Welcome to our 2011 Hall of Miller and Eric election results. We’re getting right down to it now. Today we induct a first baseman that Hall of Fame has foolishly held stagnant for four years. We also induct a first baseman who they’ve rejected entirely. There’s also a right fielder who’s hanging on. And there’s a pitcher who’s among the most under-appreciated to ever play the game.
With four elected this go around, we now have 198 of the greatest players ever in our HoME. That means we have only 17 players to elect over the 2012-2015 elections. And with just 43 more players to review, 38 who we haven’t reviewed and 5 from our backlog, that means we can still elect just shy of 40% of those still up for consideration.
Here’s how we voted in 2011.
Miller Eric 1 Jeff Bagwell Jeff Bagwell 2 Kevin Brown Kevin Brown 3 Larry Walker Larry Walker 4 Rafael Palmeiro Rafael Palmeiro 5 Pud Galvin
The Class of 2011
Jeff Bagwell: Just about the only thing Bagwell did wrong in his career was upset Red Sox fans by heading off to Houston in a trade for Larry Anderson in 1990. As an Astro, Bagwell hit 449 homers, won the 1991 NL Rookie if the Year, the 1994 NL MVP, and made four All-Star teams. There are only eight players in history who can match his homers, ribbies, runs, and steals, not one of whom would have been allowed in the majors prior to Jackie Robinson, for what it’s worth. We just don’t appreciate Bagwell enough. He had ten years in which he played like an All-Star. Only about 30 other hitters can say the same. He’s one of the ten best first basemen ever, pretty clearly better than Ernie Banks, George Sisler, and Eddie Murray, and ranking right along with Johnny Mize and Rod Carew. He was more like Mize in the style of his offensive production, not unlike either at first, and even better on the base paths than the much speedier Carew. He so clearly belongs in the Hall of Fame. Now he’s in the Hall of Miller and Eric.
Kevin Brown: People seem to remember the huge contract with the Dodgers and the flame out with the Yankees. What they seem to forget is why he got such a contract and why he had such high expectations. Kevin Brown was a great pitcher. The righty made six All-Star teams representing four different franchises. He led the AL in wins in 1992 and the NL in ERA in 1996 and 2000. He put up “only” 211 wins, but it’s how he got there that was so impressive. Aside from Pedro, nobody was better on the mound from 1995-2000. He had five years when he pitched like an All-Star and four more at 4+ WAR. But it’s the names with whom he should be associated that are so impressive. Think Jim Palmer, Carl Hubbell, Nolan Ryan, and Amos Rusie. His surliness and Mitchell mention got him banished posthaste by the BBWAA. Of course, the BBWAA has a lot of trouble with guys like Brown who don’t have tons of career wins, so there’s no guarantee at all that would have made it without those issues. He’s right in the belly of Hall of Merit pitchers, which puts him probably in the top 40% of Hall of Fame pitchers. It’s a shame that he received only twelve votes the only year he was on the BBWAA ballot. On his only HoME ballot, he receives two votes.
Larry Walker: This star Canadian right fielder may not have been healthy all the time, but when he was, he was spectacular. Three batting titles and a .353 average from 1997-2002 speak to his greatness as a hitter and to the field on which he played his home games. For his career, he hit .348 at home and only .278 on the road. But WAR sifts out home/road advantages for us, and the rifle-armed Walker fares very well by that estimation too. In 1997 he won and absolutely deserved the NL MVP Award. Beyond that, he had about seven more seasons playing like an All-Star and three beyond those at 4 WAR. Basically, it’s not Coors Field that made Walker so great. He was better than the more famous Andre Dawson and Dave Winfield, and there’s an argument to be made that he’s a top-10 RF in history, depending on how you see his defense. If you see it like DRA sees it, he is. If you see it like BBREF sees it, he’s merely among the top 15. We see the former, so we see a career that has the same kind of value as Harry Heilman’s with a touch more outside of his prime years than Harry. If we saw it the other way, he’d look more like Tony Gwynn. That’s not to say that these guys were similar players on the field or even in the raw statistics, rather that Walker’s total contribution would match the others. He’s a fairly easy call given the company.
Rafael Palmeiro: Palmeiro absolutely shook his finger at members of Congress. And he almost certainly used performance enhancing drugs. And a lot of ‘em. But his numbers were so, so good. He’s Eddie Murray with a little longer tail, which is plenty enough to get over the line. We’re looking at a guy in the top-20 in career doubles, homers, and ribbies. He made only four All-Star teams in his 20 seasons, but he just kept putting up numbers. He had eleven seasons of 4+ WAR and sixteen with 2+. The only 1B who can say that are Musial, Anson, Connor, and Rose. He’s one of four players ever with 500 HR and 3000 H. He’s one of only ten guys ever with 1600 runs, 1600 ribbies, 500 2B, and 500 HR. In fact, the only two players who can beat him in all four of those categories are Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron. He’s the homeringest player ever not to win a home run title, and he’s likely the only person to win a Gold Glove when he hardly played the position (28 games at 1B in 1999). Okay, that last one isn’t a qualifier, but the career numbers are there. He’s around the 80th best hitter ever, and he’s a HoMEr.
Sadly, we don’t see eye to eye on every player. And when we don’t, we explain those solo votes here.
Pud Galvin: Should I be embarrassed that the 31st time I vote for Gentle Jeems, I have nothing new to say? I’m not. Only four more elections for me and you, Pud. It’s about time for you to meet your HoME or your demise.
The HoME bids farewell to 2011. Only four elections remain. Please check out our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.