On Wednesday afternoon, Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame class for 2011 was announced and, as anticipated, Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar amassed the number of votes necessary for their enshrinement in Cooperstown this summer. A Hall of Fame candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from eligible Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) members to garner induction.
Considered by many to be the best second baseman in baseball history, Alomar fell short of induction by only eight votes in 2010, which was his first year on the ballot. But after garnering 73.7 percent of the vote last year, the Puerto Rican native was named on 90 percent of the ballots to become one of only two players to comprise this year’s Hall of Fame class.
Meanwhile, Blyleven, who was in his 14th year of eligibility, received 79.7 percent of the vote to warrant election in what has widely been considered one of the greatest oversights by the BBWAA.
Despite ranking fifth all-time in strikeouts, ninth in shutouts and 27th in wins, Blyleven received only 17.55 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility (1998). Astonishingly, his vote total dropped to 14.1 percent the following year.
In the past 40 years, no player who debuted on the ballot had a vote total that low and won election into the Hall of Fame.
However, the sabermetrics boom resulted in a closer inspection of Blyleven’s candidacy, which caused his vote totals to steadily rise to a high of 74.2 percent in 2010, leaving him only five votes short of induction.
But in his penultimate year of eligibility, Blyleven received the call that finally put the exclamation point on his distinguished career.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for former New York Yankees on this year’s ballot, whose respective Hall of Fame bids don’t look too promising for the most part.
Out of the eight former Yankees on the ballot, five fell short of the 5 percent required to remain on the ballot next year, including beloved first baseman Tino Martinez, who received just six votes (1 percent) from the BBWAA.
Joining Martinez in unsuccessful Hall of Fame bids were Al Leiter (0.7 percent), Kevin Brown (2.1 percent), John Olerud (0.7 percent) and Raul Mondesi (0 votes).
On the flip side of the coin, there were former Yankees who weren’t invited to join this year’s class but will remain on the ballot for future consideration, with the most prominent name being Don Mattingly.
In his 11th year of eligibility, Mattingly saw his appearance on the ballots drop from 16.1 percent last year to 13.6 percent this year, a clear indication that the Hall’s doors will remain shut to a man viewed as one of the greatest Yankee players in franchise history.
But the former six-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove Award-winning first baseman has been extremely candid about his Hall of Fame credentials.
"I don't think I'm a Hall of Famer," Mattingly was quoted as saying. "I don't think I have the numbers. Part of it is longevity, and I wasn't able to do that and do the things that I did early in my career."
Many Yankees fans would disagree with Donnie Baseball’s assessment, which speaks volumes to how popular Mattingly still is in the Big Apple and how memorable his tenure was with the bronx bombers.
In addition to Mattingly, Lee Smith (45.3 percent) and Tim Raines (37.5 percent), who both had brief stints with the Yankees in the '90s, will also see their names on next year’s ballot.
Raines, a two-time World Series Champion with the Yankees (1996, 1998), has been gaining a groundswell of support for induction, evidenced by the dramatic rise in his vote totals from 22.6 percent in 2009 to 30.4 percent in 2010 to 37.5 percent this year.
Smith, who appeared in eight games for the Yankees in 1993, ranks third in MLB history with 478 saves.