It was announced last week that the newest members of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame are Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice. Rickey Henderson was a no-brainer, but there seems to be some debate about Jim Rice. Since there is always some debate why not look ahead to next season. Who should be in the Hall of Fame in 2010?
There are more players in the 2010 class that are close to being a Hall of Fame player than there was this year, but like this year I think there is only one that gets in 2010. Forget about the spitting incident or the disappointing New York Mets contract, before that Roberto Alomar was a Hall of Fame player.
This is pretty easy for me, why? If you look at Derek Jeter’s stats one of the players he most resembles is Roberto Alomar. Jeter has more power but Alomar steals more bases and plays better defense. Jeter is going to pass Alomar in most stats in a year or two because Alomar only played until 36 years old, but most people would say Jeter is a Hall of Fame player in a year or two, if not one already. Some people might point towards Jeter’s leadership and postseason play as a large reason but Alomar came up big in playoffs too, you just don’t hear about it much because he played for Toronto, Baltimore and Cleveland, not New York.
In my opinion there are three players on the ballot from previous years that deserve to get into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Those players are Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven and Tim Raines. Andre Dawson has a low on base percentage, a lot of strike outs and few walks but to me the number one criteria of being a Hall of Fame player is asking yourself was he one of the greatest players at his time? I think Andre Dawson was. There might have been players that were stronger or faster, but not anybody that was both.
I’ve heard many cases for Bert Blyleven over the past couple of years and one of those is from Rich Lederer of baseballyanalysists.com. Lederer points out that Bert Blyleven is 17th all-time in wins, 5th in strike outs and 8th in shutouts. There are only seven other players that are in the top 20 in all of these categories: Steve Carlton, Ferguson Jenkins, Walter Johnson, Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver and Don Sutton. There is only one pitcher in history that is ahead of Bert Blyleven in all three categories. That is Nolan Ryan and 98.8 percent of the voters voted him in the Hall of Fame. Also there are some Hall of Fame pitchers that rank below Bert Blyleven in all three categories like Jim Bunning, Bob Gibson, Catfish Hunter, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal and Jim Palmer.
The third player from previous ballots that I think should make the Hall of Fame in 2010 is Tim Raines. I heard Steve Phillips arguing against Tim Raines earlier this week saying that he only had six seasons of 100 runs and that wasn’t good for a leadoff hitter. Of course what he failed to mention that was Raines had over 90 runs two other seasons and in the 80’s 90 runs was good enough to be in the top 10. He also failed to mention that four seasons Tim Raines didn’t reach 90 or 100 runs because he didn’t play the whole season, but if he had played those entire seasons then he would’ve been in the top 10 in runs 12 times. One season Tim Raines missed the first month of the season and still lead the league with 123 runs. Raines was in the top 10 in stolen bases 11 times and in the top 10 in on base percentage 7 times. Tim Raines also played for the Expos. How much better would he be on a good team? But this is my favorite stat, courtesy of Jayson Stark’s book “The Stark Truth”. Over a seven year span from 1982 to 1988 Tim Raines led all National League players in walks, singles, doubles, and triples. If a player simply led the NL in home runs over a seven year span they’d probably get Hall of Fame consideration but you lead the league in walks, singles, doubles and triples and you don’t get noticed. What a shame.
There are a few other pretty good players that will be on the ballot for the first time in 2010. Fred McGriff was a pretty good player for many seasons but I’m not sure he was great. He played in 90’s and early 2000’s during the offense boom but only hit in the higher half of 30 home runs a couple of times, he never had more RBI than 107. He was only a strong MVP candidate once and he only finished 4th.
Edgar Martinez will get a lot of love because he’s probably the most underrated player of his generation. But this isn’t the Hall of the underrated. Edgar Martinez can hit but he didn’t do much else. Really Edgar Martinez’s stats are pretty similar to Mark Grace. Martinez had more home runs and RBI but benefited from playing in the AL with the DH. Mark Grace actually played defense, and did it really well, and didn’t even get enough votes to stay on the ballot.
I don’t think Barry Larkin is a first ballot Hall of Fame player like Roberto Alomar but he’ll get enough votes to stay on the ballot and will maybe eventually get in. Like Edgar Martinez Barry Larkin is underrated and it will probably take several years of convincing to get people to vote him in.
If I had a 2010 Hall of Fame ballot then mine would read Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Tim Raines and Andre Dawson. But the reality is probably that Alomar and Dawson get in the 2010 Hall of Fame. Then Blyleven and Larkin would maybe get in a year or two later. Raines only got 22 percent of the votes this year so he will likely never make it.