Rob suggested this topic and I figured I’d give it a whirl. The players listed on the 2009 HOF Ballots are:
Rickey Henderson – Discussion: There is none. Greatest leadoff hitter of all time and if there is any justice we’ll get to hear Rickey say “Rickey” in the third person about 132 times when he’s unanimously elected. Should receive every vote. YES
Alan Trammell – Discussion: A six-time all star with a World Series MVP, four Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers and 3 Top 10 MVP finishes. A hell of a shortstop and along with Ripken was one of the new mold breaking offensive guys at this position when I was growing up. A guy I remember being a stud (monster ’87 season) but from what I gather HOF standards like to look at your best collective seasons. I guess he didn’t dominate for long enough to be a HOF’er, but a stud none the less.
Tim Raines – Discussion: Let’s see, a leadoff hitter who finished in the top 10 in OBP seven times, batting average four times, OPS four times, Runs scored six times (6 STRAIGHT YEARS btw), hits six times, total bases four times, walks six times, stolen bases nine times (led the league from 81-84), runs created six times … ALL of that in a 10-year period (1981-1990). He’s going to get overlooked because of Rickey but in my opinion the second greatest leadoff hitter of the modern era. He did EVERYTHING you ask of a leadoff hitter and more, and he did it in Montreal. If he’d played in LA, NY or Boston he’d be a lock. YES.
Andre Dawson – Discussion: I just remember this guy OWNING the 80’s in right field in the NL. His ‘open contract’ and subsequent MVP season for the Cubs seemed to sum him up in a nutshell. Another player that will see Montreal continue to hurt his chances in my opinion. ROY, MVP, eight Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, four Top 10 MVP finishes, including two second-place finishes (which I think often times means MVP season in many other years). Add eight Top 10 SLG percentage finishes to the eight gold gloves and he was a RF that mashed and played HOF type defense for a decade. He dominated for a decade in the NL, and a decade worth of seasons like that is HOF material in my opinion. Add to all this that he was just a phenomenal guy and it’s an easy one for me. YES.
Bert Blyleven – Discussion: How on God’s green earth is this guy not on a plaque already? What the hell? Nineteen years after posting a WHIP of 1.159 — in 1970 btw — he posts a 1.116 WHIP (a truer standard of a pitchers effectiveness I have yet to see). NINETEEN YEARS LATER!! Oh, and he finished in the Top 10 nine times in between those two years. This guy played on CRAPPY teams!!!!!! CRAPPY! His HOF worthy stats are too numerous to mention so I link them here . Writers do us a favor and put a true HOF’er in the HOF. YES.
Jim Rice – Discussion: See Bert Blyleven … I mean come on. Does it strike anyone as odd that players increase their vote totals as the years go by, AFTER THEY RETIRE???? Look, I know it’s not easy, and I know mistakes are made, some by sheer accident, some by stupidity (see Dustin Pedroia being LEFT OFF the MVP ballot of one dolt this year), but how on earth do vote totals fluctuate for guys AFTER they are done? Does that mean voters are doing MORE work and MORE research as the years go by? Less? Shouldn’t this be taken dead serious by ALL writers afforded the honor of being allowed to vote? Should the process change? This guy finished in the Top 5 in MVP voting SIX TIMES in an 11-year period. Six times people considered him the best player in the AL in an 11-year period! I was more of an NL fan growing up but I’ve been around long enough, talked to enough pitchers from that era in the AL and to a man they are all pretty emphatic that he was without a doubt one of the 2-3 most feared hitters in the game. If he’s reading this he knows I can kick his ass in golf but I’m saying here and now this man deserves to be in the HOF. YES.
Dan Plesac – Discussion: My first “Sack” memory came in Milwaukee in the late ’80’s. He was throwing a pen coming off an injury and they had a gun on him. He was throwing his fastball from 96-99 and mixing in a 92 mph slider … He didn’t remain a closer long enough to merit HOF votes I don’t think but if there was a HOF for awesome teammates with great senses of humor this guy is a first ballot HOF’er. Sack could make you laugh until you cried, funny as hell and a fantastic teammate who I wish I’d been able to play longer with. I still remember walking into the bathroom in Arizona and I hear “GO TO THE WHIP! GO TO THE WHIP!!” and I’m thinking “What the hell?” only to see him come out of the stall. He is HUGE into Horse racing and breeding and has been for a long time.
Harold Baines – Discussion: First Harold Baines memory … Standing on the mound in Texas in 1989 and thinking “Man this guys standing WAY too far off the plate to hit MY fastball, he’s got no chance.” About 15 seconds later the ball bounces off the top of the center field fence and into the bleachers. A consistent producer at a tough spot to be one, this guy did nothing but produce. I think his post season numbers will be underrated but in the end this is the HOF, for baseball’s greatest, not baseballs very, very good.
Also a fantastic guy and from everything I heard an awesome teammate.
David Cone – Discussion: Didn’t win 200, or strikeout 3,000 but this guy was damn good for a long time. A post season monster who had three bad games to spoil his ERA but a 12-3 lifetime record is money, and he was. I remember him being the first real ‘hired gun’ guy in the mid-to-late 90’s. I only knew him a little but he was a great guy and everyone from Lenny D to a few others that played with him swear by him as a teammate. Should get more votes than he likely will but another VERY good player who might be just short of being considered great.
Ron Gant – Discussion: Had he not broken his leg I think Ronnie would have been a 500 HR 500 SB guy, and a lock. One of my all-time favorite teammates. He played the game as hard as it could be played and he played hurt. Fantastic teammate and fantastic person.
Mark Grace – Discussion: Only guy I played with that talked more than me, which in and of itself merits some sort of Hall of Fame. One hundred and seventy-four HR, and more than 2,400 hits don’t get you into the Hall of Fame, but, this guy could flat out play. Was literally a Gold Glove SS playing first base. Four Gold Gloves (and he should have won more) and no one had more hits than Gracie in the 90’s. An OB and Doubles machine, I don’t think Mark will get the votes he should but he never did the ‘sexy’ stuff like hit HR’s and drive in boatloads, he was the guy getting on base in front of those guys and if you don’t hit 350 or steal 75 bases people seem to downplay how good you could have been.
I’ll finish the rest tomorrow …