Last Wednesday, Tim Raines, van Rodriguez, and Jeff Bagwell reached baseball immortality when they were elected to the Hall of Fame. However, a few players on the ballot that arguably deserved to get in fell just short. With those candidates in mind, it’s time I examine next year’s new candidates and see who deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Among the notable first-year candidates are Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Scott Rolen, Omar Vizquel, Johan Santana, Andruw Jones, Hideki Matsui, Jason Isringhausen, Johnny Damon, Kerry Wood, and Jamie Moyer. There is no doubt that Chipper and Thome belong in the Hall of Fame. The rest of the candidates may be harder to determine. I feel that Vizquel is worthy of being a Hall of Famer. Over the course of his 24 years in the majors, Vizquel compiled 2,877 career hits while also winning 9 Gold Gloves, tied for 2nd most with Luis Aparicio. Hideki Matsui is another player that I feel belongs in Cooperstown when his career numbers in Japan and MLB are combined. In his career between Japan and the MLB, Matsui tallied over 500 career homers.
I feel that Scott Rolen and Johnny Damon deserve at least strong consideration. Damon had 2, 769 career hits, with a .284 career average. Rolen was an 8 time Gold Glove winner while compiling 2,077 hits and batting .281. It should also be interesting to see how Johan Santana and Jason Isringhausen do on their first year on the ballot and the following years if they are able to stay on. While Isringhausen was able to compile 300 career saves, he also has an ERA of 3.64, high for a reliever. Strong arguments can be made both for and against Johan Santana being elected to Cooperstown. Despite playing only 12 seasons in the MLB, Santana’s career numbers are very similar to another Hall of Famer who only pitched for 12 seasons: Sandy Koufax. Koufax went 165-87 while Santana went 139-78. Koufax has a career ERA of 2.76 while Santana’s is 3.20. Koufax has 2,396 career strikeouts while Santana has 1,988. Koufax averaged 9.3 strikeouts per 9 innings while Santana averaged 8.8. Despite these as well as other similar career numbers, I don’t think Santana will get in because he wasn’t dominant for as long as Koufax was. Had injuries not derailed and shortened his career, Santana would have been destined for Cooperstown.
While Andruw Jones did compile 434 career homers and won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards, his chances of getting elected to the Hall of Fame seem less likely due to the fact that he had a career average of just .254. While he was a great defensive player and had a lot of power at the plate, he wasn’t really a great hitter. He would either homer or get out. The case for Jamie Moyer is that over his 25 seasons in the majors, he ended up winning 269 games. The problem is that beyond that, he would give up a lot of runs. Moyer has a career ERA of 4.25, too high for a Hall of Famer in my opinion. Kerry Wood was a very good pitcher, but I don’t think he’s Hall of Fame worthy. He only pitched in 14 seasons in the majors, winning just 86 games and never even having a season in which his ERA was under 3.00.
During the 2018 Hall of Fame voting, I expect that Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome will get elected, with Omar Vizquel and Edgar Martinez falling a little short of being elected. Hopefully, other notable players on next year’s ballot don’t fall under 5% due to how stacked the ballot appears to be for 2018. The voters have a year to think about who they believe is worthy of baseball immortality.