Six one time Yankees are on the Hall of Fame ballot this year. The six Yankees are: Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Andruw Jones, Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina and Gary Sheffield. A seventh, Fred McGriff, was traded to the Blue Jays for a journeyman pitcher named Dale Murray while still in the minors. That remains one of the worst trades in Yankee history. The six Yankees include one very good player, Mastui, who despite his heroics in the 2009 World Series, is not a serious candidate and will likely get little support. Another candidate, Roger Clemens, has unequivocal Hall of Fame credentials as the best pitcher of his generation, but has been associated with PED use. The debate around Clemens is essentially a steroids debate about which pretty much everybody has already made up their mind. My position is that If I had a vote, I would vote for Clemens and Barry Bonds, but the remaining five candidates on the ballot are all more interesting from a purely baseball perspective.
Therefore, a good test for whether a player should be elected to the Hall of Fame is whether or not he was clearly better than Jack Clark. The data suggests that people who were better hitters than Clark probably should be in the Hall of Fame. There have been 47 players who, like Clark, posted an OPS+ of 135 or better over 8,000 or more plate appearances. Of those 26, are in the Hall of Fame. Of the remaining 21 all but four other players, Will Clark, Bob Johnson, Sherry Magee and Reggie Smith are either on the ballot, still active or not yet eligible.
Jeter’s talent, ability to stay healthy and unique place in modern Yankee history have all contributed to his record of most games at shortstop for any one team, and the third most at any position for any team, but the Yankee management also should get some credit, not for giving in to the pressure from fans and media to keep playing Jeter at shortstop, but for recognizing that this may have been the best way to use this exceptional player, despite his shortcomings
Last week in a relatively minor move, the New York Yankees resigned veteran outfielder Andruw Jones to a one year contract. This is a good move for the Yankees, who will continue to use Jones as a fourth outfielder and right-handed bat as needed. It is also probably a good move for Jones, who will be slotted into a role for which he is a good fit on a team that has a decent chance of making the playoffs. Jones’ career has had an interesting trajectory. He made his debut as a 19 year old phenom for the the Atlanta Braves in 1996. He capped off that by homering in his first two World Series at bats. By the age of 20, Jones was the starting center fielder on a playoff bound team. For about a decade after that Jones was an elite player, know largely for his outstanding defense in centerfield.
Ron Santo will appear on the Veteran’s Committee ballot for the Hall of Fame this year and has a good chance to be elected. Should Santo win election, it will be the second year in a row in which a favorite of more quantitatively oriented fans and writers will have been elected to the Hall of Fame. This will be good news for Lou Whitaker, Tim Raines and others. If I had a vote, I would also support the late Santo who was one of the best third baseman in the game when he was playing, is still among the very best ever to play that position and was a beloved announcer and community figure in Chicago during his post-playing days.
The question of what active players will eventually get elected to the Hall of Fameis a fun one which can generate numerous articles and even more hours of debate. However, this topic also raises some interesting questions about the Hall of Fame itself and what defines a Hall of Fame ballplayer. Perhaps the most easily overlooked aspect of this discussion has to do with how many active players will end up in Cooperstown.
There are 14 players on the 2011 Hall of Fame ballot who are return candidates from 2010: Roberto Alomar, Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell. This exceptionally strong group of returning players, particularly given the relatively weak pool of first time players on the ballot, suggests that at least some of them will be elected in 2011.
When Robinson Cano tossed the ball to Mark Texeira for the final out of the sixth game of the World Series, the Yankees won their 27th World Series and fifth since Major League Baseball first used the current expanded playoff system in 1995. The Yankees have now won one third of all World Series since 1995, an impressive accomplishment given how difficult it is to survive a three round playoff system. Clearly the Yankees have benefited from a front office that is willing and able to spend the money needed to put a strong team on the field every year, but just as clearly, there are additional explanations for the Yankees’ success.
Whenever Rose’s name comes up, it is usually in the context of discussing the ban. Meanwhile memories of Rose the player have begun to fade. Rose was not only a great player, and in many respects the iconic player of his generation, but a very unusual one. No player in history has had a career quite like Rose’s. As a player, Rose is now primarily remembered for being baseball’s all time hit leader, but even that only tells part of the story.