Midweek Musings with the Heckler: MLB Hall of Fame Edition

David Kim a.k.a. The Hekcler, Contributor

Welcome back to the Ring, I am the Heckler.  I apologize for not having another edition of, “The Monday Heckle” this week.  My “Real World responsibilities” had me distracted.  Sorry to those that were eagerly awaiting my rant against the 49ers Upper Management, but since they haven’t really made any noise since my last post I will allow them to unveil “Plan B” before I judge them.  I promise that I will be back next Monday, with my musings on the 49ers Offseason moves, to wrap up that topic with a nice little bow; but lest you think there was nothing for the Heckler to wrangle with, the MLB Hall of Fame Class of 2015 was announced this last Tuesday.  I am going to start with my thoughts on the 2015 inductees.  I will then move on to the individuals that are very close of being inducted in the next coming years.  After that I will make a case for one or two individuals that deserve to be in the Hall, but probably won’t based on things that they cannot control.  Then….yes, then I will move on to those individuals that will NEVER make it in to the Hall of Fame, along with those players that will never get in to the Hall of Fame but should.  Also how to fix the Hall of Fame voting.  It should be an interesting ride for sure.  Let’s get under way.


MLBHOF2015


Head of the Class

Randy Johnson “The Big Unit”

303-166, 3.29 ERA, 4, 875 strikeouts (2nd All-Time), 1.17 WHIP, 5th Most Wins as a Lefty, 300 strikeout seasons – 6 (t-most All-Time), 10.6 strikeouts/9 innings (highest among pitchers with 1,000+innings), 5 Cy Youngs (’95, ’99-’02)

RJ

Randy Johnson was a landslide selection, garnering 534 Votes (out of 549 total votes – I will never understand the handful of people who don’t believe in the 100% unanimous selection, but I’ll get into that later) for an eye-popping 97.3 % of the vote (8th highest total All-Time).

This one was a no-brainer in my book, from 1993 to 2006 Randy Johnson went 231-99 (16.5/year), and amassed 3, 726 Strikeouts.  I mean those alone would be potential Hall of Fame numbers.  And if you take away his injury plagued 1996 and 2003 seasons his wins average goes up towards 18.5/year.  This guy was winning 18+ games, striking out 285+, and sporting an ERA around the 2.80 for 10+ years.  Most pitchers have 4-7 years of their “peak”. The “Big Unit” had a peak that was indeed impressive for 4 years, from 1999-2002 ,where he won the NL Cy Young Award 4 straight years; he supported those amazing years with, almost as impressive stretch of 3-4 years before AND after his “peak” years.  Good work Randy, you deserved it.  Congratulations.

The Little Engine that (most definitely) Could

Pedro Martinez “Petey”

219-100, 2.93 ERA, 3,154 Strikeouts, 1.05 WHIP, 69.7 WAR from age 25-33 (3rd most by a pitcher through those ages, in history), 3 Cy Youngs (’97, ’99, ’00), 3rd pitcher EVER to post 40+ wins, 500+ strikeouts, and a ERA under 2.00: 41 wins, 597 strikeouts, 1.90~1.91 ERA (Sandy Koufax did it 3 times…..in a row….during the ’63-’64, ’64-’65, and ’65-’66 seasons……yes, that is 6 straight years of averaging those totals every two years……yes my mind is exploding too…..and Bob Gibson also did it during the ’68-’69 campaigns), 2nd highest winning % of pitchers with 200+ wins (.687)

Pedro

It wasn’t the same sized landslide as Randy Johnson, but Pedro did manage to garner 500 votes, good for 91.1 % of the vote.  Pedro got in on his “peak performance” level stats.  They were off the charts by the way.  From ’96 to ’05 Pedro was arguably the best pitcher in baseball.  He racked up a record of 162-63, with 2, 418 strikeouts, an ERA in the mid 2.50 area, a WHIP in the sub 1.00.  He helped the Red Sox win a World Series in 2004, and people would argue that if there was no baseball strike in 1994, that Pedro was poised to lead the Expos to the World Series that year as well.

Not too bad for a kid that was told that he wouldn’t be able to become a Major League starting pitcher because, he was just to small, and that he didn’t have the right frame to sustain any kind of lengthy career.  Yeah, in the end Tommy Lasorda looked really dumb on that one; especially since he proved Tommy wrong and became the pitcher that the Dodgers were indeed looking for in those years.

