What defines a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer? Is it someone who was very good during his career that spanned 20 years? Is it someone that was great for 10? Do individual milestones mean more than team accolades? Is someone who won a lot of world series but had good, not great, numbers deserving? Is it fair that the media can pressure the committee on guys who are on their last year on the ballot? Many questions get brought into voting every year and not every year they get it right, but this year they couldn’t have done better.
As a huge fan of baseball, the Hall of Fame weekend is something I look forward to every year. As we advance in years, the players that are starting to get elected are some of the guys my generation grew up watching. This year we are blessed with a great class with the Atlanta Brave great Chipper Jones, the free swinging Vladimir Guerrero, slugger Jim Thome, and one of the greatest closers of all-time, Trevor Hoffman. Along with Jack Morris and Alan Trammell getting elected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee.
I have always been a stiffler on the voting ever since this bullshit about Barry Bonds, Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Fred Mcgriff, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield not getting in keeps happening. Look, I understand that some have been caught with “allegedly” failing some drug tests in their career, but none have been accused and acquitted of any wrong doing. Besides Rafael Palmeiro, who failed a steroids test 6 weeks before trial, and lied to the courts face, waving his finger very aggressively and confidently. Verbal statements have been made, but there is only so much truth to those. Anyways, for one, Fred Mcgriff not getting in every year is the biggest bullshit these old writers keep doing. I mean, they let in Roberto Alomar in, not taking anything away from him, but if Mcgriff would have gotten to 500 home runs, he retired at 493, you best believe they would have voted him in. That milestones mean so much to these men it’s ridiculous. Alomar was very good, but was he great? Was Phil Rizzuto great? even though he was apart of 7 world series? Sandy Koufax was the best pitcher in baseball for 6 years, but did his numbers match those of the greats he is enshrined with? Let’s take a look at the players getting voted int this year:
Larry Wayne Chipper Jones– My all time favorite player growing up and now I get the chance of watching him get enshrined into baseballs ultimate reward for great play. Some people it takes all 15 years on the ballot to try to get in, Chipper did it on his first. There was no question he was a first ballot hall of famer and now it’s solidified. When thinking about the top third baseman of all-time, Jones is right up there with the likes of Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, Brooks Robinson, George Brett, and a guy named Ron Santo. Chipper is 4th in hits with 2,726, 3rd in doubles with 482, he LEADS all 3rd baseman in runs with 1,619, and also RBI’s with 1,623. Not to mention he is the ONLY switch hitter in history to have a lifetime .300 average (.303) and 400+ home runs (468). He also holds the NL record for most home runs in a season by a switch hitter with 45 he hit in 1999 during his MVP season, which he was not voted to the all-star team during that historic season. Congratulation to Chipper, well deserved.
Vladimir Guerrero During the late 1990’s through the time he retired, Guerrero was one of the most feared hitters in the game. Along with his one MVP award, 8 silver sluggers, and his 9 trips to the all-star game, there might not have been a bigger threat in baseball. Vlad was a true 40/40 threat during the prime years of his career, almost doing it twice with the Expos. One of the controversial conversations about Vlad, is that he actually chose to go in wearing an Angles cap instead of an Expo cap. Looking at the numbers, he had a better career as an Expo than Angel. Courtesy of CBS SPORTS, I found this perfect chart to compare the two:
|Vlad as an Angel||846||1,034||173||22.8|
|Vlad as an Expo||1,004||1,215||234||34.6|
Not even including stolen bases, he was by far a better Expo than Angle during his career as his younger days were played north of the border. When he goes in as an Angel he will be getting enshrined as the one and only player to go in as an Angel, and will be joined by Mike Trout when his time comes. But for now, let’s enjoy Vlad’s 2,590 hits, 449 bombs, 181 steals, .318 career average and 1,496 RBI’s, remarkable career.
Jim Thome- Another man I had the opportunity to watch his 500 and 600th career home runs live on TV, the beautiful advantages of Television and technology. Thome is the true power hitter who, during the time of the steroid era, Thome came out year after year knocking that ugly title and proving he did it on beer, hot dogs, and a great work ethic. Coming up as a third baseman, Thome eventually moved the first base, and then eventually towards the end of his career, was a designated hitter. Usually, the designated hitter title can hinder a players chances of getting into the hall, ala Edgar Martinez who never really had a position, except Edgar didn’t come close to the numbers Thome put up. Thome is going in as a Cleveland Indian, the 13th total and first since Bob Lemon did in 1976. Somehow only making 5 all-star teams and winning only one silver slugger, Thome still amassed 612 home runs (eighth all time), is 5th all time in at bats per home run, and is one of three players in MLB history to collect over 600 home runs and 1,500 walks in his career, the other two? Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth, pretty nice company.
Trevor Hoffman- Third times a charm. On his third ballot, Hoffman finally garners the 75% needed to get the call, and it was well deserved. Hoffman came up as shortstop actually and hit a pretty bad .225 with 55 errors in his first two seasons as an infielder then made the career reviving switch to full-time pitcher his third year in pro ball. He was then traded from the Marlins to the San Diego Padres for a guy named Gary Sheffield and two other players. Hoffman was the first closer in baseball to reach the 500 and 600 plateau of saves. Only to be overtaken by sure first ballot hall of famer Mariano Rivera. Hoffman made the all-star team six times, took home two Rolaids Relief awards, and amassed a total of 601 saves over his 18 year career. The man who is well-known for coming into the game rocking to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells”, among relievers with at least 1,000 innings, he ranks second in save percentage (88.8) eighth in ERA (2.87), second in opponents batting average against (.211) and second in WHIP (1.06). Hoffman will be the third Padre to rock the cap entering the hall with other San Diego greats Dave Winfield and of course Tony Gwynn (RIP).
Alan Trammell and Jack Morris are a little ahead of my time but both are obviously well deserving. Morris, being most famous for his heroics in the Twins’ 1991 world series, as well as contributing almost 4,000 career innings and three 20 game win seasons. Alan Trammell was apart of the last Tigers team to win the World Series as was his partner, going into the hall with him, Jack Morris. Trammell took home the World Series MVP honors that year while also contributing 6 all-star selections, 3 silver sluggers at shortstop, and 4 gold gloves.
Stay tuned on Sunday July 29th for the introduction ceremony on MLB network starting at 11 a..m eastern time.
P.S. Now that sports gambling is legal, when is Pete Rose going to get his chance?