1. It’s good to see Goose Gossage finally get in, as he was clearly the most deserving person eligible for the Hall of Fame but not yet in. In hindsight, it’s just amazing that it took him nine ballots to get in, and that Bruce Sutter got in first. Goose Gossage’s best 12-year run was better than Bruce Sutter’s entire 12-year career by almost any statistical measure except saves, plus Gossage also had another 10 seasons of pretty decent work on either side of his peak.
A lot of people are talking about how the election of Gossage speaks to a continuing evolution in how the Hall voters view closers, and that the door is being opened to allowing more relievers into the Hall. I hope that is not the case. Only five relief pitchers have been elected to the hall of fame, and already one of them (Sutter) and arguably a second (Fingers) can be ranked among the least deserving players enshrined
Here’s hoping that Gossage is the last reliever elected until Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman get the call.
2. Jim Rice only has one year of eligibility left, but if precedent is any guide, he is a virtual lock to get in next season, having secured a staggering 72.2 percent of the vote and falling just 16 votes shy out of 543 ballots cast. No player has ever gotten more than 70 percent of the vote without being elected the following year, and with the Rice supporters only needing to change the minds of a handful of voters and having a whole year to do it, it’s almost impossible to imagine that he won’t be in next year.
Which is a shame. Because if Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer, than there are probably at least a hundred other guys with better careers than Rice who should go in too. For a guy who was a left fielder, who hit in the middle of incredible lineups, and who demonstrably got a huge boost from playing half his games in Fenway Park, Rice has no place in the Hall of Fame.
People keep trying to argue that Rice was the best outfielder in the American League during his prime. But I’m not sure that Rice was even the best outfielder on his own team during those years, because Dwight Evans, who was one of the better defensive outfielders of all time, did just about everything equal to or better than Rice. Well, except pile up RBI, which was just a function of where Rice was penciled into the batting order anyway.
If Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer, than Dewey should have been a mortal lock. Jim Rice had a career OPS+ of 128, despite not playing through his late 30s decline phase, whereas Evans had a career OPS+ of 127. Evans had 345.5 career win shares (including 51.9 on defense), whereas Jim Rice had only 282 career win shares, ranking him 228th all-time (right between Sal Bando and Boog Powell). And though Rice averaged 6.0 runs created per game over his career, Dewey averaged 6.2, and again that’s including all the declining late-30s seasons Evans played which Rice didn’t.
And yet Evans got less than 5% of the vote and fell off the ballot after one year, whereas Rice keeps building momentum towards his eventual enshrinement? Crazy.
3. It was gratifying to see Mark McGwire’s vote totals holding firm at just a shade over 23 percent, hundreds and hundreds of votes shy of election, especially after a lot of people were predicting that he would see a big jump now that he had already been “punished” in his first year of eligibility.
I wrote a post in this space last year, arguing that we should never elect anyone tainted by steroids, because the Hall is an honor and not a right. I think my policy might be changing in the wake of the Mitchell report, after realizing just how widespread the abuse was. Now I am starting to think that maybe if a player were to come clean, 100%, and take full responsibility for his mistakes (and I don’t mean the Andy Pettite “I only did it once and it wasn’t even wrong” thing), then maybe we should consider them for the Hall.
Because players coming clean in an honest and humble way would be the best hope for healing the sport and moving forward.
But until Mark McGwire comes clean, and there’s no sign that he ever will, I will keep rooting for them to keep him out of the Hall forever.
4. Lastly, I was amazed and saddened to see that Tim Raines only got 24.3 percent of the vote. Fine, I understand all you New York-based writers never noticed Raines because he played all those years in Montreal while you guys were too busy noticing Yankees and Red Sox like Jim Rice. But shouldn’t you at least take a look at his career numbers? Did any of the people who didn’t vote for Raines even consider that he was a superior player to former stolen base king and present Hall of Famer Lou Brock in just about every way imaginable?
I don’t know who these guys are comparing Raines to, that they feel he falls short, other than Rickey Henderson, but Rickey Henderson was far and away the greatest leadoff hitter of all time. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Tim Raines was the second greatest leadoff hitter of all time.
I mean seriously. A .385 on base percentage? 808 stolen bases, 4th all time in the modern era behind only Henderson, Brock, and Ty Cobb? The highest stolen base percentage in baseball history at 84.7%?
And as long as people are giving Andre Dawson extra credit for playing on bad knees, and Kirby Puckett free points for having his career cut short by glaucoma, and Jim Rice sympathy for mysteriously becoming sucky at age 34, shouldn’t Raines get some points for the even more insane numbers he would have put up if he wasn’t playing the last third of his career while battling Lupus?
So yeah, 24.3 percent, that’s ridiculous. I think Tim Raines is going to have to be the subject of my next Hall of Fame crusade.