Right on the heels of award season comes the second best second-guessingstravaganza known as Hall of Fame season! Yes, the ballots have been sent out to the BBWAA folks and are due back at the end of December, which means that your 2010 HOF inductees will be announced the first week of January. We can hem and haw now about who deserves to get in and we can hem and haw later about how poorly the writers missed the mark.
Either way, put your hemming-and-hawing hats on: let's take a peek at some of the first time candidates and figure out if we support their enshrinement or wish them some sort of specific harm:
- Fred McGriff: The Crime Dog accumulated 493 homers, 1349 runs, 1550 RBI, and 1882 strikeouts, enough whiffs to put him 8th all time. Fella never won a Gold Glove and yet made thousands of dollars endorsing fielding drill videos. McGriff did collect two World Series homers in two straight years, and became the first batter to win HR titles in both leagues. Was anyone a more feared first baseman in the early-to-mid nineties? No, but does it matter? He was never considered one of the ten best players in the sport and there are too many power-hitting first basemen and outfielders in the HOF already. I say "No, sir".
- Edgar Martinez: A lifetime Mariner, Edgar hit The Double that won the memorable '95 ALDS against the Yankees and can easily be dubbed the greatest Seattle ballplayer of all time. But hey, he was only a designated hitter and never helped his team out on the field. And designated hitters don't belong in the HOF no matter how high his career OBP (.418, 22nd all time), how many doubles he collected (514), or how many porn star moustaches he grew. Okay, I'm being a sarcastic jerk. Edgar was pretty much the best DH in history and actually saved his team some runs by sitting his flat ass in the dugout while the rest of the team was out in the field. He didn't have a positive impact to the Mariners defense but he didn't have a negative impact either. They put Tony Perez in the Hall and that dude had more holes in his glove than a Dickensian orphan. Edgar's value to the team was smacking hits and riding the bench every half-inning. Don't hold that against him.
- Barry Larkin: Pity Barry Larkin. No, really, pity Barry Larkin, he needs it! From 1988 to 1995, he and Cal Ripken were the outstanding two members of a consummate new breed of shortstop in the game. Fella won six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves, and the 1995 NL MVP award in the span while smacking homers, stealing bases, and drawing walks with aplomb. But in the late 90's, a few guys by the name of Jeter, Rodriguez, Garciaparra, and Tejada stole the spotlight a bit: they were bigger, faster, and far more popular than the aging Larkin who, after age 35, never played a full season again. But don't let that cloud your memories of Barry because, as one of the best shortstops to ever grace the field and one of the top five NLers in the early 90s, he deserves to be a first ballot HOFer.
- Roberto Alomar: One immediate concern presents itself like a veritable Colossus of Constantine gazing upon the voters with caution. Roberto Alomar once spit on an umpire! Character issues ding ding ding ding! Well if the voters were really going to consider character issues, they might as well clear out Cooperstown, leaving behind only Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente, and Gus the janitor with a heart of gold. Let's not allow these haughty BBWAA folk to criminalize the man twice for the same indiscretion. With Craig Biggio, Alomar was the second baseman of record in the 1990s (sorry Mariano Duncan!) He's one of the ten best second basemen in history despite the fact that he never did a damn thing after age 33. Vote yes!
- Robin Ventura: Better than you think! But not HOF worthy, mostly because everyone still can't get the image of him getting pummeled by Nolan Ryan out of their minds. Sorry, Robin.
Of course, some of the downballot players are getting their share of support. Yes, even Todd Zeile, who once played third base for the Orioles, fielded a grounder, and threw it directly into the dirt about two feet in front of him. You played the game for a long time, Zeile-y, but c'mon, they don't let folks with Z-names into the hall.
Also, I say no to Kevin Appier, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Shane Reynolds, and especially to David Segui. Don't think I've forgotten the time you cut me off on the Van Wyck, Segui! Next week we'll peruse the holdovers from past ballots, also know as the annual Bert Blyleven pimpstravaganza.
What say you on these first-timers?