Wednesday, November 27, 2013

2014 Hall of Fame Ballot Newcomers

Here's a look at the 19 players appearing on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.

The shoo-ins--These are the guys who deserve to go in (but might not get in this year):
Tom Glavine
Wasn't as dominant as his rotation-mate Maddux but was still very good for a long time. Glavine pitched until he was 42 and won 305 games, topping 20 in a season five times, but wasn't merely a compiler. He received two Cy Young awards, finished runner-up twice and third twice. He also made 10 All-Star teams. A closer look at his peripherals such as his 1.31 WHIP, 5.3 K/9 rate and 3.95 FIP, reveals that he's a bit overrated by traditional metrics, but that shouldn't (and won't) keep him out of the Hall.

Jeff Kent
On their own, his numbers already look exceptional, but when you consider that he spent the majority of his career playing second base they look even better. He leads the position in home runs with 351 of his 377 big flies coming there, and he's also the only second baseman with six straight 100 RBI seasons. He also spanked 560 doubles, topped 1,500 RBI and approached 2,500 hits. All that aside, Kent isn't the slam-dunk he should be because he never led the league in anything important (besides sacrifice flies, which he did on two separate occassions). Outside of his 2000 MVP award (which Barry Bonds deserved) his resume is a bit light with five All-Star appearances and four Silver Sluggers, numbers that don't scream best-hitting second baseman of all-time. Last year Mike Piazza proved that being the best hitter at a position doesn't guarantee entry into Cooperstown, and because of that I don't see Kent making it in this year.

Greg Maddux
A no-brainer. Easily one of the ten best pitchers of all-time, and not a whisper of PED use. Those who doesn't put his name on their ballot (and there will be some) should have their voting privileges stripped away.

Frank Thomas
For most of the 1990s, the Big Hurt was about as good as a righthanded hitter as the game has ever known, posting numbers on par with Jimmie Foxx, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Joe DiMaggio. From 1991 through '98 Thomas was the American League's best hitter, reaching the century mark in runs, RBI, and walks every year while winning back-to-back MVP awards in 1993 and '94--something that hadn't been done in the American League since Roger Maris won in 1960 and '61. He was the third most valuable player in baseball over that span, behind only Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. Though he was dogged by injuries during the second half of his career, his bat was still potent enough to push his numbers into clear Cooperstown territory: 521 big flies, 1,704 RBI, 1,667 walks, and just short of 1,500 runs, 2,500 hits and 500 doubles. He maintained his stellar rate stats to the end, finishing up with a .301/.419/.555 line that's a near perfect match for Mickey Mantle (.298/.421/.557). While it's true that Thomas was a one-dimensional ballplayer, he was so ridiculously good at that one dimension that he's an obvious Hall of Famer.

Mike Mussina
Some people may view him as a borderline candidate, but JAWS, Gray Ink, Hall of Fame monitor and Hall of Fame standards all say he belongs in Cooperstown. Though he never won a Cy Young award or World Series and had just one 20 win season (in his final year), Mussina is Hall-worthy in my eyes. Much like Glavine, he was very very good for a number of years. His tremendous consistency is reflected in the fact that he finished in the top-six of the Cy Young voting nine times, including his last season when he was about to turn 40. For fans who put stock in pitchers' records, he notched double digit wins in each of the 17 seasons following his rookie year, piling up 270 in all (against 153 losses, good for a stellar .638 winning percentage). The more important number is his 83 bWAR, which puts him ahead of Glavine, Nolan Ryan, and Jim Palmer. What makes his career even more impressive is that he spent his entire career pitching in the AL East when offensive numbers were exploding across baseball.

The Hall of Very Good--These players had good, distinguished careers but fall short of Cooperstown:
Moises Alou
While Alou's rate stats are very good (.303/.369/.516), his counting numbers don't quite measure up (like a poor man's Larry Walker in this regard). In only two of his 17 seasons was he more than a four-win player, per BR. His case isn't helped by his bouncing around, suiting up for seven different teams in his 17 seasons  and spending three or fewer years with all but one of those clubs (Montreal). The amazing thing about Alou was how he never had a bad season. After posting a 38 OPS+ in his first season, which lasted all of 20 at-bats, he never again fell below 100 in that statistic. He was a great hitter 'til the very end, hitting .342/.391/.507 in his age 40 and 41 seasons combined.

Luis Gonzalez
Reminds me a lot of Shawn Green in that they both had really good five-year peaks and ended up with similar career numbers:

Green: 328 homers, 162 steals, .283/.355/.494, .850 OPS, 120 OPS+
Gonzo: 354 homers, 128 steals, .283/.367/.479, .845 OPS, 119 OPS+

Green, of course, received just two votes and fell off the ballot after his first try, which doesn't bode well for Gonzalez.

Kenny Rogers
Pitched 20 seasons and was below average in only three of them. Though he didn't become a full-time starting pitcher until he was 28, he compensated by lasting until he was almost 44. Rogers compiled more than 50 bWAR, which is a pretty substantial figure, and won 219 game while throwing more than 3,300 innings. His numbers would certainly look better if he hadn't made all but 12 of his 474 starts in the American League, or if he hadn't pitched at the height of the steroid era, but he simply didn't have the dominant peak that one needs to be a Hall of Famer.

Guaranteed to fall off the ballot
Armando Benitez, Mike Timlin, Paul Lo Duca, Ray Durham, Sean Casey, J.T. Snow, Jacque Jones, Eric Gagne, Todd Jones, Hideo Nomo, Richie Sexson


  1. It's obvious who the best hitting second baseman of all-time is. The Rajah was one of the first players to top 300 homers, is one out of only seven retired players with a lifetime 1.000 OPS, all but topped 3,000 hits, and most importantly, no right-handed hitter has(or can, considering today's all-or-nothing power mentality) come close to matching his phenomenal .358 average.

  2. For sure. I didn't mean to imply that Kent was a better hitter than Hornsby, who for my money's worth is the best righthanded hitter of all-time.