In my last post, I went about the task of shortening the Hall of Fame ballot. I'll finish the job today. Jack Morris and Lee Smith were among the top vote-getters last year. Unfortunately, neither belongs in the Hall. Morris racked up 254 wins, but his 3.90 ERA is too high for Cooperstown. I make this statement on the same presumption that 3 earned runs in 6 innings does not constitute a "quality start." Since when do we want our starters giving up 4 or more runs per game?
Smith collected 478 saves (third on the all-time list) while averaging close to a strikeout per frame. But some of his other numbers just don't add up--mainly his 1.256 WHIP average and 3.03 ERA. That's dangerous territory for a closer. By comparison, Mariano Rivera--arguably the greatest closer ever--has so far compiled a 2.21 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP average to go with 608 lifetime saves. Lofty standards perhaps, but Smith is not even in the same class.
So who do I think belongs in the Hall? Call me crazy, but Jeff Bagwell gets my vote. Bagwell's career was shortened by injuries, but in 15 seasons he accomplished a lot: Rookie of the Year in 1991, MVP in 1994, a 4-time All-Star. Additionally, he led the league in runs scored 3 times and landed among an elite group of players with 1,500 runs and 1,500 runs-batted-in. His lifetime on-base percentage of .408 is nothing to sneeze at either. On the other side of the coin, Bagwell carried his weight defensively, leading the league in assists 5 times and winning a Gold Glove. His career total of 1,704 assists is second on the all-time list. Plus, he had that weird crouched batting stance that was so fun to watch.
While I'm at it, I might as well show my support for Bagwell's long-time teammate Craig Biggio,who should be enshrined on the basis of his 3,060 hits and 668 career doubles alone. Never mind the 4 Gold Gloves, 5 Silver Sluggers and 7 All-Star appearances. This guy was a dependable, hard-nosed hustler who grinded it out for the Astors day after day. He stole 414 bases in his career, scored 1,800 runs and ended up in the path of pitched balls 285 times (ouch!)--second all-time to Deadball star Hughie Jennings.
We'll see who gets the nod when the results are announced tomorrow.