Today, the Hall of Fame sent out the 2009 ballots. New names on the ballot include Rickey Henderson and a bunch of other guys. Here at Umpbump, we’ve never been shy about supporting or damning eligible HOF players. Here’s a reminder of what we’ve written about some of the leading candidates, as well as some more up-to-date views.
On Jim Rice
Nick: “[I]f 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.”
Paul: “[W]e need to pose the question – Would Jim Rice have been a Hall of Fame caliber player if he were not drafted by the Boston Red Sox? … If we cannot penalize him for being a Red Sox (which I have no interest in doing), then we can’t credit him for it either…. During the games where Rice didn’t have the pleasure of hitting in Fenway, an argument could be made that Andy Van Slyke was a better player (since Andy played a more demanding position). Now that’s nothing to scoff at ordinarily since Van Slyke was a very good player – but he’s no Hall of Famer.”
Sarah: “In ’77, ’78 and ’79, he was in his prime. He hit more than 35 homers in each of those three years, while also collecting over 200 hits — the only major-league player to ever accomplish that feat…In fact, though Rice is now remembered as a lead-footed, perennially injured slugger, he was actually possessed of the rare ability to hit for both power and average. Though his lifetime batting average of .298 and 382 total home runs may not look like much on their own, look at them together and the impact is powerful: out of all retired players, Rice ranks tenth in terms of batting average and homers. Needless to say, those players (Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams) are all in the Hall of Fame.”
On Tim Raines
Nick: “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 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%?”
On Jack Morris
Nick: “Morris’s career ERA is high for a hall of famer, but that’s about the only reason I could see to keep him out. The man was the ace of every team he ever pitched on, including four World Series squads, and outdueled John Smoltz in the greatest game in World Series history. If the Hall of Fame is all about stats (which it is clearly not), then he could be kept out, but if it is about fame and glory, there has to be a place for Jack Morris, who was the greatest starting pitcher of the 80s.” I’ve changed my mind on Jack Morris, so I can no longer stand by this Jack Morris quote.
Coley: “1. Win Shares are a good stat. But they’re not all-important. There are HOF pitchers with fewer Win shares than Morris. Bruce Sutter had 168! 2. Morris never won a Cy Young, but he came darned close. He finished fifth or better in the Cy voting five times. He led the league in wins twice and in strikeouts and complete games once. He was a five-time all-star. And nobody won more games in the 1980s. 3. Yeah, his ERA was high. But his career ERA was inflated by a couple of rough years (1988-1990). You know what Morris did in 1991? He won 21 games and posted an ERA of 3.43. That’s HOF perseverance, baby!” I’m off the Morris bandwagon, too. I think Morris was a very good pitcher, the kind of guy it was easy to root for. But he was probably more hype than substance. All Star game appearances and Cy Young votes are nice, but those awards are highly subjective.
Paul: I don’t think Jack Morris belongs in the Hall. So what if he won the most games in the 1980s? Couple that with his ERA and what do you get? One lucky pitcher who was never consistently among the best.
On Andre Dawson
Nick: “The first 16 years of Andre Dawson’s career are virtually identical to the entire 16 years of Jim Rice’s, except that Dawson stole 318 bases to Rice’s 58, won 8 gold gloves to Rice’s zero, and hung around a few more years to hit 56 more home runs than Rice. Dawson was a complete player, whereas Rice was a one-dimensional slugger.”
On Mark McGwire
Paul: “Let me get one thing straight – I do not believe that McGwire was clean, and depending on the mood, may ridicule anyone who tries to insinuate otherwise. Which I guess puts me in the camp of people who think that a) steroid testing came far too late, b) we will therefore never know who was or wasn’t using, c) there’s no way that the town of Cooperstown or the Museum itself will lock out all those who played in the “steroids era”, so d) the Hall must admit all the elite players of their times, regardless of how loud the whispers may be. Let’s take this step-by-step.”
Sarah: “He was the most famous slugger of his era because of illegal steroids. He was one of the most intimidating physical presences in sports history because he took banned substances. He broke an untouchable record by injecting substances that gave him an unfair advantage. He hit 245 homers in a four year span by taking drugs. He finished seventh on the all-time home run list by relying on Slugger’s Little Helper. He made 12 All-Star Teams because he gained an unfair advantage over other players. In fact, every one of Big Mac’s Hall qualifications goes directly to his use of illegal PED’s. Unlike Barry Bonds, who likely would have been a Hall of Famer even without the drugs, Big Mac only achieved what he did BECAUSE of the drugs. And isn’t inducting him actually tantamount to endorsing drug use…?”
Nick: “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.”
On Ricky Henderson
Bill James: “If you could split (Rickey Henderson) in two, you’d have two Hall of Famers.”
What you said
Last year, we asked Umpbump readers who they would vote for and here’s what they said.