Great Job Pedro, congratulations on making the Hall. You definitely deserve it.

The Dual Threat: That other HOF’er in Atlanta

John Smoltz

213-155, 3.33 ERA, 3, 084 strikeouts, 1.18 WHIP, 154 saves, 1st Players with 200+ wins AND 100+ saves, 15-4 and 2.68 ERA in 41 postseason games, Cy Young (’96), 8-time All-Star

Smoltz

John Smoltz got in with 455 votes, good for a 82.9% approval.  He was a “Big Game Pitcher”, as he showed over and over again in the postseason (15-4 in 41 appearances) with the Braves.  Even with all of that though Smoltz needed the 100+ saves to solidify his place into the Hall.  I don’t think his record as a starting pitcher was going to be good enough to get in him, on those merits alone especially on the 1st ballot, even with his postseason “heroics”.  Sure he was viewed as the 3rd best pitcher in that mind-boggling Braves rotation during the Braves hey day, in the ’90s, but with Glavine and Maddux ahead of you, there aren’t many pitcher in baseball that wouldn’t have been considered number 3.  His induction though breathes some life into the candidacy of Curt Schilling, and Mike Mussina, as they now hope that their postseason career’s will shine a better light on their Hall of Fame worth (although Mussina may want to rely on BOTH his regular season AND post season success – not necessarily rely solely on his postseason production, which was that awesome.).

John Smoltz’s induction may open the doors up for many more pitchers that don’t have 250+ wins, but are Hall of Fame worthy.  Congratulations once again to John Smoltz, well deserved.

3rd times a charm: Numbers no longer the whole story

Craig Biggio

.281/.363/.433, 3,060 hits, 291 HRs, 414 SBs, 1,175 RBI, 668 2Bs (5th All-Time), Astros All-Time Leader: games, ABs, Runs, Hits, Doubles, XBHs, 1 of 4 players with 2,500 hits, 250 HRs, 400 SBs (Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan other 3), from ’93-’99 his WAR (41.5) was 4th most All-Time (Bonds, Griffey, Bagwell all ahead of Biggio)

biggio

First off I would like to congratulate Mr. Craig Biggio.  It is quite an accomplishment to achieve Hall of Fame status.  It is definitely a dream come true for a lot of Big League ball players.  Now having said that, here’s the thing…

Craig Biggio is not a Hall of Famer…

Before you go on some rant that argues the counterpoint, let me finish first.

Craig Biggio is one helluva player.  He managed to play 20 years in the MLB for one team.  He managed to play Catcher, then move out to 2B, and then late in his career he once again made the switch out to CF.  Those are hard things to do, let alone do it well enough to make it to some All-Star games, etc. He is definitely an Houston Astros Hall of Famer.  Unfortunately he really isn’t a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer.  I mean I know this is a moot point because, he has already been elected but here it is anyway.

The Hall of Fame isn’t called “The Hall of Great” or, “The Hall of Lengthy Career Achievements”.  I know, most of you out there won’t like what I am saying, but that’s just too bad.  We have to get out of this “everyone gets a participation award” mentality.  Craig Biggio is a Houston Legend, and icon in that area, he was a part of the “Killer B’s”, he played 20 years for one and only one team, he holds numerous Astros career records, and he is “perceived to be clean” during the Steroid Era (even though his career numbers got better after 35, but that’s for another time), but he isn’t a Hall of Famer.  If he’s a Hall of Famer, so is Tim Raines, so Mike Mussina, so is Lee Smith, so is Edgar Martinez, so is Mike Piazza.

So congrats Craig for sneaking in, you may have opened the door for the rest of the party to come in.  We will see where the voting goes in years to come.


Soon to be Hall of Famers: Yes, you are getting in…the only question is…when?

anticipation


Mike Piazza

.308/.377/.545, 427 HRs, 1,335 RBI, 344 2Bs

piazza

Piazza will no doubt get in to the Hall of Fame either next year, or the year after that. He is arguably the greatest hitting catcher ever.  He fell 28 votes short (69.9 %) because there were rumors that Mike Piazza took steroids (though to my knowledge it still is unfounded rumors).  The good news for the former 62 Round Pick is that his numbers have steadily increased so it looks like the writers haven’t lumped in Piazza with the rest of the “Steroid Gang”.

