2018 saw the induction of four players –Chipper Jones, Vlad Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman– into Cooperstown, in addition to Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, who were voted in by the Modern Era committee in December. Looking ahead, there are some important first time names for the next ballot that need to be studied, for the sake of baseball’s storied history. Seeing these names associated with the Hall makes me feel old enough that I couldn’t escape a moment of reminiscence while writing this piece. So, without further ado:
Quick Stats: ERA 3.38, 203 Wins, 2117 Strikeouts, ERA+ 131, 1.17 WHIP, Cy Young Award Winner 2003, 2010, 8x All Star, 64.7 WAR, Postseason No Hitter (10/6/2010), Perfect Game (5/29/2010)
Quite possibly the most glaring headliner of these first time Hall of Fame hopefuls, Roy “Doc” Halladay was one of the more memorable starting pitchers of the 21st century. Halladay was originally scheduled to be on this ballot after retiring in 2013, but not posthumously. As many of you know, Halladay fatally crashed his small aircraft over the Gulf of Mexico. Out of respect for Halladay’s legacy, I am hoping that writers vote for him based on his stats, not solely for the reason of his tragic passing. Not that he needs much help with getting inducted, Roy has an ERA+ rating of 131 which is equal to that of Sandy Koufax, Dizzy Dean and similar to Al Spalding, Greg Maddux and Carl Hubbell (all hall of famers). Apart from his stats, he threw one of only two postseason no hitters in all of Major League Baseball’s history in game one of the NLDS against the Cincinatti Reds. Also, he threw a perfect game on May 29th of the same year. He was a winner, a grinder and a baller.
Hall of Famer: Yes
Quick Stats: 2.21 ERA, 652 Saves*, 952 Games Finished*, ERA+ 205*, 1.00 WHIP, 13x All Star, 57.1 WAR, 5x World Series Champion, World Series MVP, ALCS MVP.
Not many people know that the greatest closer to ever toe the rubber played shortstop until he was 19 years old. Mo played with inanimate objects in his youth such as cardboard for fielding gloves, fishing nets wrapped in electrical tape and tree limbs for bats. His financial status in his home country of Panama was bleak to say the least, but that never stopped him. Rivera’s first season with the New York Yankees came in 1995, when he pitched out of the rotation rather than the bullpen. In 10 starts, the rookie compiled a 5-3 record and a 5.51 ERA. Despite lackluster numbers, this was the most influential season he ever had, because had he not pitched so poorly he may never have moved to the pen. This vote is an easy one and will be my last hope at a player getting a unanimous induction ever again. However, there are many voting writers who, for whatever unintelligent reason, believe that closers and/or relievers do not belong in the Hall. Therefore, I am giving up on the idea of him getting 100% of the votes early on. Going over his postseason stats, he has a 0.70 ERA, 42 saves, 0.75 WHIP and not a small sample size being that he pitched in 141 innings, 96 games. More men have walked on the moon (12) than have scored on Rivera in the playoffs (11). The man who made the cutter famous was also lethal with his 4 seam fastball as well as a 2 seamer. Not only was the movement on these pitches devastating, because they all cut, but he threw them from the same arm slot, with a variance of two degrees. To put it plainly, all of his pitches came out of his hand looking like fastballs, but was almost impossible to tell the direction of break until it was too late. Enter Sandman (into the Hall).
Hall of Famer: Undoubtedly
Quick Stats: 3.36 ERA, 163 Wins, 1852 Strikeouts, 127 ERA+, 1.21 WHIP, 3x All Star, NLCS MVP
Oswalt was known for his dominant years on the Astros, compiling 143 wins with the team from 2001 to 2009. He then was traded to the Phillies at the 2010 trade deadline to join the star studded pitching cast of previously mentioned Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton. They would end up losing in the NLCS to the San Francisco Giants. Oswalt has an ERA+ rating of 127 which is similar to the likes of Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver and Goose Gossage (all of which are previous inductees). However, I am not so sure about his case to be a first ballot inductee. Roy definitely had great numbers for the first eleven years of his career but his stats were less than desirable during his final two seasons in hitter friendly Texas and Colorado.
Hall of Famer: Eventually
Quick Stats: 2519 Hits, 369 HR, 1406 RBI, .316/.414/.539, OPS+ 133, 5x All Star, 61.2 WAR.
Speaking of hitter friendly Colorado, Todd Helton –the original Toddfather– was probably the most endearing player to ever play for the Rocks, spending his entire career with the club. His stat line almost mirrors that of Vladimir Guerrero who was just recently inducted into the Hall for the 2018 class. The obvious argument against any of the Blake Street Bombers is that their numbers were inflated in Colorado’s thin air, but Helton posted a .300 or better average in 24 major league parks. I’ll give him the nod, just not on this ballot.
Hall of Famer: Second Ballot
Quick Stats: 3.85 ERA, 256 Wins, 2448 Strikeouts, 117 ERA+, 1.35 WHIP, 3x All Star, 5x World Series Champion, ALCS MVP
Andy Pettitte, a fourth of the legendary Yankees “Core Four” (even though he spent three years in Houston) is the final 1st ballot headliner for this class. Many would think since he won a quintet of world titles with the Yanks that he would be a shoo-in. But those many would be wrong. In his 18 years of MLB service, he only had an ERA under 3.00 three times. His stats weren’t much different in the postseason in comparison to his regular season stats. The most glaring reason of all is his involuntary inclusion turned admission to use of HGH for his ailing elbow. Putting it straight, and with all due respect, if Pettitte was taking HGH in the hopes of enhancing his performance and only produced average stats, then he deserves to be in the Hall less than players like Bonds, Clemens etc. Sorry, Andy.
Hall of Famer: No.