Today we bid farewell to most of the guys from our 2017 ballot. Of course, you read on Wednesday that Ivan Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez went into the Hall from this class. Below you’ll see obituaries from eight others who just aren’t going to make it. Missing from the group below are Vladimir Guerrero and Jorge Posada. Both remain in consideration for our backlog election that will take place on February 24.
If you’re interested in buying a ticket for the HoME, y’all, they’re free.
Casey Blake played thirteen seasons in the majors but only once topped 3.5 WAR, his age-36 season with the Dodgers in 2009 when he was worth 4.6 wins. The third baseman was a pretty good fielder and a passable hitter, one with a career 107 OPS+. He never scored or drove in 100. He never hit .300 or smacked 30 home runs. However, he did earn over $32 million in the game, so bully for him.
If the ballot this year weren’t so packed, I’d have hoped Mike Cameron would have received a vote or three. As it is, the goose egg was justified for a guy with only a .249 career BA but a .338 career OBP. He was, pretty famously, the centerpiece in the 2000 trade that shipped Ken Griffey to the Reds. What comes as a surprise to many is that the Mariners won that trade pretty easily. Cameron totaled 35.1 WAR after the trade, while Griffey managed just 13.0. If you want about 400 players in the Hall, Cameron isn’t such a bad choice. He’s a lot like Torii Hunter or Dale Murphy for his career, 38th on my center field list. Yes, you guessed it, he was that helpful defensively and on the bases.
Drafted by the Phillies in 1997, J.D. Drew refused to sign and went to play for the St. Paul Saints for a year. Twelve months later, the Cardinals drafted him, then they signed him, then they brought him to the majors. He homered 242 times over 14 seasons while drawing an impressive number of walks and finishing his career with a .278/.384/.489 line. He was awesome in his one year with the Braves, 2004. And he was a solid player for many years. For his career, the right fielder looks like Darryl Strawberry, Kirk Gibson, or Roger Maris in terms of value, about 51st on my right field list. No HoMEr, but not bad.
Why is it that some people speculated Magglio Ordonez would find his way to a second ballot? It’s because of the .309 batting average, the 2007 batting title, and the six All-Star games. We should remember that he was a bad defender who couldn’t run the bases and grounded into a ton of double plays. While he has a better reputation than Cameron, he’s not the player the center fielder was. He wasn’t even J.D. Drew. Think Tommy Henrich or Reggie Sanders, about the 61st best right fielder ever.
There was a time when Eric thought Edgar Renteria might reach 3000 hits. And when a guy puts up 1700 plus before he turns 30, that wasn’t such a bad call. Of course, the shortstop fizzled out by age-34 and reached only 2327 in the hit department. He did win two rings, make five All-Star teams, and steal 294 bases. His career highlight came in 2010 when he hit game winning home runs in the second and fifth games of the World Series to help his Giants defeat the Rangers. Overall though, he wasn’t that great a player, totaling just 32.1 career WAR. He’s quite a bit like Omar Vizquel for his career, which really isn’t close to the Hall, just 64th on my list.
I met Jason Varitek a few years back. He has two rings, and he’s about as good as Tim McCarver for his career, 52nd on my list, but likely lower than that. I’m giving the former Sox captain more time here than he gave me. Everyone has a bad day once in a while, right?
Javier Vazquez gets an obituary today from us. That’s more than he got from the BBWAA since he didn’t even make their ballot. Vazquez was a guy whose peripherals were always better than his results, but his results were decent too. He won 165 games, including double figures in each of his last twelve years. His final year was worth 2.9 WAR, and he averaged over 3.4 wins over his last five campaigns. I think he had more left in him, and if I ran a club, I’d have tried to sign the guy who has the same career WAR as Cliff Lee and more than Sam McDowell, Lefty Gomez, and Dizzy Dean in 2012.
It’s possible that Tim Wakefield is my favorite pitcher ever. I met him the same day I met Varitek. He made time for me, listened to me as I played fan boy for a minute or so, and was as gracious as can be. He probably forgot the conversation five minutes after it happened, but I never will. His knuckler danced into my heart when he joined the Sox in 1995. Sixteen years later he finished with exactly 200 wins, two rings, a 2009 All-Star nod, and the sixth most WAR in Sox pitcher history. His career numbers are lot like Rube Marquard’s, and if he wound up in the Hall like Rube, I wouldn’t really complain. As it is, this obit and the scream I let out when I saw he got one Hall of Fame vote will have to be enough. Thanks Wake!
Well, our 2017 election is now in the books. As always, we remind you to take a look at our Honorees page to see the plaques of our new members and all of the HoMErs.