Monday, August 3, 2009

Debate: First Ballot Hall of Famers

Reader Chris gave me this idea for a posting earlier this week. (Remember to send in your posting ideas and allow me to put your thoughts into fabulous words) He posed the question: What current players will be first ballot Hall of Famers? When asking this, in this era, it is vital to talk about steroids. Honestly, I don't really care if guys are on steroids. That would not affect my view of a Hall of Famer. Bill James has stated that he thinks the steroid problem will begin to fade away, mainly due to his belief that steroids will become more common in the future. While I do not know if this is true (surely it is possible), I view the this period of time its own era. Similar to the Dead Ball Era, WWII Era, pre-integration era, and other eras where performance has been varied. (Has there ever been an absolutely "pure" 10-year stretch of baseball?)

Therefore I will not compare players numbers to others of the past (500 HRs does not get an automatic HOF nod). I will go strictly on dominance of the time that they played. So here is my list:

Ken Griffey Jr.

I believe that Griffey is the most beloved player of his generation. Is there anyone ages 15-35 that does not love Ken Griffey Jr? Ok, maybe this guy. Griffey was completely dominant in every sense of the game. Career: 20 seasons, 622 HR, .286 BA, 1805 RBI, 2,740 H, .371 OBP. During his early years, pre injuries, he could steal around 20 bases, played some of the best CF, and typically had a 9 WARP3 when he was in his prime. He also made wearing your hat backwards cool. MVP 1997, 7-Time Silver Slugger, and 13-Time All Star. To me, he is not debatable. Also, if it is found that he did steroids I think I would cry. He is the only player I would do that for.

Alex Rodriguez

And the steroid talk begins. However, I don't fucking care. He was very good, as shown by his complex of always obtaining the highest contract in the Majors. It seems other teams fully realize that he was fucking good, and didn't really care about the steroids. Career numbers: 15 seasons, 2,473 H, 572 HR, 1,665 RBI, .304 BA, .389 OBP. In 1998 he stole 46 bases and became a member of the 40/40 Club. 3-Time MVP, 10-Time Silver Slugger, 12-Time All Star. His dominance over this era of baseball is unquestioned, and he should absolutely be in the Hall.

Randy Johnson

Where Junior may have made wearing hats backwards cool, Johnson made the mustache-mullet cool. He was an intimidating lefty. He was Paul Bunyan big. Ladies wanted to get with him. (I made one of those up, hint: it was the last one). John Kruk would rather urinate on himself than face him in an All Star Game. O, and he hit a bird with a face melting heater. His numbers are equally as good as those pic/videos of him. 21 seasons, 303 W, 3.29 ERA, 4,869 K, 1.17 WHIP. 5-Time Cy Young, 10-Time All Star, no hitter, perfect game, second all time in strike outs. Yea, he's in.

Omar Vizquel

People forget that he still plays. He does. He may not play a lot, or well, but he is still active. People also forget how good he was. He was the best defensive player, and the hardest defensive position in baseball for years, and he could hit a little bit. I'm not going to give his offensive numbers, because those are average for the amount of time that he played. But if I think of defensive shortstops, I think, Ozzie Smith then Omar Vizquel. Granted I'm not an old man, and don't remember Honus Wagoner, but if we are talking dominance of an era, no one hit it to the left side of the Indians infield and lived to tell about it. Range Factor typically around 5 (very good), 11-Time gold glove, 3-Time All Star. That may give a little room for argument on his dominance, but I'm cutting him some slack, and saying he will be first ballot.

Derek Jeter

It does not matter what his numbers are, he was a "True Yankee", and that is enough, at least for sportswriters.

Albert Pujols

He is freakishly good. He forced Brad Lidge into a 2 year comma, in which he could only give up home runs. He is still relatively young. This is the one young player that I will include, simply because there is very little chance he does not keep this pace going. He has been one of the 5 best players for the past 7 years. 8 seasons, 353 HR, 1,647 H, .333 BA, .426 OBP. Sure his average numbers will decline when he gets older. That does not diminish the fact that he will have reigned over baseball for a solid 10 years by the end of his career.

Ivan Rodriguez

Steroids, Check. Damn good catcher, Check. He may be second greatest all time next to the real pudge, Jonny Bench. Ok, that is comparing eras, but that is where he ranks when not taking account steroids. He could mash the ball, and he was the best defensive catcher in the game. The one bad thing he has going for him, he has stolen both of his nicknames: Pudge and I-Rod. Get your own name Ivan! 18 seasons, 303 HR, .300 BA, 2,670 H. 1999 MVP, 13-Time Gold Glove (terrible honor, but the only way to evaluate a catchers defensive prowess), 7-Time Silver Slugger, 14-Time All Star. He was very good.

Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman

There is very little precedent for the closer position. Former closers like Lee Smith are struggling to get in. These two are completely different. These two define the position. In 15 years, we will base greatness of closers off these two. You need to have long term success, and complete and udder dominance. When these two get into games, the game is over. Joe Nathan has that going for him right now, as do many closers, but they must maintain this fear over at least a 12 year span. K-Rod is in the same company with Nathan. If those two can maintain the current production for the next 5-10 years, they are in too. Because we have small sample sizes of closers it is difficult to project closers, will Papelbon get moved to the starting rotation at 30? No one knows. Maybe that will be his best route.

