It's the most wonderful time...of the year! Well, aside from the fact that my birthday is next month on the 22nd; it's time for baseball fans to debate who belongs in the Hall of Fame and who does not.
Here is this year's ballot, if you haven't already seen it. With only 23 players on the ballot, this is the smallest group ever, but does that mean there should be the fewest players elected to the Hall? Negative on that.
Anyway, if I had a Hall of Fame vote, it would go to Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Bert Blyleven, and Tommy John.
Rickey Henderson is a given. Like Bill James said, "If you could split him in two, you'd have two Hall of Famers." While I can't fathom why he wouldn't be a shoo-in, unanimous selection, I realize that his attitude might have upset some writers along the way, but I always thought that was one of the lamest reasons why they DON'T vote for a candidate. Too bad that he refused an interview to you 20 years ago...get over it.
Just looking at Rickey Henderson's statistics makes me realize even more that there will never be another player like him...ever.
Tim "Rock" Raines is another given to me. Along with Rickey Henderson, he was one of the top leadoff hitters and base stealers in the history of the game and terrorized the basepaths in the '80s and early '90s. I know for a fact he won't come close to induction this year after getting only 24 percent of the vote last year, but oh well, maybe someday.
Bert Blyleven and Tommy John are two "givens" to me that I don't understand why they haven't been elected to the Hall of Fame yet. I don't have to go over their numbers yet or discuss the teams that Blyleven pitched on anymore...it's well-documented information available online, and I'm sure that most fans reading this have already heard it.
As for Tommy John, not only does he have one more career win than Blyleven and a higher winning percentage, but he is also known for the revolutionary surgery named after him that was performed on a damaged ligament in his pitching arm.
Obviously that's not reason enough to induct him (and just as much of a reason to induct Dr. Frank Jobe or Dr. James Andrews), but combined with 288 wins, I really think that should get him in.
Regardless, of the four I mentioned, I only expect to see Rickey Henderson inducted this year, judging by past voting totals for the other players. Every year, though, it seems that more and more voters (and fans) are "waking up" and becoming aware of numbers beyond the "benchmark statistics" (i.e. saying that a hitter must have 3,000 hits or a pitcher must win 300 games to be inducted).
Will that happen in time to elect Blyleven, John, and Raines before they're no longer eligible? I have no idea, but I hope so.