Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Return of Mark McGwire

Before I start on this post, let me state that Mark McGwire is NOT a Hall of Famer. Ok, now that I clarified that, I'll get back to it later.

I recently read that on the Mercury News website that the St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa states that it would be his "dream" to have McGwire return to active duty by pinch-hitting if the Cardinals were in the midst of a pennant race. As it is, McGwire will return to the Cardinals as hitting coach after retiring in 2001. Let say the Cardinals are a game or two behind the Cubs on August 31, 2010 and La Russa does put McGwire on the active roster and he does have an at-bat. Let's even say for sake of drama, he hits a game winning homer (I can dig the drama that baseball can generate like the next sports fan). To read the Cam Inman article on Tony La Russa from the Contra Costa Times, click here. In the end, what does that do for McGwire's standing with the Hall of Fame. Photo Credit Roberto Borea/AP.

Before I state what the official position of the Hall of Fame will be, let me state what I think will happen. Basically it can only help McGwire. By taking the at-bat, McGwire will no longer be eligible for the Hall of Fame since a player needs to be retired for 5 consecutive years to be eligible. In doing so, McGwire will have 5 more years in order to garner positive public opinion not only from the fans but also the baseball writers. This situation of retiring for 5 years or more, being eligible for the Hall of Fame then unretiring is not uncommon. The precedent has been set before. Jack O'Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association of America, told that:

If McGwire were to appear in a game in 2010, he would have to wait five years before going back on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Ok, that's the good news. The bad news is that he won't get a new set of 15 years on the ballot (assuming that he would get 5% of the vote the next year he would be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame). Since McGwire has been on the ballot four times, his candidacy would resume with his fifth appearance. Players can only be voted on for a total of 15 years (not necessarily consecutively) before being elected to the Hall of Fame or being removed from the ballot.

According to O'Connell, the players that set the earlier precedent were Minnie Minoso and Jose Rijo. To read the article which states this, click here. Now that we cleared that up, let me re-address my first sentence about McGwire not being a Hall of Famer.

Sure McGwire passed the magic homerun threshold of 500 (583 to be exact) but I have to ask you all: Does 1,626 hits a Hall of Famer make? That's how many hits McGwire has. So if you remove his homeruns, he only 1,043 hits. In my view that's not very impressive. Compare him with Hall of Famers with the similar homerun totals:

Harmon Killebrew has 2,086 hits, of which 573 are homeruns, which leaves him with 1,513 non-homer hits. Reggie Jackson has 2,584 hits, of which 563 homeruns, which leaves him with 2,021 non-homer hits. Mike Schmidt has 2,234 hits, of which 548 are homeruns, which leaves him with 1,686 non-homer hits. See my point. These players not only hit homers but also made contact for singles, doubles and even triples. Even with McGwire being the player with the best homer to at-bat ratio in the history of the game, I can't get the past the fact that he was a homerun machine, and nothing else.

I would even disregard that if his defense balanced the offense out, which it does not. McGwire won only 1 Gold Glove (1990) and even his best year of 1998 when he broke Maris' single season homerun record, he came in second in the MVP race to Sammy Sosa. I can't even say that I ever heard of McGwire being considered as either the best player at his position or in the entire game of Baseball.

It's not like I have a personal issue with Big Mac. On the contrary, I like the guy. I'd be the first to admit that I sat at pins and needles watching him chase Maris' ghost and was happy when he finally got the record and helped Maris get the recognition that he and his family needed. McGwire was a big part in helping bring baseball back from the disaster of the 1994 strike. But I don't think that this (along with his statistics) should guarantee him enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. Sorry.

I had posted a blog entry on this exact argument in 2006. Click here for more details.

January 11, 2010: Mark McGwire has finally come clean about his steroid usage and has given an apology in a written statement with a follow up interview with Bob Costas on the MLB network tonight. I have to say after watching A-Rod's interview from Spring training and the look of relief of finally shedding the possible guilt that he felt for having taken the steroids, it seems to me that finally McGwire has reached that same point. I'm glad to see that he has come clean about his steroid usage. Whether or not he has hurt or helped his Hall of Fame chances remains to be seen. Some voters will not vote for him now under any circumstance, and that's understandable. But I think that many voters will now vote for him since he did come clean. We'll see how this unfolds this time next year. Maybe McGwire should take the at-bat this year and take the heat off of his Hall of Fame chances for 5 years. It can't hurt.

Click here for the official article on the McGwire admission by Matthew Leach from

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Welcome to the Hall of Fame Andre Dawson Class of 2010

The results are in and Andre Dawson is finally in. Congratulations to new Hall of Famer Andre Dawson who will be inducted along with manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey, who were elected last month by the Veterans Committee. The induction ceremony will also include the presentation of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Photo Credit: Jan. 6, 2010 (from National Baseball Hall of Fame website)

So, in the last post I made my predictions on who would get elected and I got one out of the three correct. I picked Dawson who received 420 votes for 77.9%. Roberto Alomar missed getting in by 8 votes garnering 397 votes for 73.3% and Barry Larkin received only 278 votes good for 51.6%. I also gave an honorable mention to Edgar Martinez who received 195 votes good 36.2%. Bert Blyleven also received his fair share of votes, barely getting elected to the Hall of Fame by only 5 votes. He received 400 votes for 74.2%. The other first-year candidate who received sufficient support to remain on the ballot was first baseman Fred McGriff with 116 votes for 21.5%. Other holdovers who will remain on the ballot are pitchers Jack Morris and Lee Smith, first basemen Don Mattingly and Mark McGwire, shortstop Alan Trammell, outfielder-DH Harold Baines and outfielders Tim Raines, Dave Parker and Dale Murphy.

