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Today in Baseball: HOF Reflections

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I felt that it was critical to move my “Today in Baseball” post to Tuesday this week in order to respond to the Baseball Hall of Fame results. So, we won’t see a new Trade Talk Tuesday until next week!

Today, at 2 o’clock ET, we, the general public, discovered that Craig Biggio (82.7%), Pedro Martinez (91.1%), Randy Johnson (97.3%), and John Smoltz (82.9%) were all elected to the Hall of Fame.

Overall, I was very happy with who WAS elected. In my mock ballot from last week, I voted for three of these men (Biggio, Martinez, and Johnson). I didn’t pick Smoltz, but I definitely believe he’s a Hall of Famer, and I solely left him off my ballot in order to leave space for some guys that I felt would get less support (Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling). All of these four men had tremendous careers and are deserving of a bronze plaque in Cooperstown.

However, I was extremely upset with who WASN’T selected…

Mike Piazza (69.9%) is the greatest offensive catcher in MLB history. Plain and simple. He finished his career with 427 home runs, a .308 batting average, and 1,335 RBIs, some outstanding statistics. He was a 12x All-Star, a 10x Silver Slugger, and the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year. His accolades and statistics were clearly phenomenal, but to add to his legacy: he hit one of the most powerful and significant home runs in MLB history… Watch the touching video below:

Please, watch that video.

Please, take a quick glance at Piazza’s statistics and accolades.

Please, think about Piazza’s underdog story (drafted in 62nd round of 1988 draft as a favor from Tommy Lasorda to his good friend, Piazza’s father).

Please, find any definitive evidence that Piazza used PEDs.

If you have fulfilled the first three requests, and have failed to complete the last one, you know. You know and understand that Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer. End of story.

Moving on.

On my ballot, aside from Piazza, there were 6 players that I voted for that didn’t get in. They were:

  • Jeff Bagwell (55.7%)
  • Barry Bonds (36.8%)
  • Roger Clemens (37.5%)
  • Mike Mussina (24.6%)
  • Curt Schilling (39.2%)
  • Edgar Martinez (27%)

While I am disappointed that none of them got in, I honestly expected it. The latter 3 are victims of overlooking and undervaluing certain aspects, or the whole, of their career. The first 3 didn’t get in due to steroid issues: suspicion for Bagwell, and certainty for Bonds and Clemens. I hope, and believe, that all of these 6 guys, who are each extremely deserving, will one day end up in Cooperstown.

Lastly, I’m quite disappointed that Carlos Delgado (3.8%) has fallen off the ballot, as his percentage was less than 5%. He hit for 473 home runs, a .280 batting average, 1,512 RBIs, and 2,038 hits during his career. He excelled as a hitter during the Steroid Era, and he did it clean. He put up numbers comparable to some of the steroid users that the BBWAA so emphatically despises- and he did it the right way. He succeeded as a monk in a city of gamblers. Due to his excellent career achievements, the way in which he reached them, and the era that he played in, I believe that Carlos Delgado is a Hall of Famer. I can only hope that the Veteran’s Committee gets it right and puts him in the Hall when he becomes eligible once again.

Some final food for thought about Delgado? Take a peek at this photo that a fan tweeted. It’s a page from a Spanish magazine that puts Delgado’s numbers up against those of Hall of Famers. (Note: “jonrones” means home runs, “empijadas” means RBIs)

Today in Baseball: Hall of Fame Edition

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On January 6th of the new year, at 2 PM ET, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce their next class of inductees.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has been criticized a lot in recent years, due to their unwillingness to induct “suspected” steroid users, the fact that zero legends were inducted in 2013, and the MLB’s persistence in continuing the ban of Pete Rose, one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

This year, there’s a pretty nice ballot. Several returnees, like Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell, reemerge to the forefront of conversation; well known steroid abusers, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, add some spice to the conversation; and then there are the newcomers, like Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Pedro Martinez, who bring something new to the party.

