Ranking the Hall of Fame class of 2013
Some baseball analysts will tell you that they “take seriously” all of the Hall Of Fame candidates and fully look at their resumes. But I doubt it. I’m pretty certain many of the HOF voters simply see a name like Jeff Cirillo and dismiss it immediately.
But that’s because they are only able to choose at most 10 candidates to vote for each year, and even in a year with many deserving candidates like this, many voters won’t use all 10 of their voting slots.
However, here at SpreeGoogs, we believe in doing our research to create seeming unnecessary lists, so here goes. It’s time to breakdown the 37 names on the MLB Hall of Fame ballot in order.
I don’t believe that there will be a huge percentage of new HOF’s this year – If I were to guess, I’m guessing Biggio and Jack Morris are the only ones to get in. That said, I think you can find 10 names on this list worthy of being in the HOF, and if I were voting, the top 10 here would get my votes.
Without further adieu:
37. Aaron Sele. SP, 1993-2007. Four solid winning seasons with Texas and Seattle in the late ‘90s, but overall a mediocre starter with an ERA near 5.00.
36. Jeff Cirillo. 3B, 1994-2007. A respectable .296 career hitter primarily with Milwaukee and Colorado, but only 112 career homeruns and never really a star player.
35. Rondell White, LF, 1993-2007. I tend to think of Rondell White as a power hitter, but he had only 198 career homeruns in 15 years, and was a one-time All Star.
34. Woody Williams, SP, 1993-2007. A one-time all-star when he won 18 games for the Cardinals in 2003, Williams’ closest similarity score on baseballreference.com is Jon Garland. Enough said.
33. Todd Walker, 2B, 1196-2007. A’s fans will remember Todd Walker for hitting 3 homers against them in the 2003 ALDS. He then played 18 games for the A’s in 2007 before they realized that, outside of that 2003 season with Boston, he wasn’t all that great.
32. Mike Stanton, RP, 1989-2007. Reliable lefty reliever for the Braves and Yankees during their respective World Series years, with tons of postseason pedigree, but we’ve yet to see a middle reliever make the HOF, and it is unlikely Stanton will change that.
31. Royce Clayton, SS, 1991-2007. Solid defender, but a horrible acting job as Miguel Tejada in the movie Moneyball is enough to make me say no. Also he was a .258 career hitter.
30. Jose Mesa, RP, 1987-2007. Joe Table! After making his debut with the Orioles at 21 in 1987, Mesa would really catch on with Cleveland in the mid-nineties, recording 46 saves for them in 1995. However, never led the Tribe to a title and had several other poor playoff showings, to add to his overall career WAR of 9.6, second lowest among players on the ballot. However, he was 2nd in Cy Young voting in 1995 and a two time all-star.
29. Roberto Hernandez, RP, 1991-2007. Hernandez played for 10 teams in his 17 year career, which amazingly started when he was 26 and continued into his early 40s. He was a two-time all-star and amassed more than 300 saves in his career, good enough for 13th all time (just ahead of Mesa). Still, he never lead the league in saves and never won a playoff series, famously stinking it up for the Giants in 1997 against the Marlins. However he was involved in one of my favorite three-team trades of all-time (Ben Grieve to Tampa, Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland, Hernadez to KC).
28. Reggie Sanders, RF, 1991-2007. Impressive career statistics amassed over a 17 year career. Sanders hit 305 homers and always seemed to find his way onto playoff teams in the early 2000s. He won a ring with the D’Backs in 2002, then played in the World Series with the Giants in 2002 and Cardinals in 2004. Still only a one-time all-star and hit .300 just once in his career over the course of a full season.
27. Jeff Conine, LF/1B, 1990-2007. Conine will always be remembered as an original Marlin. He won a ring with them in 1997, then was shipped out to Baltimore as the team gave away all its good players that offseason. Then, he was traded back to Florida just in time to win another ring in 2003 and played a key role on that team. Not a hall-of-fame caliber player, but a key cog on two championship teams, and that has to say something.
26. Ryan Klesko, 1B/OF, 1992-2007. A real bopper for the Braves, Padres and Giants, Klesko had 278 career bombs and three of them in the 1995 World Series to help carry the Braves. Made one-all star team when he hit 30 homers for 113 RBIs in 2001.
25. Steve Finley, CF, 1989-2007. Five-time gold glove winner and two-time all-star. Finley got a ring with Arizona in 2001 and had over 300 homers. Solid player for 19 seasons but an unlikely hall-of-famer.
24. Sandy Alomar, C, 1988-2007. 20 years in the league, more than half with the Cleveland dynasty of the mid-90’s. Alomar was a six-time all-star as a catcher and won the rookie of the year award in 1990. He hit .324 for the ’97 Indians that made it to the WS and had 10 RBI’s in that series against the Marlins. Doesn’t have the career statistics of a HOF caliber player, but was one of the best catchers of his era.
