 times. But after 3 100+ rbi seasons in his first six years in the majors, Sierra eclipsed 100 rbis just once the rest of his career. From 1993-2000 (age 27-34), Sierra didn't have a single season in which he batted over .270. He eclipsed 2000 hits and over 300 homers but finished with a career average of .268.
Photo Credit: baseball.wikia.com

Lee Smith - Lee Smith saved 478 games over 18 seasons, and led the league in that category four times. His candidacy is called into question though because typically closers haven't gotten any love from the voters. Smith appeared in 1022 games in his career and posted a 3.03 ERA while making 7 all star teams and finishing in the Top 5 for the Cy Young 3 times in his career.
Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Larry Walker - Between 1997 and 2001, Larry Walker won 3 NL batting titles and hit over .350 four times. It's hard to take those numbers seriously though when you consider he was playing in Colorado. In his 7 1/2 seasons not spent with the Rockies, Walker never hit over .322, never drove in 100 runs, and never hit over 23 homers. In 9 1/2 years with the Rockies he hit at least .324 six times, drove in over 100 runs five times and had 26 or more home runs five times. Walker made 5 All Star teams and won the 1997 NL MVP award, but the Coors Effect is his undoing in my mind.
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Bernie Williams - Williams was steady over the years hitting over .300 in 8 straight seasons from 1995-2002. A Yankee for life, he finished his career with 2336 hits, 287 homers and a .297 average. Between 1995 and 2006, he appeared in 121 playoff games in which he hit .275 with 22 homers and 80 runs batted in. He made 5 all star teams and was the 1996 ALCS MVP. However, despite his numbers, he finished in the Top 10 in the MVP races just twice.
Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com


Juan Gonzalez - Juan Gone was one of the game's most feared hitters in the 90s. He used to hit just laser beam home runs that never seemed to go more than ten feet off the ground in Texas. He had five 40+ homer seasons and finished his career with 434 homers and a .295 average. Gonzalez won the 1996 and 1998 AL MVP Awards and made three all star teams. However, he was named in both the Mitchell Report and in Jose Canseco's tell-all book so he's not going to get into the Hall anytime soon if ever.
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Mark McGwire - Big Mac hit 583 career home runs, broke Roger Maris's record of 61 homers in 1998 en route to a 70 homer season, played in 12 All Star Games, won the 1987 rookie of the year award while with the A's and even won a Gold Glove in 1990. Just one problem: Admitted Steroid User.
Photo Credit: jtbourne.com

Rafael Palmeiro - 3020 hits. 569 home runs. 3 Gold Gloves. One of the sweetest swings you'll ever see. Steroids.
Photo Credit: nydailynews.com


Rather than reinventing the wheel, I'm just going to use the same arguments I used last year for a lot of these guys.

Jeff Bagwell - "I'm slightly biased on this one as an Astros fan, but this guy was arguably the greatest Astro ever and he did pretty much everything well. He retired as the Astros career leader in home runs, runs batted in, and walks and tallied 449 career home runs despite playing in the Astrodome for nearly a decade. He was the 1994 NL MVP when he hit .368 with 39 home runs and 116 rbis in just 110 games before the strike. He had a pair of 30/30 seasons, won a gold glove, was the rookie of the year in 1991, and was elected to 4 all star teams. The only thing that would be nice if he didn't get elected was if Biggio and Bagwell could go into the Hall together. The guy deserves to be there though." I'd like to emphasize that you can't undersell just how much of hitter's paradise the Dome wasn't in the 90s.
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Barry Larkin - Larkin somehow only got 62.1% of the vote last year despite his strong resume. He is looking to become the 17th player to increase his votes by 13% in a single year to get into the Hall of Fame, the most recent being Ryne Sandberg in 2004. "Despite playing in the Ozzie Smith era, Larkin was a 12 time all star and won 3 gold gloves with the Reds where he spent his entire major league career. Larkin was the NL MVP in 1995 and a pivotal member of the Reds 1990 World Series team hitting .353 against the heavily favored Athletics. Larkin totaled 2340 hits, won 9 silver sluggers and hit .295 with 441 doubles and 379 steals. When you talk 80s /early 90s NL shortstops it was always Ozzie Smith and Barry Larkin."
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Edgar Martinez - "A lifetime Mariner, Martinez was one of the greatest DH's in baseball history. While that may sour some people, check this out: Martinez is one of 8 players to hit 300 homeruns, 500 doubles, hit at least .300, have an on base percentage of at least .400 and slug at least .500. The other seven? Oh just Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Manny Ramirez and Todd Helton. Not bad company. Martinez made 7 all star teams and won 5 silver slugger awards."
Photo Credit: historyrat.wordpress.com

