Friday, April 06, 2007
Hall of Fame or Not?
Every winter when the writers sit down and decide who is going to the Hall of Fame (and do it with a greater sense of importance than the College of Cardinals picking a Pope) my mind goes to two topics:
1. Who playing now should go to the Hall of Fame?
2. How are they going to screw over Jim Rice this year?
Well, as the season is starting, let's see who playing this year is already in, who is almost there with a little push, whose chances have faded away and who only deserve to get in if they buy a ticket.
Usually my criteria for Hall of Fame is "One of the elite players in the game for 10 or more seasons." There may be an exception or two. Awards help, as does a solid post season performance. Winning championships help but not winning win shouldn't hurt. Clay Bellinger has as many World Series rings as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Ted Williams combined.
So, in typical Sully maniacal list writing manner, I will break down who I think is already in, who will get in barring injury, who needs an MVP or some sort of glory to boost their resume, who we should keep an eye out for in a few years and the "Hall of Fame? Puh-lease" category.
I have 13 locks and then a bunch of other contenders and even more pretenders.
They are not in alphabetical order. They are in the order that I looked them up.
GROUP ONE - EASE ON THE THROTTLE AND COME ON HOME. YOU ALREADY HAVE THE RESUME.
1. KEN GRIFFEY JR. - Yeah the Cincinnati years have been cruel, but he was the best player in baseball for a decade and you've never heard his name mentioned with any shady labs when he belted 500+ homers.
2. ROGER CLEMENS - You are nuts if you think he isn't coming back.
3. TOM GLAVINE - Multiple Cy Youngs. World Series MVP. 300 wins is inevitable.
4. PEDRO MARTINEZ - I have argued that his run from 1997 to 2005 (save his injured 2001 season) is more impressive than Sandy Koufax's run in the 1960s. Koufax had bigger parks, higher mound, wider strike zone, no DH and no 'roids. Injuries or no, Pedro belongs NOW!
5. BARRY BONDS - Has he tested positive yet? Nope? Well then get ready for the most awkward Hall of Fame speech of all time.
6. GREG MADDUX - One of the truly extraordinary pitchers of the last 25 years, especially because he is not a fireballer. 333 wins? 7 straight years with an ERA under 3? In this era? Yikes.
7. MANNY RAMIREZ - Has the 10 MVP caliber seasons and World Series MVP title. Will there be a more insane acceptance speech ever?
8. PUDGE RODRIGUEZ - The best catcher of this era (sorry Piazza) and led the Rangers to the playoffs, was a playoff and World Series hero for Florida before making Detroit respectable and a pennant winner again. Won an MVP to boot (even though Pedro should have won it that year.)
9. ALEX RODRIGUEZ - His numbers are nothing short of jaw dropping. Nobody in the league matches his talent. And he won't be the only Hall of Famer with post season issues.
10. DEREK JETER - People who say he is overrated (stat geeks, Red Sox fans, Alex Rodriguez) don't watch him play. Nobody is as dangerous in the clutch, on the field or at the plate.
11. RANDY JOHNSON - I can't imagine a more terrifying thought than facing Randy Johnson. Neither could John Kruk. Nor that poor bird. 5 Cy Youngs, he was robbed of 2 more.
12. MARIANO RIVERA - The single most indispensable player on the Torre Yankees. Is he the greatest reliever ever? Maybe. I still like Fingers.
13. FRANK THOMAS - All the veterans on the bubble should look closely at Frank. He was on the bubble as well... and last year's spectacular comeback with Oakland burst that bubble once and for all.
GROUP TWO - THE FRED LYNN/DON MATTINGLY/JUAN GONZALEZ CATEGORY. DON'T GET HURT. YOU ARE ALMOST THERE
1. CHIPPER JONES. Got the ten elite seasons, MVP and post season glory. Another great season or two would help, but probably already there.
2. JOHN SMOLTZ - Not as many dominating seasons as you would think, although being a great reliever and post season pitcher helps. Was #3 to Glavine and Maddux. Needs some more #1 seasons or compile some great career numbers.
3. CRAIG BIGGIO - Get 3,000 hits and you are in. It's that simple. He's almost there.
4. ALBERT PUJOLS - 6 straight years of being one of the best, if not THE best player in baseball, plus a playoff MVP and winning a ring should be enough. He also single handedly destroyed Brad Lidge's career. 4 more years like this and he's in on the first ballot.
5. MIKE PIAZZA - 9 elite seasons and home run records for a catcher. Should be enough. A big comeback season in Oakland or somewhere in the AL would clinch it. (See Frank Thomas.)
6. TREVOR HOFFMAN - Yeah, I know he is the all times saves leader. Yeah I know he's played for the Padres every year of his career and is one of the class acts in the game. But I have a rule. If you are a closer, the only way you get in the Hall of Fame is you NEED to clinch a World Championship. Fingers, Sutter and Eckersley all did it. As did Gossage and Rivera. Hoffman's lone World Series highlight was coughing up Scott Brosius' home run in the 1998 Series. Harsh? Yup. But this is the Hall of Fame, people!
7. CURT SCHILLING - You can't ask for better playoff and World Series highlights than Schil. And he has about 5 dominating Cy Young seasons. But he may fall into the Dave Stewart/Jack Morris/Bret Saberhagen/Orel Hershiser/Fernando Valenzuela category of "Great clutch pitcher. Great Ace. Not enough years for the Hall."
8. VLADIMIR GUERERRO - Toiling in obscurity in Montreal all of those years, nobody noticed he put up MVP type numbers year in and year out. An MVP in Anaheim, he is just a few seasons away from completing a Hall of Fame resume. Don't hurt that back again!
9. GARY SHEFFIELD - Now with his 7th team, he wears out his welcome in a hurry. But he had 7 MVP caliber seasons in the process, a World Series title and will play with a chip on his shoulder in Detroit. Could be a very interesting career to review when it ends.
10. MIKE MUSSINA -
A less dynamic Greg Maddux, if that is possible. As he creeps closer to 300 wins, might be worth looking at his career closer
11. ICHIRO SUZUKI - Could be the part of a very interesting debate: Should the Japanese League stats work towards a Hall of Fame resume. If "yes" then Ichiro is in already. As it stands, he is more than half way there just in America.
12. OMAR VIZQUEL. His Offensive numbers haven't even come close, but has there been someone who has been such an overwhelming DEFENSIVE prescence as Vizquel for the past 17 seasons? That should count for something!
GROUP THREE - THE "DON'T FLAME OUT LIKE DWIGHT GOODEN" CATEGORY. IT'S TOO EARLY, BUT NICE START.
1. BRANDON WEBB. Young Cy Young award winner. So was Mark Davis. Learn from Big Unit and win some big games.
2. ARAMIS RAMIREZ. Staying at third helps matters as will staying in Wrigley.
3. MIGUEL CABRERA. Already 3 elite seasons and starting his 4th... plus World Series glory? Pile up the numbers for the next 7 seasons and make your reservation in upstate New York. Just don't flame out!
4. ROY OSWALT - Check his stats! He already has 5 Cy Young caliber seasons and a playoff MVP. He's half way there.
5. DAVID WRIGHT - Yeah it's only been two seasons... but if he continues being this good, plus shining in New York... who knows?
6. JOSE REYES - See David Wright.
7. TRAVIS HAFNER - 4 plus seasons in the bigs. 3 of them he put up MVP caliber numbers. He's more than a quarter of the way there.
8. GRADY SIZEMORE - Like his teammate Hafner, he's off to a great start.
9. FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ - If he clinches a World Series for the Angels this year (which he very well might), his spectacular seasons as a closer, plus his explosion on the scene during the 2002 playoffs and World Series might make for an interesting case. Just what exactly is on the brim of his cap?
10. JOHAN SANTANA - As good a 4 straight seasons as you could hope for. Multiple Cy Youngs and a total domination of the American League doesn't hurt. Don't get hurt. Fernando started out amazingly as well.
11. MICHAEL YOUNG - Is there a more anonymous superstar in the game now? If he were in New York, Boston, Chicago or L.A. he'd be one of the biggest names in the game.
GROUP FOUR - THE "NICE RESUME, BUT WE WERE HOPING FOR SOMETHING MORE SPECTACULAR" CATEGORY. WIN AN MVP OR BE A WORLD SERIES HERO AND WE'LL TALK
1. ANDRUW JONES. Some elite seasons and a glove that can't be beat. Only recently became an elite hitter. Not yet seriously in consideration.
2. LANCE BERKMAN. Slowly putting together a nice resume. But seriously, what is your favorite Lance Berkman moment?
3. NOMAR GARCIAPARRA - A classic "Hall of Famer if he stayed healthy" candidate. It's not too late, if he continues his comeback with the Dodgers. But he deserves some recognition for not only landing Mia Hamm, but producing twins with her.
4. CARLOS DELGADO - Lots of home runs, but that doesn't mean much in the 90s and 2000s. A solid post season last year was a good start, but could fall into that Andre Dawson, great player-just not a Hall of Famer category.
5. CARLOS BELTRAN - Has some terrific seasons and a great playoff for the Astros. Seems poised to become one of the 3 best players in the NL. Better do it if he wants to go to Cooperstown.
6. JAMIE MOYER - Have you ever looked at his numbers after the Red Sox traded him for Darren Bragg in 1996? Not Hall of Fame quality, but enough to mentioned on this post!
