You know the drill. The 2012 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on Monday. We conducted an informal poll of the staff here at TOC, and we had eight of our writers participate. If you go by the Hall of Fame standards, you need 75% to be inducted….so if you’re on six of our eight ballots, you’re in. WIthout any further ado, here are the results of our voting, and a little analysis to go with each name.
Barry Larkin: 8 votes
Jeff Bagwell: 8 votes
Mark McGwire: 8 votes
Edgar Martinez: 7 votes
Tim Raines: 7 votes
Alan Trammell: 6 votes
Larry Walker 5 votes
Rafael Palmeiro: 2 votes
Fred McGriff: 1 vote
So TOC’s 2012 Hall of Fame class has six members, with Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell, and Mark McGwire being unanimously elected. Let’s run down our vote-getters, one by one.
Barry Larkin. Larkin is tenth all-time in career fWAR for a shortstop. All players higher than him are in the Hall of Fame aside from Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, who will go in once they’re eligible. He won the 1995 MVP award, and was eighth among all hitters in the ’90’s in fWAR. During the 90’s, he actually had better slash stats than Cal Ripken (.303/.388/.466 for Larkin and .278/.341/.443 for Ripken, though Cal was nearing the end of his career in the 90’s). He was the pre-eminent shortstop during the ’90’s in baseball.
Jeff Bagwell. When I was a kid, I grouped Bagwell and Frank Thomas together in the “dominant first baseman” category. Only Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr, two of the best players of all-time, had a higher fWAR than Bagwell in the ’90’s. Despite only a 15 year career, Bagwell finished with 449 homers and was 3 points of batting average away from finishing with a career line besting .300/.400/.500. He even had two 30/30 seasons.
Mark McGwire. A controversial choice among Hall of Fame voters, but there was no controversy with our staff. McGwire did one thing well (hit homers), and quite frankly, that was enough for him. McGwire walked at an astounding 17.2% for his career, an astoundingly high mark. His .588 slugging percentage is eighth best of all-time, and his .325 ISO trails just Babe Ruth. McGwire was a better version of Harmon Killebrew, but he’ll forever be tainted by the scarlet letter of steroids.
Edgar Martinez. People are wondering if DHs should be Hall of Famers. Well, closers are in the Hall of Fame, so why not the DH? Martinez is the best DH ever in the short time period that the position has been around. Despite playing the field sparingly over his career, Martinez was a fantastic hitter. He was worth 69.9 fWAR over his career, nearly all of which came via his bat. He had a .405 career wOBA and his overall stats are much better than David Ortiz’s, who has been the prototypical MLB DH during the past decade.
Tim Raines. Raines suffered from playing in the same era as Rickey Henderson, the greatest leadoff hitter of all-time. Too many fans and writers compare Raines to Henderson, as opposed to other base stealers throughout history, like Lou Brock. Raines is fourth all-time in stolen bases, behind Henderson, Brock, and Ty Cobb. His career wOBA obliterates Brock (.374 for Raines compared to just .346 for Brock), and his fWAR is higher as well (70.8 for Raines, 53.4 for Cobb). Among the top 20 base stealers of all-time, the only ones with a higher fWAR and a higher wOBA than Raines are Henderson, Cobb, Bonds, Honus Wagner, and Joe Morgan. These are not only Hall of Famers, they’re inner circle Hall of Famers. It’s criminal that he hasn’t gotten more support, but these things happen when you spend half of your career in a baseball wasteland (Montreal), and play in the same era as the greatest of all-time at what you do.
Alan Trammell. Remember what I said about Larkin? Well, Trammell is 14th all-time in fWAR for a shortstop….and everyone above him is also in the Hall of Fame. Because Trammell played alongside Ripken, he suffers the same fate as Raines did by playing in the same era as Henderson. His .343 wOBA is comparable to Robin Yount’s .344, and Yount only has 4.5 more career fWAR in nearly 600 extra games. Yount of course got elected on the first ballot, primarily because he hit the magical 3,000 hit mark. Trammell is criminally underrated, and will probably have to go to the Veteran’s committe to get his due.
Larry Walker. Walker fell one vote short of induction on our ballots, and the Denver effect probably had a lot to do with his lack of support. In his career at Coors Field, Walker had a 1.172 OPS. That’s extraordinary. But Walker was a good hitter everywhere. In any stadium that he played more than 30 career games in, Walker had a sub-.800 OPS in just three: the Astrodome (.612), Three Rivers Stadium (.786), and Pac Bell Park (.684). He was a good hitter EVERYWHERE, but was an insanely great hitter at home. Walker isn’t exactly Dante Bichette either, a guy who had no value after he left the Rockies. During his seasons with the Rockies (nine and a half years), Walker racked up 46.6 fWAR. In the other seven and a half seasons, he had 26.6 fWAR. Realizing that his years with Colorado were in his prime, I don’t see anything *too* troublesome about his Coors Field years.
Rafael Palmeiro. Palmeiro hit the magic numbers of 3,000 hits and 500 homers, but is probably the worst player to his either mark. He had 74.3 fWAR over his 20 seasons, but actually tested positive for steroids during the 2005 season, despite his infamous finger pointing during the Congress trials. He only had three seasons in his career above 6.0 fWAR, and his peak was relatively weak in comparison to others. Three of his four 40 homer seasons came in Texas, and if you’re going to discount Walker for his Coors Field play, you need to discount Palmeiro for his play in Arlington (1.025 OPS at the Ballpark in Arlington).
Fred McGriff. I’m the one person who voted for the Crime Dog, and this was purely sentimental. I don’t believe he’s a Hall of Famer, and I don’t believe he would have gotten in if he had hit seven more homers in his career to get to 500. He had just 61 fWAR for his career, but was a key part of the Braves teams I grew up watching in the ’90’s. His peak was weak in comparison to the studs of the ’90’s, but like I said….it’s a sentimental vote, and nothing more.
Who is on YOUR Hall of Fame ballot?