*Players eligible for the first time for BBWAA election
Harold Baines, Derek Bell, Dante Bichette, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Brantley, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Eric Davis, Tony Fernandez, Tony Gwynn, Darryl Hamilton, Pete Harnisch, Charlie Hayes, Glenallen Hill, Ken Hill, Stan Javier, Wally Joyner, Ramon Martinez, Mark McGwire, Paul O’Neill, Gregg Olson, Cal Ripken Jr., Bret Saberhagen, Jeff Shaw, Kevin Tapani, Devon White, Bobby Witt
Shawon Dunston, Travis Fryman, David Justice, Mike Morgan, Tim Raines, Randy Velarde
Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson, Dean Palmer, Dan Plesac, Matt Williams
Andres Galarraga, Edgar Martinez, Robin Ventura
Ouch. Outside of Gwynn and Ripken...it's some slim pickins. But I submit to you the following list of players that certainly worthy a long hard look:
Harold Baines -
Looking good as an Oriole
-22 seasons, 9908 ABs, 2866 Hs, 384 HRs, 1628 RBIs, .289 BA, .356 OBP
-6 time All-Star
-Had 100+ Postseasons AB with 5HRs and a .324 BA
-His 1628 RBIs are 23rd All Time
Baines was one of the iconic hitters of the 80s and remained VERY productive throughout the 90s with the A's, Orioles, White Sox, and Indians as a DH and clubhouse leader. Though he didn't ever win an MVP (only finishing as high as ninth in MVP voting in 1985) he was a model of hitting consistency and if Dave Winfield gets in I say Baines gets in.
As for the rest of the 2007 class - sorry Canseco and McGwire you are forever tainted by steroids and if you get in and sully the Ripken/Gwynn love fest I will not be held responsible for my actions. Paul O'Neil will earn some votes out of NY but his numbers just don't warrant serious consideration (2105 Hs, 281 HRs). Other interesting candidates:
-Tony Fernandez - seemed destined to land in the Hall as late as 1993 but injuries and inconsistency sunk him.
-Gregg Olson - to this day threw the best breaking ball I've ever seen. An Oriole favorite of mine if injuries didn't catch up to him he might have been one of the best closers ever.
Look out! Rock's 'bout to run!
-23 seasons, 8872 ABs, 2605 Hs, 170 HRs, 1330 BBs, .294 BA, .385 OBP
-7 Time All Star
-3 Times in the Top 10 MVP voting
-The big number though is 808 SBs, 5th All Time.
Again, like Baines, you don't talk about the greats of the 80s without mentioning Rock. The guy flat out flew on the base paths and remained a useful player off the bench up until his retirment in 2002 (he batted .303 in 90 ABs in 2001). I think Rock will suffer, again, like Baines, for not being dominate over a shorter period of time. Instead being a player that transitioned from dominant All-Star into valuable role player. Unfair.
Outside of the Rock there is no one. Dave Justice? Nope, injuries. Dunston? Nada...messed up names does not a Hall of Famer make.
Well of course Rickey is going to make it - unless he pushes back induction a few more years by being picked up for a late season run by the Yankees next year. But other than him - none of these guys has a shot. Mark Grace would come the closest with his 2445 Hs and .303BA - but if Gracey makes it so does Wally Joyner and John Olerud...and that...ain't...gonna happen.
So here's an interesting quandary - Edgar Martinez - very similar to Baines in many ways, 7 Time All Star, dominated DH for about a decade...but unlike Baines never transitioned into a platoon player and therefore failed to amass any eye-popping numbers. So what is a Hall of Famer? Does Baines not get any credit for the 10+ years he spent coming off the bench, platooning in Baltimore, Chicago and Oakland...and in fact does he get penalized for it as surely some will say that his numbers should be discredited because he was only "padding stats by lingering along well past his prime". Does Edgar get special treatment because of his chronic injuries, "Give him the benefit of the doubt, if he doesn't have those stints on the DL he would have amassed Hall of Fame numbers", but I submit this:
- Baines should be credited for his durability and constant value to all of his teams over 22 full seasons.
- Martinez's injuries made him unreliable and while unfortunate, kept him from reaching even the lower floors of suitable Hall of Fame numbers
The argument over whether a pure DH should be admitted into the Hall of Fame is moot here because while Baines did play the outfield for several of his first few seasons - both of these players were essentially full time DHs.
Martinez is seen as a dominant hitter over a short period of time. But it's not true - Martinez played over 18 seasons - however he was hurt for a significant portion of 6 of them. So those who make this argument are giving him credit for being chronically injured. Compare the following stats:
18 seasons, .312 BA, 309 HRs, 2247 Hs, 1261 RBIs, 1219 Rs
15 seasons, .303 BA, 284 HRs, 2176 Hs, 1205 RBIs, 1186 Rs
The top line of stats is Edgar Martinez, the bottom, Will Clark.
Point being Edgar was overrated and if anyone says he should get in and Baines doesn't get in I'll be ticked.