MLB Hall of Fame: The Holdovers

[author image=”” ] Lee Vowell @LeeVowell [/author]

Last week we at The 3 Point Conversion took a look at the former major league baseball players making their initial appearance on the 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot. This week we look at some of the players who are holdovers from previous years who might have a chance this year.

To become a part of the Hall of Fame, a player must attain 75% of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s total vote. The players that have attained at least that percentage and will be inducted into the Hall will be announced January 6th, 2016.

Players with the Best Chance:

Mike Piazza

Career stats: AB: 6911, R: 1048, H: 2127, HR: 427, RBI: 1335, BA: .308, OBP: .377, SLG: .545, WAR: 59.4

Piazza is the best hitting catcher ever. He was 12-time All-Star, and though he never won a Most Valuable Player award he did finish in the top-ten of voting seven times; he finished second twice. He hit over .340 in a season twice. Not the best defensive catcher, he also was not the worst. His defensive WAR over his career was +1.0. The argument against Piazza is that he might have, at some point, possibly, maybe taken some kind of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). There has never been any proof or official mention of Piazza doing so. Also, his career WAR is just below the median for players already inducted into Cooperstown. With a limited amount of new competition for votes this year, however, 2016 could be Piazza induction year.

Jeff Bagwell

Career Stats: AB: 7797, R: 1517, H: 2314, HR: 449, RBI: 1529, BA: .297, OBP: .408, SLG: .540, WAR: 79.6

Bagwell is viewed in much the same way as Piazza in regards to possible PED use. Bagwell seems to be seen as guilty-by-association since he played with several players (Ken Caminiti, Jason Grimsley, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Ron Villone, Chris Donnels, and Gregg Zaun) who were shown to have taken PEDs themselves. Bagwell never showed in a MLB-sanctioned report or test that proved he had taken PEDs, though. His numbers alone, especially his career WAR and his on-base percentage, say that Bagwell should be in the Hall. This is his sixth year on the ballot. Players now only have ten years to be voted in before being shoved towards the Veterans Committee for a chance to be inducted. Bagwell is running out of time, but voters do not seem to be budging. He only got 55% of the vote last year. This year does not look much better (unless his newly-inducted mate, Craig Biggio, can somehow lobby for him).

Tim Raines

Career Stats: AB: 8872, R: 1571, H: 2605, HR: 170, RBI: 980, BA: .294, OBP: .385, SLG: .425, WAR: 69.1

Maybe the voters are confused on exactly whom they are voting for. Did Raines kill his chances for ever being elected into the Hall by choosing to go by “Rock” instead of “Tim” halfway through his career? Maybe the ballot should show him twice, once as Tim and once as Rock, and then have those votes added up to see if he meets the 75% minimum. If Raines does not get voted in – and it appears he will not at this point; this is his eighth year on the ballot – the Hall will be leaving out a player who scored a lot of runs, had a higher-than-median career WAR and a sterling on-base percentage. Now, back to that Tim and Rock conversation…

Curt Schilling

Career Stats: W: 216, L: 146, ERA: 3.46, K: 3116, BB: 711, WHIP: 1.14, WAR: 80.7; Postseason: W: 11, L: 2, ERA: 2.23, WHIP: 0.968
Schilling never won a Cy Young award, but did finish second thrice. His postseason resume is great. There probably are a couple of problems with Schilling. One he controlled: his won-loss record is not overly spectacular, and his win total not near the magical number of 300. The other he can control less: the way writers view him post-career. Schilling may be too outspoken, and some of his views deemed strange, for his own good. Obviously, the way his actions are seen from writers post-career should not be held against him as his induction into the Hall should be based on his playing days. Still, people and voters are human. And Schilling has a way of putting his foot in his mouth. As far as not winning more games, he was on some good teams and some bad teams. His career ERA does not reflect that he should have won many more games than he did, though.

