I read on ESPN.com today that the latest Hall of Fame ballot is out, with first-time candidates like Barry Larkin and Roberto Alomar joining holdovers like Andre Dawson and Mark McGwire. It’s always interesting to look at who has a good chance of making it to Cooperstown each year. I also enjoy reading the names of all the veterans who automatically make the list one time, despite having as much chance of getting in as MC Hammer does of winning a Nobel Peace Prize (not that I’m trying to take anything away from Ray Lankford’s campaign.)
The Associated Press story I read included the names of all the players from this year’s ballot. I will now list them, according to how I think they will fare:
Surefire first ballot inductees (90% or more chance of being voted in this year)
(1) Barry Larkin
Larkin is the one sure thing this year. In an era of steroids and bloated contracts, the Cincinnati Reds shortstop seemed like a throwback. Expect more players of his pedigree to be quickly ushered into Cooperstown over the next 15-20 years, while the likes of Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and McGwire, among others, struggle to win support.
Maybe next year (70%)
(2) Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson
The AP story said Dawson was 44 votes of the 75 percent needed last year. Thanks to Jim Rice, he’ll make it in at some point soon. As for Alomar, his bid is strong but hurt by three key things: 1) He quit playing at 36, less than 300 hits shy of 3,000; 2) He notoriously spit at an umpire while with the Baltimore Orioles; 3) An ex-girlfriend accused him of giving her AIDS, which was most likely a baseless accusation, but never a good thing unless we’re talking Magic Johnson or Arthur Ashe.
Future Veteran’s Committee inductees (50-70%)
(3) Edgar Martinez, Dave Parker, Alan Trammell
All three of these players are Hall of Fame members in my book, though I wouldn’t vote them in this year. Funny how this works.
Possible Veteran’s Committee picks (30-50%)
(7) Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Tim Raines, Lee Smith
Each of these players could probably have an impassioned campaign mounted by fans, though strictly based on statistical merit, none of them seem to have good enough career numbers. Raines and Smith probably come closest to being Cooperstown-worthy. And I would take Morris over Blyleven– the latter had more career wins, but with a playoff game on the line, I’d want Morris pitching for me.
Long shots (under 30%)
(5) Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Mark McGwire, Don Mattingly, Robin Ventura
In the eyes of the public, McGwire did steroids. Meanwhile, Burks and Galarraga had their best seasons with the free-swinging Colorado Rockies, Mattingly had his career cut short by injuries, and Ventura, while a good bat and great third baseman, is probably best remembered for being put in a headlock by a 46-year-old Nolan Ryan.
No chance in Hell (5% or less)
(8) Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Ray Lankford, Eric Karros, Shane Reynolds, Todd Zeile, David Segui, Kevin Appier
If any of these men make it in, I’m dusting off my glove and mounting a comeback (I quit playing Little League when I was 11.) Then, Disney can produce an inspiring film about how a 26-year-old writer makes the Tampa Bay Rays with a 37 MPH fastball.