Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Picks For The Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Happy New Year 2014 to all of you Baseball aficionados out there. May the New Year bring you health, prosperity and a playoff spot for your favorite team in October. January is a very exciting month for Baseball fans. After a seemingly dull Winter Meetings this past December, January is a tense month. Why? Its in January when we found out what the results are of the Hall of Fame vote by the Baseball Writers of America. This year proves to be an interesting vote for a number of reasons.

One reason is that last year no one was inducted into the Hall of Fame because of the issue of some of the Steroid Era players becoming eligible almost en-masse. Many of the voters chose to not vote for those players who they believed were tainted for playing during that era even if they were not steroid users. Secondly, will the voters continue to not vote for the Steroid era players or will they choose to vote for the players based on their merits rather than the era that they played in. Thirdly, this year's ballot is stacked with (in my opinion) nineteen players who had potential Hall of Fame careers. Voters can vote for up to ten players but do not have to vote for ten. They can choose to just vote for one or two players, even totally abstaining from voting. Having so many players eligible with only ten maximum slots per ballot will prove to be difficult for many to get the necessary 75% of the vote for enshrinement. I believe only three players will get the necessary 75% or more for enshrinement.

We already know that managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre will be enshrined due to their election to the Hall of Fame by the Expansion Era committee. It's the enshrinement of Bobby Cox that leads me to believe that Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will join him on the podium July 27, 2014. This is not to say that Maddux and Glavine would not have been enshrined without Cox getting voted in. Far from it. Rarely do you have the chance as a Baseball fan to see two of the three greatest pitchers of arguably the best starting trio of all time get inducted into the Hall of Fame at the same time. Add to that the potential to be inducted along side with their manager. The only thing that would make the induction of Cox, Glavine and Maddux better would be the enshrinement of John Smoltz at the same time. It was too bad for us that Smoltz decided to stick around that one extra year by pitching for the Red Sox and Cardinals in 2009 or else we'd have a quartet of Atlanta Braves joining the greats in Cooperstown.

I also believe that Frank Thomas will get the necessary 75% of the vote. The Big Hurt was called that for a reason...and it wasn't because of his injuries later in his career. Thomas was one of the most fearsome hitters of his generation who not only hit for power but also hit for average. Before injuries started to derail Thomas, he averaged from 1990-2000 a slash line of .321/.440/.579 with an average of 33 doubles, 1 triple, 31 homeruns and 108 RBI's. During that period Thomas also averaged 79 strikeouts and 108 walks leading the league in walks four times (1991, 1992, 1994, 1995) which showed that he wasn't just a free swinging strikeout slugger that we seem to see more and more today. Thomas was in the top ten of American League MVP voting nine times while winning the award twice back-to-back in 1993 and 1994. Though he did play in the Steroid Era, I don't see the voters keeping him out. But we'll have to wait until January 8th to see if any of the players I mention get enshrined. So where does this leave the remaining sixteen potential Hall of Famers.

I think Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez get enshrined in a couple more years when the number of potential Hall of Famers becoming eligible for enshrinement decreases. In 2015 you have what I believe are three "no-brainers" up for enshrinement: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. Add Carlos Delgado and Gary Sheffield to the mix and it still proves to be a crowded ballot. 2016 has Trevor Hoffman and Ken Griffey Jr. as my potential "no-brainers". 2017 has Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez becoming eligible for enshrinment. Based on this, the players currently on the ballot that have time on their side have a good chance at being elected in within the next five years.  

As much as I think Jack Morris should get in, I don't think he'll get enough votes in his last season on the ballot. Nor will Don Mattingly.  As much as the anti-Steroid group will hate me for saying this, I think Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get in within ten years. I don't think McGwire, Palmiero and Sosa get enough votes by their 15th year to get in. Mussina, Piazza and Schilling are up in the air for how long I think they'll take before getting in.

Again, until January 8th comes around, this is all just speculation on my part. I'll be awaiting the results as will most other Baseball fan around the world.

Sisco Kid