On January 6, the Hall of Fame class of 2010 will be announced. Given the name of this blog, you know that this topic is most interesting to me. First-timers on the ballot include Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff, and Edgar Martinez, among others. Holdovers include Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines, Mark McGwire, Alan Trammell, and Lee Smith, among others.
Up front, I must disclaim that I am a long-time suffering Cubs fan. However, this has no bearing on the first person on my ballot: Andre Dawson. 438 homers, 314 steals, eight Gold Gloves, a Rookie of Year award, an MVP award, and stellar defense are all you need to know about Dawson to place him in the Hall. His intangibles, though, are what makes him one of my most favorite ballplayers--he was a pillar in the clubhouse, and a mentor to young players such as Shawon Dunston and Mark Grace. The fact that he has been shunned from Cooperstown for this amount of time is mind-boggling to me. Here's hoping that 2010 is THE YEAR for Andre.
There are also three additional carry-over candidates that I feel are worthy of enshrinement. Bert Blyleven gained little notoriety during his year. As I have noted here before, had he played for Boston, Chicago, or New York, he would certainly be in the Hall already. His 287 wins, 60 career shutouts, and 3701 career strikeouts make him Hall-worthy in my mind. Another contemporary of Blyleven's, Jack Morris, similarly deserves enshrinement for his stellar career statistics and playoff performances. I will continue to campaign for Alan Trammell as well, despite what I perceive as little chance that he will ever get in, unless the Veteran's Committee is reorganized in the next 20 years. Trammell was overshadowed by Cal Ripken at the time, but Trammell's 6 All Star game appearances, 4 Gold Gloves, and 3 Silver Sluggers demonstrates that he was in Ripken's class.
Although they would not receive my vote, I feel that two specialists of sorts on the ballot warrant discussion. Lee Smith was the all-time saves leader for a time, but has seen little increase in voter support since Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage were enshrined. I do not believe Smith will make the Hall, because while he accumulated an impressive number of saves, he was a traditional one-inning stopper and never had the opportunity to build a solid body of postseason work like Mariano Rivera. Harold Baines may be one of the two best designated hitters of all time (see below for the other), but I cannot yet bring myself to find that a full-time DH is Hall worthy.
From the first year candidates, there are two infielders deserving. Roberto Alomar stands the better chance of being elected in his first year, but I anticipate that it may take an additional year or two before he gains 75% of the vote, based on his off-the-field issues and the infamous spitting incident. But his statistics cannot be ignored--he is clearly Hall material. I consider him one of the three best 2B of my lifetime, along with Craig Biggio and Ryne Sandberg. Barry Larkin was an MVP caliber player and the clear leader of the Reds in the late 80s and 90s. While his career statistics may seem short, one must remember that he was almost annually an NL All Star and that injuries cut short his career. Edgar Martinez does not get my vote for the same reasons as Baines. Fred McGriff is just short of Hall worthy in my mind, similar to Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly in my mind.
I will post my reactions to the January 6th announcement in the days that follow. Here's to a Happy 2010.