Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 Baseball Hall of Fame Vote

Before I get started on this year's baseball blogging, I wanted to wish all you readers a Happy New Year. Thank you all for reading my page and for all of your comments here and on Facebook. I greatly appreciate it.

So to no surprise to me the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown added two new members with the announcement of this year's vote by the Baseball Writers of America (BBWAA). Elected in his 2nd year of eligibility was second baseman Roberto Alomar with 90% of the vote. Joining him is Bert Blyleven who finally eclipsed the minimum 75% of the vote in his 14th year on the ballot with 79.7% of the vote. They will be enshrined in Cooperstown with executive Pat Gillick, who was elected last month by the Expansion Era Committee, Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing and longtime Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins voice Dave Van Horne with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting. According to the Baseball Hall of Fame website, here are the results of this year's vote:

Like I said earlier, I was not surprised at Alomar and Blyleven being elected in. I felt it was a year late since I wrote on my post 2010 Hall of Fame Ballot dated January 3, 2010 that Alomar would have gotten in as a first ballot Hall of Famer. In terms of Blyleven, I've been saying for years that he belongs in the Hall of Fame and now after fourteen long years he is there. I want to shift gears a bit and focus on a few other players that were on this year's ballot.

- Barry Larkin
Last year I believed that Barry Larkin was good enough to garner first ballot Hall of Fame status. The voters on the other hand thought differently and Larkin received 278 votes for 51.6% of the vote. This year the prospects for Larkin's enshrinement have improved. Larkin received 361 votes for 62.1% of the vote in his second year putting him in a good position to keep garnering enough votes to reach the necessary 75%. I believe that he was the second-best shortstop in the National League (some may argue the best one when you consider his batting) behind Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

- Jack Morris
Where Larkin's position on the list of players eligible for Hall of Fame enshrinement looks promising, Morris' chances look dim. Where Morris received 52.3% of the vote in 2010, his rise in 2011 was minimal. This year Morris received 311 votes for 53.5% of the vote in his 12th year of eligibility. Can Morris get over 20% more in votes within the next three years? It remains to be seen.

- Jeff Bagwell
Bagwell seems to be the first player who played during the Steroid Era that will be stigmatized by it in his chances to get in the Hall of Fame. In his first year of eligibility, Bagwell received 242 votes for 41.7% of the vote. While that is not a shabby performance for his first year on the ballot, could he have gotten more votes had he put up the same numbers in another era?

In 15 seasons with the Houston Astros, Bagwell had a career .297 batting average with 449 HRs and 1529 RBI. He had a total of 2314 hits (488 2B/32 3B/449 HR), struck out 1558 times while drawing 1401 walks. Bagwell's career OPS was .948 (.540 SLG%/.408 OBP). He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1991. He was in the top ten of the National League MVP vote six times winning the award in 1994. Bagwell won three Silver Slugger and one Gold Glove awards. Considering that he amassed these numbers in only 15 seasons I believe that Bagwell will eventually get in the Hall of Fame. How long it takes will remain to be seen.

- Fred McGriff
I've always said that Fred McGriff was a player that hit 30 homers a season and drove in 100 runs when those numbers were important. He is the case of a player who put up productive number before and during the Steroid Era but he may have come up just short. In 2010 McGriff received 116 votes for 21.5% of the vote. This year McGriff actually lost votes by receiving only 104 votes for 17.9% of the vote. Granted, the addition of players such as Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker may have taken some votes from McGriff but for him to have gone down is disappointing.

In 19 seasons, McGriff had a career .284 batting average with 493 HRs and 1550 RBI. He had a total of 2490 hits (441 2B/24 3B/493 HR), struck out 1882 times while drawing 1305 walks. McGriff's career OPS was .886 (.509 SLG%/.377 OBP). He was in the top ten of the National League MVP vote six times and a five-time All Star. McGriff won three Silver Slugger awards. Compared to Bagwell, it seems that McGriff falls short. We'll see how the voters favor him in the upcoming years.

- Edgar Martinez
Where Martinez's showing in Hall of Fame votes was impressive, this year he seemed to lose ground. In 2010 Martinez received 195 votes for 36.2% of the vote, this year he lost votes. Martinez received 191 votes for 32.9% of the vote. With Martinez being the first true DH to come up for Hall of Fame enshrinement, I though that the Baseball writers would be as progressive in considering Martinez's place in the game as they were progressive with voting (outside the proverbial box) for Felix Hernandez as the American League Cy Young Award Winner. I guess I thought wrong.

Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy and Lee Smith
This trio of players just can't get any love from the majority of the voters. In 2010 Mattingly got 16.1%, Murphy 11.7% and Smith 47.3%. This year Mattingly 13.6%, Murphy 12.6% and Lee 45.3%. These players just seem to be stuck in the same place year after year not gaining the sufficient votes needed for enshrinement. Maybe they can benefit from the type of grassroots campaign that helped Bert Blyleven.

And now for the two players who currently exemplify the Steroid Era among those eligible for the Hall of Fame:

Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmiero
I'm not going to beat a dead horse here in terms of McGwire. I've said it before and I'll say it here again: casting the steroid issue aside, I don't believe that McGwire is a Hall of Famer. Apparently the voters don't think so either. Where most people believed that if McGwire came clean about his steroid use he'd gain more votes for the Hall of Fame, the reverse happened. In 2010 McGwire received 128 votes for 23.7% of the vote, his 2011 standing took a fall. This year McGwire received 115 votes for 19.8% of the vote. So much for the truth setting you free. If you want to read more into my point of view why McGwire isn't a Hall of Famer, read my blogpost The Return of Mark McGwire dated January 9, 2010.

Turning my attention to Palmiero. I believe this is the saddest case of them all. Five years have come and gone and Palmiero still says that the positive test result came from a "B12" shot that was given to him by then teammate Miguel Tejada. Even after the now infamous finger wagging session in front of the Congressional Committee where he adamantly stated that he never used steroids, Palmiero remains steadfast in his stance. Where it is sad is that I don't think Palmiero ever needed the juice and may not have taken it (if he did) until late in his career. Palmiero is one of 4 players to reach the magical 500 homeruns and 3000 hit plateaus (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray are the other three). He also holds the distinction of being the only person to fail a drug test for a Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) to be up for Hall of Fame consideration. Its a shame that Palmiero basically threw away his Hall of Fame career. In his case, time did nothing to aid his cause. With the 64 votes he received Palmiero will be on next year's ballot. We'll see how he does then.

Of those players who failed to receive the minimum 30 votes to keep their eligibility I'm surprised that Harold Baines, Kevin Browne, Tino Martinez and John Olerud did not receive more votes. Baines is even more glaring since he finished with 2866 hits in a productive 22 year career.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to read the Press Release from the Baseball Hall of Fame on Alomar and Blyleven making the Hall of Fame
- Click here for the BBWAA webpage with the breakdown and analysis of the 2011 Hall of Fame Vote
- Click Here for the potential 2012 Hall of Fame Ballot from Baseball

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