Mike Mussina

Career Stats: W: 270, L: 153, ERA: 3.68, K: 2813, BB: 785, WHIP: 1.19, WAR: 82.7
Mussina received a lesser percentage of the vote for Hall induction for 2015 than did Schilling, 24.6% for Moose and 39.2% for Schilling. This is a bit baffling since some of Mussina’s raw numbers are better than Schilling’s; Mussina has 54 more wins and a slightly better career WAR. Most of the other numbers are fairly even. Of course, WAR is less important with pitchers than with hitters, and while Mussina finished in the top-six of Cy Young voting nine times, he never won one. Mussina was simply never seen as the best pitcher in baseball, and that counts for something in voting. At this point, it is doubtful Mussina ever gets inducted into the Hall.

Alan Trammell

Career Stats: AB: 8288, R: 1231, H: 2365, HR: 185, RBI: 1003, BA: .285, OBP: .352, SLG: .415, SB: 236, WAR: 70.4
Trammell seems to be often compared to Hall-inductee Barry Larkin. Larkin made it in on his third try, receiving 86.4% of the vote. He was the lone inductee in 2012. Trammell is on his final year for BBWAA Hall voting. He most likely will not make it this year, either. So, why did Larkin make it and Trammell did not? These are Larkin’s career stats:

AB: 7937, R: 1329, H: 2340, HR: 198, RBI: 960, BA: .295, OBP: .371, SLG: .444, SB: 379, WAR: 70.2

Simply put, Larkin’s numbers are better when it counts (runs and OBP), and he was a better player than Trammell. Plus, Larkin won an MVP in 1995; Trammell never did. That maybe should not carry much weight, but BBWAA has shown that it does.

Edgar Martinez

Career Stats: AB: 7213, R: 1219, H: 2247, HR: 309, RBI: 1261, BA: .312, OBP: .418, SLG: .515, BB: 1283, K: 1202, WAR: 68.3
Martinez was mostly a designated hitter, and faces an argument similar to the Trammell-Larkin one. The difference is the Trammell debate focuses on a Hall of Famer, Larkin. The argument with Martinez focuses on the potential that David Ortiz makes it in. Ortiz, of course, has one big obstacle: he has been linked, whether rightly or wrongly, to PEDs. Let’s assume, though, that Ortiz has a chance of induction based on numbers alone (Red Sox Nation would like you to believe that’s how he should be viewed). Ortiz is entering his final year, as he announced last week he will be retiring after this season, so here are his numbers through 2015:

AB: 8103, R: 1340, H: 2303, HR: 503, RBI: 1641, BA: .284, OBP: .378, SLG: .547, BB: 1239, K: 1664, WAR: 50.4

As we can see, Ortiz will never match Martinez’s career WAR, OBP or batting average. Ortiz has the lead in power numbers. Also, Ortiz will forever be known for his postseasons. Martinez also has decent postseason numbers, but has many fewer postseason games played than Ortiz. The point is, if Ortiz ever does get voted in to the Hall, Martinez should too.

Other players that could have arguments for induction (and the reasons they will probably not be in the Hall) are as follows:

Jeff Kent: All-time leader in home runs by a second baseman and over 1,500 RBI.

Reasons he will not be voted in: Holding the home run record for second basemen is basically meaningless, career WAR of only 55.2 and many writers never liked Kent personally.
Gary Sheffield: Hit over 500 home runs and drove in more than 1,600 runs.

Reason he will not be voted in: Mentioned in the Mitchell Report, i.e. steroids.
Fred McGriff: Hit 493 home runs.

Reasons he will not be voted in: Missed 500 home runs by seven and his career WAR is just 52.5.

Though 2016 at most will see two players be voted in to the baseball Hall of Fame (Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr.), 2017 promises to be even more interesting, at least. Players appearing for the first time next year include Vladimir Guerrero, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. Some, maybe all, of those players will not make induction into the Hall, but all have strong cases. Baseball Hall of Fame voting never ceases to confuse, exhilarate and anger, many times all at once.

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