Posted by: Larry Smith Jr. | March 29, 2010

Who’s Your Hall of Famer? NL East Edition 2010

This is the fourth part of the series that I’ve been working on this Winter preemptively chronicling the Hall of Fame arguments for players currently in the league. As I noted in the initial post, players have to have at least ten years of service time to be considered in this discussion (unless given a special exemption, as has thus far been extended to Joe Mauer and Ichiro Suzuki who are both sure-fire picks already in my opinion). Today the focus is on the teams of the National League’s Eastern Division.

Part 1 – AL East
Part 2 – AL Central
Part 3 – AL West

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES


Jimmy Rollins, 31, 2000-
274/329/439, 146 HR, 621 RBI — wRC+ 105 — 326/395 SB (82.5%)
42.7 Runs Saved in 1,393 games.
3-Time All-Star, MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, 1 Silver Slugger, Black Ink – 14, Gray Ink – 67

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT VOTE HIM IN: Rollins has been one of the best Shortstops in the National League during his tenure, and may yet have very many good years ahead of him (though how many of those will be at Shortstop may be in question). Rollins has been an outstanding all-around player, as he has been a good hitter for a middle infielder, and a great defender who can also steal bases often and efficiently. He was one of the key players on a championship team that may well be evolving into a mini-dynasty. The Big Red Machine had Davey Concepcion (who has not made the Hall but has received buzz for it), and the powerhouse Phillies have Jimmy Rollins.

WHY I WOULD NOT VOTE HIM IN: Frankly, his career is too incomplete. If he has five more years that are similar to his past five years, we could revisit this discussion and I may be willing to revise my position. He barely met the 10 year cutoff criteria and as such if he is to have a Hall of Fame career, he’s only really at the midway point of such a career. He doesn’t have the counting stats and his rate stats are not impressive enough for enshrinement. Nor are his individual accomplishments, as players who have won one championship, one MVP, and been in three all-star games don’t exactly grow on trees, but they also aren’t exactly the rarest of diamonds either. If Rollins can fade into the sunset with 500 steals, 200 home runs, and 2200 or so hits while keeping his defense intact for much of the run, he’ll likely get some deserved Hall votes. For now, he looks like he’ll be a border line player that will be on the outside looking in, even in spite of the fact that he has broad media support and appeal.

Jamie Moyer, 47, 1986-
258-195, 4.22 ERA, 3908 2/3 IP, 329/609 QS (54%), 1.32 WHIP, 105 ERA+, 2342 K, 1117 BB
1-Time All-Star, Gray Ink – 100


WHY SOMEONE MIGHT VOTE HIM IN: He is relevant to the history of the game. Very few pitchers have pitched through the age of 46 effectively. Very few pitchers have pitched in four decades, as Moyer will when the 2010 season kicks off. While Moyer wasn’t very good in 2009, he wasn’t exceptionally bad, and was certainly good enough to hold on to his rotation spot for a team that won the pennant. At the age of 46. Of the few pitchers to last that long, all were essentially shells of their former selves by the time they reached that point. Moyer wasn’t all that dissimilar to his former self in 2009. His longevity has allowed him to reach the top 50 all-time in Innings Pitched , batters faced, wins, and strikeouts — Though he also has the dubious distinction of having given up the second greatest number of home runs in the history of the game. He is 19th all-time in starts. Few have taken part in as much baseball from the mound as Moyer, and the longer that he remains a relevant player, the longer he carves out his nitch in the history of baseball.

WHY I WOULD NOT VOTE HIM IN: Moyer’s longevity did not really come from being a great player — Not only was he not a great player for any real length of time, but it could be argued that he never really had a single season in his entire career that was much better than “very good” — It came from NOT being a bad player. Simply put, he’s been decent to good his entire career and even into old age never really lost the ability to be just that. This even shows up in his career numbers, as well as when you look at individual seasons. He’s always been a guy that you would be useful to have on your team, but never a guy that you had to have. Players who are like that for the entirety of their careers are not Hall of Famers.

