Current MLB Hall of Famers Who Would Not Be Voted in If They Retired Today
Ideally, a great baseball player would be voted into the Hall of Fame regardless of the era his career took place in or when he was eligible on the ballot.
But Hall of Famers aren't always judged completely on their career merits. When a player is eligible and who else is on the ballot in a particular year can play a significant role in determining whether or not he receives the necessary 75 percent of the vote.
Such considerations could become even more important for future Hall of Fame ballots. Beginning with the 2013 class, players and their achievements are going to be judged by playing in the "steroid era," when PED use was prevalent throughout the sport.
Yet how would some players already in the Hall of Fame fare on the current ballot if they were still waiting to be voted in or just became eligible this year? Though it's obviously a hypothetical scenario, here are four players already in Cooperstown who might still be on the outside looking in if they were still on the ballot.
Saves have become devalued as the years go on in baseball. A closer isn't necessarily considered great anymore because of his save totals.
For instance, Jose Valverde saved 49 games for the Detroit Tigers in 2011. Yet was he viewed as one of MLB's top closers or a reliever who happened to pitch for a good team that gave up plenty of leads to protect?
Bruce Sutter compiled 300 saves in his 12-year major league career. He won a Cy Young Award in 1979 when he saved 37 games and struck out 110 batters in 101.1 innings.
The number of innings he pitched is certainly different from the modern-day closer. Today, a closer might pitch 70 innings in a season. Sutter surpassed 100 innings five times in his career.
But if not for that nice, round number, would he be considered a Hall of Famer? Given that he wasn't inducted into the Hall of Fame until his 13th year on the ballot, voters mulled over that question for many years.
Gaylord Perry won 314 games in his 22-year MLB career. That number is a guaranteed ticket to Cooperstown for a pitcher.
Perry also won two Cy Young Awards, with one second-place finish. He won 20 games five times.
With that kind of résumé, it's difficult to imagine that Perry wouldn't be voted into the Hall of Fame. But Perry admitted to cheating while he played, utilizing various substances to get more movement on the ball. He believes that honesty kept him out of Cooperstown for his first two years on the ballot.
As ESPN's Page 2 recollects, Perry would touch his cap, sleeve or neck while pitching, likely getting something to put on the ball. A 1977 AP photo even caught him with a tube of something in the dugout and then hiding his neck with a towel as he appeared to apply something.
Granted, loading up a baseball is not the same as using steroids. But it could be argued that Perry was using performance-enhancing substances. Given the attitude toward players who cheated these days, would that be held against Perry if he was on the current Hall of Fame ballot?
Jim Rice was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009. Just four years later, would voters reconsider their decision to put him in?
Rice finally made it after his full 15 years on the ballot. It was obviously a long, tough decision for voters.
He didn't reach 3,000 hits. (Actually, he didn't reach 2,500 either, finishing with 2,452.) Nor did he hit 500 home runs. (He finished below 400, having slugged 382 homers.) Rice did finish with a .298 career average, however, and 1,451 RBI.
Yet where would Rice stack up against the players now on the Hall of Fame ballot?
Sammy Sosa has more home runs and RBI in his career, and nearly as many hits. Of course, suspicions of steroid use (and other indignities, like being caught with a corked bat) will keep him out of Cooperstown.
Rice's numbers look better without the taint of PED use. But he wouldn't stand out among hitters like Barry Bonds or Mike Piazza either. Had Rice not been inducted in 2009 and had more years on the ballot, he likely would have gotten lost in the shuffle as a new wave of retired stars became eligible.
A pitcher doesn't have to win 300 games to be considered worthy of the Hall of Fame. But if Don Drysdale found himself on the ballot, would his 209 victories be enough for him to get in?
Drysdale also has a Cy Young Award and seven All-Star appearances on his résumé. A 2.95 career ERA is also extremely impressive.
But how would Drysdale stack up against players currently or soon to be on the Hall of Fame ballot?
Curt Schilling finished with 216 wins, just ahead of Drysdale, and had more than 3,000 strikeouts—though he did pitch six more seasons and actually totaled fewer innings. The same could be said for Pedro Martinez, who had more wins and strikeouts than Drysdale, but accumulated fewer innings despite pitching four more seasons.
Yet did Drysdale gain more respect because of his reputation for being a tough, uncompromising pitcher who would throw at opposing hitters to back them off the plate or retaliate for one of his teammates being plunked?
He seems to get more acclaim for that than his achievements on the mound, though maybe that's because he represents a bygone era in which pitchers were allowed to assert themselves in such a manner.
Would Catfish Hunter be voted into the Hall of Fame these days without reaching 300 victories or 3,000 strikeouts?
While he may have been one of the best pitchers of his era, how would Hunter stack up against pitchers like Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling or Pedro Martinez, who are now or soon will be on the ballot?
Hunter did have five 20-win seasons, earned a Cy Young Award and threw a perfect game, so those achievements certainly would not be overlooked. His 3.26 ERA and nearly 3,500 innings pitched compare favorably as well.
However, baseball writers are more accustomed to judging pitchers by their strikeout totals these days. It's an easy way to judge dominance over opposing batters.
With just over 2,000 strikeouts and a rate of 5.2 per nine innings for his career, Hunter doesn't look as formidable as many current pitchers.
Obviously, that's measuring him strictly by his numbers, rather than his actual performance on the field. But that's how virtually all players are judged these days. What do the numbers say? Intangibles don't stand the test of time.
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