Who Will Get the Call? (MLB HOF Preview)

The Next class of the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced Monday and their year could be more mundane than the upcoming years as a certain dark era begins to creep in. The Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the most exclusive halls in pro sports with only 202 MLB players in the hall out of the over 10,000 players that have played in the MLB. The Hall elects few members every year, last year they elected three, as eligible players must receive 75% of the BWAA votes to make the cut. Of course there is one spot known before the rest are announced with the Veteran’s Committee who elects one player every year that has been long retired or was an umpire, manager, or executive. The Veteran’s Committee makes their selection before the rest of the ballot is confirmed and this year they selected former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo. Santo did not get to see his induction as he passed away last year but he was well deserving of his induction. A career .277 hitter, Santo hit 365 home runs and was one of the best defensive players in the league. With Santo already in there the debate rages on about the 27 nominees in this year’s class. Here are some of the more interesting potential electees to the Baseball Hall of Fame in the 2012 Hall of Fame Class in a hitter heavy year.

 

Best Shots

Barry Larkin:

 

 

 

 

 

Barry Larkin has been waiting for his opportunity to make it into the hall for three years now. Last year he received 62% of the vote, you need 75% to be inducted, as many though he should have made it ahead of Bert Blyleven. He will get another shot at the hall this year and should be one of the likely candidates to get his spot in the hall. Larkin is somewhat over shadowed in his career as he played shortstop at the same time as Cal Ripkin Jr. and Ozzie Smith, both Hall of famers, putting him as possibly the third best shortstop of the time. Add in Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Omar Vizquel, who all played at the end of Larkin’s career, and Larkin could be one of a handful of good shortstops. It is just this reason why he should be in the Hall of Fame as even with all of these shortstops playing at the same time Larkin still made his mark on the game. Winning three Gold Gloves for shortstop at the time and nine silver sluggers proves the ability of Larkin is on par with the two hall of famers that he played against. Larkin has waited three years while others have gotten that call and with 62% of the vote last year it is hard to see him being surpassed in votes and denied another year.

 

Jeff Bagwell:

 

 

 

 

The Steroid Era is beginning to creep in to the Hall of Fame and is now becoming a big choice for voters whether someone should make the hall or not. Jeff Bagwell was essentially the first player that has had that decision made based on the rumours surrounding him. Last year Bagwell was passed over for the Hall of Fame largely because he has been linked to the use of steroids. Bagwell missed out on the induction due to this but there is one thing that seemed to be overlooked. He was never questioned about his alleged use of steroids and that was because there was no proof of him ever using PEDs. Bagwell never failed a drug test and was really only linked to steroids because he was close with Ken Caminiti, found using steroids as well as a number of other drugs, and he bulked up from his rookie season. There is no solid proof of Bagwell ever using steroids as he never failed a drug test and was never pointed out in any of the multiple reports of steroid trafficking or steroid use. The fact that he was rumoured to have used them hurt him in the first year but that could be his one year of penance for being linked to using illegal substances. There is still no evidence of it though and so there is no reason why he should be kept out for a second year especially since he was one of the best players of his time earning three Silver Sluggers, one Gold Glove, and a league MVP. He should be elected this year but if he is not selected don’t expect him to ever get in as another snub means the writers don’t think he did anything the right way.

 

Interesting Nominees

Mark McGwire:

 

 

 

 

Mark McGwire has done more than enough to make it into Cooperstown with a .286 batting average and a MLB record 583 career HRs. McGwire would be a first ballot Hall of Famer in most situations but he is not in the usual situation as most players. McGwire missed the Hall last year for one reason and that is that he is the focal point of the Steroid Scandal. McGwire has some of the best stats in MLB history for a HR hitter but all of that is under scrutiny thanks to his use of Steroids. His time in the spotlight at the end of his career was not for good reasons as he was questioned on his drug use and ultimately admitted to the use of steroids. Although he may have the stats to make it his admission of steroid use has hurt his hall of fame career putting an asterisk on all of his stats. The one thing that McGwire does have going for him is his HR race with Sammy Sosa, also found using steroids and up for election next year, made baseball relevant again. Every sports fan was waiting to see who would break the record first and baseball recovered from years of being “That Other Sport” and became relevant. Although he did do great things for baseball he also did terrible things as he led the Steroid era where baseball took its biggest hit and is still recovering. Although McGwire was one of the best HR hitters to play the game he did it by cheating and will likely continue waiting as he will continue being an example of what happens to cheaters.

