I love January, it's a start to a new year or in this case, a new decade, and it's the start of a new class for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
The most sacred place in all of baseball is Cooperstown; every one wants to be there but only the best of the best are allowed in.
This year's ballot will consist of 15 new names along with the eleven that got over five percent of the vote last year.
I, like every baseball fan, wish I had the ability to vote. Unfortunately I don't. Maybe I can't vote for my 10 guys, but I can make a slideshow of them.
I will rank from the least deserving (10) to the most (1).
G: 2830 (18th)
AB: 9908 (28th)
R: 1299 (118th)
H: 2866 (40th)
2B: 488 (58th)
HR: 384 (54th)
RBI: 1628 (29th)
BB: 1062 (88th)
SO: 1441 (55th)
Six Time All-Star
One Time Silver Slugger
Harold Baines hit the ground running when he debuted with the Chicago White Sox in 1980. After a so-so rookie campaign, Baines came into his, own averaging a .292 average with 19 homer runs and 86 RBI from 1981 to 1991. In 1984, Baines led the American League with a .541 slugging percentage and collected 29 homers and drove in 94 runs.
Baines was also a solid player in the playoffs. In 31 games, he hit .324 with five homer runs and 16 RBI. In his only World Series, he had one hit in seven at-bats, but it was a two-run home run.
Baines is what I like to call a "collector." He's a player who never had that one monster year. He never hit 30 home runs in a season but hit 20 eleven times and only drove in 100 runs three times. This is the major reason why he isn't getting any backing for the Hall of Fame.
Baines played for five teams in his 22 year career—the White Sox, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, and Cleveland Indians. There is no question as to what team Baines would go into the Hall of Fame as, it's the White Sox.
If anyone ever needs the definition of "getting by the skin of your teeth" show them Baines' Hall of Fame voting results, in 2007 he received 5.3 percent, then 5.2 percent in '08, and 5.9 percent in '09.
The reasons against Baines for the Hall of Fame are that he never had a big season, as I stated earlier, and that he doesn't have the magic marks of 3000 hits or 500 homers.
GS: 527 (36th)
W: 254 (42nd)
L: 186 (58th)
CG: 175 (180th)
SHO: 28 (134th)
IP: 3824.0 (50th)
ER: 1657 (26th)
SO: 2478 (31st)
BB: 1390 (19th)
1981 Sporting News Pitcher of the Year
1991 World Series Most Valuable Player
1984 & 1991 Babe Ruth Award Winner
Three Time World Champion
Five Time All-Star
After a cup of coffee in 1977 and a less then steller rookie year in '78, Jack Morris became one of the best pitchers in the majors from '79 to 1992 with one speed bump in the middle.
After two good years, Morris had his breakout season in the strike shortened season of 1981. In 25 games, Morris won a league leading 14 with a 3.05 ERA, was named to his first of five All-Star appearances, and won the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year.
Morris' best season came in 1983, he won 20 games, completed 20 of his 37 games, led the league in innings pitched with 293.2 and in strikeouts with 232. Morris would have two more 20 win season, 1986 with 21 and 1992 with a league leading 21.
Jack Morris is not famous for his regular season play, but for his World Series performance. In 1984, after winning his only game in the ALCS for the Detroit Tigers, Morris had one of the greatest pitching performances in the World Series, not only winning both of his starts, but completing them too, allowing only four runs in 18.0 innings leading to Morris winning his first Babe Ruth Award
If 1984 was a great pitching performance, 1991 was the greatest. Morris had a fantastic '91, going 18-12 with a 3.43 ERA helping the Minnesota Twins return to the playoffs. Morris then won both of his games in the ALCS.
His dominance didn't stop there, in the World Series, Morris pitched the second greatest game in World Series history. In a pitching duel against John Smoltz, he pitched 10 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, to win his fourth World Series game and the first World Championship for the Twins. He would win the World Series MVP and his second Babe Ruth Award.
Jack Morris played for the Tigers, Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, and Cleveland Indians before ending his 18 year career. If selected for the Hall of Fame Morris would go in as a Detroit Tiger.
