Monday, January 14, 2019
Hall of Fame Past, Present, and Future
It was on this day in 1987 that the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced the induction of two new legends - Jim "Catfish" Hunter, and Billy Williams.
Hunter was the ace of the Oakland A's dynasty in the 1970s, and made his way to New York just in time to win 2 more championships with the Yankees. He won the Cy Young in 1974, leading the AL in Wins and ERA. He won 20 or more games in 5 straight seasons from 1971 through 1975.
Billy Williams was the 1961 Rookie of the Year, and was known for year after year of consistent excellence. Williams was an iron man - playing in 1,117 straight games for the Cubs, which set a NL record that would stand until Steve Garvey surpassed him in the 1980s. Williams finished his career in Oakland, hoping for one last chance to play in the World Series, but the A's lost in the 1976 ALCS to the Red Sox.
Looking at the online BBHOF tracker, There are currently 4 players on track to be inducted via the BBWAA vote. The final totals are still being counted, and the new inductees will be announced next Tuesday, January 22nd.
Mariano Rivera, of course, appears to be an absolute lock, the question will be how close to 100% will he get (there have already been a couple voters that decided not to vote for Rivera, they've missed their chance to be part of something special.).
The late Roy Halladay had a storied career and looks well on track to be inducted on his first ballot.
Edgar Martinez is on his final ballot, and so far he's trending in the right direction. The bar for the writers to elect a DH may well be set with Martinez, who had very impressive offensive numbers, but very little defense or baserunning stats to bolster his case.
A pleasant surprise is the underrated Mike Mussina getting some love on the ballot. With about 42% of the ballots accounted for, he's right on the edge of having the votes to make it in as well.
On the outside looking in are four candidates that have Hall of Fame stats, but various extraordinary circumstances that are counting against them.
More than enough digital ink has been spilled for Bonds and Clemens, so I won't bother presenting their cases for or against in this post.
Curt Schilling's stats are maybe on the fringes, with his post-season resume putting him over the top for many voters. He's trending right along with Clemens and Bonds for the ballot count, just shy of induction. He has some years of eligibility remaining, and the distance from his playing days may or may not work in his favor.
Larry Walker is being penalized for being ... too good? The air in Colorado is easier on hitters, but the flip side of that coin is the injury risk and recovery time needed for players spending half of their season without the same supply of oxygen. Walker's career stats in the games immediately following a home stand show how the Coors effect works against Rockies players on the road. He had outstanding skills as a hitter, defender, and baserunner for a long time. He will hopefully get in soon.
The bottom of the ballot still has several intriguing players- some with PED baggage, and others with less solid resumes. Placido Polanco is not a Hall of Famer, but he does have the highest fielding percentage All-Time among Second Basemen . . . AND among Third Baseman! It won't make him a member of Cooperstown's Hall, but it's a nice bit of Sports Bar Trivia. Andruw Jones had a short but stratospheric peak, ultimately voters will be looking for more longevity. Jeff Kent... I don't know what's not to like- probably the lack of Championships? Andy Pettitte probably doesn't make it before Clemens or Schilling or Mussina, and even then there's some question about his success relative to the team he played for. He reminds me in a way of Scottie Pippen, he has great stats, he's got championship rings, but for some reason people were looking to find reasons why he wasn't the reason for his own success. Granted, he did have a PED incident, but the consensus seems to be that he wasn't using for the bulk of his career.
How many of those top 4 will make it this year? Who's getting snubbed unfairly?