Here’s what my ballot would look like if I had one…

  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Craig Biggio
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Randy Johnson
  • Pedro Martinez
  • Mike Mussina
  • Mike Piazza
  • Curt Schilling
  • Edgar Martinez

And now for my explanation of each of these guys…

Jeff Bagwell was truly one of the great power hitters of his generation. He spent 15 years in the big leagues, all with the Houston Astros. He finished his career with 449 home runs and a .297 batting average. He made it to four All-Star games, won three Silver Slugger Awards, and earned a Gold Glove in 1994. However, the most notable of his accolades was his 1994 NL MVP Award. Regardless of the rumors about his steroid usage (which have never been proven, or anything close to it), Baggy deserves a gold plaque in Cooperstown.

Craig Biggio, Bagwell’s teammate and partner-in-crime, also played in Houston for his entire career, from 1988 to 2007. Mainly a second baseman, Biggio was a true super-utility, as he could also play catcher and outfield, all at an All-Star level. He finished his career a member of the 3,000 hit club- he has the 21st most hits in league history. Biggio also ended up with 414 stolen bases, 291 home runs, and a .281 average. He won five Silver Sluggers and four Gold Gloves, as well as being elected to seven All Star Games. Biggio was a rare breed- a player that could excel as a hitter, fielder, and baserunner; a player who could play at several different positions; a player who had true character; a player who stayed with one team through it all. Because of this all, though his stats aren’t the greatest anyone has ever seen, Biggio is the true definition of a Hall of Fame player.

Barry Bonds was the greatest player that I’ve ever seen, and arguably the greatest of all time (I said arguably). He was the most electric player of his generation. The combination of power, contact, and speed made him a the force to be reckoned with. Even before he ever as much as touched a syringe, he already had three NL MVP Awards under his belt. While the steroid situation may take away from his legacy and reputation as a person, it most certainly shouldn’t take away from his legacy as a ballplayer. He already was on track to be one of the greatest players of all time BEFORE he used the steroids. Now, of course, his stats may have been somewhat inflated by the ‘roids. He probably wouldn’t be the all time home run leader, but he’d surely be close. What people forget is that Bonds already had the skill- the steroids didn’t make him a better player, they just made him stronger. Heck, Jay Gibbons has been accused of using steroids, and that guy batted .260 with 127 home runs. Bonds isn’t the greatest guy, and yea, he cheated, but he was already a superstar. I’m not in any way approving steroids- quite the contrary, actually. I’m not sure that the majority of the successful steroid users deserve to get in, but there are some exceptions. Barry Lamar Bonds is one of them…

…and so is Roger Clemens. Being a Mets fan, I especially despise this man. Not only was he a Yankee, but he repeatedly started problems with the Mets, most notably the “bat incident”. How big of an A-Hole do you have to be to throw a broken bat at another person, particularly a superstar [Mike Piazza]?! But, regardless of his character issues, Clemens is still the most dominant pitcher of his generation, and maybe of all time. His seven Cy Young Awards are an example of his sheer dominance, as are his eleven All Star appearances, his MVP Award, his two Pitching Triple Crowns, his two World Series wins, and all of his other accolades. Overall, there really is no doubt that Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Randy Johnson, AKA “The Big Unit,” was one of the few pitchers that could even be named in the same sentence as Clemens… The 6’10” southpaw maintained dominance throughout his 22 years in the MLB. He finished up with the 22nd most wins and the 2nd most strikeouts in MLB history. He had ten All-Star appearances, 5 Cy Young Awards, a World Series victory, a no-hitter, and a perfect game, just to name a few of his accomplishments. Randy Johnson deserves to live on amongst the immortals, no less gain a plaque in the Hall.

