|A family member sent me this news clipping from June 14, 1939|
Ken Griffey Jr.: For nearly a decade, he was the most feared hitter int eh American League. Four times he led the American League in home runs. Four times he had an OPS over 1.000. For 5 consecutive seasons, he hit 40+ home runs, 100+ runs, 100+ RBI. He is 6th on the all-time list with 630 home runs, 15th on the all-time RBI list with 1836, a 10-time Gold Glove winner, and a 13-time All-Star. This is a no-brainer.
Gary Sheffield: Over the course of a 22-year career, he was a feared hitter who hit for power, hit for average, was a threat to steal, and mastered defense at multiple positions. He is 25th on the all-time HR list with 509. He is 27th on the all-time RBI list with 1676. He won a batting title in 1992. Six times he finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting. Unlike most power hitters, he never struck out more than 85 times in a season. Sheff has earned his spot in Cooperstown.
Curt Schilling: Put down the gun. If you’re evaluating him purely as a pitcher, there is no question. He pitched for 20 seasons and he knew how to win. Every team for which he was a regular starter went to eh playoffs. It is shocking that he never won a Cy Young though he came in 2nd three times. He was a 3-time 20-game winner, twice leading the league in Wins. Three times he threw over 300 strikeouts and a fourth time he threw 293, twice leading the league. He is 15th on the all-time list with 3116 K’s. He was notoriously durable, leading the league in IP twice and Games Started three times. Think durability doesn’t matter? Remember what happened when he went 1-4-7 in the World Series? Or the time he pitched with a bloody sock? Speaking of playoffs, he holds an 11-2 record with an ERA of 2.23, WHIP of 0.968, and a K/9 of 8.1 over 19 career postseason starts. He is likely the most deserving of all starting pitchers on the ballot.
Trevor Hoffman: The only reason people weren’t talking about him more during his career was that he had the misfortune of pitching at the same time as Mariano Rivera. He is second on the all-time saves list with 601 (to Mariano’s 652) and with 40 or more saves in nine of his 18 seasons. He also came in the top 3 in the league in saves nine times. He actually came in 2nd twice in the NL Cy Young voting and top 10 twice in the NL MVP voting, which is remarkable for a reliever. Aside from a Scott Brosius home run to dead center field, his resume is spectacular. Relievers get a bum rap in Hall of Fame Voting. It needs to change, starting here.
Lee Smith: This might sound surprising, but only if you never actually saw him pitch. He is third on the all-time Saves list with 478, and he was int eh Top 4 in Saves in 14 of his 18 seasons. He was a dominant closer in an era when the value of a closer was just being discovered. People forget he was #1 on the career list for Saves the 13 years before Trevor Hoffman. This will be his 14th time on the ballot, and he should get more votes than he’s gotten in the recent past.
So that’s it for me. This Wednesday’s announcement should be exciting. There will be lots to talk about the winners and about who got robbed. Mike Mussina better be in the winners’ circle.