Jeff Bagwell

.297/.408/.540, 449 HRs, 1,529 RBI, 488 2Bs

Bags

Bagwell is another one of those ballplayers that threw up big numbers during the “Steroid Era” but isn’t being lumped in with the “Steroid Gang”.  One would have to assume that Bagwell’s numbers will be going up as the years pass by.  He received 55.7 % of the vote.  Not a great number to start with but, he has some years ahead of him to get that number up to the needed 75%.  His statistical numbers look comparable to Mike Piazza’s career lines, so it should only be a matter of time.  Especially since he has his fellow “Killer Bs” already going in this year.  You know that Biggio is going to be stumping for his old running mate from their Houston days.  I’d say he gets in within 3-4 years.

Tim Raines

.294/.385/.425, 2,605 hits, 1,571 runs, 170 HRs, 980 RBI, 430 2Bs, 113 3Bs, 808 SBs, 1,330 BB

traines

Okay, some of you are thinking, “I don’t get it, Tim Raines only has one more year of eligibility left, why did The Heckler put down Tim Raines?”

Yes, you guys are right, Raines doesn’t have much time, and he needs to make up 110 votes in a year…..but there is hope.

Don Mattingley is off the ballot. With Biggio getting in, there is another player off the list. Piazza only needs 28 more votes so that’s not really competition.  His only competition (for real) is Bagwell.  If that’s it, then entering his last year, next year should be Tim Raines’ year.  I mean it isn’t like he DOESN’T deserve the honor (he most definitely does).  It is now up to the BBWAA writers to right a wrong that has been going on for too long, before it is too late.  Good luck Tim, good luck indeed.


 You are not getting in, don’t even bother placing a phone call to any writers apologizing

nope


 The Get Over It Gang

-Roger Clemens

-Mark McGwire

-Sammy Sosa

-Gary Sheffield

-Jeff Kent

-Nomar Garciaparra

-Alan Trammel

-Larry Walker

Everyone on this list has to face the reality that they are not going to get into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame…..ever.   EVER.  Look, I know that (maybe) Larry Walker and (maaaaaaaaaybe) Alan Trammel and Jeff Kent seem like they deserve to get in but like I said earlier in this post:

“This is the Hall of Fame not, the Hall of Really Good or, the Hall of Great”

And those players above were on the borderline of “Fame”, but they all fell on the side of “Great”…..except for Roger Clemens.  He is never getting in because the writers will NEVER forgive him, even if he started to apologize from right now, until the next time the writers voted for the Hall of Fame.  That’s on Clemens, not the writers.  He could have taken the Barry Bonds standpoint and just said nothing, but Clemens has dug his own grave and now he has to lie in it forever.


 So you’re saying that there’s a chance?

The people who may, or may not, get into the Hall of Fame (and probably should – no matter what).

call me


Lee Smith

478 saves, 1.26WHIP, 3.03 ERA, 1,257 strikeouts

Old Lee Smith is probably going to have to wait for the Veterans Committee, if he wants to enter the hallowed halls of the Hall of Fame.  It’s a pity but, too many top named guys were eligible during his “Era of running”.

Edgar Martinez

.312/.418/.515, 309 HRs, 1,261 RBI, 514 2Bs

Edgar revolutionized the DH position.  His impact to the game is minimized because he stopped playing defense very early in his career, and became a professional DH.  He may never get in on the regular ballot but, maybe one of these days the Veteran Committee will vote him in.  It may be his only chance to get into the Hall.

Curt Schilling

216-146, 3,116 strikeouts, 3.46 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, Postseason 11-2, 2.23 ERA

Curt Schilling may never garner enough support to actually get to the 75% marker, but he’ll be close.  I am guessing that once Mussina gets in, the voters will look more kindly on “Big Schill”.

Mike Mussina

270-153, 3.68 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2,813 strikeouts

Out of everyone on this list of “probably never, but totally should”, Mussina does stand the best chance of getting in first.  He is on the borderline, like Tim Raines, the only difference is that Raines has had a % that is trending up (albeit he is running out of time), and Mussina hasn’t seen his % move up in the last 3 years.

Pete Rose

4,256 hits (1st All-Time), 746 2Bs, 135 3Bs, 160 HRs, 1,314 RBI, 198 SBs, .303/.375/.409

Look, it’s time to let the guy in.  He fucked up as a manager of the Reds, and he got punished for that.  He has served his time to the public, as well as to the MLB.  His numbers AS A PLAYER make him a Hall of Famer.  So unless you can give me evidence that he was fixing games as a player I say now is the time to let the man in.  He is definitely a Hall of Famer.

