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Monday, May 2, 2016

Basic Biittner : Who's Next? (part 2)

Friday, August 5, 2011

... in which the author continues to look at possible future members of the Baseball Hall of Fame:

The Class of 2014 includes two pitchers who were long-time teammates on some good Atlanta Braves teams.

One is Greg Maddux, who won 355 games, four Cy Young Awards and 19 time Gold Gloves, and has had his number retired by two different teams - the Braves, of course, but also by the Cubs, with whom he began his career and won his first Cy Young. Maddux looked like a professor and was indeed a "thinking man's pitcher" who also had excellent control and, as they say, was a "good hiiting pitcher." This man is a lock for first ballot election.

My initial thought on the other former Braves pitcher, Tom Glavine, was that he was NOT a lock for election, but that his numbers would also get him there eventually. But, upon a closer look, the lefty, Tom Glavine, was also a 300-game winner, finishing his career with a 305- 203 mark; he won two Cy Young Awards; was the World Series MVP in 1995; and also had his uniform number retired by the Braves. Like Maddux, Glavine, too, was a good all-around athlete . Upon further reflection, maybe he SHOULD go in with Maddux in that first year of eligibility. It would be kind of neat if he and Maddux were inducted in the same year, as were good friends and long-time teammates Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. Another former Brave hurler,John Smoltz - one of the few pitchers who had a great career as both a starter and reliever - will probably join his former teammates in Cooperstown some day, too.

Four other players who become eligible in 2004 will also probably get some consideration for election to the Hall, and here is why :

Jeff Kent was a five-time All-Star for four NL teams in a 16-year career. Though never a Gold Glove fielder, Kent was a four-time Silver Slugger, had a career batting average of .290, and is the career leader for home runs by a second basemen, with 377. He was also the NL Most Valuable Player in 2000. Or so it says.Good stats, but I don't know. I don't think there is a whole lot of support for his being a Hall of Famer.

Mike Mussina won 270 games in his 18-year AL career with the Orioles and Yankees. He won 20 games just once - in his final season of 2008, at the age of 39. He was a 7-time Gold Glover and five-time All-Star, who never had a losing season after his first season. All of his All -Star selections came in the 1990's, when he was with the Orioles. Another smart man, Mussina graduated from Stanford in 3 1/2 years, and has been a frequent charity supporter. Bottom line: a good, solid, dependable starting pitcher who didn't have blazing speed -a nice guy, but not a Hall-of-Famer.

Kenny Rogers - pretty good singer, bad plastic surgery job. What? oops, sorry. Wrong Kenny Rogers. This Kenny Rogers proved the old adage about there being nothing more valuable in the Majors than a left-handed starting pitcher. He was that, and he managed to pitch 20 years in the American League and win 219 games. He never won 20 games (18 was his best), and he only struck out 1968 batters in 3457 innings. Sorry, Kenny. no Hall for you.

Frank Thomas - "The Big Hurt." For a few years, he was the most feared batter in baseball - a power hitter who also hit for average and had a good eye, drawing a lot of walks. Spending most of his career with the White Sox, Thomas slugged 521 home runs in his career and finished with a career BA of .301. He hit between .317 and .353 in 7 of his first 8 seasons, and drew 1667 walks. He also led the AL in Slugging Percentage once, On Base Percentage four times, Batting Average once, Runs Scored once, was a two-time MVP and had his number retired by the Sox. This should be an interesting vote. Despite his size and strength, only The Big Hurt and Ken Griffey jr. seem to be free of suspicion in The Steroid Era. I'm thinking he may get in at some point - though the fact that he was never known as a great glove man at first base, and spent a good part of his career as a designated hitter may work against him being the automatic first ballot selection that his early career seemed to indicate was his for the taking.

There you have it - a look at the Baseball Hall of Fame's next three classes. Thanks to the recent history of steroid abuse and/or suspicion of abuse, picking "who's in and who's out" of the Hall, never an easy task, has become even more difficult.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner