Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

Baseball Hall of Fame Debate for current players.

Spaceman Spiff

Recommended Posts


By David Schoenfield

Page 2

When Al Gore invented the Internet, I think he had the Baseball Hall of Fame on his mind.


OPS = on-base percentage + slugging percentage

OPS+ = Adjusted OPS, compares a player's OPS to his league average, with 100 being average and 110 being 10 percent better than average, etc.

ERA+ = Adjusted ERA, compares a pitcher's ERA to his league average, with 100 being average and 110 being 10 percent better than average, etc.

OPS+ and ERA+ taken from Baseball-reference.com

There are Web sites pleading the cases for Jim Rice, Dale Murphy, Ron Santo and others. When Rafael Palmeiro reached the 3,000-hit level recently, everyone from Bangor to Bimini had an opinion on his Hall of Fame candidacy and used the Internet to voice it.

Fans care passionately about this. Thousands will make their way to Upstate New York this weekend for the induction of Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg. The rest of us will spend our spare time on the Web with this great debate: Which of today's major leaguers will end up in Cooperstown?

In 1955, when there were only 16 teams, 33 active major leaguers were playing who eventually made the Hall, an average of 2.1 players per team.

In 1965, there were 20 teams and 34 future Hall of Famers, plus Pete Rose -- 1.75 per team.

In 1975, there were 24 teams and 31 Hall of Famers (so far), plus Rose -- 1.29 per team.

In 1985, there were 26 teams and 21 Hall of Famers (so far), plus Rose and certain future inductees Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn and Roger Clemens -- 1.0 per team.

Based on the historical trends, about 40 currently active majors leaguers will be elected to Cooperstown eventually. So I've crunched the numbers, studied the tendencies, pulled out some crazy predictions and peered into the future.

Vote: Cooperstown Cut

You've heard the pitch. Are some rule changes in order?

Vote: Who would you send to the Hall?

In the next two days, then, we'll reveal our rankings of the 40 current players who will get their plaques in the Hall of Fame. We're starting with the easier ones today: the top 20. It really gets interesting Friday with Nos. 21-40. Those are the guys who make the greatest debates.

1. Roger Clemens and 2. Barry Bonds

The only questions left with these two: Is Clemens the greatest pitcher of all time? And: Has Rick Reilly already written his "Why Bonds doesn't deserve to go into the Hall of Fame" column?

3. Greg Maddux

His 1992-95 peak, when he won four straight Cy Young Awards with a 1.56 ERA in '94 and 1.63 in '95, matches up with the greatest peak value of any pitcher.

4. Tom Glavine

Glavine has 269 wins and his career is winding down (wait, make that "his career is about to hit a brick wall"), so it appears he'll fall just short of the automatic 300-win barrier. No doubt, many electors -- especially those who used to pour down beers with Cy Young and Lefty Grove -- will disqualify Glavine because of that. After all, no starting pitcher with fewer than 300 wins has been voted in by the writers since Fergie Jenkins in 1991. That's insane. Glavine has won 20 games five times and has two Cy Youngs, finishing in the top three in four other years. He has a 2.47 ERA in eight World Series starts, including a one-hitter in the clinching game in 1995. He's a lock.

5. John Smoltz

Smoltz promises to be one of the most heated Hall of Fame debates.

On the plus side:

One of the best players for one of baseball's great dynasties. Those players tend to get extra credit in Hall voting.

One of the clutch postseason pitchers of all time: 14-4 record, 2.70 ERA in 39 games (26 starts).

A Cy Young Award and a 55-save season.

Strikes against him:

Won more than 15 games just twice.

His lifetime winning percentage -- an excellent .580 -- is barely better than the Braves' .568 since he joined the team in 1988. In fact, since the Atlanta dynasty began in 1991, the team actually has a better winning percentage in games in which Smoltz doesn't get a decision than when he does. Granted, this isn't completely fair, since, in part, you're comparing Smoltz to two other sure Hall of Famers in Maddux and Glavine. Still …

Smoltz has had only four dominant, clearly Hall of Fame-type seasons: 1996 (24-8), 1998 (17-3, 2.90 ERA), 2002 (55 saves) and 2003 (45 saves, 1.12 ERA).