……which leads me to…….

Barry Lamar Bonds

’86-’96 (1,583 games played): .288, 1595 hits, 1, 121 runs, 333 2Bs, 51 3Bs, 380 SBs, 334 HRs, 3 MVPs

’97-’07 (1,403 games played): .311, 1,340 hits, 1,106 runs, 268 2Bs, 26 3Bs, 134 SBs, 428 HRs, 4 MVPs

First of all I would like to thank Barry Bonds for having 2 eleven year stretches of excellence, so that my point could be as non convoluted as it could be (trust me I have seen others make the argument for – or against – Barry Bonds getting into the MLB Hall of Fame, and it is always so damn convoluted and confusing).

The main reason I posted the 2 stretches is because these 2 stretches basically represent what most people would call the “Before steroids Barry Bonds” and the “After steroids Barry Bonds”.  The only difference you really see is that his BA and HRs went up, and his SBs and 3Bs went down.  Yes I know, those could be contributed to his “steroid use” but then again maybe it was just the fact that the Umpires were letting Barry walk at a historical level those last 11 years.  One could argue that those walks, and not the alleged steroid use, were the reason that Bonds hit more HRs; because of the fact that the baseballs were closer to his happy zone (because the umps were giving him the benefit of the doubt at the plate).

RELAX….. I am the biggest Barry Bonds hater I know, but the truth of the matter is this:

Barry Bonds could have retired after his first 11 years in the League and he would have been a Hall of Famer for sure.  Maybe not the landslide 95+% he would have been had he not been linked with all the steroid allegations, etc….but he would have gotten in.  You can hate the man if you want.  You can also say that Bonds cheated and he doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, but regardless of where you stand on the issue of his career you all know that is the truth, which brings me to my point.

Barry will probably be jilted for the next couple of years (the first five years), after which the writers will finally come around and start to vote for him.  Most likely getting him in on his 2nd to last, or last attempt, on the regular ballot (if they have any integrity. Which leads me to believe that he may have to get in through the Veterans Committee).  The writers just want to punish him with their air of superiority for a little bit longer, just to show him “who’s boss”. Which is my main problem with “their moral stand against Bonds”.  It isn’t a moral stand, it is a childish “I’ll show him who’s boss” stand.  I could definitely see them not vote in Bonds and have the Veterans Committee do, just to prove a point (and nothing else that has anything to do with “morals” or “the integrity of the game”).  In which case the BBWAA proves to me why the system of voting needs to be fixed.  Which brings me to the last point of this article.


Finals thoughts of a Madman


The “Big Fix”

Mike Piazza falls 28 votes short because there are “rumors about PED use”.  Greg Maddux, Cal Ripken, Rickey Henderson, etc can’t get in as a 100% inductee because some voters don’t believe anyone is a 100% unanimous selection (NO MATTER WHAT!).  Some writers leave people off the ballots because…..they don’t like their attitudes.

If you can’t tell, I don’t like the way the MLB Hall of Fame is voted on.  The writers have too much say, as to say they have the only say.  Where’s the logic in that.  I know in the beginning that’s how it was done.  Well great, we used to be segregated too, but that isn’t the case anymore.  So why not change/tweak the system a little bit so that the writers don’t have so much power over future Hall of Famers.  Right now there are 549 writers that have Hall of Fame votes.  There are 310 elected members of the Hall of Fame (70 still living).  Here is my solution to the Hall of Fame “problem”.

The BBWAA can still have a vote, but instead of them electing the class they would be voting for the 10 finalists that would be eligible to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.  Much like Jayson Stark suggested the voting should be a “yes” or “no” format so that all the eligible nominees would be voted on, the top 10 players from that list would be the “Finalists” for that year (no matter what the percentages said).  After that, the 70 living elected member of the Hall of Fame can meet and vote on this list of 10 names for induction into the Hall of Fame (needing 80% approval).

So that the writers still have some sort of power over the election proces, there could be a caveat that states that “if the writers have a 75% approval or above the player is automatically inducted in the Hall” like in the past, but any player underneath that threshold will be up for vote by the living member of the Hall.  This would split the power between the writers and the living members of the Hall.  It’ll probably never happen, but a guy can dream right?

Hope you enjoyed it.  Talk to you on Monday.

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