Frank Thomas and Tom Glavine have officially announced their retirement from professional baseball though both have been out of the game since 2008. Thomas was last seen playing for the Toronto Blue Jays while Glavine was cut from the Atlanta Braves to make room for rookie phenom Tommy Hanson. So the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is shaping up quite nicely. In addition to Thomas and Glavine, we also see Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina round out the field of potential Hall of Famers. Let's look at how these players within the numbers.
1. Frank Thomas
Thomas had to be one of the most intimidating hitters in the early to mid nineties (aka Pre Steroid Era). Thomas was a perennial MVP candidate with 10 ten finishes from 1991-1997 with two straight MVP awards in 1993 and 1994. In 19 seasons, Thomas had a career batting average of .301 where he amassed 2468 hits (495 2B, 12 3B, 521 HR) and 1704 RBI. Thomas also registered more walks than strikeouts (1667-1397) which for a slugger of Thomas' caliber is rare (Albert Pujols comes to mind). In terms of modern metrics, Thomas had a career OBP% of .419 and a SLG% of .555 for an OPS of .974. His best season was not either of his MVP seasons but 1997 with the Chicago White Sox where he batted a league leading .347 with 35Hr and 125 RBI. In total, he had 184 hits including 35 2B and drew 109 BB with only 69 K's. Thomas also registered an OPS of 1.069 (.456 OBP and .611 SLG). Thomas was a 2-time American League MVP, a 5-time All-Star and a 4-time Silver Slugger awards. Thomas' #35 will be retired in a ceremony later this upcoming season by the Chicago White Sox.
For an article written about Frank Thomas by Phil Rogers in the Chicago Tribune on February 12, 2010, click here
For an article on the White Sox retiring Frank Thomas' #35, click here
2. Tom Glavine
Tom Glavine made up one third of possibly the best trio to ever grace a pitcher's mound. Glavine made up the core of the Atlanta Braves dynasty with future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. Glavine was a 5-time 20-game winner and registered 6 top 5 finishes for the National League Cy Young Award winning the award twice in 1991 and 1998. In 22 seasons, Glavine amassed a 305-203 record with a career 3.54 ERA. Glavine struck out 2607 batters while only walking 1500 (145 IBB). His career WHIP was 1.314 and he completed 56 games with 25 shutouts. Glavine's best season was his Cy Young Award season of 1991 where he had a 20-11 record with an ERA of 2.55 and 246.1 innings pitched for the National League Champion Atlanta Braves. Glavine gave up 201H, 83 Runs (70 earned runs) 192 K's 69 BB(6 IBB) and a WHIP of 1.095. Glavine also led the league with 9 complete games. Glavine is 4th all time in wins by a left-handed pitcher, trailing only Warren Spahn (363), Steve Carlton (329) and Eddie Plank (326), all of which are Hall of Famers. Glavine was a 2-time National League Cy Young Award winner, a 10-time All-Star and a 4-time Silver Slugger award winner.
For an article on Tom Glavine's retirement from the Atlanta Journal Constitution by David O'Brien from February 11, 2010, click here
For an article from MLB.com by Mark Bowman on Glavine's retirement, click here
3. Jeff Kent
Jeff Kent set the tone for the power hitting second basement that have been popping up as of late. in 17 seasons, Kent had a career batting average of .290 where he amassed 2461 hits (560 2B, 47 3B, 377 HR) and 1518 RBI. In terms of modern metrics, Kent had a career OBP% of .356 and a SLG% of .500 for an OPS of .855. His best season was his MVP season of 2000 with the San Francisco Giants where he batted a career best .334 with 33Hr and 125 RBI. In total, he had a career best 196 hits including 41 2B, 7 3B and drew 90 BB with 109 K's. Kent also registered an a career best OPS of 1.021 (.424 OBP and .596 SLG). Kent was the 2000 National League MVP, a 5-time All-Star and won 4-time Silver Slugger awards.
4. Greg Maddux
Greg Maddux was a throwback pitcher who in his prime dominated the league with finesse and sheer determination. Madduz was a workhorse, leading the Atlanta Braves to the postseason every season he pitched there while winning 3 straight National League Cy Young Awards in Atlanta from 1993-1995 (Maddux won 4 straight, his first was with the Chicago Cubs in 1992). In 23 seasons, Maddux amassed a 355-277 record with a career 3.16 ERA. Maddux struck out 3371 batters while only walking 999 (177 IBB) while pitching a total of 5008.1 innings (WOW!!!). His career WHIP was 1.143 and he completed 109 games with 35 shutouts. Maddux's best season was his Cy Young Award season of 1995 where he had a 19-2 record with an league leading ERA of 1.63, 209.2 innings pitched, 10 complete games and 3 shutouts for the World Series Champion Atlanta Braves (there were only 144 games played in the 1995 season due to the players strike of 1994). Maddux gave up with 147H, 39 Runs (38 earned runs) 181 K's 23 BB(3 IBB) and a WHIP of 0.811. Maddux was a 4-time National League Cy Young Award winner, an 8-time All-Star and an 18-time Gold Glove winner. Some baseball experts believe that no one will ever reach the magical 300 win plateau. I think that goal is still attainable by pitchers like Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia. What I do believe is unattainable is the 350 win plateau. I believe that Greg Maddux will be the last man to do so. 355 wins is just mind blowing.
5. Mike Mussina
Mike Mussina was another pitcher, who like Maddux, could be counted on to be the workhorse of the rotation. Also similarly to Maddux, Mussina was able to dominate hitters not with sheer power but through finesse. Mussina was able to register an under 4.00 ERA for 11 of his 18 years pitching in the American League, which (then as in now) is no easy feat. In 18 seasons, Mussina amassed a 270-153 record with a career 3.68 ERA. Mussina struck out 2813 batters while only walking 785 (29 IBB) while pitching a total of 3562.2 innings. His career WHIP was 1.192 and he completed 57 games with 23 shutouts. Mussina's best season was 1995 where he had a 19-9 record with an ERA of 3.29, 221.2 innings pitched, 7 complete games and a league leading 4 shutouts for the Baltimore Orioles (there were only 144 games played in the 1995 season due to the players strike of 1994). Mussina gave up with 187H, 86 Runs (81 earned runs) 158 K's 50 BB(4 IBB) and a WHIP of 1.069. Mussina was a 5-time All-Star and a 6-time Gold Glove award winner. I know there will be some baseball writers that will hold against Mussina that he only won 20 games once (2008) and never won the Cy Young Award (sounds similar to the arguments made against Blyleven). But they need to keep in mind that Mussina pitched in the American League in an era dominated mainly by both Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens (6 combined American League Cy Young Awards). Mussina was in the top ten of Cy Young Voting nine times never ending up worse than 6th. Had Mussina kept pitching, maybe we'd be talking about how he would be reaching the 300 win plateau. But he decided that family was more important and retired. He should be commended for it instead of having it work against him come 2014 when he is eligible for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.
Will the five players I listed all get in on the first ballot? I don't think Kent or Mussina will. Thomas is somewhat on the fence for first year election. I think we'll have to see where Edgar Martinez ranks by 2014 since Thomas did spend a number of his at-bats at the DH position. I believe all three will eventually get in. As for first year enshrinement, definitely Maddux and Glavine. No doubt about it. They'll be keeping a place for John Smoltz in the Hall whenever he decides he's done.