Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
December 30, 2002
BASEBALL: 2003 HOF Ballot
I eventually intend to get out my Hall of Fame column on Projo. Here's the Executive Summary of who I would vote for, ignoring a few of the most ridiculous candidates:
Eddie Murray - IN. No question. A major star for 7-8 years, a solid and incredibly durable and consistent producer for 18.
Gary Carter - IN. Find me ten better catchers, I dare you. Has been unfairly penalized for sticking around too long; if he'd retired after 1987 he'd have gone in a decade ago.
Bert Blyleven - IN, Jim Kaat & Tommy John OUT. You've read my take on that before; Blyleven lost more games than he should have, given his teams, but such was the fate of a #1 starter in an age of giants, and of a guy who took seriously the duty of saving the bullpen by staying late in close games. His numbers may not look much better than John's and Kaat's, but he played in a later generation, facing more DHs and never tasting the big strike zone of the sixties.
Rich Gossage - IN. Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith - OUT, for now. I'm not ready to put in a great closer with a comparably short career, or a merely good one with a very long career. If we put in Lee Smith, is John Franco a Hall of Famer? Gimme a break. But the Goose was dominant for a long time and useful for many more years, and he worked 130 innings a year at his peak. We'll never be embarrassed to see him as an immortal.
Jack Morris - OUT. Again, I could conceivably be persuaded otherwise, but Morris wasn't that great at preventing runs, which is supposed to be his job.
Jim Rice, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Andre Dawson - OUT. I go back and forth on Rice, who was a monster hitter for more than a decade but benefitted from a small park, wasn't a great runner or fielder, and hit into too many DPs. Murphy and Parker didn't stay on top long enough.
Dawson? Lou Brock's career OBP was .344, and he played in the pit of the Sixties. No other Hall of Fame outfielder has a career OBP below .350. Dawson's was .323. You do the math.
Alan Trammel - OUT. I put him out, while I would have voted Whitaker in, because Trammell lacked consistency and didn't get on base as much. 150 more Runs and 80 more RBI, a higher career OBP and SLG - it all adds up. Another guy I could be persuaded on.
Sandberg - IN, I think. When he was playing, Sandberg seemed like such an obvious Hall of Famer it was never really argued about. Some of that was a Wrigley illusion, and sure, he didn't walk a lot, and yes, his great seasons weren't that many. But the man was the definitive slugging second baseman back when such things didn't roam the earth, and he was a tremendous glove man.
Keith Hernandez, Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly - OUT, although I still waffle on Keith. I've covered these three before; Mattingly was a star for only a few years, Garvey had too many weaknesses and also didn't last that long at his peak.
Dave Concepcion - OUT. Done that one too - a team with Concepcion as its best player would finish no better than .500. Morgan, Bench, Rose and Perez would have won without him.
Darren Daulton - OUT. Catchers break your heart, they do. Daulton had his moments. He was a much better player than the similarly skilled Mickey Tettleton (OUT, also), since he had a throwing arm.
Sid Fernandez - OUT, but with better stuff than half the pitchers inside. He's not alone in that distinction. Fernando's OUT too, with only half a Hall of Famer's career stuck to more than a decade of an old man with no fastball. Then again, Darryl Kile should be so lucky.
Brett Butler - OUT. Closer to Cooperstown than you think, but no with power and some atrocious caught stealing figures, Butler needed to do better than his impressive .379 OBP to be an immortal.
Vince Coleman - OUT. The Kingman of steals; deserves the honor of "most steals by a non-Hall of Famer." Assuming the voters don't screw Tim Raines (who ought to go in as a no-brainer), that is.