Word on the street is that if anybody gets a Hall of Fame nod on Monday afternoon, Cincinnati Reds great Barry Larkin will be the guy. A sound choice (if it happens) but also pretty cheap on the part of the baseball writers who do the electing for Cooperstown. They're going to leave many deserving players out.
At least eight others, in fact.
As it stands, the upcoming induction ceremony this summer will feature the widow of Ron Santo — the late Chicago Cubs third baseman was the veteran's committee choice — and (maybe) Larkin. Imagine if the BBWAA did the right thing eight more times. A ceremony with 10 inductees would be twice as long as any Yankees-Red Sox Sunday night game.
Ten new Hall of Famers? Pretty unlikely. And such a pity. Everybody gets all gaga about the next class of Hall of Fame nominees, which includes the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling. But before we deal with that sure-to-be-controversial logjam, we've got eight holdovers to pine about:
1. Jeff Bagwell: Among the best hitters of any era — 57th all time in Wins Above Replacement (better than Ken Griffey Jr.). And yet, he received just 41.7 percent of the vote last year because, presumably, voters think he 'roided up. Certainly possible. He was Ken Caminiti's teammate, after all. But where's the beef? Can't one of these so-called reporters who suspect Bagwell of PED use do some digging and produce some actual evidence that he juiced? Bagwell wasn't even mentioned in the Mitchell Report.
2. Larry Walker: The only skeleton thought to be living in Walker's closet is that he played a plurality of his games at Coors Field, pretty much the best hitter's park in modern history until they installed the humidor in 2002. Walker's career home/road splits are striking. He hit .381/.462/.710 in 2,501 career plate appearances at Coors. So it's not like it hurt him. But he's still tied for 96th all time in career bWAR — better than Eddie Murray, Gary Carter, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks and lots of other Hall of Famers.
3. Tim Raines: His career wasn't as great after he left Montreal. But it still was great enough for Cooperstown. Better bWAR than Banks, Roberto Alomar, Ryne Sandberg, Harmon Killebrew, Dave Winfield. Just over 2,600 hits, more than 800 stolen bases. More times on base than Tony Gwynn.
4. Alan Trammell: It's just nuts that he doesn't get more support. Prediction: Like with Ron Santo, he's going to be a cause celebre in coming seasons. Received 24 percent of the vote last year, which tells me this: Too many voters are dismissing him without checking the stats. A lot of Trammell's numbers look like those of Barry Larkin.
5. Lou Whitaker: Now this is inconceivable: He hasn't been on the ballot since 2001, when he received almost no support and got dropped. He's 84th all time in bWAR, right behind Derek Jeter. When they played, Trammell and Whitaker were considered among the best players in the league. It's all you'd hear whenever your team played the Detroit Tigers. Where are these supporters now?
6. Edgar Martinez: Don't care that he didn't play defense. How many players are in the Hall of Fame because of defense? Not enough for it to matter. He's 100th all time in bWAR despite not becoming a regular until he was 27. But his 147 career adjusted OPS — same as McCovey, Mike Schmidt and Willie Stargell — ranks him 40th in history.
7. Rafael Palmeiro: Too many hits. Too many homers. Don't care about steroids or pointing his finger lying about steroids.
8. Mark McGwire: Too many home runs, too many times on base to keep him out, either. Not going to argue too hard for these last two. But they belong in the Hall.
So there it is. Eight guys who won't get in (at least this year) but should. It would have made for a heckuva party.
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