Ranking the Biggest Snubs of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Class
Baseball Hall of Fame day is supposed to be about celebrating the history of the game we all love and the very best players of a generation.
There will be plenty of much deserved admiration and reverence for the newly elected Class of 2014, which includes Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas.
Unfortunately, as has been the case for the last five years, the story becomes more about the former players whose names weren't called to Cooperstown.
There are a variety of opinions and theories about why some of the most historic names in Major League Baseball history aren't represented in the Hall of Fame, most of them involving steroids and/or performance-enhancing drugs, but none of them provides any real substance.
To me, there's no way to put a timetable on when the "steroid era" started. There is also not enough information out there to tell us definitively if players gained a substantial boost to their performance by taking these drugs.
That's why I would have no issue voting for anyone who is under a cloud of suspicion. It's not on the writers to play judge, jury and executioner. The history of the game is what it is, and a Hall of Fame isn't complete without a lot of players on this year's ballot.
With that in mind, these are the biggest snubs from the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame class. While arguments could also be made for Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Alan Trammell, the list only reflects players who I think should have gotten in.
No. 9 Curt Schilling, RHP (1988-2007)
Career Stats: 3,261 IP, 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3,116 K, 711 BB, 1.137 WHIP, 127 ERA+, 80.7 rWAR, 83.2 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 29.2
When the B/R MLB Lead Writers were asked to fill out their hypothetical Hall of Fame ballots, Curt Schilling didn't make my top 10. It's not because I don't think he doesn't belong, but this class is so deep that he was one of the last cuts.
Schilling and Mike Mussina almost fit into the same category. Mussina was more consistently dominant because he stayed healthy throughout his career. Schilling lost a lot of time due to injuries but was incredible when he was on the mound.
Neither Schilling nor Mussina ever won a Cy Young award (though Schilling finished second three times), nor were they ever regarded as the best pitchers in baseball. Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez stole a lot of their thunder from 1995-2001.
Schilling was one of the best power pitchers in baseball history, ranking 22nd with 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings, but he also displayed unbelievable control. His 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the second best ever by a pitcher with a minimum of 1,000 innings.
He's more of a peak performer than career guy, racking up the bulk of his fWAR total from 1997-2004 (54.3). But going by Jay Jaffe's JAWS system, Schilling meets the criteria for starting pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame.
It also helps that Schilling's postseason resume is the stuff legends are made of. He pitched 133.1 October innings with a 2.23 ERA, 104 hits allowed and 120-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The right-hander shined on one ankle in the 2004 American League Championship Series. His bloody sock from that game has already been on display in Cooperstown.
He also threw three straight complete games and gave up four runs with 26 strikeouts in 21.1 innings to the Yankees in the 2001 postseason.
No. 8 Edgar Martinez, DH (1987-2004)
Career Stats: .312/.418/.515, 514 2B, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI, 1,283 BB, 147 OPS+, 68.3 rWAR, 65.6 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 25.2
I've never understood the case against designated hitters. Even if you don't like that it's a position in the American League, you still have to accept it.
Are voters really so shallow to think if Edgar Martinez had played third base or first base at a poor level, it would significantly change his Hall of Fame outlook? (The answer is probably no, as Miguel Cabrera's two MVP awards will attest.)
Ultimately, Martinez's offensive performance was so outstanding that it shouldn't matter he played a majority of games as a DH. His OPS+ of 147 is tied with Jim Thome, Willie McCovey and Mike Schmidt for 41st in history.
David Ortiz is the gold standard of designated hitters, but Martinez has a 25-point edge in batting average and 37-point advantage in on-base percentage. Ortiz does have a superior slugging percentage (.549) and home run total (431 to 309) but is eight points behind Martinez in OPS+.
Martinez had seven consecutive seasons (1995-2001) hitting at least .300/.400/.500. Ortiz has had two such seasons in his career. Postseason numbers should be factored in, which gives Ortiz a narrative edge, but Martinez had 148 plate appearances in October and hit .266/.365/.508.
The longtime Seattle DH also had six consecutive seasons (1995-2000) when he was worth at least five Fangraphs' Wins Above Replacement. Ortiz has had just three seasons worth at least five wins in his career.