Morris has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for 10 years, getting 44.0 percent of the vote in '09, his highest total yet.
Morris' reasons for not being enshrined in Cooperstown yet are because he didn't reach 300 wins or 3000 strikeouts.
G: 2502 (51st)
AB: 8872 (71st)
R: 1571 (50th)
H: 2605 (73rd)
2B: 430 (118th)
3B: 113 (115th)
SB: 808 (5th)
CS: 146 (24th)
BB: 1330 (34th)
SO: 966 (249th)
OBP: .385 (134th)
1987 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
One Time World Champion
Seven Time All-Star
One Time Silver Slugger
After two cup of coffees, Tim Raines had arguably the greatest rookie season for a base stealer ever. In 1981, Raines stole a league leading 71 bases with a .304 average in only 88 games, he was named to his first of seven All-Star teams and came in second in Rookie of the Year voting.
Raines followed up his rookie season by leading the league in stolen bases in three straight years, once in runs scored with 133 in '83 and in doubles with 38 in '84.
In 1986, Raines led the league in batting average with a .334 mark and on-base percentage with a .413 mark. He also stole 70 bases and won his only Silver Slugger. The next year, Tim led the league in runs scored for the second time in his career with 123 and his batting average was .330 along with a .429 OBP and .526 SLG.
Raines finally got his World Series ring when the New York Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves in 1996. Raines only played in 59 games that year but batted .284 with nine homers.
In his 23 year career, Raines played with six teams—the Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, and Florida Marlins. It's easy to say that when Rock gets his plaque, he will be sporting an Expos hat, as most of his success came while he was playing in Montreal.
The two negatives for Tim Raines is that he hung on a bit too long, which resulted in his batting average dipping below .300 and that his claim to fame is his base stealing. Unfortunately, when your name isn't Henderson, people seem to overlook that.
Rock is probably the third greatest base stealer ever, after Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Ricky Henderson. It amazes me that he isn't getting as much support for the Hall as Edgar Martinez or Barry Larkin.
He has received 24.3 percent of the vote in 2008 and 22.6 percent in '09. Do I think Tim Raines will receive his plaque this year? No. Sadly, I think Raines will have to wait another year or two for that honor.
G: 2257 (112th)
AB: 8096 (125th)
R: 1195 (167th)
H: 2333 (128th)
2B: 444 (94th)
HR: 399 (46th)
RBI: 1425 (63rd)
SO: 2003 (4th)
SLG: .499 (109th)
Five Time All-Star
Two Time Gold Glover
Two Time Silver Slugger
After a cup of coffee and two solid seasons, Big Cat had a monster season. In 1988, he led the league in hits (184) and doubles (42), hit 29 homer runs and 92 RBI, while batting .302, slugging .540 with a .352 on-base percentage. He was also named to his first All-Star team and won his first Silver Slugger Award.
From 1989 to 1992, Andres went into a pretty bad slump, but still managed to pick up his two Gold Gloves.
In 1993, the Big Cat got out of his slump, hitting 22 homer runs with 98 runs batted in and a league leading .370 average with a monstrous .602 slugging percentage. In his next two seasons, Galarraga hit 31 homer runs both years.
Big Cat's power numbers then skyrocketed in 1996. He led the league in homer runs with 47 and in RBI with 150. In 1997, he led the league again in RBI with 140 and hit 41 homers. In 1998, Big Cat hit 44 home runs with 121 RBI. In those three years, Galarraga averaged 114 runs scored, 44 homer runs, 137 RBI, a .309 average, a .381 on-base percentage, and a .593 slugging percentage.
Sadly, Big Cat's career was beginning to end. Andreas missed the 1999 season after being diagnosed with cancer.
After going through chemotherapy, the Big Cat came back and had his last great year. In 2000, he batted .302, hit 28 homer runs, drove in 100 runs, and had a .526 slugging percentage.
After being a backup first basemen and pinch hitter, Big Cat retired from baseball with a total of 399 home runs, 1425 RBI, 2333 hits, with a .288 batting average.
