It will be announced later today, on MLB Network, that we will have three or four new inductees into Cooperstown. Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, the late, great Roy Halladay, and DH extraordinaire Edgar Martinez are, barring a miraculous shift in projections, headed to Cooperstown. Former Yankee and Oriole Mike Mussina has a shot, but that seems to be less and less likely as we get closer to tonight’s announcement.
I tweeted it out a while back, but I never shared the reasoning for what would have been my hall of fame ballot, so here that goes.
I want to preface this by saying that, while I’m not directly opposed to all PED guys being in the Hall Of Fame, I will not vote for guys that dragged baseball, or other people they associate with, through the mud to prove their innocence. Thus, Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds and (especially) Roger Clemens are not on my list, nor will Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun be when their day comes. I also still believe, at least in the most extreme circumstances, in the character clause, so Curt Schilling is not on here either.
I will also always have a ten-man ballot, because way too many players get undeservedly five-percented, like Johan Santana last year. Even if those guys don’t get inducted, they deserve consideration, much like Scott Rolen or Andruw Jones last year.
It amazes me that Rivera, a relief pitcher, is still unanimous on all public ballots prior to the announcement later today. I don’t plan on this staying that way, as I would be floored if a guy who pitched an inning every other day is baseball’s first unanimous player.
However, if we are being completely honest, he probably should be. I still contest that Mariano Rivera’s cutter is the best pitch of all time. Rivera made a career off of beating hitters who knew exactly what pitch what was coming. However, they could do anything about it, and that’s why Mariano Rivera is getting in on the first ballot.
Trevor Hoffman got in last year, and Lee Smith gets in this year. So it’s only fitting that Mo, who has the all-time saves record over those two, is getting into Cooperstown.
I don’t think Edgar should be as much of a slam dunk pick as everyone else does. For me to say a designated hitter is a slam dunk pick, he would need to put up numbers even better than Edgar’s stellar ones.
However, Edgar was good enough at the plate to warrant induction. Edgar was the ultimate hitter, putting up a 147 career wRC+, and a .933 OPS to match. He also put up 65.5 career fWAR despite the knock on his defense, which is a testament to just how good that bat was.
The only reason I say he shouldn’t be the obvious pick like other people do is that Edgar Martinez lite, a very similar player to Edgar who actually did play in the field, is going to be kicked off the ballot this year. You’ll see who in a bit.
I’ve seen way too many people say that Doc is only going to be first ballot because it would be a posthumous induction, and those people couldn’t be more wrong. And if anyone voted for Halladay solely because he’s dead, that writer should lose their vote.
Doc anchored one of the most stacked rotations I’ve ever seen, a team of him, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt that somehow didn’t win a ring. Halladay has made history though, being only the second person to throw a no-hitter in the postseason, when he no-hit the Reds in 2010. It was also his second of the year, which has only happened five times. Doc’s also one of only six to win both AL and NL Cy Young.
Doc had a 3.23 career xFIP over a 15-year career, only hitting 4.00 in his final, age-36 season. Doc’s stretch from 2008-2012 is some of the best starting pitching baseball will ever see. It’s unclear whether he will go in as a Blue Jay or as a Phillie, but he’s going to get in this afternoon, and deservedly so.
While Mussina isn’t the best starter on the ballot this year, it’s long overdue that he gets into the Hall Of Fame. Much like Halladay, Mussina’s ability to put up fantastic numbers, including a 3.57 career FIP, over a long stretch of time was fantastic.
Mussina never won a ring with the Yankees, and never got the chance with Baltimore, but he was one of the best pitchers, and defenders at the pitcher position, of his generation. Mussina actually trumps Halladay in WAR and WAR/season, with a seven-year stretch in Baltimore that should be historically recognized for pitching excellence.
Billy Wagner should be one of the most polarizing guys on the ballot, but he deserves to be in. Yes, he’s a relief pitcher, but he put up Rivera-like numbers for about as long as Rivera did. I’m not saying he’s better than Mo, but he’s not as far off as people think.