I don't think Martinez will get in to the Hall of Fame before Ortiz, if he ever does, but if you are asking me to pick the greatest DH in history, I would take Martinez before anyone else.
No. 7 Mike Mussina, RHP (1991-2008)
Career Stats: 3,562.2 IP, 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 2,813 K, 785 BB, 1.192 WHIP, 123 ERA+, 82.7 rWAR, 82.5 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 20.3
It's easy to be overshadowed on a ballot that also includes Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens, but for my money, Mike Mussina has a stronger Hall of Fame argument than 2014 inductee Tom Glavine.
It's close, without question, but you want to see a consistent, high level of performance from a player going into Cooperstown. Mussina was better than Glavine in their careers.
Mussina had a slightly higher career ERA than Glavine (3.54), but keep in mind that Moose spent his entire career in the American League East and Glavine was in the National League East.
From 1994-2001, Mussina's peak years, he ranked sixth in fWAR (42.8). Glavine's best eight-year stretch, 1991-98, was worth 34.4 wins, ninth best in baseball. (For the record, Mussina ranked 10th during that same period.)
Glavine does have a huge edge in innings (4,413.1), but Mussina had 206 more strikeouts and 715 fewer walks in 850 fewer innings.
Mussina never got a Cy Young award but did have nine top-10 finishes. Glavine got his second Cy Young award in 1998 thanks mostly to 20 wins, even though Kevin Brown was vastly superior to him despite winning "only" 18 games.
If you like postseason heroics, Mussina pitched 139.2 innings with a 3.42 ERA and 145-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Glavine's ERA was 3.30 in 218.1 innings with a 143-87 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Glavine's teams have the title advantage, 1-0.
Hopefully the voting populace appreciates Mussina's greatness long enough for him to get in the Hall, because his resume certainly warrants inclusion.
No. 6 Tim Raines, OF (1979-2002)
Career Stats: .294/.385/.425, 430 2B, 113 3B, 170 HR, 808 SB, 1,330 BB, 123 OPS+, 69.1 rWAR, 66.4 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 46.1
I have said, and will continue to say, that Tim Raines' only crime was being a leadoff hitter at the same time as Rickey Henderson.
We equate the Hall of Fame with the very best players in baseball, yet Raines never had a chance to be considered the best leadoff hitter in baseball. He and Henderson were called up in 1979. Raines retired in 2002, while Henderson walked away in 2003.
Just because Raines never got to be the top dog doesn't mean we should forget his greatness. His .385 career on-base percentage is better than Alex Rodriguez's (.384), David Ortiz's (.381) and Pete Rose's (.375). He also ranks fifth all-time in stolen bases.
Using Jay Jaffe's JAWS system, Raines is slightly better than the average Hall of Fame left fielder with a peak rWAR of 42.2 and career rWAR of 69.1.
No matter how you slice the ballot, Raines meets the necessary criteria for induction. He gets knocked for the Henderson comparison and a slow end to his career that was marred by injuries and old age.
No. 5 Craig Biggio, 2B (1988-2007)
Career Stats: .281/.363/.433, 668 2B, 55 3B, 291 HR, 1,175 RBI, 414 SB, 112 OPS+, 64.9 rWAR, 65.3 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 74.8
Even though Craig Biggio has the mythical 3,000 hits (3,060, to be exact), that's not why he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He fell just two votes shy of induction this year, so it's just a matter of time before he gets in.
Biggio's greatest asset was an innate ability to make contact. He never drew a ton of walks, but he racked up a ton of hits every year, including six seasons with at least 175, and kept his on-base percentage up by acting as a human pin cushion. Five times he led the league in being hit by a pitch.
He was also a doubles machine, leading the league in that category three times and hitting at least 40 seven times. He also had a few notable home run seasons, breaking 20 eight times.
Sometimes the individual pieces don't overwhelm you, yet when you look up all the numbers are alarming. He finished in the top 16 of MVP voting five times and won four Gold Glove awards.
Given the era he played, Biggio's numbers aren't astronomical, and that's why he doesn't rank higher on the list. I think he's closer to a borderline candidate than most, but still a very worthy addition to Cooperstown when he gets in.
