On Sunday, the Hall of Fame inducted three new members, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez, and Tim Raines. This past week, Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre recorded his 3000th hit. Now that he’s hit that milestone, everyone is referring to him as “future hall of famer, Adrian Beltre”.
Calling someone a future Hall of Famer has lost its gravitas, especially in baseball. In order to decide who should get into the hall of fame, it’s important answer the question of what makes a hall of famer?
People like “Mad Dog” Chistopher Russo will tell you it’s meant for the greatest of the great…after all, it’s not the “Hall of the very good”. Others argue that there are certain benchmarks and when they’re achieved, you are a Hall of Famer. Those people tend to value longevity more than sheer dominance, numbers like 300 wins, 3,000 hits, and 500 home runs, (although that’s somewhat skewed now, due to steroids). And others argue that you know a Hall of Famer when you see him; Harold Reynolds is a big proponent of that rule. Some people believe in a big HOF, voting for the maximum 10 candidates every year, while others believe in a smaller Hall, being very selective from year to year. And finally, now that we’ve endured the steroid era, people make character judgments related to whether or not someone is worthy of entrance into the hallowed grounds of Cooperstown.
Here’s a list of 25 players who I believe should be in the Hall. For the sake of saving time, I haven’t listed any “steroid guys”…no Bonds or Clemens on this list. And no Pete Rose either. Let me just say, LET ALL THOSE GUYS IN! As Harold Reynolds believes, you know a Hall of Famer when you see them…those guys are Hall of Famers.
So here’s the list in no particular order:
These first four fall under the, “well if he’s a Hall of Famer, he should be too”, category
- Joe Carter 396 HR
- Jim Edmonds 393 HR, 8 Gold Gloves
- Dwight Evans 385 HR
- Larry Walker 383 HR, .313 AVG
The fact is, Jim Rice was named to the Hall of Fame, and frankly, if he’s worthy, so are each of these four players.
- Will Clark 284 HR, .303 AVG, 2,176 Hits
- Keith Hernandez .296 AVG, 2182 Hits, 11 Gold Gloves
- Don Mattingly .307 AVG, 2,153 Hits, 9 Gold Gloves
- Steve Garvey 2,599 Hits, 1,308 RBI
Four dominant first basemen who each fell short, but who should all be in the Hall.
- Lou Whitaker 2,369 Hits and Alan Trammel 2,365 Hits
They are the number one all time double play combination at second base and shortstop, playing together for 13 seasons, and should each be in the Hall. They have to be listed together.
10. Nomar Garciaparra .313 AVG
- Darryl Strawberry 335 HR
The fact is, when each of these players first broke onto the scene, they were each immediately anointed Hall of Fame caliber players. Garciaparra was in the debate with A-Rod and Jeter as to who was better. The chants of “Nomah’s Betta” rang out at Fenway Park every night, Jimmy Fallon immortalized him in a sketch on SNL, “when I say Red Sox, you say Nomar”. Darryl Strawberry was simply bigger than life. He owned New York in the mid 80s. Unfortunately, his demons owned him. A career shortened by abuse is tragic.
12. Bernie Williams 287 HR, 2,336 Hits, .297 AVG
He was part of the “core four” in New York, with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettite. Jeter and Rivera are shoo in HOFers. It would be nice if all four made it to the Hall.
- Kenny Lofton .299 AVG, 2,428 Hits, 622 SB
With Tim Raines making it to the Hall this week, it made me look at other players known for their speed, and seeing Lofton’s stats surprised me. You forget that he was basically a career .300 hitter, and that aside from all those steals, he had nearly 2,500 hits. He’s certainly not Henderson or Raines, but he was the leader at the top of many of those Cleveland Indian teams.
14. Tommy John 288 Wins
15. Jim Kaat 283 Wins
16. Mike Mussina 270 Wins
17. Jamie Moyer 269 Wins
18. Andy Pettitte 256 Wins
19. Jack Morris 254 Wins
Baseball has unwritten rules; one of them is that if you’ve reached 300 wins, you’re a Hall of Famer. I simply think that number should be reduced to 250 wins, especially in this era, because we’ll never see another 300 game winner. In the history of the game there’s only been 24 pitchers to get to 300, and that’s when there were four man rotations. In this era of specialization it will never happen again.
To put it in perspective, Bartolo Colon is baseball’s active leader with 235 wins, and CC Sabathia is next with 232 wins. Justin Verlander has 179 wins, and King Felix “only” has 159 wins.
- Orel Hershiser 204 Wins
- Roy Halladay 203 Wins
- David Cone 194 Wins, 5 time World Series champion
Each man was dominant. Each man won a Cy Young award, (Halladay won it twice). And each is deserving of being called a Hall of Famer
- Dwight Gooden 194 Wins, 2,293 Ks
Similar to Darryl Strawberry, Gooden came to New York, destined for Cooperstown. He, like Strawberry, owned New York, but unfortunately, those demons owned him just as they owned Strawberry. There should be a place in the Hall for both, Strawberry and Gooden.
- Ron Guidry 170 Wins only 91 Losses
- Johan Santana 1988 Ks
These two fall under the Sandy Koufax rule: short careers, with absolute dominant stuff. Each won a Cy Young award, (Santana won it twice). And, if you look at Koufax’s career win/loss, 165-87), it is almost identical to Guidry’s.
So anyway, that’s my list of 25 players who should be in the Hall of Fame. Some fall under Mad dog Russo’s criteria, some fall under Harold Reynold’s criteria; but all fall under my criteria.
I’ve only been to Cooperstown once, and I thoroughly recommend it. I realize any Hall of Fame is meant to be reserved for the best of the best…but in their own way, each of these men have made an indelible mark on the game and should be immortalized for it.
Whether it’s because of a walk off home run to win a World Series, being idolized in an SNL skit, playing yourself in a famous Seinfeld episode, or having a surgery names after you, which has saved the careers of literally hundreds of pitchers; these men are all worthy for what they did between the lines.
Like everything about sports, it makes for a great debate…so have at it; what do you think?
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