In the end, he'll end up being compared to the other great starter/reliever hybrid, Dennis Eckersley:



Eckersley 1071 361 3285 3076 197 171 390 3.50 116

Smoltz 623 382 2846 2457 174 126 154 3.24 125

I was actually surprised Eck sailed into the Hall so easily on the first ballot. He only had five seasons where you just knew it was lights out, game over, when the A's led after eight innings (and five more where he superficially racked up saves but was pretty mediocre) and two great seasons as a starter. His ERA compared to the league average was as good as Smoltz's.

Add it up, and I say Smoltz gets in. He's 38, having one of his best seasons ever, and should get to 200 wins unless he blows out his elbow playing too much golf. He's one of the most intelligent and personable interviews in the game, which won't hurt. He'll likely stay in the baseball spotlight after he retires, probably cohosting "Baseball Tonight" with Al Leiter and Curt Schilling, and that'll help.

6. Randy Johnson

An obvious inner-circle Hall of Famer, Johnson will be remembered with guys like Koufax, Gibson and Clemens, the ones we discuss in mythological tones 30 years after they've retired. Mariners fans like me will remember Johnson as the man who saved baseball in Seattle -- literally. If Johnson doesn't beat the Angels in that one-game playoff for the division title in '95, the Mariners don't get their new ballpark and the team moves to Florida. Which, come to think of it, might have saved baseball in Tampa.

7. Mariano Rivera

How many consecutive postseason saves could Rivera blow and still be known as the Sandman? I say 14. He's been that good: 70 postseason games, 108.2 innings, 0.75 ERA (that's nine earned runs), 32 saves in 35 chances (and, yes, Red Sox fans, we're all aware of blown save No. 3).

OUT: Mike Mussina

Moose, Mo's and Randy's Yankees teammate, has a resume similar to Bert Blyleven's -- a terrific, underrated and durable pitcher -- but he lacks the final exclamation points voters love: the 20-win seasons, a Cy Young Award.

Mussina also has a reputation for not being clutch in big games, primarily because the Yankees haven't won a World Series since he joined the team. But check his postseason performance with other top hurlers of his generation:



Schilling 15 8-2 109 79 22 104 2.06

Smoltz 26 14-4 199 161 66 189 2.70

Johnson 14 7-8 108 86 29 124 3.08

Mussina 18 6-6 119 98 28 130 3.16

Wells 15 10-3 113 102 25 79 3.18

Maddux 29 11-14 190 184 48 122 3.22

Martinez 11 6-2 79 63 26 80 3.40

Clemens 30 10-7 180 152 63 164 3.54

Glavine 32 12-15 201 176 80 137 3.58

Pettitte 30 13-8 186 201 52 118 4.05

Brown 13 5-5 81 76 31 71 4.30

Among those games: beating the Big Unit twice in the 1997 ALDS, allowing one run and striking out 25 in two starts in the '97 ALCS (but getting no wins), a 1-0 victory in Game 3 -- the "Jeter Flip Game" -- of the 2001 ALDS (Yankees trailed 2-0 in the series), and three scoreless innings of relief as the Yankees rallied to win Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

So he has pitched well when it matters. And as for the lack of 20-win seasons? Isn't 20 just an arbitrary number anyway? In the 1970s, there were 91 different 20-wins seasons; from 1992 to 2004, there were just 49. If voters are going to discount hitting performances in the Steroid Era, don't they have to adjust pitching performances as well? Mussina won't win 300, but he might win 260.

Still, I think he'll draw a short straw in the final vote. Although maybe when Ripken and Derek Jeter get on the Veterans Committee, the Moose will get in.

Speaking of which …

8. Derek Jeter

He's nowhere near as great as Tim McCarver thinks he is, and nowhere near as overrated as Yankee-haters want you to believe. But he's a clear Hall of Famer, on his way to 3,000 hits and 2,000 runs scored, and you know, he plays the game the right way.