No. 4 Mike Piazza, C (1992-2007)
Career Stats: .308/.377/.545, 344 2B, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI, 143 OPS+, 59.2 rWAR, 63.6 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 62.2
Everyone took great pleasure in knocking Mike Piazza's defense as a catcher, which actually wasn't that bad if you look at the value metrics on Fangraphs, but what he did with the bat at that position was extraordinary.
Piazza's offensive numbers as a catcher dwarf the field. He has a .922 career OPS; Mickey Cochrane is second at .897. His 427 homers are 38 more than Johnny Bench. An average Piazza season from 1993-2002 was .322/.389/.579 with 35 home runs.
Going back to defense, Piazza's main problem was throwing out baserunners trying to steal (23 percent). He was a good blocker and receiver who knew how to call a game. With his offensive prowess, teams didn't need him to be elite behind the plate.
Piazza also had seven seasons in the top 10 of MVP voting, including three straight top-four finishes (1995-97). That consistent level of production at the most difficult position on the field is enough to make him a no-doubt Hall of Famer.
No. 3 Jeff Bagwell, 1B (1991-2005)
Career Stats: .297/.408/.540, 488 2B, 449 HR, 1,529 RBI, 202 SB, 149 OPS+, 79.5 rWAR, 80.3 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 54.3
It seems fitting that Jeff Bagwell's greatness isn't being appreciated after retirement, because it never felt like he got the credit he deserved during his career. Yes, he won a Rookie of the Year award (1991) and MVP (1994), but how often was he included in the discussion of the best players in baseball?
If I were to ask you who had the highest Fangraphs' WAR from 1993-2001, odds are good Barry Bonds would be your answer. You would be correct, as the controversial slugger racked up 74.2 wins above replacement during that time.
But if I told you that Jeff Bagwell ranked second, would you believe me? The former Astros first baseman had 59.2 wins above replacement, 3.2 more than Ken Griffey Jr., during that nine-year stretch.
An average season for Bagwell from 1993-2001 was .308/.424/.581 with 35 homers and 18 stolen bases. He was an underrated base stealer because no one pays attention to that when you are hitting 35 homers every year.
Even though defense at first base isn't a high priority, Bagwell always had one of the better gloves in the NL at the position and was awarded a Gold Glove in 1994.
No. 2 Roger Clemens, RHP (1984-2007)
Career Stats: 4,916.2 IP, 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 K, 1,580 BB, 1.173 WHIP, 143 ERA+. 139.4 rWAR, 139.5 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 35.4
There are a lot of similarities between Roger Clemens and the No. 1 player on this list. Both were recognized by the BBWAA seven times in their careers as being the best at their jobs. Clemens won seven Cy Young awards and finished among the top six pitchers five other times.
Clemens was also one of the few pitchers to overcome the "pitchers can't win an MVP award" stigma in 1986 and finished in the top 15 seven other times in his career.
"Rocket" ranks third all time in strikeouts and Baseball Reference WAR, 16th in innings pitched and 26th in shutouts (46).
Clemens' seven-year peak from 1986-92 saw him rack up 58 fWAR and three Cy Young awards. His lowest innings total during that stretch was 228.1 in 1990. He led the league in ERA+ eight times, ERA seven times and strikeouts five times.
If Clemens isn't a Hall of Famer, then no pitcher eligible to be elected in 2014 is, including Greg Maddux.
No. 1 Barry Bonds, OF (1986-2007)
Career Stats: .298/.444/.607, 601 2B, 762 HR, 514 SB, 182 OPS+, 162.5 rWAR, 164.1 fWAR
2014 Vote Percentage: 34.7
Not having the best baseball player of the last 30 years, if not the history of Major League Baseball, in the Hall of Fame is a joke.
The writers had no problem giving Barry Bonds seven MVP awards and putting him in the top 10 six other times, but now he's a pariah who can no longer be mentioned among the greats in the game without people cringing.
Running down the list of insane numbers Bonds put up throughout his career would take more time than you have. He led the league in OPS+ nine times, on-base percentage 10 times, slugging percentage seven times and walks 12 times.
He's the all-time leader in home runs, walks and intentional walks.
As great as Mike Trout is right now, his first two seasons, based on Fangraphs' WAR, would be Bonds' fifth- and seventh-best seasons.
If I were given one vote to cast among the candidates on the ballot in 2014, Bonds would get it with no questions asked.
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