On January 5th the results of the BBWAA election for the Hall of Fame will be announced and of the 33 players on the ballot 6 spent some part of their career as either an Expo or a National
Lee Smith (25 games as an Expo)
Tim Raines (1,452 games as an Expo)
Carlos Baerga (93 games as a National)
Marquis Grissom (698 games as an Expo)
Kirk Rueter (59 games as an Expo)
Larry Walker (674 games as an Expo)
Now I don’t have a vote for the Hall of Fame but if I did there is only 3 players from the list that would ever get my vote and they are Lee Smith, Tim Raines and Larry Walker. Granted Lee Smith really did not play much for the Expos but I’m a fan of his so I will talk about him anyways as well as Raines and Walker.
Lee Smith is in his 9th year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame and received votes on 47.3% of the 2010 ballots falling short of the 75% that is needed to be elected. In my opinion there seems to be a slight discrimination towards closers when it comes to voting for the Hall of Fame but for me I’ve always felt if the position exists it needs representation in the Hall and Lee is a guy I’d definitely give a vote to.
Lee is a 7x All Star with a career stat line of
1,289.1 innings pitched, 478 saves, 1,251 strikeouts, 3.03 era and a era+ of 132
His era+ ranks 34th all time and the fact that it was done over 1,022 games (tied for 10th all time) and 18 seasons shows a prolonged length of dominance. When you consider the fact that an era+ of 100 is considered average and Smith did not have a season of 100 or lower until the age of 39 it is pretty impressive.
Also keep in mind that Smith became the all time saves leader in 1993 and was still the all time saves leader when he retired in 1997. It was not until 2007 that he was passed by Trevor Hoffman and is still 3rd all time behind only Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera both of which should one day end up in the hall of fame in my opinion.
Another thing that could be working in his favor over the long run is that both Gossage and Sutter are finally in the Hall of Fame. Clearing the list of other high quality closers may clear a path for him because there is not as big a backlog of closers where you can use them not being in to argue well hey if they are not in than Smith shouldn’t be either.
Will he get in this year? Probably not but remember it was not until his 13th year of eligibility that Bruce Sutter was elected in to the Hall of Fame. So Lee Smith is not a person that I would completely count out as making it in the future.