Pedro Martinez, 38, 1992-    CURRENTLY A FREE AGENT
219-100, 2.93 ERA, 2827 1/3 IP, 273/409 QS (67%), 1.05 WHIP, 154 ERA+, 3154 K, 760 BB
8-Time All-Star, 3-Time Cy Young Award, Black Ink – 58, Gray Ink – 215


WHY I WOULD VOTE HIM IN: Because with all due respect to Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn, Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, and Babe Ruth, there is an argument to be had that Pedro was the best pitcher of all-time. While I won’t go into it here, I’d be more than willing to take up that argument. Even if one doesn’t accept that premise, Pedro is at least better than half of the aforementioned, and definitely within the conversation of all of them. Pedro in his prime was without a doubt better than any of them at their best, at least for any similar span of consecutive years. Pedro’s prime is absolutely unconscionable. From 1997-2003, Pedro Martinez was playing video games and the rest of baseball was playing reality. More amazing, is that this occurred during the height of one of the most offensively charged eras in the history of the game. Pedro won all of his Cy Young’s during this time (while also finishing second for two others and third for another) and led the Red Sox to their first championship in over 80 years. Pedro’s 1999 and 2000 seasons are both in the discussion for the best individual pitching season ever. By anyone. Consider that during this seven year span — Six years of which was spent playing in the DH league with an unbalanced schedule that forced an inordinate number of games against the high octane New York Yankees offense — Pedro went 118-36, posted an ERA of 2.20, a WHIP of 0.94, with 34 complete games and 11 shutouts.

Moreover, Pedro wasn’t just a great pitcher on the field and in the numbers, but he was a legendary character of the game. Confident to a level commensurate to his abilities, he was brash in interviews and would routinely call out opposing players. I can remember a specific game against the Tampa Bay Rays when after someone charged the mound against him, he went out and held them hitless for the remainder of the game. He then told them in the post game press conference that they wouldn’t finish in last place all the time if they worked more on trying to hit the ball than on trying to hit him. He had fun on and off the field, or at least it appeared that way to me as a casual observer. He was fearless on the mound, dominating all parts of the plate and owning the inside part of it — Something that is almost completely absent in today’s game and had been even during his prime. He had pinpoint control mixed with dominant stuff. To hammer home the prior two points, consider that in the year 2000 he had nearly half as many hit-by-pitch (14) as he did walks (32). Yes, he would back you off the plate if he felt the need, but he had total command of the strike zone. Even as he’s gotten older and his stuff has become less dominant and he himself has become physically more fragile, he still continues to hold extreme command of the zone. He’s close to 3,000 career innings and has yet to cross the 800 career walks threshold. Amazing. All told, if you never had an opportunity to watch Pedro pitch in his prime, get some old tape and watch it. It simply is something that may not come along again for a very long time. They built the Hall of Fame for players like Pedro Martinez.

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT NOT VOTE HIM IN: Insanity or foolishness. I once heard someone suggest that Pedro Martinez didn’t have enough wins to be considered for the Hall of Fame. This would be high up on the list of foolish suggestions I’ve ever heard. A Hall of Fame that isn’t big enough for Pedro, is a Hall not big enough for baseball.

FLORIDA MARLINS

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ATLANTA BRAVES


Chipper Jones, 38, 1993-
307/406/541, 426 HR, 1445 RBI — wRC+ 148 — 142/186 SB (76.3%)
-24.7 Runs Saved in 1,684 games as a 3B. -6.3 runs saved in 356 games as a LF.
6-Time All-Star, MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, 2-Time Silver Slugger, Black Ink – 4, Gray Ink – 107

WHY I WOULD VOTE HIM IN: Jones, much like Jim Thome, has really spent an entire career being great while somewhat flying under the radar. That a player of his caliber has only made six all-star games is amazing. There are very few Third Basemen in the Hall relative to other positions and Chipper may well make his dent on that number. While Jones’ numbers are buoyed from playing the bulk of his prime years in a high offense era, he’s still managed an impressive wRC+ of 148 as a slightly below-average fielding third baseman, and was a middle-of-the-order hitter on a number of good-to-great Atlanta Braves teams that won several consecutive division titles. He was a rookie on the Championship ‘95 Braves team, and has played in 92 post-season games in his career. He hit 20 or more home runs for fourteen consecutive seasons from 1995-2008, and from 1998-2002 had a very strong five-year run wherein he hit 320/422/578 for an OPS+ of 154. Early in his career he was also a moderately proficient base-stealer. Amazingly, he’s had some of his best seasons outside of what I would identify as “his prime”, including an exceptional 2008 where he won a batting title and OBP title while posting a slugging percentage of .574 and a wRC+ of 179. To my sensibility, Jones is a slam dunk choice as a Hall of Famer.

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT NOT VOTE HIM IN: He wasn’t a great defender, and during his prime he had to share headline space with Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Craig Biggio, and Jeff Bagwell just in the National League alone. On his own team he had to fight for headline space with Andruw Jones (who was mentioned in Part 3 of this series), Fred McGriff and pitching aces Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz (mentioned in Part 1 of this series). He’s gotten somewhat lost in the shuffle over time and this has caused his career to fly under the radar and for him to not get the respect he’s deserved. As we’ve seen with some players, a lack of recognition during their time can lead to a lack of voting support during their Hall of Fame voting periods.

