Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez were elected to the baseball Hall Of Fame. Congratulations to three deserving choices. We want to react to a comment by Dan McLaughlin (The Baseball Crank) and tell a story related to his comment.
Dan goes into detail on the election and has this to say about two that just missed:
Right on the outside looking in are Trevor Hoffman (who missed the 75% threshold by just a handful of votes) and Vladimir Guerrero at 71.7% of the vote. Hoffman was one of the all-time greats among the modern closers; I’m skeptical of enshrining those guys (aside from Mariano Rivera, who was on another level and an enormous postseason force), but if you accept the idea, Hoffman’s consistency and longevity make him more than a respectable choice. There’s no conceivable reason for anyone to vote against Guerrero, a staggering talent who batted .325/.392/.581 with an average of 98 Runs, 112 RBI and 15 steals in 640 plate appearances per year from age 23-33 and cracked double figures in outfield assists seven times, but sometimes the writers just feel like making a guy wait.
We don’t buy that closers should be excluded from the Hall. Sabermetics folks have problems with closers and how managers use them. We are also reluctant to use post-season results. Many players get limited or no postseason opportunities.
Sidebar: Try saying this aloud, “A out in the six inning is the same as an out in the ninth.” Actually, don’t as folks might think you are crazy. End Sidebar.
Saying you won’t consider closers is like saying you won’t consider people who play second base. The designated hitter is a more complicated variant of this because it only exists in one of the two leagues. The best closers like Trevor should be in. They should not be penalized because of their managers. DH is more complicated because the number of players that are largely career DHers is extraordinarily small. So we support picking the best closers for the Hall but DH will need to be an individual thing because it is difficult to provide context.
We understand that first-ballot Hall of Fame is different from Hall of Fame. We want Vlad in from seeing him once. It was in Oakland and there were lots of baserunners. What we noticed was that when the ball went to right field, where Vlad was stationed, that the behavior of the Oakland baserunners was very different than when it went to the other outfield positions. Not only did the Oakland runners not try for an extra base, they clung to their current base like a barnacle to a rock. Vlad was not going to get any outfield assists versus Oakland. Great outfield arms cause non-events. Vlad was one of those. He should go in next year because he has the whole package but his throwing was first ballot for sure.