Afterglow…and foreshadowing.

The 2015 MLB HOF announcement is now in our rearview mirror, and is putting a little distance between us and it by a factor which increases by the second. There is, in my humble opinion, no legitimate argument to be made against any of the 2015 Class. Who didn’t deserve ‘the call’? Answer…they all did. With the possible exception of Mike Piazza not getting the call to Cooperstown this year, I am perfectly satisfied with the outcome of the vote. But now, as we look ahead to Spring Training 2015, which starts in approximately 45 days for pitchers and catchers, I couldn’t help but ask what some others may be asking…what about the HOF Class of 2016?
Let’s start with this. The quartet of Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz, and Biggio are off the board. That will free up 1,943 votes to be spent on the 2016 hopefuls. You can be sure that Ken Griffey Jr. is going to gain induction on the first ballot with what I would say is between 93%-96% of the vote. He is a shoo-in, no-brainer, rock solid pick. Keep in mind that 412 votes are required to gain the 75% threshold for induction. Next is the case of Mike Piazza. He got 384 votes in his 3rd year on the ballot, which amounts to 69.9%. That is really close, and it is only 28 shy of the 412 needed. Mike Piazza is the greatest offensive catcher of all time by any measure. He was the heart of some tremendous Dodgers and Mets teams. His qualifications are 1993 NL Rookie of the Year, and he holds the MLB record for HRs as catcher with 396, while hitting 427 in total. For me, he passes the sniff test, and I expect that the doors of Cooperstown will open for him next year. So, Griffey and Piazza so far…
I took a look at who will be the newcomers to the 2016 ballot. Of the 24 other 1st timers on the ballot, the only one that jumps off the page as a possible 2016 inductee is Trevor Hoffman, with his 601 career saves and a 2.87 career ERA. The Hall has not been particularly receptive to closers, and that may make a first ballot induction a near-impossibility. It could happen, but I do not think that it will. As for the rest of the first-timers, we have the classic conundrum that has been for all voters for all time. Was he a good player, was he a really good player, was he a great player, or is he a Hall of Famer? Of the players on their maiden voyage besides Ken Griffey Jr, I do not see a Hall of Fame player on the list.
Next we have to look at all of the hold-overs. This is where we see those players that for one reason or another have not been elected so far. We start this list with the aforementioned Mike Piazza. He is going to gain election, so we need to look at everyone else. The window is closing for guys like Alan Trammell (15th and final year on the ballot), and Tim Raines (9th year on the ballot). In the 2015 voting, Trammell received 25.1% and Raines got 55%. Of these two, I believe that Raines most closely passes the HOF test. His stat line is impressive, and his 808 career stolen bases cannot be entirely ignored, plus he was a 7-time All-Star. In his time, he was a magnificent do-it-all outfielder. He would have my support. Trammell was a force as an infielder for the Tigers, and he truthfully qualifies as a ’great, but not a HOF’er’ kind of player. The Veterans Committee will decide on Trammell in a few years. The next guy I want to bring up is Curt Schilling (39.2%, 3rd year on the ballot). He was the #1 or #2 pitcher on the World Series-winning Diamondbacks and Red Sox (literally…remember the ‘Bloody Sock’?), and he has 2nd best K-BB ratio in MLB history (4.38). He had an upward tick in the 2015 voting, and with the ‘big 3’ pitchers off the board, is 2016 the year of Curt Schilling? I would love to say ‘yes’, but I am not sure that I can…yet. The voters may hold his 216-146, 3.46 ERA against him. I think that his 3,116 K’s are worthy of consideration. So, Schilling? If not 2016, then 2017 should do it. Next up is Jeff Bagwell. I’ll keep this simple. In 2015, he got 55.7% / 306 votes. He can boast of being awarded the 1991 NL Rookie of the Year and the 1994 NL MVP. He hit 449 HR’s, drove in 1529 runs, stole 202 bases, drew 1401 walks, and has a career BA of .297. He did this while playing for some really bad teams. Jeff Bagwell, welcome to Cooperstown, Class of 2016.
And now a quick note about the rest of the 2016 ballot. On the ballot still remain Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGuire, Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, and many others. I am not going to rehash the PED issue again. I have tried to keep this to whether or not a player is a Hall of Famer. In my opinion, Bonds and Clemens are HOF worthy. Mussina and Martinez? I am wrestling with their candidacy. I certainly believe that they are worthy of candidacy, and there are still 4 more years on Martinez, and 6 more on Mussina. There is still time. Also in this group are Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, and the only other hold-overs that I believe truly merit consideration.
So to sum this up, my personal HOF Class of 2016 would be welcoming Ken Griffey Jr, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, and Jeff Bagwell, and I would reserve a spot in 2017 for Curt Schilling.

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One thought on “Afterglow…and foreshadowing.

  1. Pingback: Afterglow…and foreshadowing. | Blager's Blog

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