Garret Anderson, 38, 1994-
295/326/465, 285 HR, 1353 RBI — wRC+ 103
79.1 Runs Saved in 1,360 games as LF. 6.1 Runs Saved in 404 games as CF.
3-Time All-Star, 2-Time Silver Slugger, Black Ink – 4, Gray Ink – 51

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT VOTE HIM IN: Anderson was an outstanding defender and steady component on a number of decent to good Angels teams during the late 90s and the 2000s. A good power hitter with ten seasons of 30+ doubles and four seasons of 40+ doubles, in the year 2000 he combined 40 doubles with 35 home runs.

WHY I WOULD NOT VOTE HIM IN: Anderson is an excellent example of a player who should be at the front of the line to enshrinement of the Hall of Very Good, but he’s simply not cut of Hall of Fame cloth. No corner Outfielder with an OBP as low as .326 should ever be in the Hall, even one who was a defender of Anderson’s caliber (it would take an even higher caliber defender — Paul Blair or Andruw Jones level — To make the discussion worthwhile). Also, Anderson had very few truly great years in the league. He simply has been well above average for most of his career, while never being a transcendent player.

Tim Hudson, 34, 1999-
148-78, 3.49 ERA, 2059 2/3 IP, 198/310 QS (64%), 1.26 WHIP, 127 ERA+, 1402 K, 632 BB
2-Time All-Star, Black Ink – 11, Gray Ink – 108

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT VOTE HIM IN: Hudson has been one of the better pitchers of his time, a mostly durable top-of-the-rotation starter that very good teams have been able to lean on. His ERA of 3.49 is 11th among active players and he very rarely positions his team to lose games, as nearly two out of every three starts is a quality start.

WHY I WOULD NOT VOTE HIM IN: Like Rollins, Hudson still has time to make his case, though Rollins will be 31 this year and Hudson will be 34, so time is of the essence. The primary problem with Hudson is that while he has been very good to great for most of his career, he’s only had one season that might be classified as dominant, and even his best five year run (2001-05) ranks as a very good run, but not absolutely transcendent. And even that was just a five year run. Other than his quality starts — Which no doubt reflect in his won/loss percentage — There is nothing about his career or in the individual seasons within his career that screams out that he must be inducted. Like Garret Anderson, he appears destined to wind up in history as a very good player who just a cut below Hall worthy.

NEW YORK METS

Gary Sheffield, 41, 1988-  CURRENLY A FREE AGENT
292/393/514, 509 HR, 1676 RBI — wRC+ 144 — 253/357 SB (70.9%)
-68.8 Runs Saved in 1,160 games as RF. -39.9 Runs Saved in 487 games as LF. -54.7 Runs Saved in 468 games as 3B.
9-Time All-Star, 5-Time Silver Slugger, Black Ink – 4, Gray Ink – 123

WHY I WOULD VOTE HIM IN: Gary Sheffield’s accomplishments have been slightly obscured by the fact that he’s essentially been a journeyman player, and such players normally aren’t good enough to be Hall of Famers. Even in today’s era of free agent movement, it is rare for a player of Sheffield’s talent to move on so often. This is in part due to his demeanor and in part just due to circumstance, as many of his injuries were timed amazingly well with the end of his contracts and he also was a part of some blockbuster trades (he’s been traded for both Trevor Hoffman and Mike Piazza in his career) and a fire sale. This has led to his playing for eight teams, and with no team for any longer than six seasons in a career that has lasted twenty-two years to date. However, until he became a Tiger even I was not aware of how accomplished he was in his career. Reaching the big leagues at age 19 in 1988, he wouldn’t put up an above-average season until 1990 and a great season until 1992 (by which time he was already on his second team), but once he got started he didn’t stop. He is top 50 in games played, top 35 in plate appearances and extra base hits, top 30 in times on base (and #1 among active players), at bats per strikeout, hit by pitch and total bases, top 25 in RBI and home runs, and top 20 in walks. In the history of baseball. He has a batting title and an OBP title (in separate seasons), and eleven times finished in the top ten in his league in OPS+. He’s had two forty homer seasons, and eight 30+ homer seasons. His prime years could adequately be identified as 1996-2003 (age 27 to 34), during which time he was 306/426/560, with an OPS+ of 158. He had several years outside of this prime range during which he was an excellent player, most specifically 1992.

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT NOT VOTE HIM IN: Sheffield has a pretty significant steroid cloud hanging over his head and has been defiant and unapologetic about it, claiming that he did not know that he was applying steroids to himself. He’s also been generally moody and not media friendly in his career, with a reputation of being a malcontent and a trouble maker. All of these things — Entirely off-the-field stuff — May hinder his ability to garner Hall of Fame votes when the time comes.