Manny Ramirez

He was a hitting machine. He is currently on the list of all time RBI leaders. I know, RBI's are solely the product of what team you are on, and where you are playing, but he had to hit every one of those guys in. 12-Time All Star, 9-Time Silver Slugger. 16 seasons, 2,447 H, 538 HR, 1,762 RBI. He was a hitting machine. If you want to argue that his performance was enhanced, so be it. If you think his dominance wasn't long enough to merit first ballot status, go ahead. This one is tough. I think I would put him in on the first ballot though.

Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, and Chipper Jones

All very good, don't get me wrong. I do not believe that these guys are no question first ballots. Thome has the home runs. Vlad has a 6 year stretch of dominance, with several MVPs. Chipper has a long career of very solid numbers.

Make your cases for or against any of these guys. Especially, some of the more questionable guys at the end. Did I forget anyone? Make your case.


  1. Smoltz?

    Over 200 wins, 150 saves and 3,000 k's...ERA at 3.30.

  2. Haha, John Rocker.

    I agree with all of these except Pudge and Thome. I don't know what it is about Pudge, but something in my gut just says that his steroid use is too attached to his success as opposed to the others. Thome has never been tied to steroids yet. If that holds true, he has a very good chance of going down as the greatest pure power hitter of his era, which would result in a first ballot election.

    Forgotten players:

    - Pedro Martinez (too dominating for a good period of time, think Koufax)
    - Tom Glavine
    - Greg Maddux
    - Jim Edmonds (best defensive centerfielder ever?)
    - Ichiro (obvious first balloter)
    - Frank Thomas (how did you forget this Mr. White Sox fan?)
    - Chipper Jones (although, I don't know about a first balloter)

    Those are the names I can think of now, but I am buzzed. Maybe more will come to mind tomorrow morning.

  3. Shit, you mentioned Chipper. I blame the Booood Light.

  4. Ya for Chipper, boo for Edmonds

  5. When looking through all the stats on Baseball Reference, did you know that Steve Trachsel is currently 13th in career active wins? That's fucked up.

    Also, the only guy I might throw in other than the ones I generated last night is Roy Halladay. If he keeps his current pace (of course assuming some drop off), I think he is a first balloter.

  6. I can't wait until I'm a crazy old man and can tell people about Randy Johnson killing that bird. Like Paul Bunyan, Johnson is going to be a tall tale...6'10 pitcher, who MADE A BIRD EXPLODE?! And the whole winning 5 Cy Youngs thing, throwing a perfect game, etc.

    A young player I'd include, barring a natural disaster in Minnesota, would be Joe Mauer. Cooly already included the older guys I would add.

  7. I don't know about Smoltz. His numbers are impressive, but would you ever consider him dominant? He was definitely feared, but most of the time he wasn't the best pitcher on his team. Also, his numbers are very hard to judge because of his stint as a closer.

    Ichiro is definitely in for me. I wish he could have played his entire career in the MLB. Then he might be in line for one of the greatest players of all time.

    Frank Thomas is a yes. He is also not current.

    Same for Maddux, Glavine, and Rocker.

    Edmonds is tough for me. I think he gets in the Hall, but not first ballot.

  8. Woah, Thomas and Glavine are still both current. Both have not officially retired yet.

    I think Smoltz gets in. You must have forgotten how good of a closer he was. And he was always overshadowed by Maddux as a starter, but he was still dominant in my mind. Just a little forgotten. Plus Slick Pulla mentioned Smoltz in the Young Jeezy song, "Keep It Gangsta."

  9. Juan Pierre was also mentioned in a song by Jay-Z, he is not going to make the hall...Hova.

  10. I would nominate Pierre simply for his rocket laser arm.

  11. Dear Zach, you completely dicked any true White Sox. Ok not any. You messed with the man. The Greatest Right Handed Hitter Of This Era. You know who. ZP is backstabber. By the way, 3 Mariners listed first. HOF for a bunch of real winners, AROD is in the negatives for championship rings. Seattle? Ok Big Unit is good, countless Cy Youngs, A ring, perfect game, 20 strikeout game, 300 strikeouts a few times. Griffey I can't argue there. But wake up, Frank Thomas, a complainer, a bitcher, a crier, a money motivated selfish man, but a strike stopped him from a more amazing year in 95 than he already had, but dont forget about 91-94, leading them in 2000, how about a return season in 2006. I don't need numbers here, he's a badass! Thats all! He's not current because there is no rebar left. He broke it all, GM's are scared of Frank Thomas and so are you.

  12. Again, this list is about current first ballot HOF. I don't even know if The Big Hurt will get in on the first ballot. Will he make the HOF, no question. But first ballot? I hope. But I am not positive. His power came in a decade in which there were Rampant Roids. This severely diminishes the value of a power hitter (even though he hasn't tested positive, and won't, his numbers don't look nearly as good as they would in other decades). Also, he spent most of his career as a DH. Which, just like a closer, has been difficult to value for HOF voters. Granted Frank has an MVP, and I would vote him in first ballot, but will the national sportswriters?