The Hall of Fame vote was announced this week, with the writers voting in Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman. Here are some observations:
— Man, the voters really don’t like relievers. It took Hoffman, owner of 601 saves and at one point, the all-time leader, three tries to get in. And he didn’t even top 80%. Mariano Rivera will be a first-time inductee next year, but after that, don’t expect any more relievers anytime soon. I predict Craig Kimbrel will be the next one to get in, and he is not even close to retirement. So we’re looking at what, 15, 20 years before another bullpen arm goes to Cooperstown?
— The induction of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens may not be as inevitable as we once thought (although we at the IBWAA voted them in). After making steady gains, they both now seem stuck in the mid-50% range. As younger voters come in and older ones exit the ranks, their chances improve. But can they make up the considerable distance within the next four years?
Incidentally, I do not understand the thought process of some voters. Everyone has their own criteria for dealing with PEDs; mine is if they didn’t fail a test or were not suspended for drug use, they should be in. Which is why I vote for Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and Sheffield every year, and why I do not vote for Manny Ramirez. Yet so many writers vote for Bonds and Clemens, but not Sosa (and to a lesser extent, Sheffield). None of them failed a test; why the discrepancy? Perhaps they are using the “they were Hall of Famers before they started taking steroids” argument. That seems nonsensical to me. A player should be judged on the entirety of his career. Either they took steroids or not, and you either vote for steroid players or not. It seems simple to me. And for Ramirez, a twice-proven steroid cheat, to get 22% of the vote to Sosa’s 8% is just baffling.
— Guerrero got 92% of the vote after getting just 71% last year. Did 20% of the voters just realize he was a Hall of Famer? This first-ballot bias nonsense must stop. It doesn’t say on your plaque whether you got in on your first ballot or your last. Either a player is a Hall of Famer or not. Not voting for a player on his first time around is asinine. Those 12 writers who did not vote for Jones must be smiling smugly somewhere right now. Good for them.
— Edgar Martinez got 70% of the vote, setting himself up nicely for induction next year, his last on the ballot. I don’t get the hype over Martinez. Yes, he was an excellent hitter, but his career numbers (309 homers, 1261 RBIs, .312 batting average, 2247 hits) just does not measure up. If he gets in, then shouldn’t Todd Helton (369, 1401, .316, 2519) get in on his first try next year? I’m not hearing much love for him. And playing in Colorado should not be held against Helton, just like being a DH should not be held against Martinez. And what about Magglio Ordonez (294, 1236, .309, 2156) for that matter. he fell of the ballot after one try with numbers very similar to Martinez. Martinez was a great hitter, but he just did not compile the numbers for Cooperstown. It’s similar to guys like Dick Allen and Dave Parker, who were among the most feared sluggers of their eras, but did not do enough for induction.
— Mike Mussina keeps making gains, and he should thank Jack Morris for that. The veterans elected Morris and Alan Trammell for some reason this year, lowering the bar for everyone. That should be enough for Mussina, a very good, solid pitcher, to some day get in.
— And finally, poor Johan Santana; off the ballot after one try after getting just 2.4% of the vote (the IBWAA gave him 21% of the vote). Santana had a peak just a notch or two below those of Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez. Sadly, injuries prevented him from padding his numbers (139-78) to make them Hall of fame worthy. One has to wonder what would have happened if Santana had won a third Cy Young award (he finished third twice to go along with his two wins). Can you keep a three-time winner out of Cooperstown? We’ll never know.