7. CHRIS CARPENTER - May be too late a bloomer for the Hall (like Dave Stewart.) If he remains a Cy Young contender, who knows?
8. MIGUEL TEJADA - A terrific player with an MVP to boot. Would have helped matters if he led the A's past the first round.
9. DAVID ORTIZ - Actually he HAS done the spectacular. But its only been 4 years of superstardom. Does he have 6 more years of being Big Papi in him? Probably asking too much there.
10. JIM THOME - Has had some great years and hit some towering playoff homers. But Not enough years as one of the elites. Leading the White Sox back to the World Series would go a long way.
11. MAGGLIO ORDONEZ - Has some big hits (including the ALCS ending homer last year) and some really terrific years. But injuries may have derailed any legit Hall consideration.
12. HIDEKI MATSUI - Part of the "Should Japan's stats count in the Hall" debate. Could make for an interesting case if he keeps it up in America.
13. BARRY ZITO - Only had 3 outstanding seasons in Oakland. He needs to become a Tom Glavine like ace in San Francisco to merit any Hall talk.
14. VERNON WELLS - If he earns that contract, then he will have quite a career. Already one of the game's best, he will need to keep it up for 7 or 8 more years. We'll see.
15. ROY HALLADAY - 3 Cy Young caliber seasons are impressive, but he probably won't keep it up long enough.
GROUP FIVE - THE "THE RESPECT OF YOUR FANS SHOULD BE ENOUGH" CATEGORY. ONLY THE BIGGEST HOMERS WOULD BRING YOU UP IN A HALL OF FAME DISCUSSION.
1. LUIS GONZALEZ. Would have helped if ALL of his huge home run seasons were not between 1999 and 2003. NOT THAT I AM IMPLYING ANYTHING! Nice 2001 World Series clip.
2. TODD HELTON. It doesn't help matters that his biggest years were during the 'roids era in Colorado and his numbers have been dropping like a rock. Going to a big market club and winning there could help (thus his desire to come to Boston.)
3. ANDY PETTITE. Good guy. Big game winner. But if Jack Morris, who had twice as many dominating seasons, is on the outside looking in, Pettite should be as well.
4. DEREK LOWE - Has a wild resume with 2 great starter seasons and a great closer season plus post season glory. But who are we kidding?
5. JIM EDMONDS - Belongs in the SportsCenter highlights Hall of Fame.
6. DAVID WELLS - Has more terrific seasons than you'd think. And rings with the Jays and Yankees and always seems to be in the post season. I can't wait for his TV career to start.
7. MOISES ALOU - Has had a better career than you think. Plus he was ROBBED of the 1997 World Series MVP. But he ain't a Hall of Famer.
8. JASON VARITEK - Yes, he is the captain. But he doesn't have nearly the numbers to get in. May get in as a manager some day.
9. PAUL KORNERKO - He was a playoff and World Series hero and ended the White Sox series drought. A damn good career. Not enough though.
10. JERMAINE DYE - Like Big Papi, made the switch from good player to MVP candidate too late. A nice career, a World Series MVP, love from White Sox fans forever and millions of dollars makes for a nice consolation prize.
11. KENNY ROGERS - Has had a better career than you would have thought, especially if you live in New York and only saw him as a Yankee and as a Met.
12. GARRET ANDERSON - A terrific career and some big playoff hits (including driving the nail into the Giants coffin in the 2002 World Series.) Not nearly enough.
13. TIM SALMON - Like Garret Anderson, should always be loved in Anaheim for great years and big hits. But he ain't a Hall of Famer.
14. BARTOLO COLON - A Cy Young winner with some solid years, was also basically too fat to pitch for the Angels in the 2005 ALCS. A Dominican David Wells.
15. TORII HUNTER - Like Jim Edmonds, belongs in a highlight film Hall of Fame.
16. JORGE POSADA - A Yankeeography on YES should suffice.
17. JOHNNY DAMON - But he is cute. No getting around it.
18. JASON GIAMBI - Missing the 2004 ALCS because of his... ahem... sickness killed any chance for him. He's very sorry. Just can't say what for.
19. BERNIE WILLIAMS - Will make it into a Nice Guy Hall of Fame. Get ready for decades of standing ovations at Old Timers Day.
20. ERIC CHAVEZ - Staying in Oakland should earn him points with the fans. Not being a HORRIBLE post season performer would have earned even more points.
21. CARL EVERETT - A first ballot election is a lock for the "I Don't Believe In Dinosaurs" Hall of Fame.
22. TROY GLAUS - With so few Hall of Fame thirdbasemen, the 2002 World Series MVP was putting together an interesting case until injuries derailed him. He had a nice comeback with Toronto, but it might be too little too late.
23. SAMMY SOSA -
See Mark McGwire.