Hall of Fame blogging, part two
The new names on this year's ballot are R. Alomar, E. Martinez, Larkin, Galarraga, McGriff, M. Jackson, Burks, Hentgen, Ventura, Appier, Karros, Lankford, S. Reynolds, Segui, and Zeile.
I don't think I need to mention much about Jackson, Karros, Reynolds (it's Shane Reynolds; it's OK if you didn't recognize him right away), Segui, and Zeile, other than that the Thriller was one of my favorite pitchers for a few years.
Ray Lankford, Kevin Appier, and Pat Hentgen were all terrific players at their best, but all three failed to hold their peak for long enough, and none had a peak so high that they qualify that way. Robin Ventura never really had a HOF peak, and also burned out early...it sure seemed like he would be the kind of player to be good in his 30s, but it didn't turn out that way. Andres Galarraga was not a HOFer; his lifetime OPS+ is a touch below 120, and that's just not HOF territory for a 1B.
I needed a second look at Ellis Burks. He actually has the 5th best OPS+ on the ballot this year (126), behind McGwire, Martinez, McGriff, and Mattingly but better than Galarraga, Baines, Murphy, Dawson, and Raines. And he did play CF for a while...actually, almost half of his career, with the rest equally split between LF, RF, and DH. Makes him worth thinking about. Still, he had a short career, and all in all he doesn't quite get there; Clay Davenport has him at around 40 wins, which is a bit less than higher-peaked Dale Murphy, who I'm saying is just a bit short. I assume he'll get no votes and be off the ballot, and I wouldn't vote for him, but he's not a crazy vote.
OK, what's left? Roberto Alomar is going in rapidly, and clearly deserves it. I don't know how Larkin will do in the voting, but if Alomar is a HOFer then Larkin is, too. Exactly the same OPS+, and while Alomar had an extra season plus of games played, Larkin has the positional edge. Both of them are solid HOF types.
That leaves Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff.
McGriff was a good hitter, with a career OPS+ of 134. He had six top-five finishes in OPS+, leading his league once, and adding a 6th place once. Basically, for seven years he was one of the best hitters in baseball. That said...well, he wasn't as good as McGwire, or Thomas, or Bagwell. That's three 1Bs from the exact same era. Was he better than Will Clark? Not really. He's not as good as Jim Thome, who played a little later, or Eddie Murray, who played a little earlier. How many 1Bs from that era should be in the Hall? BP says he's worth 60 wins. I went in thinking I'd say yes, but I'm really not sure.
Maybe Edgar will be easier. He was a truly great hitter: career 147 OPS+. That's 43rd all time, basically in a bunch with McCovey, Schmidt, and Stargell.
And yet...well, we all know the two big negatives: short career, and most of it at DH. I'll quantify that "most" a bit; it's 600 games in the field (almost all at 3B), 1400 as a DH. Clay Davenport's system says that he added around 65 wins, which again is Hall-worthy but not an automatic call.
I don't know. I have this nagging feeling that I'd still rather have Dale Murphy's career than either of these two, good as they were. Some of it is peak vs. career; a lot of it is my feelings about positional scarcity, but I'm not sure I can really support voting based on that. I think Edgar and McGriff are both fringe HOFers...and if I had to vote, I'd be for a large HOF, and so I think I'd support them. But it's a close all.
OK, that's how my ballot would look: Blyleven, McGwire, Raines, Larkin, Alomar, McGriff, Martinez, Trammell, and John. And one last long look at Dawson and Murphy, but not quite pulling the trigger on either.