This second World Series win in three years is a fantastic accomplishment for the San Francisco Giants; and it is also an opportunity to reflect on some of the players who were key parts of this win and, in some cases, both World Series wins by taking a brief, if early, look at there Hall of Fame chances. There are four players on the team Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, who have played well enough to establish a chance at being elected to the Hall of Fame.Interestingly, these four players were among the few holdovers from 2010 to be part of the 2012 team. The remaining Giants are either two young or are clearly not on a Hall of Fame path.
When Mariano Rivera saved his 602nd game earlier this month, he solidified his position, although there should not have been any remaining doubt, as the greatest closer ever. One of the many interesting things about Rivera’s career is how he transitioned from a 25 year old with a 5.51 ERA in 19 games, including ten starts with 51 strikeouts and 30 walks over 67 innings in 1995, to becoming the best setup man in the game in 1996 and the best closer ever from 1997 to the present. Whoever decided to put Rivera in the bullpen full time made a very wise decision leading to one more Yankee Hall of Famer and contributing to five more Yankee championships. Interestingly, roughly a decade earlier, a similar decision was made with another Yankee pitcher which dramatically affected that pitcher’s career trajectory and contributed to the Yankees failing to make the post-season in the mid 1980s.
There are nineteen new players on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot: Carlos Baerga, Jeff Bagwell, Brett Boone, Kevin Brown, John Franco, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Kirk Reuter, Benito Santiago, B.J. Surhoff and Larry Walker. There are no new candidates this year that can be expected to easily get elected. The closest to this is Jeff Bagwell, who is deserving of the Hall of Fame, but is not viewed as a sure thing. There are, however, several players on the ballot who, while being good players, in some cases for many years, are clearly not Hall of Famers. This group includes Baerga, Boone, Grissom, Harris, Higginson, Johnson, Leiter, Martinez, Mondesi, Reuter, Santiago and Surhoff. That leaves a diverse group of seven players including Bagwell, Brown, Franco, Gonzalez, Olerud, Palmeiro and Walker whose candidacies should at least be seriously considered.
Earlier this week, in a story that was appropriately reported without much fanfare,Eric Gagne retired. Between 2002-2004, Gagne had been one of the best relievers in the game saving 152 games and posting a 1.79 ERA over that three year period, while appearing in three All Star Games and finishing 4th, 1st and 7th in Cy Young balloting. For those three years, Gagne was the best closer in baseball, but he never recovered from an injury in 2005 and bounced around between the Dodgers, Rangers, Red Sox and Brewers between 2005 and 2008. He spent last year trying to get one more chance to play, but was not successful.