The Beckett Blog

If I had a Baseball Hall of Fame vote … 2011 Edition by Chris Olds

By Chris Olds | Editor | Commentary

The Baseball Writers Association of America released the 2011 Hall of Fame ballot this week, a list of eligible players that includes some likely Hall of Famers, some guys still waiting their turn and some guys who’ll get the Vince McMahon Entrance Music Award as they’ve got “No chance … ”

While we have to wait until Jan. 5 to see who was picked on 75 percent of all ballots, here’s my rundown — with an emphasis on the player’s place in cardboard.

Of this year’s new crop, I have several I’d vote for but I don’t see too many getting in. I’d vote for the likes of Fred McGriff, Larry Walker, Jeff Bagwell and Barry Larkin while marveling at those who cast their votes for the likes of Mark McGwire and first-timer Rafael Palmeiro.

See my full rundown after the jump.

Roberto Alomar — He got 73.7 percent last year, but the stigma of the spitting incident all these years later and AIDS rumors that continue to dog him apparently trumped some of what he did on the field. Here’s what I wrote about him last year when I said he’d get my (nonexistent) vote: Never a megastar in the hobby — and certainly not the most popular player in baseball after his spitting incident with an umpire — this first-ballot player should be in. Why? 2,724 career hits, a .300 average, 474 stolen bases, 10 Gold Gloves, 12 All-Star nods, two World Series rings with the Toronto Blue Jays. Sure, he never had one of those offensive years that wowed you — but his job wasn’t to hit home runs. (Though he did have 210.) If he doesn’t get in, you can bet that the spitting incident and allegations that he’s living with the HIV virus likely derailed his image in many voters’ eyes.
Card to get: 1988 Score Rookie/ Traded XRC

Carlos Baerga — For about four years in the mid-1990s, Baerga was one of my favorites not named Canseco. The Cleveland Indians’ second baseman was a three-time All-Star in that span, hitting a career-high 21 homers and driving in 114 while batting .321 in 1993. These days, he compares favorably to guys like Edgardo Alfonzo, Joe Randa, Rich Aurilia and so on… meaning he’s McMahoned. For the longest time, my $15 paid for his 1990 Leaf Rookie Card was a personal record for a single card. Those days are long gone, too.
Card to get: 1990 Leaf RC

Jeff Bagwell — A first-timer on the ballot, this Houston Astros icon originally made famous because of Larry Andersen did manage to put up numbers during baseball’s explosive era. Is he a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Probably not, but he’s got 449 home runs, 1,500-plus RBI and a career .297 average that might indicate otherwise. He’d get my vote but I wouldn’t be shocked if he got to wait by a slim margin.
Card to get: 1991 Stadium Club RC

Harold Baines — He got 6.1 percent of the vote last year so he’s back again, but not much has changed here. What did I say last year? Sure, he’s got 2,866 career hits and 1,668 RBI — tops among all players on the ballot — but he also played in 2,830 games over 22 seasons (more games than anyone else, too). In 22 years, the only category he ever led the league in was slugging percentage (.541 in 1984). Throw in the stigma that comes with playing DH most of his career and there’s just nothing there that overwhelms me. (Neither do any of his baseball cards.) He was obviously a good player for a substantial amount of time, but not a Hall of Famer.
Card to get: 1981 Topps

Bert Blyleven — I’m not totally convinced he’s a Hall of Famer, but I’d give ’em a sympathy vote. Last year, he had 74.2 percent, coming up just short. Will he get in this year? Part of me wonders — maybe not. Here’s my recap from last year: He received 62.7 percent of the vote on last year’s ballots (this is his 13th year of eligibility), so there’s momentum. He won 287 games (lost 250) in 22 seasons where he had a 3.31 ERA and 3,701 strikeouts in 4,970-plus innings. He won 20 games just once — though he was 19-7 in 1984 — and he did not play on many great teams. He lost 10 or more games in eight of his first nine seasons and had just three teams make it into the postseason — but he did win a World Series ring with the Twins in 1987 at age 36. The fact that he lost so many games — but had a solid ERA — tells you he was good. I’d vote for him, but not expect him to get in.
Card to get: 1971 Topps RC

Bret Boone — He was a notable MLB trivia answer before he was ever a star — baseball’s first three-generation family was the Boones when Bret became a Mariner. While that was enough for someone like me to be fixated on some of his first cards, he falls way short of Hall of Fame status here — even with 252 homers and 1,021 RBI. Remember how he was mentioned in Jose Canseco’s Juiced and then fell off the baseball map? I do.
Card to get: 1992 Leaf Gold Rookies

Kevin Brown — His 1987 Donruss Rookie Card was always forgotten in the black-bordered wake of guys like Greg Maddux, Mark McGwire, Bo Jackson, Will Clark, Canseco, Barry Larkin and others. He didn’t appear on any other MLB cards until 1989, which typically makes for a recipe for a strong-selling RC (see also: Curt Schilling 1989 Donruss). But, like Brown, who was a solid player, it doesn’t get noticed. Brown was a six-time All-Star, has 2,397 career Ks, and won 211 games — but only a 20-game winner once — but I just don’t see him getting enough love.
Card to get: 1987 Donruss RC

John Franco — People love them some New Yorkers. People love them some left-handed pitching. Them people aren’t Hall of Fame voters, who have only inducted five closers into Cooperstown. He won’t get in this year, but I bet he does somewhere down the line as voters seek alternatives to tainted sluggers.
Card to get: 1985 Donruss RC

Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Raul Mondesi, Dave Parker, Kirk Rueter, Benito Santiago, B.J. Surhoff — They all get the McMahon treatment, but in varying degrees. Gonzalez was a feared slugger who appeared on many a Beckett Baseball covers in the 1990s but the end result — the final stats — just aren’t there. Grissom gets points for being the Rookie Threats centerpiece in 1990 Upper Deck. Santiago gets bonus points for being on the first cover of Beckett Baseball that I ever bought. Reuter gets the Hall of Fame Ears Award. None of those things get you into Cooperstown.