9. Alex Rodriguez

Baseball loves its history. Consider the Top 10 pantheon immortals: Ruth, Bonds, Mays, Aaron, Williams, Cobb, Musial, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. Bonds is the only player from the last 30 years to crack the list. Does A-Rod add his name? I'm not 100 percent sure that will happen.

10. Albert Pujols

I do predict, however, that Pujols will crack it.

11. Vladimir Guerrero

Vlad already has Hall of Fame-caliber nicknames -- Vlad the Impaler, Vladdy Daddy -- and will eventually have Hall of Fame-caliber numbers, assuming he doesn't permanently ruin his back carrying Darin Erstad and Steve Finley into the postseason this year.

12. Miguel Cabrera

Yes, it's completely ridiculous to project somebody who has just two years in the big leagues as a Hall of Famer, but that's the fun part of this exercise. Next to Pujols in the 25-and-younger set, Cabrera has clearly established the most high-end potential. Of course, in 1975, that list would have included Jeff Burroughs and Claudell Washington.

13. Ken Griffey Jr.

How will we remember Junior in 25 years? As the guy who ranked alongside Bonds as the game's best all-around player for a decade, or as the guy with the bad hammy that prevented him from even bigger accomplishments? (See: Mantle's drinking, Koufax's arthritis, Sid Fernandez's waistline.) But anybody who watched his 11 seasons in Seattle will never forget the sweet swing, the grace in center field, the clutch home runs and that huge smile from the bottom of the dogpile in the '95 playoffs.

14. Manny Ramirez

Prediction: Manny's Hall of Fame speech will be the shortest of all time.

15. Sammy Sosa

Despite the steroid rumors, the corked-bat scandal and the leap ("Yes! It's going, going … ohh, no, it's just a fly ball to the warning track"), Sosa will be an easy first-ballot Hall of Famer. Certainly, few of his peers have been more famous. That said … Sosa's greatness is exaggerated. His run as a truly elite player only lasted five seasons, from 1998 to 2002. And, yes, his 2001 season (64 home runs, 160 RBI, 146 runs, .328 average, .737 slugging percentage) looks like Kelly Leak's Little League numbers. But prior to '98, he didn't get on base enough -- his lifetime on-base percentage through 2004 (.348) is barely better than the league average (.339) -- and even though he's only 36, he's looking like he may be done by 37.

OUT: Bernie Williams, Juan Gonzalez, Larry Walker

Bernie has a lot of positive checkmarks on his ledger and has delivered as many clutch October hits as Jeter, but he didn't really get his career going until he was 27. And once he decided to become a recording artist, he stopped hitting. Gonzalez enters the Dale Murphy "How does a guy win two MVP awards and not get in the Hall of Fame?" debate. (OK, here's how: You never have another good year past the age of 31.) Walker hit .366, .363, .379, .309, .350 and .338 from 1997 to 2002. How does he not make it? Because he missed approximately 1,748 games through the years with various ailments.

16. Miguel Tejada

Sportswriters drool over power-hitting, RBI-machine shortstops like they do when a woman wears a skirt in the press box. Miggy is on his way to his sixth season of 100 or more RBI. Only Joe Cronin (eight) and Alex Rodriguez (seven) have had more as a shortstop.

OUT: Nomar Garciaparra

Of course, sportswriters once drooled over Nomar.

17. Mike Piazza

The man hit .362 (!) in Dodger Stadium in 1997 -- and didn't win the MVP award. How is that possible? If he'd played in Coors Field that year (like a certain MVP winner did), Piazza might have hit .400.

18. Ivan Rodriguez

Pudge wins with the arm, but Piazza wins with the bat and his underrated game-calling skills. And since the value of the arm is overrated, Piazza ranks better on my list. But both are clear Famers and join the Bench/Berra/Cochrane/Campanella debate over the best catcher ever.

