Paying Tribute to the Greatest Tiger Team of My Generation
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The Hall of Fame voting results are announced this Tuesday. Once again, I’m fully expected to be disappointed over any gains Alan Trammell or Jack Morris might have made. Players need to be on 75% of the ballots and last year, Tram received 16.9% and Morris received 33.3%. This year, there’s really nobody new to the ballot that I see getting in, although I think Will Clark will get a decent showing. Things are wide open for the players who were on the short end last year.
Bruce Sutter received the most votes of those who didn’t get in at 66.7%. I think he’s got a solid chance at making it this year although personally, I’d like to see Rich Gossage get in before Sutter. Gossage pitched 800 more innings and had almost twice as many strikeouts even if you take out Gossage’s 1976 season when he failed to make it as a starter. And their ERAs aren’t that far off. Gossage pitched 22 years, and in some ways (similar to Bert Blyleven) this might be hurting him. His last ten seasons were nothing special but he had some truly historic seasons. In Baseball Prospectus 2005, there was a section on Win Expectancy and there were lists of the top 20 best relief seasons. Gossage shows up at number 10 and number 18, while Sutter shows up at 16 and 19.
So Gossage pitched longer and when you compare their two best seasons, Gossage comes out on top. So while I think Sutter is a solid candidate, I don’t see how he’s “that” much better then Gossage to warrant almost 60 more votes.
Next on the list is Jim Rice at 59.5%. The knock on Rice is he didn’t hit any of the big milestones. He fell short of 400 homeruns (383) and 1,500 RBIs (1,451). He also missed out on a .300 career batting average (his is .298). But from 1978 through 1985, he had some truly outstanding seasons. Throw in an MVP which the voters seem to like and six top ten finishes and you have a guy that at least warrants consideration.
There’s one problem. You have a guy near the bottom of last year’s ballot who has similar numbers and only garnered 10.5% of the vote. Dale Murphy has more homeruns (398) and more MVPs (2). He wasn’t as good of a hitter (.265) but he got on base at almost the same clip as Rice (.346 for Murphy, .352 for Rice). Their OPS are also very similar and only about 300 at bats seperate the two.
Even more confusing is you have a guy who hit more homeruns and drove in more runs then either Rice or Murphy in Andre Dawson who only garnered 52.3%. The big knock on Dawson is his career .323 OBP but Dawson wasn’t a hacker either (he struck out more then 100 times on four occassions).
Then we come to the biggest quandry on the ballot, Bert Blyleven. Rich Lederer has pretty much made it personal in his lobbying for Blyleven and I can’t really blame him. He got 40.9% of the vote last year and it’s a downright travesty because Blyleven deserves to be in there. His biggest knock is his great seasons came early, he never won a Cy Young and he gave up a bunch of homeruns. Also, he fell just short of 300 wins, mostly because he played for some bad teams. Heck, he only made two All-Star games. But he’s fifth in strikeouts with 3,701.
So until Blyleven gets in, I really can’t justify Morris getting the nod. Trammell should be getting enshrined this year, but he’ll be lucky to be on 25% of the ballots. For more on Tram, check out Detroit Tigers Weblog as Bilfer’s been tracking his chances.
In the end, I think Bruce Sutter and Rich Gossage will both get in this year. I think Jim Rice will fall short as will Andre Dawson. And Bert Blyleven will once again be denied, but I think for the first time he’ll top 50%.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame website has all of the ballots and voting. It’s interesting to see some of the guys near the bottom who actually got votes. Terry Steinbach and Tony Phillips each showed up on one ballot. Tom Candiotti and Jeff Montgomery each got two. I’m kind of curious to see the complete ballots of those the people who voted for anyone one of those four to see who they might have left off.
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