No longer eligible to be elected by the writers (since they did not receive the minimum 5% of the vote) are Andres Galarraga (A personal favorite of mine), Robin Ventura, Ellis Burks, Eric Karros, Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen, David Segui, Mike Jackson, Ray Lankford, Shane Reynolds and Todd Zeile.

Here are the results for this years election:
Andre Dawson 420 (77.9%)(2009 vote 67%)
Bert Blyleven 400 (74.2%)(2009 vote 62.7%)
Roberto Alomar 397 (73.7%)
Jack Morris 282 (52.3%)(2009 vote 44%)
Barry Larkin 278 (51.6%)
Lee Smith 255 (47.3%)(2009 vote 44.5%)
Edgar Martinez 195 (36.2%)
Tim Raines 164 (30.4%)(2009 vote 22.6%)
Mark McGwire 128 (23.7%)(2009 vote 21.9%)
Alan Trammell 121 (22.4%)(2009 vote 17.9%)
Fred McGriff 116 (21.5%)
Don Mattingly 87 (16.1%)(2009 vote 11.9%)
Dave Parker 82 (15.2%)(2009 vote 15%)
Dale Murphy 63 (11.7%)(2009 vote 11.5%)
Harold Baines 33 (6.1%)(2009 vote 5.9%)
Andres Galarraga 22 (4.1%)
Robin Ventura 7 (1.3%)
Ellis Burks 2 (0.4%)
Eric Karros 2 (0.4%)
Kevin Appier 1 (0.2%)
Pat Hentgen 1 (0.2%)
David Segui 1 (0.2%)
Mike Jackson 0
Ray Lankford 0
Shane Reynolds 0
Todd Zeile 0

Here is the official press release by the Baseball Hall of Fame on today's vote.

With the close vote by Blyleven and Alomar, I assume that they will get in on next year's ballot. Just to get a sneak peek on who is eligible for 1st time election here is the list:

Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, John Olerud, Kevin Brown, Larry Walker, Juan Gonzalez, Tino Martinez, B.J. Surhoff, Marquis Grissom, John Franco, Bret Boone, Al Leiter, Benito Santiago, Carlos Baerga, Raul Mondesi, Bobby Higginson, Wilson Alvarez, Rey Sanchez, Charles Johnson, Jose Offerman, Ugueth Urbina, Ismael Valdez, Dan Wilson, Paul Quantrill, Cal Eldred, Kirk Rueter, Steve Reed

Out of next year's list, I can see Jeff Bagwell as being the only candidate for 1st year election to the Hall. Rafael Palmiero will be interesting to see, since he is the 1st player to be of Hall of Fame caliber (1 of 4 players to get over 3000 hits and over 500HR along with Mays, Aaron and Murray) who tested positively for performance enhancing drugs. John Olerud and Larry Walker are also interesting candidates.

Once again, congratulations to Andre Dawson for his election to the Hall of Fame, Class of 2010.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Hall of Fame Ballot

January 6th is the day that the voting results for the 2010 Hall of Fame candidates are announced. Before I list who my predictions for election are, let me describe what the conditions are for eligibility. Candidates must have completed 10 full major league seasons and be retired for 5 full seasons. Once eligible, candidates must receive a minimum of 5% of the vote in order to stay on the ballot for the next year. The player need to amass 75% of the vote for induction into the Hall of Fame and upon receiving the minimum 5%, the player is allowed to stay on the ballot for 15 years before moving onto the ballot for the Veterans Committee. Now that we have that out of the way, here are the main candidates for election.

2009 Candidates (With previous years percentage of the vote. Bold is 1st year on Ballot)
Andre Dawson 67%
Bert Blyleven 62.7%
Lee Smith 44.5%
Jack Morris 44%
Tim Raines 22.6%
Mark McGwire 21.9%
Alan Trammel 17.4%
Dave Parker 15%
Don Mattingly 11.9%
Dale Murphy 11.5%
Harold Baines 5.9%
Roberto Alomar
Andres Galarraga
Barry Larkin
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Robin Ventura
Other Candidates

Here are my predictions for who will get in this year:

1. Andre Dawson:
The Hawk has steadily climbed up the ladder since he first received 43.5% of the vote in his first year of eligibility. At 67%, Dawson is in prime position to get the remaining 8% needed for induction. In 21 season, Dawson had a career batting average of .279 where he amassed 2774 hits (513 2B, 98 3B, 438 HR) and 1591 RBI with 314 SB. In terms of modern metrics, Dawson had a career OBP% of .323 and a SLG% of .482 for an OPS of .806. His best season was his MVP season of 1987 with the Chicago Cubs where he led the league with 49Hr 137 RBI and 353 total bases. Dawson also registered his career best OPS of .896 (.328 OBP and .568 SLG). Dawson was the Rookie of the Year in 1977 with the Montreal Expos, a 7-time All-Star, 8-time Gold Glove award winner and also won 4 Silver Slugger awards.