Don Mattingly - Mattingly is the one new addition to my ballot this year. I didn't vote for him last year, but after looking at his numbers again, and looking at why I voted for Dale Murphy, I feel obligated to include him on my list. Between 1984 and 1989, Mattingly made the all star team every year and never hit below .303 eclipsing .340 twice. He won an MVP award and a batting title while leading the league in hits twice, doubles three times and rbis once. However from 1990 until he retired in 1995, Mattingly hit over .300 just once and never drove in more than 86 runs in a season. Still, he won 9 Gold Gloves in his 14 year career and during his prime he was one of the most feared history in baseball. Not to mention the fact that he was synonymous with the Yankees organization for over a decade. And that's why I'm ok with him making the cut. 
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Jack Morris - Along with Larkin, Morris has probably the best chance of getting vote in this year after receiving 53.5% of votes last year. "My best memory of Jack Morris was Game 7 of the 1991 World Series when Morris pitched 10 shutout innings against the Atlanta Braves allowing Gene Larkin to drive in Dan Gladden in the bottom of the 10th to win the World Series for Minnesota. Like Blyleven he was durable tossing 175 complete games (28 shutouts) and winning at least 20 games 3 times. For his career he was 254-186. While his ERA was high (3.90), Morris was a member of 4 world series winners (1984 with Detroit, 1991 with Minnesota, 1992 and 1993 with Toronto). While he didn't pitch in the '93 playoffs and struggled in '92, check out his totals for 1984 and 1991: 7-0 with a 2.07 ERA. As a result he was the 1991 World Series MVP. Morris was a 5 time all star and no pitcher won more games than he did during the 1980s." When you consider the other starting pitchers on the ballot (Mulholland and Radke) barely won as many games combined as Morris did by himself, it's kind of a no brainer in my opinion.
Photo Credit: cbssports.com

Dale Murphy - "He was one of the better power hitters of the 80s and won a pair of MVP awards in 1982 and 1983 with Atlanta. He also was a 7-time all star and won 5 gold gloves. From 1988 on he struggled hitting just .236 and that brought his career average down from .282 to .265 and many voters may hold that against him. Not me though."
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Tim Raines - "Raines was an all-star every year from 1981-1987 and a member of 2 World Series Teams (the 1996 and 1998 Yankees). Raines hit .294 for his career and is ranked 4th all time in stolen bases with 808 (with an 84.7% success rate). He finished with 2605 hits and is the Expos/Nationals career leader in singles, triples, walks and stolen bases. Not just an offensive threat, Raines was also an excellent left fielder tallying 21 outfield assists to lead the National League in 1983."
Photo Credit: washington.nationals.mlb.com

Alan Trammell - "Trammell played his entire career with the Detroit Tigers and was a tremendous all around shortstop. He was selected to play in 6 all-star games, won 4 gold gloves, and 3 silver sluggers over his career. He was the 1984 World Series MVP when the Tigers beat the Padres and he hit .419 during the 1984 postseason."
Photo Credit: krakov.net

So there you go. That's how I see the ballot. What do you guys think?


  1. could tim raines be the most under-rated player in baseball history...unless he could be watched on a regular basis, his greatness could not be appreciated

  2. Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell, and Mark McGwire are the only HOF candidates IMHO. McGwire will have to wait a little longer until his 'rehabilitation' is complete. He got a pretty good boost this year with the exposure gained during the post season. the knock against Edgar is that he didn't take his turn in the field, which to purists is a downside,...Mattingly and Murphy are in the same boat,...great for a while, but not long enough,...the playing field is littered with folks with peak value that faded because of injury or inexplicable loss of production,...Timmy Raines was the 2nd best of this type of player after Rickey,...but 2nd doesn't out weigh the monster OPS+ demanded from the outfield positions in the offensive era. For Trammell it's the same,..just not enough in this time where Ripken set the new standard for middle IF/3B production. I would vote for Trammell over the rest above outside of my picks....that leaves Morris who is least deserving of all,..but with the advantage of a weak field of candidates overall this year, might just slip in,...this would be an even greater tragedy if he was to get in and Brown or Mussina do not make it when their time comes (can't wait to see how much support Brown will get on his first try?)

  3. Raines and Trammel are seriously underrated by conventional wisdom....they are surrounded by HOFers if you look at their WAR and other advanced stats