23. Shawn Green, RF, 1993-2007. Led the league in total bases in 1999. Two-time all-star and finished in the top-10 of MVP voting three tmies with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. From 1998-2002 he was arguably one of the best hitters in baseball
22. Julio Franco, IF, 1982-2007. He played until he was 48! That has to count for something, right? Played 23 years in the league, and that’s not counting the year he missed in 1995, and having just one AB between 1998-2000. Amazingly a .298 career hitter, five-time Silver Slugger winner and 1983 ROY runner-up. He won the batting title with Texas in 1991, but will always be remembered as the oldest regular position player in MLB history.
21. David Wells, SP, 1987-2007. In 21 years in the bigs, Wells through a perfect game, made three all-star teams and rarely walked anyone (led the league in BB/9 four times). 10-5 overall in the postseason and pitched in an amazing 11 postseasons, including a ring with the Yankees in 1998.
20. Lee Smith, RP, 1980-1997. Smith will finish higher than this in the voting, but its hard for me to put him higher than some of the other folks on this list, and I think he’ll get fewer votes this year than he has in the past because of all the worthy candidates. Smith led his league in saves four times with the Cubs, Cardinals and Orioles, and has the 3rd most saves ever. A seven-time all-star and a career 3.03 ERA is solid stuff, but this might not be his year.
19. Bernie Williams, CF, 1991-2006. In his second year on the ballot, Williams is in danger of falling off the ballot entirely because of the depth this year. Which is too bad because I think he’s a borderline HOFer. A five-time all-star, he hit over .300 for eight straight years, was arguably the best hitter on the Yankees world series dynasty teams of the late ‘90s, and holds all sorts of postseason records.
18. Don Mattingly, 1B, 1982-1995. The 1985 MVP retired just as the Yankees were getting good, but had a stellar career. He won the batting title in 1984, MVP in 1985, and led the league in hits, doubles, OPS and a slew of other categories in 1986. Donnie Baseball was a six-time all-star, nine-time gold-glove first baseman, and played his whole career with the “Yanks. Still, he had only 17% of writers vote for him last year, so his time is running thin.
17. Alan Trammell, SS, 1977-1996. Compares favorably to Barry Larkin in terms of his statistics, and Larkin made it in last year. Six-time all-star shortstop, four gold gloves and a few silver sluggers. Can’t say I saw him play much, but his statistics make him a true borderline HOFer.
16. Rafael Palmeiro, 1B, 1986-2005. A positive PED test will keep him out of the hall, and it should since he wasn’t a surefire HOFer. He received 12% of the vote last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him drop off the list after this year. 569 homeruns is normally enough to get you in automatically, but in Palmeiro’s case you simply have to question whether he would have been as good without help.
15. Dale Murphy, OF/C, 1976-1993. This will be Murphy’s last year on the ballot, and although some will add him to their lists to give him one last shot, he’s likely to fall well short of the 75% and be off the ballot next year. He was a two-time MVP in 1982 and 1983 when he led the league in RBIs both years, then led the league in HRs the next two. Murphy was a seven-time all-star, but unfortunately his stats and being a good guy won’t be enough.
14. Kenny Lofton, CF, 1991-2007. I beg you to not remember the last few years of Lofton’s career where he floated from team to team, but rather the beginning of his career. He lead the league in steals five straight years from 1992-1996 and was a six-time all-star from 1994-1999. He played in 11 different postseasons, was a four-time gold glove winner and a tremendous leadoff hitter for much of his career. He’ll fall short, but don’t be surprised to see him hang around the ballot for another year.
13. Fred McGriff, 1B, 1986-2004. The Crime Dog’s closest statistical comparisons on baseballreference.com are Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, and Jeff Bagwell. If that doesn’t convince you of his statistical HOF worthiness, consider that the Dog hit 30 homers in 10 different years in the bigs – starting with 34 in 1988 and ending with 30 in 2002 with the Cubs. He had a long, successful career, and was consistently great hitter.
12. Mark McGwire, 1B, 1986-2001. McGwire is entering his 7th season on the ballot and received 19% last year. It’s unlikely he makes it to the hall, and his only chance is if public opinion changes about whether PED users deserve to be in. McGwire helped save baseball in 1998 when he hit 70 homers, and lots of thanks should go to him and Sammy Sosa for bringing baseball back into the spotlight – but does that give him a HOF nod? His 583 homeruns are not enough on their own (See: Palmeiro) but hitting 49 in his rookie season of 1987 to lead the league shows us that Big Mac was more than just a juicer. He was a 12-time all-star and led the league in pretty much everything from 1996 through 1999 before he got hurt. Steroids hurt his case a fair bit, which leaves him off the ballot this year.
11. Sammy Sosa, RF, 1989-2007. If McGwire won’t make the HOF, I can’t find much of an extra case for Sosa. Many will argue steroids will keep him out, but don’t also forget to throw out the first four years of his career, which were mediocre and showed no real promise. He was an RBI machine and won the MVP in the incredible 1998 season. But, he never did much in the postseason and there’s questions of both steroids and a corked bat to deal with. Baseball has been very very good to him, but the HOF might not.