Tim Kurkjian of has an article on why Andre Dawson should be elected to the Hall of Fame. Click here.

2. Roberto Alomar

In his 1st year of eligibility, Roberto Alomar was the model of consistency at both second base forming one of the best double play combinations (with future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel) and at the plate. In 17 seasons, Alomar had a career batting average of .300 where he amassed 2724 hits (504 2B, 80 3B, 210 HR) and 1134 RBI. In terms of modern metrics, Alomar had a career OBP% of .371 and a SLG% of .443 for an OPS of .814 and had 474 SB. His best season was 1999 with the Cleveland Indians where he came in 3rd in the MVP race batting .323 with 182 hits (40 2B, 3 3B, 24 HR) and 120 RBI and led the league in runs scored with 138. That season Alomar also had an OPS of .955 (.442 OBP and .553 SLG). Alomar was a 12-time All-Star, a 10-time Gold Glove award winner and also won 4 Silver Slugger awards.

Barry M. Bloom of has this article on Roberto Alomar and his hopes for a 1st ballot election. Click here.

Alomar helped to lay down the foundation (along side future Hall of Famer Jeff Kent) for the slugging 2nd basemen such as Dan Uggla and Robinson Cano. The only way I see him not getting in on his first try would be his time with the New York Mets. On track to break 3,000 hits, Alomar's career tanked (compared to his past seasons with Toronto, Baltimore and Cleveland) and just faded away playing his last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox. Many a current Hall of Famer had diminished numbers at the end of their careers. They were elected in, as should Roberto Alomar.

3. Barry Larkin
Also in his 1st year of eligibility, Barry Larkin was one of the two premier Shortstops in the National League (along with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith). In 18 season, Larkin had a career batting average of .295 where he amassed 2340 hits (441 2B, 76 3B, 198 HR) and 960 RBI. In terms of modern metrics, Larkin had a career OBP% of .371 and a SLG% of .4444 for an OPS of .815. His best season was his MVP award season of 1995 with the Cincinnati Reds (who he played his whole career for) batting .319 with 158 hits (29 2B, 6 3B, 15 HR) and 66 RBI with 51 SB. That season Larkin also had an OPS of .886 (.394 OBP and .492 SLG). Larkin was a 12-time All-Star, a 3-time Gold Glove award winner and also won 8 Silver Slugger awards.

Mark Sheldon of has an article stating how Barry Larkin helped to redefine the Shortstop position. Click Here.

I believe that if Larkin had played in an era where he wasn't behind Ozzie Smith year in and year out, there would be no doubt as to whether or not he's a Hall of Famer. Ozzie had the glove, but Larkin had the bat to go along side his leather.

Honorable Mention
4. Edgar Martinez
In his first year of eligibility, Martinez is the player that may finally put an end to the Designated Hitter bias that exists throughout baseball. Considered by many as the Best DH in the history of the game (the award for the best DH is named in his honor), I believe Martinez to be a Hall of Famer since he was asked to do a particular job as a ballplayer and did it as well, if not better than everyone else. The fact that he did not play defense on an everyday basis seems to be his Achilles heel but no one can dispute that as a DH, he was stellar. In 18 seasons, Martinez had a career a career batting average of .312 where he amassed 2247 hits (514 2B, 15 3B, 309 HR) and 1261 RBI. In terms of modern metrics, Martinez had a career OBP% of .418 and a SLG% of .515 for an OPS of .933. Martinez also walked more (1283) than he struck out (1202) further cementing his status of a dependable hitter, His best season was the memorable 1995 season with the Seattle Mariners where he came in 3rd in the MVP race batting a league leading .356 with 182 hits (52 2B, 0 3B, 29 HR) and 113 RBI and led the league in runs scored with 121. That season Martinez also had an OPS of 1.107 (league leading .479 OBP and .628 SLG). Martinez was a 7-time All-Star and won 5 Silver Slugger awards.

David Schoenfield of has written this article making his points for why Edgar Martinez should be in the Hall of Fame. Click here.

I think baseball's traditionalists and snobs within the Baseball Writers Association lack the foresight to see past the fact that Martinez was a DH. He was more than that. Martinez was a player that was asked to do a job, and he did it not only to the best of his capacity but also better than anyone else. In my book if you can do all that is asked of you and put up impressive numbers to back it up, then you have proved your worth as Edgar Martinez has. We'll see what the election results show.

I think the rest of the candidates for election will get the necessary 5% of the ballot to remain eligible for next years election with Bert Blyleven moving to the top of the list. PS, after today's announcement of the retirement of 303 game winner Randy Johnson, there will be no doubt who gets in 1st ballot in 2015.

Later FH.