Pedro Martinez was just about the only pitcher besides Randy Johnson that could be mentioned alongside Roger Clemens. “Petey” was a superb pitcher, one who, according to Baseball Reference, is the 15th best pitcher in MLB history. His stats don’t quite do his legacy any justice, as he was much better than his 219 wins would lead you to believe. He finished with the 2nd highest winning percentage in MLB history. Just let that sink in for a bit… Better than Cy Young, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson. Better than them all. As Mets fans, we sometimes overlook Pedro’s legacy here in Flushing. He was at the top of his game in 2005, giving us one of his best seasons of his career. In 2006, he started off great, but injuries got the best of him. Those injuries basically derailed Pedro for the rest of his Mets tenure, and ultimately, his career. Just imagine that, if Pedro didn’t get injured during his time with the Mets, his career would’ve ended up even better than it already is. Pedro was an all time great, and an excellent postseason performer, and he most certainly belongs in Cooperstown.

Oriole and Yankee great, Mike Mussina, had an illustrious career. The most notable of his all-time stats is that he ranks 19th amongst all pitchers in career strikeouts. He was selected to five All-Star Games and won seven Gold Glove Awards. While he never quite reached the very top, with no Cy Young Awards, he sure got close, finishing in the top-five six times. He finished with 270 career wins. Mussina’s career is fairly comparable to that of fellow Oriole great, Jim Palmer, and he’s considered to be one of the best pitchers in league history. As a result, there is no doubt in my mind that “Moose” deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

And then we get to Mike Piazza. The Mets legend. The greatest offensive catcher in MLB history. The subject of many steroid rumors, all of which have zero foundation. Piazza is one of the most deserving members of this class of potential inductees. While he wasn’t a great defensive catcher, he was better than people originally thought. And, regardless of his defensive skill, or lack thereof, Piazza’s offense was something to be remembered. Piazza, the last player picked in the 1988 MLB Amateur Draft, was asked by LA Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, the best friend of Piazza’s father, to give up first base in favor of catcher. Piazza listened, and the rest is history. He was a twelve time All Star, a ten time Silver Slugger, and a former NL Rookie of the Year. Mike was traded to the Mets in the spring of 1998, after just five games in a Marlins uniform, and he went on to further his superstardom. He finished his career with 427 home runs, the most by a catcher, a .308 batting average, and 1,335 RBIs. There is no question that Piazza earned the right to call himself a “Hall of Famer.”

Curt Schilling is a borderline-HOF caliber pitcher who played 20 years in the bigs, splitting time with the Orioles, Astros, Phillies, and most notably the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox. He was a three-time World Series champion, sharing the World Series MVP with teammate Randy Johnson in 2001, and playing an intricate role in the Red Sox 2004 and 2007 World Series runs. He was a phenomenal postseason performer, going 11-2 in all of his career playoff starts, and putting up a .846 winning percentage in playoff games, the highest of any pitcher with 10+ decisions. He also finished in the top-4 of Cy Young voting four times, three of which he came in second place. He has the fifteenth most strikeouts of all time, with 3,116. Schilling finished his career with a nice career record of 216-146. For all of his accomplishments, during both the regular and postseason, he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

For the last spot on the ballot, I had a pretty difficult time. I had to decide between Edgar Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Tim Raines, and Larry Walker. All of these guys can have a nice argument made in their favor, but in the end, it came down to Martinez and Mattingly, for me. It’s Mattingly’s last year on the ballot, and he had a nice career- former MVP and a legend for the most illustrious team in MLB history, the Yankees. Martinez played for longer and put up better stats. In the end, I had to go with Edgar Martinez. He is one of the greatest players in Seattle Mariners history, and his famous hit, “The Double,” from the 1995 ALDS is arguably the most famous play in team history. He revolutionized the position of Designated Hitter, as he’s the only DH to ever win a batting title. Edgar finished up with 309 home runs and a .312 batting average, and while those are good numbers, they don’t do Martinez’s career justice. Here’s what does: Mariano Rivera said that the toughest batter he ever faced was Edgar Martinez. That all but sums it up- Edgar Martinez is a Hall of Fame-worthy player.

 

So, there’s my ballot, folks. Share your opinions with me in the COMMENT section!