Carlos Beltran, 33, 1998-
283/360/496, 273 HR, 1035 RBI — wRC+ 126 — 286/324 SB (88.3%)
72.5 Runs Saved in 1,502 games.
5-Time All-Star, 3 Gold Gloves, 2-Time Silver Slugger, Black Ink – 1, Gray Ink – 66

WHY SOMEONE MIGHT VOTE HIM IN: If we discount Barry Bonds, who was an older player by the time Beltran hit his stride, Beltran is the closest to true five-tool player that we’ve had in baseball after Bonds defense and speed began to decline. Able to do everything well on the diamond, Beltran did just that. In 2004 he had one of the most epic post-season performances of all-time in getting the Astros within a game of the World Series, and he is one of the most efficient base stealers ever to play in the game.

WHY I WOULD NOT VOTE HIM IN: Like Rollins and Hudson, there is time for Beltran to earn his way in, and in my eyes — Though I’m not so much sure in the cases of actual voters — He’s not that far off. He simply hasn’t been in the league long enough or done enough, but if he can hang around for another four seasons and remain adequately healthy (which has been a problem in recent years), he’ll likely cross two thousand hits, three hundred home runs and three hundred steals. Given his caliber of defense, the position he plays on the field, and his exceptional base stealing efficiency, if he can turn in just a few more really good seasons that are not marred by injury, then he’s got a case for being in on the fringes. I suspect people who actually vote though may be under whelmed by his mediocre counting numbers and will not take into account his field position or defensive brilliance. If he were to retire today though, I would have to leave him out.

Billy Wagner, 38, 1995-
40-38, 2.39 ERA, 833 2/3 IP, 385/447 SV (86%), 1.01 WHIP, 183 ERA+, 1092 K, 278 BB
6-Time All-Star, Gray Ink – 28

WHY I WOULD VOTE HIM IN: Wagner was one of the dominant National League closers of his time over an exceptionally long period. While many hard throwers like him — Both of the starting and relief variety — Flame out due to injury and loss of velocity, Wagner never stopped bringing the heat, and never stopped dominating opposing hitters. He has a career K/9 of 11.8, and has only had one season in his entire career with a K/9 below 10 — An anomalous 2000 season wherein he was terrible for the only time in his career (in that year he also had a 6.18 ERA, the only time he’d posted an ERA above 2.85. His WHIP was 1.66, the only time it was ever above 1.19. It was just all bad for Wagner that year. His low number of games played indicates he probably was injured). Never known as the clutch competitor like his American League counterpart Mariano Rivera, and obscured by the lengthy saves streak of a National League counterpart of his era in Eric Gagne, Wagner carved out a niche for himself as the best left-handed reliever of his era, and one of the best closers, regardless of handedness, in the history of the league.

WHY SOMEONE MAY NOT VOTE HIM: Wagner has an inexplicably bad post-season track record that goes well beyond one or two performances tainting the sample pool. He’s pitched 13 post-season games and roughly half of them have been disasters. In 11 1/3 innings he has allowed 22 base runners and 13 runs. He also never really received a media buzz that was equal to his talent. There was never a general perception that he was among the best at what he did in the league, even though he was.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

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THE LEAGUE WIDE BALLOT (so far)

Alex Rodriguez
Jorge Posada
Derek Jeter
Johnny Damon
Mariano Rivera
J.D. Drew
David Ortiz
John Smoltz
Troy Percival
Roy Halladay

Joe Mauer
Joe Nathan
Magglio Ordonez

Jim Thome
Mark Buehrle
Torii Hunter

Bobby Abreu
Vladimir Guerrero
Andruw Jones
Omar Vizquel
Ivan Rodriguez
Ken Griffey Jr.
Ichiro Suzuki
Adrian Beltre
Nomar Garciaparra
Jimmy Rollins
Jamie Moyer

Pedro Martinez
Chipper Jones
Garret Anderson
Tim Hudson

Gary Sheffield
Carlos Beltran
Billy Wagner

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Responses

  1. Hi, I agree with the vast majority of your picks up to this point. I agree that Beltran is still a couple of high-productivity years away from being a HOF’er. I am not so sure that Posada belongs in The Hall, but I have to take another look. And lets keep in mind (as far as Mauer is concerned), that Nomar looked like a sure-fire HOF’er through the first six years of his career, too.
    I don’t think I could quite vote for Andruw Jones, either. His productive years essentially ended at age 30, when he hit .222. His career OPS is just .826, which would be quite low for a HOF outfielder. And of his ten Gold Gloves, he won the last 2-3 on reputation alone.
    When all is said and done, I believe Roy Halladay will be in the Hall of Fame.
    Always a thought-provoking topic.
    Regards, Bill


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