My favorite baseball player ever died this month. Perhaps that is a rite of middle aged American male passage. Willie McCovey was a gigantic left-handed slugger who hit his first home run when Eisenhower was President and George Christopher was mayor of San Francisco, the city where McCovey played most of his career. He hit his last home run for the Giants when Jimmy Carter was in the White House and Dianne Feinstein was our mayor. During his very long career, McCovey was often overshadowed by his more famous teammate with whom he shared a home state, Alabama, and the same first name. McCovey was not as good as Willie Mays, but almost nobody ever was. Nonetheless McCovey a formidable power hitter. When he retired in 1980 McCovey’s 521 career home runs tied him with Ted Williams for second most ever by a left handed hitter. At that time, the only player with more round trippers from the left side of the plate was Babe Ruth.
If Verlander’s season is an aberration and high win totals continue to recede into the past, then his season will still stand out as a great season. It is also possible that Verlander’s season, specifically with regards to his win totals, will end up looking more like Fielder’s 1990 which, at the time seemed like a great home run year for Fielder, but was more of a harbinger of what was coming and quickly forgotten in the fifteen or so year offensive explosion that followed.
Alomar and Larkin were among the very best ever at their positions and, petty biases regarding first time inductees aside, should take their rightful place in Cooperstown. McGriff and Martinez are more complicated candidates, and raise some interesting questions, but also deserve to be elected.