Galarraga played for seven teams in his illustrious 19 year career—the Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, and Anaheim Angels. Big Cat can go into the Hall of Fame as an Expo, since he played more games as an Expo then in any other jersey, or a Rockie, since he had his three best years there.
This is Andres' first year on the ballot and I don't think he will be voted in this year or the next or the next. I think Big Cat is the next Jim Rice, an amazing ballplayer who will have to wait a long time to get in.
G: 2180 (133rd)
AB: 7937 (139th)
R: 1329 (106th)
H: 2340 (126th)
2B: 441 (99th)
SB: 379 (83rd)
CS: 77 (229th)
BB: 939 (142nd)
1995 National League Most Valuable Player
1994 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
1993 Roberto Clemente Award
One Time World Champion
Twelve Time All-Star
Three Time Gold Glover
Nine Time Silver Slugger
Since retiring, Barry Larkin seems to have become one of the most overrated retired players at the moment. Maybe I'm watching too much MLB Network when you can't go 10 minutes without someone calling him a Hall of Famer, but even if he is overrated, he is a Hall of Famer.
Right from the start, Larkin was a great hitting shortstop. In his rookie year, he batted .283, coming in seventh in Rookie of the Year voting. In 1988, he won his first Silver Slugger and was named to his first All-Star team while stealing 40 bases with a .296 batting average.
In 1990, after another superb season, Lark batted .353 in the World Series, hitting a double and a triple and scored three runs in helping the Cincinnati Reds win their first World Series since 1976.
Lark became one of the most reliable players in the majors, hitting over .300 nine times and stealing more then 25 bases seven times in his career.
Barry's best year was arguably the greatest year for a shortstop ever until Rodriquez's amazing season with the Texas Rangers. In 1996, Lark hit 33 homers with 36 stolen bases and 32 doubles, he batted .298 and drove in 89 runs and scored 117 times. His MVP year in 1995 wasn't that bad either.
Lark finally ran into a wall when he suffered through injuries and ended up playing only 45 games in 2001, the lowest amount in his career. In 2002, Lark played 145 games but batted a career low .245 and had another career low .305 on-base percentage.
After two more injury prone years, Larkin ended his 19 year career as, probably, the most beloved Red ever.
Lark is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame and from what I see, could be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Everyone loves him and he has the numbers and awards to back him up.
R: 1349 (101st)
H: 2490 (93rd)
2B: 441 (99th)
HR: 493 (26th)
RBI: 1550 (41st)
BB: 1305 (37th)
SO: 1882 (8th)
OBP: .377 (194th)
SLG: .509 (79th)
1994 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
One Time World Champion
Five Time All-Star
Three Time Silver Slugger
Once you look past the Mattingly's and McGwire's of the 1990s and the Thome's and Helton's of the early 2000s, there's Fred McGriff.
In McGriff's second full season, he became one of the most dangerous hitters in the majors, when in 1988, he hit 34 homer runs, with 82 RBI and a .282 average. He followed that up by leading the American League in 1989 in homer runs with 36 and in OPS with .924, he also had 92 RBI.
The Crime Dog hit 30 or more homers from 1988 to 1994, leading the league in that category twice and he drove in 100 or more runs three times during that span. Fred had to wait until his 12th full season to hit less then 20 homers, when he hit 19 in 1998 but that slump didn't last. In 1999, he blasted 32 homers and drove in 104 runs.
McGriff would go on to hit 30 homers two more times before his career ended from a sudden injury, destroying his chances to reach the magical 500 home run mark. In his career, he hit 30 or more homers ten times, drove in 100 or more runs eight times, and slugged over .500 ten times.
In postseason play, McGriff hit 10 homers, drove in 37 runs, and batted .303 with a .532 slugging percentage. In his first World Series, he hit .261, but hit two homers and had three RBI.
Crime Dog played for six teams—the Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers in his 19 years.
