Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Edible Eleven On the Hall of Fame Ballot

One of our favorite points in the baseball offseason is the release of the ballot for the Hall of Fame. Over the years, we, like everyone else, fondly remember the careers of everyone on the ballot more than we did as children. When we were kids, half the names on the ballot were familiar from reading box scores, and the other half were names that we had never heard of, but our fathers authoritatively told us were stiffs and bums. Now, we’re at the point where every new name on the ballot has been on someone’s fantasy team at one point in time, meaning that we’re fully equipped to opine on their career and place in baseball history.

This year’s cast of new nominees includes one shoo-in (Roberto Alomar), one guy who should be a shoo-in (Barry Larkin) and two guys that make interesting debates (Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez). The other 11 new names on the ballot have no business being in the Hall of Fame unless they’ve paid admission. Even so, many of them had somewhat interesting careers, and the only other way they’re going to make the news again is by murdering a relative. We think it’s only fair to give these 11 their due by seeing what type of career they had (in summary) or seeing what other memories they trigger, especially because 4 (besides Alomar) spent quality time with Angelo’s beloved Mets and Teddy’s Sox have a forgotten ex-player on the list. So let’s have at it, in alphabetical order by first name.

Andres Galarraga

A consistently solid hitter, the Big Cat had 2333 hits for his career, good for 128th on the all-time list. This sounds pretty impressive. Is it? Actually, no. Others in his neighborhood of career hits include Bernie Williams, Stuffy McInnis, Joe Judge, and B.J. Surhoff. Still, his comeback from cancer was somewhat inspiring.

David Segui

A Rico Brogna type first baseman (good glove, good average, zero power) whose name was repeatedly pronounced incorrectly, Segui is the first player from this generation on the ballot that has publicly admitted doing steroids. Considering that he wasn’t very good to begin with, this can’t end well, unless you enjoy self-righteous screeds from Jon Heyman.

Ellis Burks

Burks’ best years came after he left Teddy’s beloved Sawx and, like all hitters looking for the fountain of youth, went to Coors Field. In 1996 he had a season that looked great even by Colorado standards (.344/.408/.639, 40 HR’s, 32 steals), and finished third in the MVP voting. And if you’re looking for a Steroid User Cheat Sheet, the voting for the 1996 MVP is a great starting point:




Juan Gonzalez

Ken Caminiti


Alex Rodriguez

Mike Piazza


Albert Belle

Ellis Burks


Ken Griffey

Chipper Jones


Mo Vaughn

Barry Bonds


Rafael Palmeiro

Andres Galarraga


Mark McGwire

Gary Sheffield


Frank Thomas

Brian Jordan


Brady Anderson

Jeff Bagwell


Pudge Rodriguez

Steve Finley


Eric Karros

The 1990 NL Rookie of the Year, he’s in the conversation for greatest Greek-American athlete ever with Milt Pappas, Rony Seiklay and Kurt Rambis. Nick Markakis, here’s your idol.

Kevin Appier

The early 90’s Royals were good pitch-bad hit teams with a motley cast of characters on the staff: a multiple Cy Young winner (Bleach Saberhagen), a flashy Rookie of the Year (Tom Gordon), an underrated closer (Jeff Montgomery), a bust Cy Young winner (Mark Davis), and some personal favorites (Storm Davis and Mark Gubicza). The guy with the best career was Appier, who was living proof why wins are a stupid category. Somehow, Appier finished 3rd in Cy Young voting in 1993, which would have never happened today, given that some voters actually look beyond wins:






Jack McDowell





Randy Johnson





Kevin Appier





How the hell did Eddie Vedder’s wingman win the Cy Young when two pitchers had better years than him? Here’s one other chart to note:

ChiSox: 94-68

Royals: 84-78

Mariners: 82-80

Just one more reason to be happy that Zack Greinke won this year. As for Appier, like a few others on this year’s ballot, he wound up on the Mets in the waning years of the Steve Phillips Administration, roughly when all his ideas were bad (and this was pre-Brooke Hundley). This doesn’t mean Appier wasn’t a good pitcher though: he was 169-137 for his career with a 3.74 ERA, 1.294 WHIP and a smattering of Cy Young votes in his career. Had eked out another 5-6 good years in his late thirties instead of falling apart, he’s be an interesting case to discuss.

Mike Jackson

We’re sure Mike Jackson is a nice guy, feeds the homeless, cares for stray cats and was a joy to have in the clubhouse. But we cannot figure out what the hell he is doing on the Hall of Fame ballot. Jackson has a 62-67 career record, a mere 142 saves, and defined journeyman reliever. He made zero All-Star teams. He received zero votes for the Cy Young Award. The only category he ever led in a season was Games Finished in 1993. Even his two seasons as closer for Cleveland, where he hit 39 and 40 saves, he didn’t crack the top 3 in saves. He may be the worst player on the ballot since Jim DeShaies.

Pat Hentgen

A passable pitcher for the Blue Jays in the mid-90’s, Pat Hentgen’s entire reason for being on the ballot is two starts Andy Pettitte made on April 30th and July 30th, 1996. Pettite’s stat lines for those games:

4/30/96 at Baltimore: 1 IP, 8 H, 8ER, 2BB, 0K

7/30/96 at Texas: 2.2 IP, 10H, 10ER, 1BB, 5K

That’s pretty ugly. Let’s play stupid and assume Andy gets food poisoning the first game and Ramiro Mendoza makes the start instead, and oversleeps and misses his second start, leaving Brian Boehringer to be Juan Gonzalez’s cannon fodder. Here are the new stats for Hentgen and Pettitte at the end of the season:

Pettitte: 21-6, 3.19 ERA, 157K, 1.30 WHIP

Hentgen: 20-10, 3.22 ERA, 177K, 1.25 WHIP

Given that Hentgen won the 1996 Cy Young by a whopping 6 points and spent the rest of his career as the 90’s answer to Jon Garland, is it fair to say that he should be sending Pettitte a muffin basket for getting him on this list?

Ray Lankford

We were about to put some words together about this St. Louis stalwart, and then saw what his sponsor had to say about him:

The best Cardinal of the decade and the most underappreciated in franchise history. How long will it be before there's another 200/200 Cardinal? Those underfunded, overachieving Torre Era teams of the early '90s are not forgotten.

Interesting proposition. Was Lankford the best Cardinal of the 90’s? He certainly wasn’t the best player to don a Cards uniform in the decade—that had to be Dennis Eckersley, Mark McGwire or Ozzie Smith. But he was steady, consistent and a reliable #5/#6 hitter in a lineup that put fear in absolutely nobody. So sure, that’s an accomplishment that’s underappreciated.

Robin Ventura

A good fielder and solid hitter for a decade, he will always be remembered for getting five hits off of Nolan Ryan:

Man, that photo never gets old.

Shane Reynolds

We’re sure thousands of people have great memories of Shane Reynolds. For us, the only memory is Dave Bartolacci trying to include him in every single trade proposal he made in the inaugural season of this league (2002). We’re not alone—original members, was there anything else in his career that topped this?

Todd Zeile

The standard joke for the 2001 Mets—

Q: Who bats after Todd Zeile?

A: The other team.

A personal highlight of Zeile’s career was seeing someone at a Met game once with a Zeile jersey spelled “ZIELE.” Which just sums up everything you need to know about his career and candidacy.

1 comment:

Teddy said...

I think Ventura should get it, but instead of a plaque the HoF puts up tha picture.