Former Expos/Nationals with a case for the Hall of Fame

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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.

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Tags: Expos Hall Of Fame Larry Walker Lee Smith MLB Nationals Rockies Tim Raines

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  • mammerman

    I agree that the Closer role goes under appreciated in the Hall. Eck, Goose, and Sutter really set the wheels in motion for the closers. However, Lee has a case against him in that his position wasn’t noticed considering his lack of flair and superstardom….and durability is ofter overlooked. I do think he should be in the Hall, he was once the all time leader in saves.

    Raines will most likely be in the Hall but it will still take him a few more year. His number I think are great and people often have him under the radar. The man had over 2,600 hits spread out over a 23 year career and had 808 SB’s. A man with great speed and superb hitting ability should’t go unnoticed. Some voters might see his drug use as a factor but that was a common thing for players in the 80′s. Just ask Dave Parker and Rickey.

    Walker has always been a consistent player throughout his career although I don’t see him as Hall worthy. His numbers are great with a career avg. of .313 and managed to hit close to 400 HR’s. For a 17 year career his hits are on par for a close to 3,000 number had he overcame injuries but it is those injuries that just might hold him back. In the future I might reconsider but for now, I’ll pass. Oh and Coors Field had nothing on this guy’s game.

    • Scott Stewart

      I’m glad to see others agree with me on Lee Smith. Like you said he was the all time leader in saves. Plus it was not as if he was the all time leader one year and then past the next he was the all time leader for 13 seasons the guy got the job done for a long time.

      You are right Raines does have the drug problem that probably does hurt him in the eyes of some of the voters. For me the way I look at it though is it didnt stop him from putting together a great career. They need to remember he was not Doc Gooden or Strawberry where drugs actually completely ruined what would have been a great career.

      I can why you would not vote for Walker when it comes to the hall of fame. With injuries and all he is not a guy that I would consider a lock to make the hall of fame but just from my own personal point of view I’d like to see him get in one day. Despite the injuries I still feel that he managed to piece together one heck of a career for himself. It is a shame though that he was hurt so much because his numbers would have been without a doubt hall of fame worthy.

  • mammerman

    Walker certainly has Hall numbers, however, the only problem he goes under-appreciated is the era he played in. Yes his injuries flanked him but when you play in an era with guys like Bonds, Griffey, McGwire, A-Rod, etc your accomplishments tend to go under the radar. People forget that Rockies era with him and Dante bichette could have had huge success if they had solid pitching and were able to stick around with Todd Helton. He won’t get in on the first few tries but I’d like to see him in. Class act he was.