I can think of two logos McGriff could put on his hat, a Braves one or a Devil Rays one. He played the same amount of years with both teams, but has more homers and RBI with the Braves and won his only World Championship with the '95 Braves.
Like Galarraga and Larkin, this is Crime Dog's first year on the ballot and he deserves to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He was one of the most consistent and dangerous hitters during his playing time.
G: 1022 (9th)
SV: 478 (3rd)
ERA: 3.03 (175th)
1991, 1992, & 1994 National League Rolaids Relief Winner
Seven Time All-Star
I know he isn't the greatest closer of all-time! I know he probably isn't even in the top 10 best closers. But that's now, and at the time of Lee Smith's retirement, he was easily in the top five closers of all-time. And he held the record for most saves for 13 years! That alone should be enough for a trip to Cooperstown, but here we are, eight years after Smith's first time on the ballot.
Lets start like we always do, from the beginning. After two fine seasons, Lee came into his own in 1983, in 66 games he saved a league leading 29 games, had a 1.65 ERA with 91 strikeouts. In the next seven seasons, Lee had 30 or more saves five times and struck out 112 batters in 1985.
Smith then experienced five of the greatest years for a closer at that time. He led the National League in 1991 and '92 in saves, with 47 and 43 respectively. He then saved 46 games in '93 and led the American League in saves with 33 in 1994. He would end his career as a closer in 1995 with 37 saves in 52 games.
Smith would go on to play two more years as a setup man, collecting seven saves in 79 games. He would end his career with 478 saves, 121 more saves then anyone else.
One of Smith's faults is that he played for so many teams in his 18 seasons—the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, California Angels, Cincinnati Reds, and Montreal Expos. But it's not Lee's fault he played for eight teams.
The Red Sox needed a closer for their shaky bullpen.
The Cardinals didn't have a closer and the Red Sox didn't need both Smith and Jeff Reardon.
The Yanks needed a closer for their pennant race with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Baltimore and the Angels offered him the biggest contract.
Smith didn't like California so he was traded to the Reds.
And then in 1997, Montreal was the only team that wanted him.
All very reasonable reasons for going to a new team.
Smith received 44.5 percent of the vote in '09, the second highest he has received next to '06, when he received 45.0 percent. I wouldn't be surprised if Lee Smith finally get into the Hall of Fame this year since his cause has been picking up steam.
G: 2627 (34th)
AB: 9927 (26th)
R: 1373 (93rd)
H: 2774 (45th)
2B: 503 (48th)
3B: 98 (162nd)
HR: 438 (36th)
RBI: 1591 (34th)
SB: 314 (146th)
CS: 109 (79th)
SO: 1509 (47th)
SLG: .482 (165th)
1987 National League Most Valuable Player
1977 National League Rookie of the Year
1994 Hutch Award Winner
Eight Time All-Star
Eight Time Gold Glover
Four Time Silver Slugger
After a 24 game year in 1976, Andre Dawson won the Rookie of the Year Award in '77 while with the Montreal Expos, hitting 19 homer runs, driving in 65 runs, stealing 21 bases and batting .282 with 26 doubles.
From 1978 to 1986, Hawk averaged 23 homers and 85 RBI with a .280 average and 26 stolen bases. He led the National League in hits in 1983 with 189, he also hit 32 home runs and drove in 113 runs that same year.
After signing with the Chicago Cubs, Dawson had his best season of his career, when in 1987, he smashed 49 dingers and 137 RBI, leading the league in both categories. He also hit .287, slugged .568, and won his Most Valuable Player Award while on a last place team.
Andre would hit 31 homer runs in 1991 and he drove in 100 runs two more times, 100 in 1990 and 104 in '91.
After two season with the Boston Red Sox, Dawson played parts of two seasons with the Florida Marlins to end his career.
The reasoning for Dawson not being elected to the Hall of Fame is that he didn't reach 500 home runs or 3000 hits. However, he does have over 1500 RBI, 300 steals, and 1300 runs.
Dawson has had strong Hall of Fame voting results. He has received 60.0 percent or more three times and in 2009 he missed the Hall of Fame by 8.0 percent.
