Friday, November 27, 2009

Hall of Fame Ballot for 2010 Induction

Baseball came out with its inductee-nomination list for Hall of Fame induction in 2010. Newcomers to the list include Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, in addition to players who were good enough to make the list and nowhere near good enough to even sniff the Hall (Ellis Burks and Kevin Appier, for example).

Firstly, Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven absolutely belong in the Hall, and hopefully, this question is rectified this year. I also would put McGwire in - maybe not this year, but eventually. As has become increasingly apparent, steroids were simply part of the game for 15 years, and while I hate that fact, hatred won't undo it; if as many people "juiced" as it now seems, then there's still no denying that McGwire was one of the best at that time.

As for the newcomers, Alomar should be a lock for certain; he was, simply put, one of the greatest all-around second basemen ever, a marvel to watch at the plate and in the field. I imagine some still hold it against him for the John Hirschbeck incident in 1996, but Hirschbeck forgave Alomar a long time ago; baseball writers hopefully have done the same.

I would also put Edgar Martinez in. I'm tired of the stupid "there should/shouldn't be a DH" argument. It's been over 30 years, and it's a part of the game, whether people like it or not. I just can't justify keeping a position that is legitimate within the rulebook out of the Hall of Fame, and there is absolutely no question that Martinez was the greatest DH ever up to this point. Even if you don't like that he never played in the field, it's just really hard to deny the power of his numbers (he's one of eight players who has career stats of over 300 homers, 500 doubles, a career BA of over .300, on-base percentage of .400, and slugging of .500; certainly, those aren't definitive stats, but neither are they anything to shrug off). Additionally, it was in no way his fault that Seattle let him spend years languishing in the minors just because Jim Presley was occupying third base. I suspect of the newcomers who stand a legitimate chance of eventual election, Martinez will be the most controversial, but for my money, he should be in.

If you'd asked me 5 years ago if McGriff should be in the Hall, I'd say no way. He was very good, but not great, and really, that quest for his 500th homer was kind of sad. But five years' perspective, particularly in light (again) of the steroids issue, have changed my stance somewhat. I'm still not sure he should get in, but his name has never been tied to steroids, and his figure certainly didn't seem to indicate his abuse of PEDs. It may be an inconsistency on my part (and somebody may eventually make an argument that makes me change my mind), but to my way of thinking, for the past 20 years, whether a player used PEDs shouldn't enter into the equation of election, but if players didn't use them, that actually should be considered. Put another way - McGwire's numbers were ridiculous, even with the PEDs, and he was amazing in the 90s (and much better than David Segui, who also used steroids); however, Dawson's (or perhaps McGriff's) numbers were so close without PEDs, I think there's also a case to be made there for their numbers without PEDs. This isn't to say I absolutely believe McGriff should get in; it will take convincing. But I'm not nearly as unconvinced now as I was five years ago.

Being a Cleveland/AL guy from Ohio, I was aware that Barry Larkin was in Cincinnati, and that he was apparently very good, but I just don't know if he was that good. I do look forward to statistical breakdowns on him, and analysis, and debate. Still, he's the second-best second-baseman in this year's eligible class; if Larkin gets in, I may or may not be OK with that, but I think Alomar belongs in first.

It will be fun to watch the debates erupt over this, hopefully breaking the monotony known as "football and basketball season" between now and spring training. I don't think it will end up this way, but if it were up to me, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Mark McGwire, Roberto Alomar, and Edgar Martinez would be getting into the Hall of Fame in 2010.