Wagner’s just one of a couple former Astros not getting the love they deserve, and I’m not quite sure why. Wagner only hit a 3.00 FIP four times over his fifteen year career, two of which were his first two years in the league. Wagner is one of only six men to ever have 400 saves at the Major League level, joining the aforementioned Rivera, Smith, and Hoffman, along with Francisco Rodriguez and John Franco. Wagner was the ultimate lockdown bullpen guy, and deserves more Cooperstown love for that.
Baseball’s Hall Of Fame just doesn’t induct third basemen. It’s really a shame that this is the case, because there are some fantastic players who they have skipped over because of their defensive position. I’m not sure if that’s the reason Rolen isn’t on yet, or if it’s a writer’s ability to not vote responsibly, but Rolen deserves induction.
Rolen is what people think Derek Jeter was. His 122 wRC+ is a few steps higher than Jeter’s 119, and Scott Rolen was actually a good defender and not one of the worst ever. Rolen is still one of the slickest defending third baseman in history, including a couple really good ones in the game right now. However, and I’m still not sure why, Rolen is not going to be inducted into the hall before Derek Jeter. I guess he should have dated more supermodels? Get Scott Rolen into the hall.
While we are on the topic of really good defenders, why is Andruw Jones in danger of being five-percented? Andruw wasn’t an elite hitter, which, quite frankly, is the answer to that question. However, he still had an 111 wRC+, and when you couple that with his career-long elite defense, should be enough to get him to Cooperstown.
Andruw Jones’s 2005 season was lost in history, and that’s a shame. Jones hit 51 home runs, doubled with a .922 OPS and 134 wRC+, good for 7.9 fWAR and a Hank Aaron award. He also won both a gold glove and silver slugger, though those awards should be taken with less than a grain of salt in hall of fame discussions.
Jones had a run from 2000-2006 that would have put him in the conversation for best clean player in baseball at the plate (bar 2001), and he was also an elite center fielder. Get him to Cooperstown.
Yes, I’m on the Larry Walker hype train. I will fully admit that I was misinformed when I left him off my fake ballot last year, but he 100% deserves his own plaque in Cooperstown.
Walker never had a full season where he was below league average at the plate (per wRC+), and only had three where he was below 20% ABOVE league average. wRC+ also takes ballpark into account, so Walker is rather unCoorsable.
Walker wasn’t a great hitter because he played in Colorado. He was just a great hitter. He didn’t have an OPS under .900 from 1994-2002. He had a couple seasons in Colorado where he put up slightly Bondsian numbers, despite being clean. Just like Andruw Jones could have claimed he was the best clean player of his generation, Larry Walker can. And Walker probably has a better case, but he’s being punished for playing in Colorado.
Yes. Lance Berkman. And before you tell me that I’m crazy or that I’m wrong, are we completely sure Edgar Martinez is a better player than Lance Berkman? I don’t think we are.
Player A is Lance Berkman’s career averages, and Player B is Edgar’s. Lance Berkman was every bit the hitter of Edgar Martinez, and he actually did play in the field (though not all that well). I still give the slight edge to Edgar, because he hit slightly better, but it is way too close to vote for one over the other. And it is way too close for one to get in and for one to get five percented.
Berkman is going to fall off the ballot, and that will be even bigger the travesty than Johan Santana last year. Berkman was a generation hitter, he just didn’t have the profile of some of the other guys. Again, totally wrong. But that’s going to be solely why Lance Berkman doesn’t have a plaque in Cooperstown.
And Todd Helton makes ten. Helton was also a criminally underrated throughout his career, slashing .316/.414/.539, for a 132 wRC+. But Coors, so he shouldn’t be in, right?
Helton’s defense doesn’t exactly do him any favors as to getting into the hall, but I’m not all that worried about that. These decisions have to be made considering the bat well before the glove, which is precisely why Omar Vizquel doesn’t get near my ballot. Helton was the best remaining player that I hadn’t picked, so he is number ten. Much like some aforementioned players, Helton was one of the best clean players in baseball from 2000-2004, so he gets the 10th nod.