Immortalized in Bronze? A Look At This Year’s Hall-of-Fame Ballot First Timers

Roberto Alomar has the numbers of a first ballot Hall-of-Famer.

Roberto Alomar: The best second baseman of the 90’s, Roberto Alomar was a model of consistency both offensively and defensively, winning 10 Gold Gloves (the most ever by a 2B) and capturing four Silver Sluggers during his illustrious career. The 12-time All-Star collected 2,724 hits, 504 doubles, 210 HR’s, 1,134 RBI’s, 474 stolen bases and hit an even .300 in his 17-year playing tenure with the Padres, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Mets, White Sox and Diamondbacks. Delivering surprising pop and excellent speed for a middle infielder, Alomar is one of the most decorated second baseman in the history of the game and compares favorably to another recent Hall-of-Famer at his position, Ryne Sandberg. The native of Puerto Rico captured two World Series titles with Toronto in 1992 and 1993, hitting .480 in the ’93 Fall Classic and finishing with a .318 career postseason average. If there’s a knock against Alomar’s candidacy it would be an embarrassing incident in 1996 when he spat in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck, leading to a five game suspension. However, in an era of rampant steroid abuse and numerous other off-field transgressions, Alomar’s moment of stupidity probably won’t cost him that many votes. His numbers speak for themselves…Alomar is one of the game’s best second baseman ever. Verdict: First Ballot Hall-of-Famer

Barry Larkin: Barry Larkin was the preeminent shortstop of the National League in the 1990’s, making eight All-Star appearances in the decade. Born in Cincinnati, Larkin attended the same high school as Ken Griffey Jr and played the entirety of his 19-year career with the Reds after being selected fourth overall in 1985. Larkin’s tenure with Cincinnati was highlighted by his selection as the NL MVP in 1995 (.319-15 HR’s-66 RBI’s-51 SB’s), but he also thrived defensively, capturing three Gold Gloves at SS. Despite the fact that he won nine Silver Sluggers during his career, Larkin never led the league in a single offensive category, and his career numbers (.295-198 HR’s-960 RBI’s-379 SB’s) aren’t that overwhelming. He was a very good player for a long time, but the Hall-of-Fame was created for greatness. Verdict: Outside looking in

Edgar swung a mean stick, but will his lack of time in the field cost him a shot at the Hall?

Edgar Martinez: The only man who could legitimately challenge Ken Griffey Jr. as the most beloved player in Seattle Mariners’ history, Edgar Martinez helped to save a franchise on the brink with his steady presence and clutch hitting (his game winning double in the 1995 ALCS against New York is one of the best postseason moments of the past 20 years). Martinez was one of the game’s finest right-handed hitters, finishing his career with 2,247 hits, 514 doubles, 309 HR’s, 1,261 RBI’s and a .312 lifetime batting average. His career .418 OBP is 22nd all-time, placing him ahead of Hall-of-Famers Stan Musial, Mel Ott and Hank Greenberg, while his OPS is the 34th best in the history of baseball. “Gar” was a 7-time All-Star, 5-time Silver Slugger and 2-time AL Batting Champion (1992 and 1995) while playing his entire 18-year career in Seattle. The main argument against Martinez is that he accumulated the majority of his stats as a designated hitter, but he did so well enough that the award for the best DH is now named after him. The fact that he was never associated with steroids helps his cause, as does voters willingness to consider “newer” statistics like OBP and OPS in which Martinez excelled. Leaving a player out of the Hall-of-Fame simply because he didn’t play in the field seems like quite an injustice, especially if players who made their living almost solely defensively (Ozzie Smith, Luis Aparicio, etc.) or couldn’t field at all but hit well (Jim Rice, Paul Molitor, etc.), have been enshrined in Cooperstown. Verdict: Hall-of-Famer, but not in 2010

Fred McGriff: When he retired in the middle of the 2004 season, Fred McGriff fell just short of the mythical 500-HR plateau, finishing with 493 career longballs (although he could still pull a Bernie Mac and return for one last shot at glory ala Mr. 3000). Much like Larkin, McGriff was a good player for an extended period of time, making five All-Star teams and winning three Silver Sluggers. The Crime Dog was a consistent run producer with eight seasons of 100+ RBI’s and 10 seasons in which he hit 30 or more HR’s, although he never hit more than 36 in any one year. His career numbers (.284-493 HR’s-1,550 RBI’s-2,490 hits) are certainly impressive, but McGriff never finished in the top-3 of MVP voting, and is 8th all-time in strikeouts. There have been worse selections in the history of Cooperstown (Ted Lyons?), but McGriff isn’t quite worthy of joining baseball’s most exclusive fraternity. Verdict: Close but no cigar

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4 Responses

  1. Edgar Martinez definitely deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. He is the perfect candidate to be the first DH inducted into the Hall. He had very impressive numbers and a prestigious career. Like you said, he was so good at his position, the award was named after him. And besides, DH is a baseball position, why should it be considered any less for the hall of fame than any other? Should pitchers not be allowed in then because they were only good at pitching? I would say that without a doubt Edgar Martinez should be inducted first time around. He was an impressive player and a great guy. what more could you want?

  2. EEEEEEEED-GAAAAAAAARRRRRRR. I’m a bit biased though. I’d vote Joey Cora in if I could.

  3. Edgar’s numbers are even better, considering his first full season was at age 27. His minor league numbers were great, and his first 3 partial seasons in the big leagues, 1987-89, were pretty good. But the Mariner organization at the time was incompetent. I hope that doesn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame, because he was one of the best pure hitters I ever saw.

  4. That’s true. If the Mariners hadn’t bungled Edgar’s playing situation early in his career this might not even be a topic of discussion. As it stands I’m not sure his numbers are impressive enough to get him selected in the first few years he’s on the ballot, but hopefully he gets a decent amount of votes in this first go-round and then steadily gains enough each year to eventually get enshrined.

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