Today is the first day of the last year notable players are eligible for the MLB Hall of Fame. The 2016 HOF ballot was officially released today, with qualified voters having until December 21st to submit their ballots. Here are the requirements to vote taken directly from the hall of fame website. “Only active and honorary members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, who have been active baseball writers for at least ten (10) years, shall be eligible to vote. They must have been active as baseball writers and members of the Association for a period beginning at least ten (10) years prior to the date of election in which they are voting.” This is my first story that has anything to do with baseball. I also happen to not be a member of the BBWAA. Nonetheless, here is how my ballot would be submitted:
- Ken Griffey Jr.
- Trevor Hoffman
- Mike Piazza
- Jeff Bagwell
- Barry Bonds
- Mike Mussina
Ken Griffey Jr. is going to be in regardless on this years official ballot in his first year of eligibility. The rest of my top four have a good chance. My 5 and 6? I know they won’t make it. We’ll save 3-6 for another story.
Griffey Jr. deserves to be a first ballot HOFer. Over a Stellar 22-year career, he earned 13 All Star nominations, won 10 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Sluggers, one MVP and finished in the top-5 of MVP voting four other times. He cranked 630 home runs (6th all time), 1836 RBI (15th all time), and had a career line of .284/.370/.538. If you like sabermetrics, he compiled a career WAR (wins above replacement) of 83.6. EIGHTY THREE POINT SIX. Over the course of his career he essentially is responsible for an entire seasons worth of victories.
The only potential knocks on his career is his post season stats. Did he deliver when it mattered the most? Yes and no. His postseason numbers are limited, having only played on playoff teams three times in his career for a total of 18 games. If you look at his combined numbers for all 18 games, he was nothing less than solid hitting .290/.367/.580 while hitting six home runs and driving in eleven rbi. Here’s the problem I have with his postseason numbers; most of them came during the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees. In that one series he hit .291 with five home runs and seven rbi. In the ALCS that year he hit a solid .333 with one home run and two rbi. Still not bad. In the 1997 ALDS he hit .133 while driving in two runners. Eleven years later he finally got another playoff chance with the White Sox and hit .200 while not driving in any runners as they were swept in three games.
His playoff numbers are not going to keep him out of the hall. When we think of solid contributors, players who SCREAM hall of fame, we think of guys like Derek Jeter who not only helped their team in the playoffs, but seemed to play at an even higher level than the regular season. You look at guys like Daniel Murphy for this years Mets team who played like he was on another planet, though I’m not saying with his current numbers Murphy deserves to be in the HOF, but his performance during this years playoffs are going to go down as one of the best single post season performances of all time.
Now for the wild card and the real reason I wanted to write this piece. Trevor Hoffman. As much as it pains me to write this after growing up a Padres fan for the last twenty-five years, Hoffman will not make the hall in 2016. 2017? Probably. 2018? If Trevor Hoffman doesn’t get in by his third year on the ballot I will personally help organize the riots that are bound to take place in the streets surrounding Petco Park.
His numbers are outstanding. A 7-time All Star, Hoffman finished runner up in Cy Young voting twice during his career. His problem? He was a relief pitcher. When Mariano Rivera is eligible, he will likely get anywhere from 85% (at the lowest) to 100% of the vote. He was that good. Hoffman was just as dominant as Rivera but didn’t have the postseason numbers. In the case of relievers making the hall, you need those dominant post season numbers to back it up. Game 7 of the World Series with the bases loaded and the Yankees leading 2-1? You bet Mariano Rivera was going to pull out the win to take the series. He was that good and even better under extreme pressure. Hoffman didn’t get many playoff opportunities having played the majority of his stellar career for the usually less than stellar San Diego Padres.
Hoffman deserves to be in the hall based on his regular season career numbers alone. During his 18 years on the mound (16 of which were with our Padres), he compiled 601 saves with a 2.87 era over 1, 089.1 innings of work. To go along with that he had a k/9 of 9.4 and had a home run rate of .8. Before he retired he broke Lee Smiths all time saves record when he reached career save number 479. The only player in history now with more saves than Hoffman is the aforementioned Mariano Rivera who retired after the 2013 season with 652 career saves. Trevor was one of the most feared pitchers in the major leagues for the majority of his career. When Hell’s Bells would start blaring over the PA and the video screen would light up with those flames, the opposing team knew their chances were grim. Hoffman deserves the hall. He earned it through and through. Only time will tell if he gets to join the ranks of Tony Gwynn and Dave Winfield as true Padres greats to be enshrined into the hall of fame.
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