R: 1167 (192nd)
HR: 583 (8th)
RBI: 1414 (66th)
BB: 1317 (36th)
SO: 1596 (29th)
OBP: .394 (78th)
SLG: .588 (9th)
1987 American League Rookie of the Year
1999 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award Winner
One Time World Champion
Twelve Time Time All-Star
One Time Gold Glover
Three Time Silver Slugger
Before we get to the statistics, let me get the steroid controversy out of the way.
Mark McGwire admitted to taking androstenedione in 1998. Androstenedione is an anabolic steroid, but in 1998 it was just another over-the-counter muscle enhancement product, legal in Major League Baseball. Androstenedione wasn't even defined as an anabolic steroid until 2005, four years after McGwire retired. McGwire also has never been linked to any steroid use, except in Jose Canseco's book.
I'm not letting anyone who took steroids get by, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Plameiro, or Roger Clemens just to name a few. I would never vote or support these players for the Hall of Fame, but Mark McGwire is another case. I'm against punishing a great baseball player for something he did that was legal at the time, but is currently illegal in the sport.
I understand why McGwire pleaded the fifth. If he said "no" like Plameiro wanted him too, he would have been lying, since by that time, androstenedione was considered an anabolic steroid. If he said "yes" in any way, he would have been shunned by his colleagues for going against them and their version of the truth.
It's a terrible thing that a great baseball player and person in general had his legacy destroyed by Jose Canseco.
Now let us go back in time to the good ol' days of the late 1980s.
Mark McGwire's rookie year is one of the greatest rookie seasons for a batter ever. In 151 games, Big Mac hit a league leading 49 home runs setting the record for rookies, he drove in 118 runs, batted .289, and had a league best .618 slugging percentage. Mark easily won the Rookie of the Year Award.
He followed up his amazing rookie season with three straight 30+ home runs seasons, driving in 108 runs in 1990 and leading the American League with 110 walks. McGwire then suffered a tough 1991, batting a disastrous .201 with a career low 22 homer runs.
McGwire bounced back in 1992, hitting 42 homers with a league leading .585 slugging percentage. After two injury plagued seasons, McGwire had his second comeback year in his career in 1995. He hit 39 home runs, drove in 90 runs, and batted .274 with a .685 slugging percentage.
1996 marked the beginning of the greatest four year span in baseball history. In 1996, Mark led the league with 52 homers, a .467 on-base percentage, a .730 slugging percentage, and 113 RBI. In 1997, Big Mac hit a Major League leading 58 homers with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, he also drove in 123 runs.
Then came 1998, Mark McGwire chased Roger Maris' single-season home run record of 61. But he wasn't alone, as Sammy Sosa was right behind him for most of the season. McGwire hit No. 62 on the eighth of September, probably the most memorable moment in baseball since Hank Aaron hit No. 715.
At the end of one of the best seasons ever put together, Big Mac had 70 homers, 147 RBI, a league leading 162 walks, a .470 league leading on-base percentage, and another league leading slugging percentage of .752. He also had a .299 batting average.
In 1999, McGwire had his last full season. He led the majors for the fourth time in a row in home runs with 65 and he led the National League in runs batted in for the first time with 147. He also walked 133 times and had a .697 slugging percentage.
Big Mac played two more seasons, hitting a combined 61 homers and driving in 137 runs with a .239 average. McGwire had a perfect opportunity to retire when Albert Pujols began to put up Mark McGwire type numbers.
Then everything else happened.
McGwire has gotten 21.9 percent or more of the vote since going on the ballot and sadly, I don't see him going to Cooperstown in the near future. Such a terrible thing.
Now, if you move passed over the steroid controversy or Big Mac, we will see his true weaknesses. McGwire has a terrible batting average of .263 and he doesn't even have 1700 hits. But even with those two facts, McGwire should get into Cooperstown because of his 583 home runs, 1414 RBI, .588 slugging percentage, and record breaking seasons.
