By: William Robinson
It’s that time of year again. Time for those of us with an innate passion for baseball to sit glued to our televisions or to our smart phones waiting for the news to break of which one of our childhood heroes is going to be voted to join the pantheon of baseball greats in the baseball hall of fame. This year I was disheartened to again see that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were refused entry and that Larry Walker yet again is being disrespected for the career that he had that was every bit as good as Jeff Bagwell’s. However, we are fortunate enough that three players have been selected and so today we celebrate as Tim “Rock” Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez were chosen. These three players had wonderful careers and to varying degrees are deserving of the positive recognition that has been bestowed upon them. Still today I would like to congratulate them on their success.
Let me start with Ivan Rodriguez. I am thankful that this being his first year on the ballot did not deter voters from choosing Ivan for it would have been a shame to hold him out any longer than was required. Ivan Rodriguez was the best catcher of his era to play baseball. A dynamic defensive force on the diamond Ivan controlled base runners like no other player of his age. He had a cannon for an arm and runners would always have to think twice before trying to steal second or even before leading off first. Ivan was also a 14 time All-Star and MVP and 13 time gold glove winner and owner of 7 silver slugger awards. His career batting average was .296 and his career OPS was .798 both of which are excellent for catchers. He averaged 20HR and 85 RBI per 162 games during his career as well. His numbers speak volumes for themselves but the memories are just as amazing. I remember watching him play and there has never been a catcher that was better that I recall. He fits the very definition of first ballot hall of famer in my mind.
Next up is Jeff Bagwell or as I like to call him the Red killer. Jeff Bagwell in his 7th year on the ballot has finally passed that magical threshold to allow his entrance into the hall of fame and his case is a little bit more complicated than Rodriguez’s who in my mind was a clear cut hall of famer. In my mind the most compelling numbers that Bagwell has is that his OPS was .948 although Larry Walker has a higher career OPS than his (.965). Bagwell’s career batting average was .298 (Walker’s was .313), he hit 449 career home runs (admittedly better than Walker’s .383), however, when I look at his awards I do not see a dominant player. He did win an MVP award (Dale Murphy has two and Walker has one) and a rookie of the year award as well, but was only a 4 time all-star and 1 gold glove and 3 time silver slugger. These numbers are nowhere near grandiose enough to warrant entry into the hall if players such as Barry Bonds, and Larry Walker and Fred McGriff are not getting votes. Still Bagwell was popular and he had a unique batting stance and so I guess that has to count for something. Still I don’t think that Bagwell would have been on my ballot.
Finally we have Tim Raines in his 10th year on the ballot. Tim Raines was an exceptional baseball player often overshadowed during his career by the other worldly talent of Rickey Henderson. Still though he shined in his own manner, although I’m not certain that it should have been enough for him to get in the hall. Raines had a lengthy career of 23 years and during that time was a 7 time all-star and a silver slugger once. He had a career WAR of 68.4 if you average that over 23 seasons that’s a measly 2.9. He did lead the league in batting once and in on base percentage once and runs scored twice. His biggest success was in stolen bases in which he led the league four times. Still I feel like players who are only good at one thing don’t necessarily deserve to be inducted in the hall of fame especially if during their own playing career they weren’t respected enough to warrant all-star game appearances.
So three players were voted in this year. Two of which have very mediocre numbers and the voters should again feel embarrassed. I feel like so many of them have either become enamored with the modern statistics that they don’t recognize true greatness when they see it or they are too judgmental about supposed steroid use. It’s laughable to induct Raines and Bagwell when Bonds and Clemens sit at home. Hell even Larry Walker has a better resume than either Raines or Bagwell. These players were fine ball players and stars on their team but they were not among the upper echelon players at their positions in the league. As I’ve heard said before this is the hall of greats, not very good. I had hoped that with one hundred fewer voters voting this year that perhaps some traction would be gained by the home run king and by the Rocket but sadly that is not the case. Maybe if I keep writing articles and more and more people listen will the voters come to their senses. If they don’t the Hall of fame will continue to be a joke and will lose all credibility it once had.
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