19. Craig Biggio

He has more than 2,700 hits and should reach 3,000, but he doesn't have to get to that magic number. This guy has done everything on the field: hit for average (four times over .300), hit for power (six times with 20-plus homers, twice with 50-plus doubles), steal bases (as many as 50 in one season), draw walks (.400 on-base percentage four times), score runs, win Gold Gloves, change positions, hustle (one year he grounded into zero double plays while playing every game), stay healthy … well, everything except clean his helmet.

20. Jeff Bagwell

The inside of Bagwell's shoulder is a bigger mess than a postgame spread under attack from David Wells and David Ortiz. It's even possible his career might be over. I fear the nonthinking man's response will be: "Bagwell didn't hit 500 home runs, he played in the Steroid Era, he choked in the playoffs and he had that crazy batting stance, so I'm not voting for him."

Let's do a quick comparison of Bagwell to the post-World War II first basemen who have made the Hall, along with one who will:



Bagwell 2311 1517 449 1525 .297 .408 .541 202 .949 150

McGwire 1626 1167 583 1414 .263 .394 .588 12 .982 163

Murray 3255 1627 504 1917 .287 .359 .476 110 .836 129

Perez 2732 1272 379 1652 .279 .341 .463 49 .804 122

Stargell 2232 1195 475 1540 .282 .360 .529 17 .889 147

McCovey 2211 1229 521 1555 .270 .374 .515 26 .889 148

Killebrew 2086 1283 573 1584 .256 .376 .509 19 .884 143

Cepeda 2351 1131 379 1365 .297 .350 .499 142 .849 133

Bagwell is the best player of the bunch. Only McGwire tops him in adjusted OPS; only Murray can come close as a fielder; and none is in the same league as Bagwell as a base runner. Bagwell's 152 runs scored in 2000 ranks as the most in one season since 1950. He was such an alert, aggressive runner, he once led the majors in frequency of going from first to third on singles. He put up monster numbers despite spending most of his career in the Astrodome. Add it all up, and the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia ranks him as the 21st best player (not including pitchers) of all time, entering the 2005 season.

Now, that's my case for Bagwell's enshrinement … I think I've persuaded the jury.


David Schoenfield is a long shot at being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, Griffey gets in due to his decade of dominance.

And even Bonds, before the homer burst (steroids) was a lock. only player with 500 homers and steals.

Glad to see someone take a shot at Jeter. Hall of famer, sure, but still way overrated. I can think of 10 guys I'd take before Jeter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The order is a little fishy, but I think he just wanted to talk about the pitchers first. And putting Glavine and Smoltz ahead of Randy Johnson is ridiculous except that I think he wanted to talk about them after Maddux. I'm not sure this is supposed to be a strict ranking, just who is in the top 20.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by DjTj

The order is a little fishy, but I think he just wanted to talk about the pitchers first. And putting Glavine and Smoltz ahead of Randy Johnson is ridiculous except that I think he wanted to talk about them after Maddux. I'm not sure this is supposed to be a strict ranking, just who is in the top 20.

problem with randy he wasn't good till late in his career

for those that bash Jeter the guy would be a HOFer on any team, his heart is what makes him so good, and he was responsible for some of those WS. i am a red sox fan and know it

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by T.E.G.

Put Jeter on any other team than the Yankees and no one would talk about his worthiness for the HOF (he isn't, imho).

He is the Lynn Swann of Baseball - he will get in due to his team's dominance.

I disagree with this statement completely. As much as I hate to say it, for I am a lifetime O's fan, Jeter is truly an elite baseball player. He is well on his way towards 3000 hits, should retire with a lifetime average of above .300, and is easily one the best clutch performers (if not the best) in the game. Has his career benefited from being on several successfull teams? Undoubtedly but that does not remove the fact that he is a HOFer.

The only thing that casts doubt on his HOF worthiness is the fact that he doesn't hit a ton of homeruns, despite the fact that he'll probably end up with around 300 career homeruns. In my mind the only question is will Jeter be a first ballot guy. I think he might, but its certainly not a lock at this point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...