Operation Zero: The 2013 Hall Of Fame Class
I've resisted writing about the 2013 MLB Hall of Fame candidates up until this point. Before detailing why it is insane that no players were elected to the Hall of Fame this year, I thought I would simply cut and past some of my tweets from the BaseballGuys' Twitter feed over the past few days.
So hypocritical - people are busted weekly in NFL for steroids, no one cares. Merriman made the Pro Bowl year he got popped.
We have the Mitchell Report and what else? There's no way to know what someone did 15 years ago.
Everyone can think what they want, I just think it's extremely cynical just to assume everyone who is good is guilty.
Did some players use drugs to enhance their performance? Absolutely they did. Do we know everyone who did/didn't? There is no way to know.
We have to judge players against others in their era. I'm so sick of Everyone accusing Every player of cheating w/o proof.
My point is that we have NO idea who used PEDs and who didn't. In USA you're innocent until PROVEN guilty.
Players in the 1970's all used "greenies" - do we then say everyone in the 70's is a cheater and should be downgraded?
Can't we just say the era is tainted and move on? This PED stuff is soooo played out.
Newsflash people - players have cheated since the game was invented.
And this from Dustin Swedelson, a producer at SiriusXM (@dustinswedelson)
Remember when the writers who vote for baseball HOF's jobs mattered again because of the steroid era? Didn't hear them investigate then
Here's my bottom line. We don't know who did PED's. We will never know. Baseball needs to decide how it will handle this. (A) We say everyone who played baseball for 15 years can't be inducted into Cooperstown. (B) We admit that players cheated, compare them against their contemporaries, and judge them based upon their on the field merits. It's really as simple as that folks. Without evidence, EVIDENCE, we can't choose to exclude or include this person or that person because of a feeling. Well people can, but it's grossly misguided and absolutely nonsensical for people to do so. So stop the madness folks. Decide everyone is out or everyone will be judged based on their performance. Short of irrefutable proof that a player cheated it's an assault on common sense to exclude players simply because you have a “feeling” they cheated. Preposterous.
Here are my thoughts on all the players who received at least 10 percent of the 2013 vote.
Craig Biggio (68.2 percent – 75 percent is needed for election): One of the scrappiest player of the last 30 years, Biggio came up as a catcher, won four Gold Gloves at second base, and then moved to the outfield later in his career. Other than a guy like Pete Rose, who has done that at the level of Biggio? Craig is 15th all-time in runs scored, 21st in hits (3,060) and fifth in doubles. Heck, he even went deep 291 times in his career. He should be enshrined.
Jack Morris (67.7 percent): His support continues to grow, but it's revisionist history. The guy may have thrown a ton of innings and come up big in some big games, but my HOF has no place for a pitcher who never led the league in WHIP or ERA, and only once led his league in strikeouts (232 in 1983). Heck, he was never even the runner up for the Cy Young Award.
Mike Piazza (57.8 percent): How in the world can the greatest hitting catcher of all-time not be in the HOF? From 1993-2002 an average Pizza season was a .322 average, 35 homers, 107 RBIs, 85 runs scored and an OPS of .969. How many elite level players ever have a season that good once? – and he did it for a decade. While catching.
Lee Smith (47.8 percent): I gave my thoughts on closers in What is a HOF Closer? The 478 saves are amazing, and his longevity is impressive (13-straight years with at least 25 saves from 1983-95). I'm not overly impressive by guys that throw one inning though. I'm even less impressed by a guys save total as saves are a result of opportunity (we all know some teams use their “better” pitcher in a setup role). A 8.73 K/9, 2.57 K/BB, 3.03 ERA and 1.26 WHIP just don't do it for me.
Curt Schilling (38.8 percent): He was dominant in the post-season going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 0.97 WHIP and that's great, but someone shouldn't be in or out based on 133.1 playoff innings. Won “only” 216 games but had a solid .597 winning percentage, and for his career his ERA+ was 127 meaning his 3.46 raw ERA was 27 percent better than the league average, an impressive number. He also struck better than 8.5 batters per nine, and for his career his 4.38 K/BB ratio is elite (it's the best ever for a pitcher who threw 3,000 innings). He's in – barely.
