This might be a bit late, but Goose Gossage was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame last weekend. Like Bruce Sutter in 2006, Goosage hung around the ballot for a bit before reaching the required 75% of votes.
I decided to have a look around the well-designed HOF site, in particular the voting history pages.A quick glance tells you about how long a non-first ballot takes to climb up to 75%.
For example take a glance at Gossage’s numbers. In 2000 he started with a relatively low 33%. After hanging out in the low 40s for the next few years he jumped up to 55.2% in 2005. In the successive years he increased by 9%, 8% and then 14% to reach induction last year.
I decided to have a little fun and attempt a breakdown of look the next five ballots might unfold.
Rickey Henderson – This is a no-brainer.
Jim Rice – This is much closer, but a pretty sure thing. Rice received 72.2% last year. 2009 will be his fifteenth and final year on the ballot. Like Gossage and Sutter the voters will probably give him the last nudge over the line and into Cooperstown.
Things get a bit more complicated here. There are no sure-fire first-ballot guys, but some very decent first timers. I don’t think any of them will make it though. Instead this will be Dawson and Blylevyn’s year to top 75%. You can read our Blylevyn HOF article and what that means for Mussina here.
Close but no Cigar – Barry Larkin (first ballot), Roberto Alomar (first ballot) and Fred McGriff (first ballot)
Roberto Alomar is a tragic figure (unless you believe other things were afoot). After his best year in 2001 at age 33, his career went into a complete tailspin. He stopped producing and he was out of the game by 2004 at only 36 years old. He only needed 276 more hits for 3,000. If he hand’t dropped off the side of a cliff, he’s making the plans for the Cooperstown and might still even be playing ala his old teammate Omar Vizquel.
Fred McGriff easily passes the eyeball test. He accumulated 2,240 hits, 493 homeruns (tied with Lou Gehrig), 1550 RBI (more then Mickey Mantle and Joe Dimaggio) and posted a career OPS of .886 – 34% better then the league over the same span. However his black ink is only 9 and his grey ink is only 105. Both are well below average hall of fame standards. He finished in the top 5 in MVP only once when he placed 4th in 1993 – though he did recieve MVP votes in 8 seasons. From 1988 – 2002 McGriff was one of the most consistent, finest hitters in baseball. He was just never great, while a lot of other players, especially at his position of first base, were. He should be in, someday in the distant future. I mean if Dawson and Jim Rice are in, then McGriff has to be. It’s just going to take a decade or so perhaps.
Waiting for the Veterans Committee – Edgar Martinez and Andres Galaragga
Now things really start to escalate. Larkin, Alomar and McGriff will all spur great debates. There’s also Tim Raines who started on the ballot in 2008. Like, Jim Rice and Andre Dawson he’ll probably start to climb up the voting ranks and receive more attention in the years approaching 2011. Toss in Larry Walker, Jeff Bagwell and the assorted baggage of Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmerio and you’ve got a hurricane of debate for ’11.
In – Tim Raines (maybe)
Close but no Cigar – Everybody else will divide up the vote too much. Realistically no player could be elected in 2011.
Waiting on the Veterans Committee – John Franco, John Olerud and Benito Santiago
Hopefully we’ll get some clear HOF elections during the next Presidential election cycle. There are no new serious contenders this year (sorry Bernie Williams).
The lack of significant additions to the ballot give Bagwell (2nd try) and Larkin (3rd) enough room to finish over the line.
Both Bagwell and Larkin have MVP’s for their records and were well liked during their playing days.Heck, it may not be too much to say they were adored.They don’t have great numbers, but they are very, very good.
Bagwell had a career OPS 50% better then his league, that’s pretty amazing.He received MVP votes ten times and was one of the best, most consistent players in the NL for all of his 14 seasons (he was ROTY in 1991), until a shoulder injury ended his career during his 15th one.He’ll probably get some of that too-bad-injury-suddenly-ended-everything love that Kirby Puckett got.Unlike Puckett, Bagwell has the outstanding career numbers to back it up.
Barry Larkin was the best shortstop in the National League for more then ten years.He was an All-Star twelve times from 1988-2004.He won the MVP the year after Bagwell in 1995 and collected 3 gold gloves during his career.The only problem for Larkin is modern shortstops.A-Rod changed everyone’s perception of what a shortstop could provide offensively.Against the likes of A-Rod, Jeter, Tejada, Nomar and others, Larkin’s power, slugging and RBI numbers are no comparison. My fear is that he ends up like Alan Trammell, one of the premiere players of his day, whose numbers don’t match up to modern day equivalents. Both were tremendous fielders, good-to-great hitters (for their time) and became the faces of the one franchise they played with their entire career.Had Trammell rightly won MVP’s in 1984 and ’87, he might be in today.Larkin has one MVP and lots of goodwill, I think that will be enough (but can we please get Trammell some more love?).
Close but no Cigar – Fred McGriff and Jack Morris (around this time his vote totals might start to increase to over 60%)
At last we have another first ballot HOF’er. Actually we have four of them or at least two we know for sure. We’ll save for another time the discussion of when Alomar, Larry Walker (who absolutely is a HOF’er, but no one realizes it), Fred McGriff, Morris, Larry Walker and others might reach induction. For now 2013 is our cut-off and I don’t see them getting in before then.
In – Craig Biggio (3,000 hits make him a lock) and Mike Piazza (the best hitting catcher of all-time).There’s not much to discuss with these two.However…
2013 will also be the year that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds become eligible. You’ll find much better discussions of their HOF worthiness on other sites, so I’ll just say that they can probably steal enough votes from Morris, McGriff and the others to prevent anyone else from being elected.
As you noticed I failed to discuss Mark McGwire, Gonzalez, Bonds, Palmeiro and Clemens. That’s because these are wild cards, for which numbers and stats and comparisons don’t matter.Based on any of them they are all worthy of first-ballot induction (except maybe Juan Gone).
We’ll know more about all their chances after a few more years on voting towards McGwire. It’s interesting to note that McGwire received 128 votes in 2007 (23.5%) and 128 votes in 2008 (23.6%). Based on that I’d have to say that anyone who smells of steroids better not make plans for Cooperstown anytime soon. However that’s easy to say in 2008. In five years people can forget and forgive a lot of things. In ten years will people care about Bonds’ or Clemens’ suspected drug use? How about in 15? If you held me to it, I’d say they’ll be forgiven and elected by 2018. Ditto, Big Mac.
I also think it’s interesting to note that there are at least 20 future Hall-of-Famers now playing, who will likely hang them up in the next three to five years. My quick list: Mariano Rivera, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Trevor Hoffman, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr, Ivan Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Gary Sheffield, Derek Jeter (<5 maybe), Ichiro (<5 maybe) and Curt Schilling. Seriously are any of those guys not first-ballot material?
And, oh yeah, Mussina gets elected in 2017 on his first ballot (for having 300 wins). You heard it here first!
Let me know what you think with a comment or email..