Monday, January 14, 2008

Looking ahead to future BBWAA snafus....

Suffice it to say, the last few BBWAA Hall of Fame votes have been profoundly disappointing. As somebody privileged to witness the magnificent careers of Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Tim Raines, only to see them so hideously underrated while putting Jim Rice on the cusp of immortality boggles my alleged mind.

Anyway, there is a thread on Baseball Think Factory discussing upcoming HOF votes and the new candidates on the ballot. There was a point in time where I felt the trio would be shoo-ins for Cooperstown. Well … I’ve learned to take nothing for granted when it comes to the BBWAA in recent years.

With that in mind, here are my picks as the next swings and misses respecting future votes--players who had Hall of Fame careers but likely will go the way of Trammell, Whitaker and Raines when their names reach the ballot. I’ll attempt to guess the reasons the BBWAA will give a thumbs down.

The class of 2010 will have two slam-dunks and two with decent cases--I’m predicting all four fall short. They are Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez (we’ll deal with the Crime Dog and Edgrr at a later date). Alomar and Larkin should be no-brainers--both were superb defensive middle infielders with terrific bats.

Alomar often drew comparisons to Joe Morgan; he was a 12-time All Star, ten time Gold Glover, was a career .300/.371/.443 hitter, topped 1500 runs, 1100 RBI, 2700 hits, 500 doubles, 200 HR, and stole 474 bases at an 80% success rate. Alomar is seventh in baseball history in reaching base among second sackers. In 11 post-season series, he hit .313/.381/.448 (.347/.407/.449 in the World Series) and stole 20 of 22 bases. Alomar’s home run off Dennis Eckersley in game four of the 1992 ALCS was the moment the “Blow Jays” went from chokers to champions.

Of course, the spitting incident, the fact he didn’t reach 3000 hits, that his best years were spent in ‘smaller markets’ (like Tim Raines) and his career hit the skids when he finally came to New York. Alomar rolled into Flushing a .306/.376/.455 hitter and batted .262/.331/.367 until he retired. The perception will be he wasn’t strong enough mentally to play in the glare of the Big Apple.

Like Alomar, Barry Larkin was a 12-time All Star. Unlike him, he did win an MVP, enjoyed a 30-30 season and would’ve won many more Gold Gloves except they were being handed reflexively to Ozzie Smith even as Larkin was surpassing him as a fielder. His timing is bad too--he was winding down his career as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada were redefining expectations regarding the position’s offensive contributions. What should never be forgotten is that Larkin copped nine Silver Sluggers between 1988-1999.

What will affect Larkin’s vote totals is that he toiled his entire career in Cincinnati, was frequently injured, and never reached 200 HR or 1000 RBI. Alomar and Larkin will suffer the same fate as Trammell and Whitaker.

In 2011, Jeff Bagwell will be on the ballot for the first time. He made the mistake of being a first baseman not that didn't hit 500 HR. Just as Fred McGriff’s 493 will make voters look elsewhere, Bags 449 will have them sniffing in disdain. Other points against him are that he neglected to hit .300 lifetime, never reached 3000 hits, and his lack of exposure in Houston all will be held against him. His lone Gold Glove and quartet of All Star nods will also diminish him in the eyes of the voters.

However, Bagwell is overqualified for the Hall. He reached the rare triple-triple (a season with at least 100 runs/100 RBI/100 BB) six times with five straight years from 1996-2000. Despite playing first base, he was a two-time member of the 30-30 club. Among first basemen, he is one of three that topped 1500 runs and 1500 RBI in their careers--the other two being Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. Only Gehrig and Bagwell ever topped 1500 runs/RBI and 1400 BB. Bagwell is also third in modern MLB history (at the position) in RCAA with 680.

Once again I feel the urge to pay tribute to the fine bloggers at Drunk Jays Fans. For today, I have hired not one--but two guest stars to handle the closing ceremonies. Doing the honours tonight are Ricky and Lucy Ricardo. Take it away!

Brest Egads


"Roooocy!! You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!! What’s weeth that? Are you flirting weeth that drunk hombre in zee dusty parka? You promised to only bang my bongos and not blow some uzzer caballeros trombone! Well, what you have to say for yourself Rucy??"


Uh … sorry about that. I guess we should have gone with a rehearsal or two rather than winging it. Oh well, now if you’ll excuse me I‘ve got to rebury them before the cemetery staff notices they’re gone.

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