This is one crazy election! Well, it’s not crazy in that we disagree; it’s crazy in that we’re electing seven players and have identical ballots. Three steroid guys get in this time ‘round. And we add a 3000 hit guy, one of the great overlooked speedsters of recent times, the best hitting catcher ever, and the guy with the bloody sock.
Your position on steroids aside, it’s criminal that only one of these seven is in the Hall of Fame today. Mike Piazza has a great chance of getting in this January since he was at 69.9% last time. On the other hand, with only 39.2% of the vote, Curt Schilling has a long row to hoe. And Kenny Lofton? In spite of being a player our systems agree is the ninth best ever at the position, he received only 18 votes his one and only year on the ballot. Shameful.
We’re down to only two more elections after today’s, but with the seven from 2013, we’re up to 206 of the greatest players ever in the HoME. And keeping with our reporting habits of elections past, we now have nine players to elect in 2014 and 2015 of the nineteen who remain up for consideration. Your chances remain nearly 50/50 to get in if we haven’t yet reviewed your case.
Here’s how we voted in 2013.
Miller Eric 1 Barry Bonds Barry Bonds 2 Roger Clemens Roger Clemens 3 Mike Piazza Mike Piazza 4 Curt Schilling Curt Schilling 5 Kenny Lofton Kenny Lofton 6 Craig Biggio Craig Biggio 7 Sammy Sosa Sammy Sosa
The Class of 2013
Barry Bonds: Say what you will about Barry Bonds, he’s baseball’s all-time leader in home runs at 762. If that number doesn’t resonate like 755, you’re probably older than 25. Bonds likely wasn’t the player Babe Ruth was, but he fights with Ty Cobb and Willie Mays for second best ever. Without a doubt he’s the best position player since Mays, and for those so inclined to timeline, possibly the best ever. He won the NL MVP seven times. He led in OBP ten times, SLG seven times, and BA twice. In both of those seasons he won the triple slash triple crown. Bonds is also the single-season HR champ, slugging 73 in 2001, though he never hit more than 46 in another season. He played like an MVP at least a dozen times, was named to the All-Star team on fourteen occasions, and won eight Gold Gloves. In a 2002 World Series loss to the Angels, Bonds homered four times and put up an insane .471/.700/1.294 line. Big head or not, Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players ever to put on a uniform.
Roger Clemens: Big Train, Cy, and Rocket. Those are the best three pitchers ever. Clemens’ BBREF page is littered with Black Ink. He won seven Cy Young Awards for four different teams. He was the 1986 AL MVP. He led the league in ERA seven times, strikeouts five times, and wins four times. He won back-to-back pitching triple crowns his only two seasons in Toronto, and he posted 354 wins in his 24 years in the majors. Say what you will about his personality or his PED use, Clemens could pitch. He’s third in strikeouts and ninth in wins. He won 12 games in the playoffs, including the clincher for the Yankees in 1999, and he was ahead when he left after seven tough innings in what could have been the clincher for the Red Sox in 1986.
Mike Piazza: As the best hitting catcher of all time with a reputation as an excellent game caller, pitch framer, handler or pitchers, and plate blocker, though a poor arm, you’d think Piazza would just waltz into the Hall. Not so fast. Someone once saw something that might have been bacne, and Piazza still waits. Of course, that’s hardly a fair argument to make. Gary Carter, a superior player overall, took six tries to get in. No bacne on him. The BBWAA just isn’t as good as they should be at identifying Hall of Famers. The 1993 NL MVP made a dozen All-Star teams and was the game’s MVP in 1996 when he homered against Chuck Finley. Not even adjusting for the rigors of catching, Piazza was one of the games’ five best non-pitchers from 1993-2001. With even a modest catching adjustment, he’s second to A-Rod. Comfortably placed with Berra, Dickey, and Fisk among catchers, Piazza is an easy HoME call.
Curt Schilling: He is a Robin Roberts brand of pitcher (big Ks, good control, lots of flyballs), but he is an extreme version with tremendous control, which allowed him to prosper during the high run environment of the 1994-2008 era. As responsible as anyone for helping the Red Sox break the Curse of the Bambino, Schilling is remembered for his dominance in the 2001 playoffs and the Bloody Sock Game. He was the runner-up in the Cy voting three times, and he made the All-Star team on six occasions. He struck out 300+ three times, and he led the league in wins twice. With all of these accolades, Schilling remains underrated historically. He’s right around the 20th best pitcher ever, in a tight battle with contemporaries Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina. But we still revere wins, and Schillling had just 216 of them. He pitched at or near the All-Star level eleven times. Ryan, Palmer, Hubbell, Feller, Marichal, Drysdale, and so many others fall short of that level. One day Curt Schilling will be a Hall of Famer. For now, he’ll settle for the HoME.
Kenny Lofton: Rickey Henderson spoiled us. We now think of him as the leadoff hitter against whom all are judged. And if you’re lesser than Rickey, like Tim Raines and Kenny Lofton, somehow you’re not great enough. Wrong. Lofton was great enough. He was the prototype CF/leadoff man who even hit with occasional power. Sort of the player everyone used to think Earle Combs was, except a much better base runner and fielder. Among position players, over an eight-year run from 1992-1999, Lofton trailed only Bonds, Griffey, and Bagwell in overall value (if we use Rfield for defense). He won five straight SB titles, and was only once the CS leader. He owns six All-Star appearances and four Gold Gloves. To his credit he has seven playoff home runs and an amazing 34 stolen bases (one more than Rickey). Sadly, one of the ten most valuable center fielders ever to appear on a Hall of Fame ballot by 2013 would never appear on another. He received only 18 votes. He’s no Rickey, but he’s quite easily a HoMEr.
Craig Biggio: Certainly a unique player, Biggio is the only player ever to be named an All-Star at catcher and at second base. All told, the 20-year, career Astro made seven All-Star teams, and he put up 3060 hits, though had he played in another park, he’d have reached 3000 hits much sooner. As more testament to his uniqueness, he joins only Bonds, Mays, A-Rod, Rickey, and Jeter as players with 2500 hits, 1000 walks, 500 2B, and 250 SB. Overall among 2B, he’s a bit behind the trio of Whitaker, Alomar, and Sandberg, but he stacks up well against the likes of Bid McPhee, Willie Randolph, and Billy Herman. It’s no crime that it took Biggio three tries to be voted into the Hall. He’s now where he belongs, both in the Hall and the HoME.
Sammy Sosa: Jokes and unfortunate truths and near-truths about him aside, Sosa was an incredible player. He’s a peak candidate in a career candidate’s clothing. As a younger player he had a missile for an arm, and he could really run. Sure, some would question his tactics on the bases, but he could run. And as he matured and developed as a player, his power exploded, and his walks followed. His power began to grow in his mid-20s and took off in the great home run race of 1998 when the seven-time All-Star hit 66 long balls and won the MVP. With 609 during his 18 seasons in the majors, he’s in some elite company. And though some legitimately question his Hall credentials, we see him as roughly similar to Bobby Bonds or Reggie Smith. He’s certainly not an inner circle guy, but he’s over the line.
That ends our 2013 voting, and there are only two elections to go. Please check out our Honorees page to see the plaques of those elected and to see plenty more information about the HoME.