Barry Larkin — An icon in Cincinnati and a player who never had any kind of baggage (at least that I can remember). He’s as safe a bet for a collector as any seen here. Last year, I pegged him as a “no” for my vote, but I am perhaps softened a bit as he did manage to get 51.6 percent of the vote last year.
Card to get: 1987 Fleer RC

Edgar Martinez — Apparently he’s the poster boy for the professional DH, the guy who with 36.2 percent of the vote last year might be the leading candidate for being a Cooperstown trailblazer. I don’t see it, but his .312 career average, 300-plus homers and 1,200-plus RBIs aren’t anything to sneeze at. Just not enough for me, though his 1988 Fleer card’s status as a lone RC does give him some cardboard bonus points like Brown.
Card to get: 1988 Fleer Glossy

Don Mattingly & Tino Martinez — Donnie Baseball got 16.1 percent last year, which is too high for me. And Constantino? He gets a lot of that residual love that comes from playing in pinstripes where people think he was way better than his final stats show. Only one of this two has a chance — and in my book they both have no chance, even if one was an icon on cardboard in the 1980s.
Cards to get: 1984 Donruss (Mattingly) & 1988 Topps Traded (Martinez)

Fred McGriff — I liked Crime Dog a lot more than the voters (21.5 percent last year), which was his first year on the ballot. I think he’ll continue to get votes and get in eventually. His career totals: 493 home runs, 1,550 RBI, 1,305 walks, 2,490 hits, 1,373 runs, a .284 average.  As I said last year, these numbers compare quite favorably to several guys in the Hall, so, in my mind, he should get in. While his numbers have been eclipsed by other players in the last 15 years or so, there weren’t any performance-enhancing doubts tied to him. (That should matter.)
Card to get: 1986 Donruss RC

Mark McGwire — He talked about the past, so that was enough to justify getting 23.7 percent of the vote. Frankly, he’s still a largely one-dimensional player — power — and the source of that power has been disclosed. He already has a place in the Hall for his 1998 season but perception of that changed. Roger Maris isn’t a Hall of Famer — and McGwire isn’t, either. In fact, it’s shocking to see Big Mac get that high of a percentage when his fellow Bash Brother, Jose Canseco, has quite comparable stats and was a one-and-done on the ballot. McMahon this guy.
Card to get: 1985 Topps

Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell — These guys always seems to get the snubbed awards but it’s hard to argue against any of them as being iconic players for franchises or guys who set new and impressive marks (Smith) for baseball. I doubt they’ll get the nod, but they should.

John Olerud — He was a remarkable human interest story coming into his rookie season, the unusual fact for a young collector (myself) being that he wore a batting helmet while fielding to protect his head after he had undergone surgery for a brain aneurysm during his college days. He was also a guy who never played a day in the minors before making his MLB debut, another feather in his cap, err helmet. He had a long and pretty successful career, but not a Hall of Famer.
Card to get: 1990 Leaf RC

Rafael Palmeiro — Watch the video above. Then click here. He’ll be the first member of the 3,000-hit club — who is eligible — to not get into Cooperstown. He’ll also be the only player with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits to not make it. Why? Because he tested positive for steroids. Period.
Card to get: 1987 Donruss RC

Larry Walker — He’s another of the 1990 Upper Deck Rookie Threats but he was the only one who legitimately became one (unless you count Delino DeShields’ threatening everyone’s livelihood on defense). Walker already is a Hall of Famer — he was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall last year — and, like McGriff, I see him as one of the top hitters of his day whose numbers just don’t add up when it’s all said and done. He’d get my vote.
Card to get: 1990 Leaf RC

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

No to Cry Leven – Alomar for sure the rest are iffy – But McGwire should be a HOF

Comment by john bateman

Will someone please explain how Ozzie Smith (.262 batting average, 28 career home runs, YES…28, 793 career RBI) is a 1st ballot Hall of Famer, yet Alan Trammell (.285 BA, 185 HR, 1003 RBI) cannot get 50%, or even 25%? And please don’t just say defense, Tram was a 4 x GG winner and the best player on the best team of the entire decade (1980-1989), and was ROBBED of the 1987 AL MVP (He would 100% be in the HOF if we wasn’t completely jobbed in ’87).

Comment by Benny

Compare Mattingly to 1st ballot HOF’er Kirby Puckett. Their stats are very similar, both great defensive players, and Mattingly has an MVP to boot. You’re telling me he should get McMahoned?

Comment by apcig

i agree with benny, trammell should be in. and it’s a shame that lou whitaker got eliminated after his first time on the ballot. he’s one of the greatest second basemen of all time. hands down

Comment by President Obama

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