10. Tim Raines, LF, 1979-2002. Rock is in his 6th year on the ballot and received 48% of the vote last year. He’s 5th all-time in steals, having led the league four straight years in the early 80’s. Even when his speed went, he managed to stick around and hit nearly .300 for several teams at the end of his career. He was a seven-time all-star, all in the 80’s with the Montreal Expos, and won a ring with the 1996 Yankees. Will that be enough to get him in?
9. Edgar Martinez, DH, 1987-2004. Don’t give me the DH argument – that has to end at some point. Martinez’s double in 1995 is probably the best thing that ever happened to Seattle. He’s a seven-time all-star with a .312 career batting average, two batting titles and very strong numbers throughout his career. He received 36% of the vote last year, and I think he gets strong consideration by the end of his time on the ballot, but not this year.
8. Larry Walker, RF/1B, 1989-2005. I’ll put Walker on my ballot just ahead of Martinez for a few reasons. He had a .313 lifetime average so they are comparable in that sense. Walker won an MVP in 1997, hit 49 homeruns and chased .400 on four different occasions. Amazingly, he hit .379 in 1999 and only finished 10th in the MVP voting – that shows you how homerun friendly that era was. Don’t forget Walker also won seven gold gloves for his outfield play. To me, he’s one of the top 50 hitters of all-time, and I think he should find his way to Cooperstown.
7. Jack Morris, SP, 1977-1994. Morris is the most likely candidate to get in this year, his 14th on the ballot. Last year he received 66% of the vote, and a couple additional votes from writers looking to shun the PED users should push him over the top. Morris was absolutely lights out in winning the 1984 World Series for the Tigers, and equally ridiculous in winning the 1991 World Series with the Twins. He then went on to go 21-6 in 1992 and help the Blue Jays win the title. He may have been a little wild, but when it counted, he changed the history of three different teams. That, to me, is a Hall-Of-Fame caliber resume.
6. Curt Schilling, SP, 1988-2007. Schilling has the 4th highest career WAR of any player on the ballot at 76.1, trailing only Bagwell, Clemens and Bonds. He was the best pitcher (16-7) on an early 90’s Phillies team that made the World Series, went 22-6 in co-anchoring the Diamondbacks world title in 2001, and led the Red Sox to two world titles with a bloody sock. He also finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting in each of 2001, 2002 and 2004. In all, he went 4-1 in the World Series for his career, and always seemed to show up when it mattered. Hall of Famer.
5. Roger Clemens, SP, 1984-2007. Say what you will about drugs and lying, the man led the league in ERA seven times, first in 1986 and then again twenty years later in 2005. Clemens had an absolutely amazing career, and there’s no statistical question that he’s one of the 10 best pitchers of all-time. You can’t keep Clemens out, because he’s a part of history.
4. Barry Bonds, LF, 1986-2007. Won’t even get into the stats. They are so ridiculous I wouldn’t know where to begin. Statistically he’s the best player in history, albeit somewhat tainted with steroids. I believe that Barry Bonds was a HOFer long before the steroids happened, and that he shouldn’t be left out of the HOF. What do I think will actually happen? I think he’ll get about 45% of the vote this year, then make it in after about 5-6 years after some heavy arguing between writers for years.
3. Mike Piazza, C, 1992-2007. Piazza was one of the best catchers of all-time. That means he’s a HOFer to me. A 12-time all-star, lifetime .308 hitter, ROY in 1992, and constant force for the Mets and Dodgers. And he was a catcher. Remember when he played five games for the Marlins in 1998? That was fun. Anyways, he’s a HOFer.
2. Jeff Bagwell, 1B, 1991-2005. Now time for the Killer B’s. I think they both get in this year and go in together, as they should. Bagwell received 56% of the vote last year and has the numbers to be in. He won an MVP in the strike season of 1994 and was ROY in 1991. He hit at least 39 homers six times and had 449 for his career. We were all robbed of part of his best season ever in 1994 when the strike hit, when I believe he may have had a shot at the record for most RBI’s in a season and made a run at Roger Maris’ HR record. He led the league in runs several times as well, and his career WAR of 76.7 puts him below only Clemens and Bonds in terms of total impact over his career.
1. Craig Biggio, 2B, OF, C, 1988-2007. By traditional methods, Biggio may not be a sure fire HOFer, but I don’t see any way he’s not the ideal candidate to get inducted. Like Bagwell, he spent his whole career with the Astros. Interesting stat – he’s 2nd all-time in HBP’s and ended up two shy of the record (how could you not make that happen and get hit twice more in the last few weeks of your career?!?!) Anyways, Biggio was free of the steroid accusations, excelled at three different positions and always showed up to play. He was a seven-time all-star, and he’s 5th all-time in doubles. Here’s a list of the top 13 doubles hitters of all-time: Speaker, Rose, Musial, Cobb, Biggio, Brett, Lajoie, Yaz, Wagner, Aaron, Molitor, Waner, Ripken. All are in the hall except Rose for different reasons, and Biggio belongs in that class.
My ballot would include the top 10 here. My prediction is that next hour we’ll learn that Biggio and Morris get in, Bagwell and Piazza will be on the precipice, and the others will be on the outside looking in. Happy voting!