And if you still can't get over the fact that Mark McGwire used an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product, get over it, go pick on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, they're the true scumbags.
G: 692 (96th)
GS: 685 (11th)
W: 287 (27th)
L: 250 (10th)
CG: 242 (91st)
SHO: 60 (9th)
IP: 4970.0 (14th)
H: 4632 (15th)
ER: 1830 (11th)
BB: 1322 (29th)
SO: 3701 (5th)
Two Time World Champion
Two Time All-Star
It's hard to go through Bert Blyleven's career because there isn't a season where you can stop and show his dominance. He never had another year as good as his 1973 season, and his records never show how great he was because of the terrible teams he was on.
In 1973, Bert won 20 games, the only time in his career. He led the league in shutouts with 9 and had 25 complete games. He pitched 325.0 innings and struck out 258 while walking just 67. Blyleven also had a career low 2.52 ERA.
I think the best way to understand Blyleven's career is by looking at strikeouts, complete games, shutouts, innings pitched, and how many wins he had for a pitcher who was with some pretty horrible teams.
Blyleven played in 22 seasons, he had 200+ strikeouts eight times, led the league in 1985 with 206. In that same '85 season, he led the league in games started (37), complete games (24), shutouts (5), innings pitched (293.2), and had a 3.16 ERA. But only managed a 17-16 record thanks to two terrible teams.
Blyleven had an ERA of below 3.00, nine times. He completed 10 or more games 11 times, three of those years he had 20 or more complete games. Bert Blyleven is what you call the ultimate workhorse.
Blyleven was part of two World Series winning teams, the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1987 Minnesota Twins. In '79, Blyleven went 12-5, had 172 strikeouts and a 3.60 ERA. In the World Series he pitched in two games, starting one and wining one, he allowed two runs in 10.0 innings. In '87, he went 15-12, collected 196 strikeouts and had a 4.01 ERA. In the '87 World Series, Bert went 1-1 allowing four earned runs in 13.0 innings.
Bert Blyleven is not in the Hall of Fame because he was cursed with under .500 teams for most of his career. he still managed to win 287 games and he has the fifth most strikeouts ever with 3701. When he retired he was third on the all-time list.
Bert Blyleven is so close to getting the 75.0 percent that's needed to be enshrined in Cooperstown that. I can't think of a 2010 without Blyleven holding up that plaque.
There's 16 guys I didn't vote for. Four pitchers, 11 position players, and one batter. I have a good reason why I picked who I picked and I have a good reason why I didn't pick who I didn't pick. Lets get rid of the ballplayers who have no shot to become Hall of Famers, to the ones who do and might become Hall of Famers.
Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson and Shane Reynolds:
All four first ballot pitchers aren't getting any support for the Hall of Fame and they don't deserve any. No offense, they just aren't that great.
Ray Lankford, David Segui and Todd Zeile:
All three of these guys were very good players, but good isn't enough to get into Cooperstown. A side note—it was very hard for me not to vote for Todd Zeile, as he was one of my favorite players growing up.
Eric Karros and Robin Ventura:
These two will stick around for a while, especially Karros, but they will never get the 75 percent. It's hard not voting for Ventura, as I liked him so much, but he just doesn't have the numbers.
He has the home runs, with 398 and 1266 RBI, but his .265 average is too low to overlook. Still, it's hard to not vote for a two time MVP winner.
He has the numbers, but he's a scumbag and I can't get myself to vote for him, not in his first year.
Ellis Burks and Edgar Martinez:
Not enough homers, not enough hits, not enough RBI. They were both great hitters but they aren't better then my 10 guys and the next three. One last thing, Martinez isn't the greatest DH ever. Try David Ortiz or Harold Baines.
Boy, was this a hard choice! Parker has such good numbers but I think there are guys who are more deserving then him.
I think Trammell should be in the Hall. His numbers for a shortstop in the '80s are really impressive, but the competition is better.
He was the perfect mix of average, power, and fielding. Mattingly is arguably the greatest defensive first basemen ever.
Please comment and tell me what you would change from my list and who your 10 would be.