As Hall-of-Fame voters over-reacted to the effects of the steroid era, they denied admission to the hall of several worthy players, some for splits of opinion on actual merit, but others due to innuendo, rumor, and supposition as to PED use.
Players Who Should Have Been Voted In (their 2013 vote in parentheses, 75% needed for induction):
Mike Piazza (57.8% of vote) – Never accused of steroid use, but the subject of innuendo d83, iue to his monster production, the greatest hitting catch in the history of baseball should have been a lock in his first year of eligibility. Pizza came to the majors in that infamous year of 1993 (see yesterday’s post “‘Baseball’s Hall of Fame Voting” and how this year keeps coming up), and put up rookie numbers seldom see – 35 HRs, 112 RBI, and a .318 average, while catching virtually every game. His career numbers should have made him a lock for a player at any position, but for a catcher, 427 HRs, 1335 RBI, and a .308 lifetime B.A. puts him in the elite of all time. No catcher ever surpassed his 1997 season of 40 HRs, 124 RBS and .362 average, the highest ever recorded by a catch until Joe Mauer hit .365 in 2009, but Mauer hit “only” 28 HRs with 96 RBI.
Craig Biggio (68.2% of vote) – Being number 20 all time on the hit list with 3,060 and never even being the subject of innuendo, rumor or supposition, it’s a real mystery why in a year when no one syphoned off votes from him that Biggio fell short, by all of 39 votes. Clean persona, local hero (played in Houston for his entire 20 year career), all around good guy as well as great ballplayer, Biggio has not taken it well and has said the PED guys taint the entire ballot and basically cost him his due. Sad.
Jeff Bagwell (58.6% of vote) – Biggio’s co-hort in Houston, he also played his entire career there, all 15 years, though he was originally signed by the Red Sox and at 21 before ever seeing the majors was traded to the Astros for 37-year-old Larry Andersen.
Bagwell has been the subject of rumors about PED usage, but no proof was ever found, no admissions ever made. 449 lifetime home runs, 1,529 RBI, and a .297 B.A. would seem to make him a cinch, but this year, didn’t happen.
Right on the Border:
Larry Walker (21.6% of vote) – Another guy with steroid rumors but no admissions, tests, or other proof. Without any proof of cheating, his numbers should mean what they say: Lifetime .313 hitter, 383 HRs and 1,231 RBIs, and a three-year streak of .366, 363, and .379 averages. He also stole 230 bases and played great defense in right field. Purists who discount numbers rung up in mile-hight Denver seem to be prevailing.
Jack Morris (67.7% of vote) – Borderline Hall of Fame candidate, but for those of you who may still think Curt Schilling deserves entry, Morris pitched two less seasons, won 38 more games (254 to 216), did have a higher lifetime ERA (3.90 to 3.48), but was just as dominant a post season and World Series performer. He also finished what he started, recording 175 complete games to Schilling’s 83.
Edgar Martinez (35.9% of vote) – Not real close to making the cut after being on several ballots, but I always thought he was a great player and one of the best hitters around for 18 years. He chances were hurt when he suffered a debilitating shoulder injury that ended his career in the field and he had to spend his last dozen years almost exclusively as a designated hitter. But, he was a consistent .300 hitter (.312 lifetime), a reliable run producer (1,261 RBI), was another local hero playing his entire career in Seattle, and seemed to a clutch performer who saved his best for when the game was on the line.
It will be interesting to see what the passage of the next year will mean, especially in light of new agreements for enhanced drug testing about to be implemented, which could mean more players being caught and more PED (and now HGH) news filling the sports pages. Will it be the same mind set among voters, or will they be even more dogmatic, or will time be forgiving?