As a baseball history junkie, the annual January reveal of Hall of Fame entrants is an exciting announcement. The fact that I’m now seeing players enter the Hall of whom I witnessed their entire career is even more thrilling (besides the “making me feel old” part, of course).
As such, here are some thoughts on the 2020 HOF class…
As a Twins fan, I should probably hate Derek Jeter. Not only did his New York Yankees torment Minnesota during his time in pinstripes, but he posted the following stats strictly against Twins pitching: 131 G, .323 BA, .849 OPS. That being said, I have nothing but the utmost of respect for #2. No scandals or controversies (besides what the NYC tabloids would dredge up), and he was simply Mr. Consistency for nearly 20 seasons: 3,465 H, .310 BA, 260 HR, 358 SB, .815 OPS, 115 OPS+.
Someone please explain this to me, though: Jeter comes one vote short of being a unanimous selection to Cooperstown, yet Brad Penny & J.J. Putz garner a vote each. I struggle with that logic.
From roughly 1995-2002, a strong case could be made that Larry Walker was the most productive offensive player in MLB. Career-wise, his ststs are eye-popping: 17 seasons, 2,160 H, 383 HR, .313 BA, .965 OPS, 141 OPS+. Sure, those numbers were helped by ten years at mile-high altitude, but his fielding prowess (7 Gold Glove awards) and surprising fleetness of foot (230 SB) make him a slam-dunk for a plaque.
Because Walker’s career largely transpired before the advent of interleague play, he played against the Twins exactly three times (at the Metrodome in 2003), collecting three hits and one home run in 12 ABs.
A few other HOF musings…
- I hope Curt Schilling gets the call soon, and eclipsing 70% this year bodes well. Though I don’t share his political viewpoints, I also don’t believe that alone should disqualify one from baseball nirvana. Schilling’s career stats might be borderline, but his ’04 Bloody Sock game and his ’01 World Series tag-team with Randy Johnson are iconic baseball moments.
Billy Wagner would have been on my ballot, had I possessed one. Wags essentially went 15 seasons of being a dominant closer (422 SV, 2.31 ERA, 0.998 WHIP), and his lefty status makes that an even greater achievement.
- It’s really too bad that Manny Ramirez had to taint himself with a confirmed PED violation. I’d vote for him in a heartbeat, as I truly consider him the greatest right-handed power hitter (with the sweetest swing to match) I’ve ever personally witnessed. But if one is not voting for the Bonds-Clemens-McGwire-Sosa crowd (and I’m not), one can’t—in good conscience—vote for Manny either.
- Take a look at this career line: 17 seasons, 2,519 H, 369 HR, .316 BA, .953 OPS, 133 OPS+, 3 Gold Gloves. It is remarkably similar to that of Larry Walker, but belongs to longtime Colorado teammate Todd Helton. Hmmmm.
- Very surprising to see Paul Konerko drop off the ballot after just one go-round. His overall stats outside of 439 HR are a bit on the low side, but just his “baseball good guy” status would make me consider checking the box next to his name. For a long time, he was the only White Sox player I had any respect for.