The latest Hall of Fame ballot was mailed out on Monday, and just like last year there are no “no-doubt-about-it-first-ballot” guys on it. That’s always good news for the holdovers from previous years. And after four years of only Mark McGwire, this year begins the parade of suspected steroid users, with the debate intensifying over whether they should get in. Here’s a rundown of the top players and my predictions:
Palmeiro would be one of those no-doubt-about-it guys if it weren’t for those darn PEDs that he vehemently denied taking that he, oh yeah, tested positive for. It will be interesting to see how many votes he gets. McGwire was steady at around 25% over his first four years, and there was never a positive test. What does Palmeiro get, 10%? On the field, he hit 569 homers with 1835 RBIs and had 3020 hits. Great numbers, even if he was never one of the most dominating players in the game — an All-Star only four times in 20 years, never coming close to an MVP award. He’s a classic “compiler” who hung around long enough to collect impressive stats. Don Sutton is his pitcher counterpart.
Bagwell is intriguing. He hit 449 home runs, 1529 RBIs, batted .297 and won an MVP. But he was only an All-Star four times in a relatively short 15 year career. I think he’ll get some day, but not this year. Bagwell was excellent, but his numbers don’t measure up to previous first-ballot players — almost, but not quite. Having said that, I wouldn’t be shocked if he does get elected this year.
Walker had a fine career — a .313 batting average with 383 homers and an MVP award. I think he falls short of enshrinement, and will be penalized for having his biggest years in the high altitude of Denver.
Steroid accusations have been swirling around Gonzalez since 2001 when a suitcase belonging to either him or his trainer was found to contain what might have been steroids. Steroid guru Jose Canseco claimed to have given him injections, and Gonzalez was mentioned in the Mitchell Report. All of this will overpower his 434 homers and two MVPs.
John Franco, Al Leiter, John Olerud
It’s the first year for all of these former Mets favorites, and none will make it. Franco has the best chance of the three, but if Lee Smith can’t get into the Hall with his 478 saves, Franco and his 424 saves don’t have a prayer.
This is Blyleven’s 14th year on the ballot and it will be his last, because this is the year he finally gets in. He missed by five votes last year, and no one has ever been that close and not gotten in the following year. Blyleven certainly deserves it — 287 wins, 3.31 ERA, 3701 strikeouts (fifth all-time) and the greatest curveball most people have ever seen.
Alomar missed by eight votes last year in his first time on the ballot. He’ll get in this year, even though he was hardly a Hall of Famer during his awful year and a half with the Mets. Boy, was he terrible.
Many predicted Larkin would be a first-ballot guy last year when he received a surprisingly low 51%. I think he’ll be one of those guys like Blyleven whose totals go up each year until he is finally elected. Not this time around, though.
As I said above, McGwire has held steady at around 25% during his first four years on the ballot. This all came before he finally admitted earlier this year that he did indeed use steroids. It’ll be interesting to see if this effects his vote total. My guess is it will go down to 15%-20%.