As a proud member of the Baseball Blogger’s Alliance, Motor City Bengals has been fortunate enough to take part in the 2010 BBA Hall of Fame Voting, to see who will be part of the first class of the BBA Hall of Fame. Everything pretty much matches the rules of the traditional Hall of Fame Ballot. Voters are allowed to vote yes for at the max, ten players on the ballot. Motor City Bengals selected 8 to the hall of fame. Here is the breakdown of the players voted in and why.
(Voting Note: I voted on the precedent that these players should eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame. These are the 8 names on the ballot that I would vote yes for, not the ones that I believe will be inducted.)
The First Time Ballot Members:
Edgar Martinez, DH/3B: Seattle Mariners – Many wonder where the designated hitter fits in the hall of fame, but in this instance, I don’t think it matters what the ruling is. Edgar Martinez showed day in and day out that you can have a force in your lineup, that can stay healthy and hit in the clutch.
Martinez was the definition of a clutch hitter. In the 90’s, the names you mentioned when it came to hitting were Tony Gwynn and Edgar Martinez. Besides being a five time silver slugger and a seven time all-star, Martinez hit .312 in his career with 309 home runs and over 1,000 RBIs. Martinez just missed out on 3,000 hits, but to me, his all around hitting ability gets him in the hall of fame. My evidence of loving hitters will continue to be displayed later in the ballot. Another thing I love about Martinez was his commitment to the Mariners. The slugger never played for a different team in his seventeen year career.
Roberto Alomar, 2B: Cleveland/Toronto/Baltimore/San Diego/Chicago/Arizona/New York- Some would argue that Alomar is the best second baseman in history, and without a doubt he is in the top ten defensively in the history of the game. His 10 golden gloves are the most ever at the position, and in Cleveland he was part of one of the best double play tandems to ever play the game alongside Omar Vizquel. A lifetime .300 hitter, Alomar was selected to twelve straight all-star games from 1990-2001.
Alomar will always be linked to the spitting incident that brought out a dark side of the second baseman. The whole incident revived the career of Alomar in a way, because it soured his relationship with Baltimore and it eventually resulted in him signing with the Cleveland Indians. In my mind, there is not a doubt that Roberto Alomar is a first ballot hall-of-famer.
Fred McGriff, 1B: Toronto/San Diego/Atlanta/Tampa Bay/Chicago/Los Angeles- One of the only good things Chris Berman did was nickname McGriff the, “Crime Dog.” McGriff had one of the most powerful left-handed bats in the ’90s and was part of the great decade that was for the Atlanta Braves. The three time silver slugger and five time all-star was one of the most consistent producers in the game at points. He never hit more than 37 homers in a season, but was consistent enough to come close to the 500 home run plateau in his 18 year career. One thing that makes it easier for me to vote in McGriff is that he stayed healthy for most of his career and he would enter the Hall of Fame with the second best fielding percentage at first base. That makes up for some of his mediocre seasons.
Barry Larkin, SS: Cincinnati- Larkin was a staple in baseball from the moment he took the field to the moment he left it. A clutch hitter, solid defender and clubhouse leader, I think that Larkin is a first ballot hall of famer in the same sense that Ozzie Smith is and Derek Jeter will be. For some reason, the shortstop position has become one that isn’t all about numbers. With that being said, Larkin is a lifetime .295 hitter with 12 all-star selections, an N.L. MVP and one of the best post-seasons in baseball history. In the 1990 world series, Larkin put on a clinic, hitting .353 during the four game sweep of the Athletics.
One thing that I have always loved about Larkin beyond his great leadership was his ability to put the ball in play or find ways to get on base. In 1988 he only struck out 24 times. For a top of the order guy, never striking out over seventy times is something that can be respected in today’s game. If you take out Barry Larkin’s sophomore slump, where he hit .244, Larkin’s career average would be above .300.
The clincher for me is his ability on defense. Larkin won three gold gloves in his career, but it is important to remember that he played ten of his nineteen seasons battling Ozzie Smith. The knocks will be that he didn’t stay healthy often and his power numbers lacked. Those aside, he deserves to be in the hall of fame.
Mark McGwire, 1B: Oakland/ St. Louis- When it comes to Mark McGwire, the numbers don’t need to be talked about. If we weren’t in the middle of dissecting an era, then without question, McGwire would be in the hall of fame. His offensive numbers speak for themselves and defensively he was serviceable.
As a voter for the BBA, I truly believe that defining what is performance and hall of fame enhancing is beyond my ability. His worthiness can be argued all-day long. For me to judge the usage of steroids, even if it was proven is beyond my ability. To me, judging steroid usage as an enhancer is like saying that John Smoltz and Mariano Rivera’s accomplishments are enhance because of their choice to remove a ligament to continue their pitching careers. Will that even be brought up when they are eligible for the hall of fame? Probably not.
To define what is performance enhancing without playing in Major League Baseball would be ludicrous. Let the numbers speak for themselves. McGwire deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Jack Morris, SP: Detroit/Minnesota/Toronto/Cleveland- I say it all the time, any pitcher that defined a decade of baseball deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. When you think of the 1980s, there are not many pitchers that surpassed what Jack Morris did on the mound. Morris is another case where the story is told by more than just numbers. His 3.90 ERA and wins total indicate how much run support he really did receive, but you can’t take the clutch out of a man by numbers. Morris is one of the best post-season pitchers to date, and that surely has to be factored. He stayed rather healthy until late in his career, and his 14 straight opening starts on opening day is impressive.
Maybe I’m just being a homer here, but I believe Morris belongs to the Hall of Fame.
Alan Trammell, SS: Detroit- I feel strongly about Trammell’s submission beyond the fact that he was one of the best to wear the Old English D. He is one of those players that comes around only once in a while that doesn’t get recognized. The one dimensional shortstops of that ERA entered the real Hall of Fame very easily. Sometimes I think Trammell gets punished for being a well-rounded player. The one and only Bill James rated Trammell the ninth best shortstop of all time in “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.” That’s ahead of fourteen shortstops that are in the Hall of Fame.
It is an injustice that the real writers have not given Trammell the respect he deserves. The current Cubs bench has not seen 25% or higher of the votes since his first induction year in 2002. Hopefully someday he will find a home in Cooperstown. Until then, my vote is in for the BBA Hall of Fame.
Well, that wraps up my inductees. Originally I had made arguments for Don Matingly and Tim Raines, but upon further review, I believed they just fell short of a Hall of Fame vote. If Donnie Baseball were able to still healthy for a continuous stretch, then without a doubt, he would have been in. The votes of the BBA will be tallied later this month, and when the results are in, I will post them as soon as they are available.
Until then, check out the Baseball Bloggers Alliance homepage for more great coverage.