Roger Clemens (37.6 percent): One of the 10 greatest pitchers of all-time if you judge base on the numbers. An MVP award, seven Cy Young's, 9th all-time in wins, 3rd in strikeouts and his ERA+ was 143, forty three percent better than the league average (his raw ERA was 3.12, his WHIP 1.17). The case against him is certainly there, but I'm still putting him in.
Barry Bonds (36.2 percent): There may be no more conclusive case about PED use for a player than the case with Bonds. Fourteen All-Star games, eight Gold Gloves, seven MVP awards – separated by eight years (his last of the 'first' cycle was in 1993 and his first in the 'second' cycle was 2001). First all-time in homers, 3rd in runs, 4th in RBIs, 6th in OBP, 6th in SLG and 4th in OPS. Oh yeah, he also stole 514 bags. One of the three greatest offensive forces the game ever saw. He's out, and it's a shame, but honestly, this call is more an indictment of baseball than Bonds.
Alan Trammell (33.6 percent): A really good player who had four Gold Gloves and six All-Star games nods. Still, he only finished as a top-5 MVP vote getter once, only had two 20 homer seasons, only one 100 RBI effort and just three seasons of more than 85 runs scored. Really good, but the Hall of Fame is for great – even if he was a very good fielder.
Larry Walker (21.6 percent): My best guess is that he will never be voted in, not because of PED use, but because people hold Coors Field, pre-humidor, against him. He finished his career with more homers than Joe DiMaggio (383 to 361), had more RBIs than Roberto Clemente (1,311 to 1,305), had more runs scored than Barry Larkin (1,355 to 1,329), a better batting average than Manny Ramirez (.313 to .312) and a better OPS than than all but 15 other men who played the game (.965). He's also the only man since 1930 to have three straight seasons of hitting .360 (1997-99). Based upon the numbers he's gotta be in, but with only a handful of huge run producing seasons, only four 140 games seasons, and the Coors Field effect, he's as close as you can get for me without being included.
Dale Murphy (18.6 percent): My favorite player as a kid, and even better than his work on the field is the fact that he is an amazing human being who never once had a hint of scandal. From 1980-89 here are Murphy's ranks among all players: 2nd in extra base hits, 2nd in HRs, 2nd in RBIs and 4th in runs. He also won 2 MVPs, was named to the All-Star team seven times and he won five Gold Gloves. One other plus. In 1980 Murphy was catcher eligible in fantasy baseball (27 games at C in '79). He went .281-33-89-98-9. Just barely outside without a key to the door. He will have to hope the Veteran's Committee votes him in as his 15 years on the regular ballot are up.
Mark McGwire (16.9 percent): An admitted cheater. From 1987 through his final year in the big leagues (2001), here is how McGwire ranked in a myriad of categories for that 15-year stretch: McGwire hit 580 homers, the most in baseball (Barry Bonds had 551). McGwire had 1,405 RBI, third most in baseball (Bonds had 1,494). McGwire had a .590 SLG, the third best mark in baseball (Bonds and Manny Ramirez led the way at .594). McGwire had a .985 OPS, fourth in baseball (Bonds at 1.017). I'll leave him out since he admitted cheating, but even so, I'm inclined to cast my vote in favor of his election given his work on the field. Being honest actually works against McGwire... does that seem right to you?
Don Mattingly (13.2 percent): Mattingly had a very short peak as an elite hitter (before his back went bad), but from '84-'89 here are his big league rankings: 3rd in AVG, 1st in 2B, 1st in EBH, 1st in RBI, 6th HR, 5th OPS. Mattingly also won nine Gold Gloves for his work at first base. A great player but he's on the outside looking in cause his elite performance didn't last long enough.
Sammy Sosa (12.5 percent): Everyone “knows” he cheated, but unlike McGwire he never admitted it (famously Sosa acted like he couldn't speak English when he was called in front of Congress). From 1994-2003 here is what an “average” Sosa season looked like: .290-47-122-104-13 with a .958 OPS. Since we don't have “proof” that he cheated, he goes in on my ballot. Remember, I'm not voting people out because we “know” a guy was dirty.
Finally, two articles.
A very informative piece from the NY Times entitled Hall of Fame Has Always Made Room for Infamy.
Jayson Stark's Take on what the HOF has become.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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