Ouch! The Baseball Writers Association of America has locked the doors to the Hall of Fame – at least for 2013. With no “winners” in the election, fans and players lose. Now, at this year’s ceremony, there will be only the ghosts of Hank O’Day, Jacob Ruppert and Deacon White to be honored. There will be no new, living members to be inducted. It will be interesting to see how much excitement that event generates among fans.
Yes, the steroid era “tainted” this year’s election process, but there were candidates who were not painted with that brush and who – at least in BBRT’s opinion – deserved election. BBRT also believes the writers could have made more of a statement – if that is what they were trying to do – by voting in a couple of “clean” candidates, while ignoring those most heavily associated with the PED issue. Here are two that would have fit the bill.
In his 20 MLB seasons, Biggio collected 3,060 hits, scored 1,884 runs and hit 291 home runs, while also stealing 414 bases. He was a seven-time All Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner, who spent notable time at second base, catcher and in the outfield. His 668 doubles are the most ever by a right-handed hitter (and fifth all time) and he is one of only two players to collect 50 doubles and 50 stolen bases in the same season. He holds the NL record (285) for being hit by a pitch.
Smith’s 478 saves put him third on the all-time list (he was number-one when he retired after the 1997 season). He also recorded 13 consecutive seasons (in an 18-year career) of 25 or more saves, a 3.03 lifetime ERA and 1,251 strikeouts in 1,289 innings pitched; led the league in saves four times; and made seven All Star Teams.
Slightly behind Biggio and Smith, but also deserving from BBRT’s vantage point is:
In his 18-year career, he earned a reputation as a big-game pitcher, as well as a 254-186 record with a 3.90 ERA, 2,478 strikeouts and five All Star selections. A two-time twenty-game winner, Morris led his league in wins twice, games started twice, and one time each in complete games, shutouts, innings pitched and strikeouts.
There were also have two worthy players who appear to have been punished for playing in the steroid era – despite no compelling PED evidence. It appears for these two, it was guilt by association or suspicion.
Piazza finished his 16-year career with 2,127 hits and a .308 average. The 1993 Rookie of the Year collected 427 home runs (a Major League record 396 as a catcher) and 12 All Star selections.
In 15 seasons, Bagwell amassed 2,314 hits and a near-.300 (.297) batting average. He also collected 429 home runs, and more than 1,500 runs and RBI, as well as 202 stolen bases. He was a NL Rookie of the Year, MVP and Gold Glove winner.
BBRT would have case a ballot for all of the above. As for the message from this year’s balloting, from this vantage point it does not seem very well thought out.
Here are this year’s vote recipients and percentages (75% needed for election).
Craig Biggio (68.2%, first year on ballot)
Jack Morris (67.7%, fourteenth)
Jeff Bagwell (59.6%, third)
Mike Piazza (57.8% first )
Tim Raines (52.2%, sixth)
Lee Smith (47.8%, eleventh)
Curt Schilling (38.8%, first)
Roger Clemens (37.6%, first)
Barry Bonds (36.2%, first)
Edgar Martinez (35.9%, fourth)
Alan Trammell (33.6%, twelfth)
Larry Walker (21.6%, third)
Fred McGriff (20.7%, fourth)
Dale Murphy (18.6%, fifteenth)
Mark McGwire (16.9%, seventh)
Don Mattingly (13.2%, thirteenth)
Sammy Sosa (12.5%, first)
Rafael Palmeiro (8.8%, third)
Bernie Williams (3.3%, second)
Kenny Lofton (3.2%, first)
Sandy Alomar Jr. (2.8%, first)
Julio Franco (1.1%, first)
David Wells (0.9%, first)
Steve Finley (0.7%, first)
Shawn Green (0.4%, first)
Aaron Sele (0.2%, first)