 

Bernie Williams:

 

 

 

 

 

Bernie Williams will be on the Hall of fame ballot for the first time as a new finalist and will try to get in on the first ballot. This is a tough task as many players have not been able to get in on their first year. With 75% of the vote needed to make the Hall of Fame the people who can make it on the first ballot is extremely short. For Bernie Williams it will be very difficult as his legend in a Yankee uniform could hurt his bid. Williams was known for being a good player in the regular season but his true from came out in the postseason. He leads the MLB in total games in the postseason, 121, and has 80 RBIs and 51 extra base hits in the postseason. Williams came alive after the regular season and although e was still a great player on a day-to-day basis he was better in the postseason. This could be a detriment to his potential to make the Hall of fame as he might not have been good enough day-to-day in the regular season and his postseason stats might not be enough to bring him into the hall. There is also another factor to Williams’ attempt at the hall as the Hall of Fame already boasts 21 players who have worn the Yankee cap in their plaque. The fact that the Yankees have so many great players in the hall he will constantly be in comparison of those. The Yankee factor could also be a problem in the vote for Williams and it could be a reason why he does not get voted in this year.

 

Don Mattingly:

 

 

 

 

 

Mattingly is another player that may suffer from the Yankee comparisons in his bid for the Hall of Fame. Mattingly was a fan favorite, like Bernie Williams, in the Bronx and with a nickname like “Donnie Baseball” many would think that he is a shoo-in for the hall. This is not the case though as Mattingly will suffer one big setback for his time in the MLB. Mattingly was not a lights out player like many of the hall of famers that have been elected. He only had a .307 avg and 222 HRs which are pretty good numbers but not great. The biggest issue In his candidacy is that he had the potential to do so much more. He truly was one of the best players on the field when he was playing but the problem was he did not play as much as he could have. Back problems forced Mattingly to end his career short after 14 seasons and only allowed him to play 4 seasons with 110 or more games. The question for the voters is whether or not Mattingly’s could few seasons make up for his lack of playing time. Mattingly could have been much better statistically and could have won many more awards if he was able to play longer. Mattingly has been at the top of many people’s lists for the Hall of fame but those people are Yankees fans. The rest of the baseball world is not so convinced and Mattingly could be passed up this year and for future consideration as more and more players come in to the ballot.

 

Larry Walker:

 

 

 

 

 

Larry Walker surprised some people last year when he received just over 36% of the votes in his first year of eligibility. Walker is a bit of a forgotten star unless you talk to Canadian fans who believe he should be in the hall already. Walker has never been connected to anything steroid related and yet he put up numbers straight out of a video game. With 383 HRs and a .313 average Walker does have the numbers of a hall of famer but he has been overlooked. He is easily one of the best power hitters to play in the MLB and he never came close to steroids but his hall of fame candidacy is far from a for sure thing. A large part of this is his time with Colorado when he played at Coors Field in the thin air that helps the ball carry. The voters seemingly have punished Walker for his place of work as he had his best seasons in the hitter friendly park and many voters believe he would not have been as good. Of course Walker also has a bit of a disadvantage of playing during the steroid era and not being the best player in the game when he played. This was really only because everyone ahead of him was on drugs and Walker was clean and so he put up real numbers as opposed to the others. It would be great to see Walker in the hall and it is a bit of a selfish reason for him being on my list as I am a Canadian and would love to see the second Canadian player to make the Hall of Fame. It is not only because he is Canadian but he does have the numbers to get in. Although this is all true don’t expect him to get in as his votes may go up but he will not come close to the 75% needed.

 

2012 Ballot:

 

Returning Candidates:

Barry Larkin, SS (Cincinnati Reds)

Jack Morris, RHP (Detroit Tigers)

Lee Smith, RHP (Chicago Cubs)

Jeff Bagwell, 1B (Houston Astros)

Tim Raines, LF (Montreal Expos)

Edgar Martinez, DH/3B (Seattle Mariners)

Alan Trammell, SS (Detroit Tigers)

Larry Walker, RF (Colorado Rockies)

Mark McGuire, 1B (Oakland Athletics)

Fred McGriff, 1B (Tampa Bay Devil Rays)

Don Mattingly, 1B (New York Yankees)

Dale Murphy, CF (Atlanta Braves)

Rafael Palmeiro, 1B (Baltimore Orioles)

Juan Gonzalez, OF (Texas Rangers)

 

New Candidates:

Jeromy Burnitz, RF (Milwaukee Brewers)

Vinny Castilla, 3B (Colorado Rockies)

Brian Jordan, OF (St. Louis Cardinals)

Javy Lopez, C (Atlanta Braves)

Bill Mueller, 3B (San Francisco Giants)

Terry Mulholland, LHP (Philadelphia Phillies)

Phil Nevin, U (San Diego Padres)

Brad Radke, RHP (Minnesota Twins)

Tim Salmon, RF (L.A. Angels)

Ruben Sierra, RF/DH (Texas Rangers)

Bernie Williams, CF (New York Yankees)

Tony Womak, 2B/SS (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Eric Young, 2B/LF (Colorado Rockies)

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