Ryan Ritchey - @BaseballAddicts on Twitter
1. Greg Maddux – This was the easiest choice out of them all, by a long shot. He had ten seasons of an ERA at or below three. Two of those seasons saw his ERA in the mid one’s. From 1992-2002 he was arguably one of the best three pitchers in all of baseball. He won four straight Cy Young‘s from 1992-1995. He saw his WAR get at or above six in ten seasons and he also won a few games as well, 355. I’m not big on wins but when his statistics look like they do, he deserves to win. Not to mention he has the Major League Baseball record for Gold Gloves, 18, including 13 straight in 23 years of MLB experience. Not to mention he did all of this with a mid-to-high 80′s fastball and great control, while playing in the power arm era. This one is a no doubter for me.
2. Frank Thomas – Thomas is a pretty easy choice as well in my opinion. He played a lot of first base, but the designated hitter position as well. You don’t see many players getting into the Hall of Fame because of their defense do you? That will come into play a little later. He could hit for power and also got on base at a great rate. He walked over 100 times in a season, 10 times, while only striking out 100 times in a season, three times. The Big Hurt finished in the top ten in MVP voting nine times, including coming out on top in both the 1993-1994 seasons. To wrap it all up he hit over 500 home runs and is one of the best right-handed hitters of all-time. He also hasn’t been linked to any steroid rumors and for that, you have to trust that he has never been on the juice.
3. Craig Biggio – Biggio is a borderline Hall of Famer, but I believe he needs to be in Cooperstown. He collected 3,000 hits in his 20 year career and also scored close to 1,850 runs. His 1,844 is good for 15th best all-time. He was a double hitting machine, in fact his 668 two baggers are the most ever for a right-handed hitter. He also came away with a 50 double/50 stolen base season, the only one to happen in the last 100 seasons. He had a great mix of speed and power, as he hit 291 home runs in his career. He did all of these things as a second baseman for most of his career.
4. Tim Raines – Raines as I wrote yesterday, was one of the best base stealers of all time. He totaled 808 in his career out of 954 attempts. He walked over 1330 times compared to his strikeouts which came to a total of less than 1,000. He wasn’t the player that you wanted to watch at the plate, but when he got on the bases, you didn’t want to blink, because you might miss him stealing a base. His statistics compared to Tony Gwynn alone should get him to Cooperstown this year. He is in my opinion the second best leadoff hitter behind Rickey Henderson.
5. Edgar Martinez – He we are with another player that doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves. He was a designated hitter that gets thrown under the bus because he didn’t play the field. So I will ask again, how many players make the Hall of Fame because of their fielding ability? Martinez compiled over 2,200 hits, 500 doubles and 300 homers. His on base percentage ranks 21st all-time, with his on base plus slugging 34th best. He isn’t a no doubter, but he is deserving of a plaque in the Hall of Fame.
I could of easily put eight names on this list, but I just don’t think Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent did enough to be first ballot Hall of Famers. In my opinion, there are Hall of Famers and then there are the first ballot Hall of Famers. I do believe that each of these players get in in the near future and possibly even this season if the voters see it that way. On the Jack Morris delima, he just wasn’t great enough to even be mentioned. He was an innings eater that flowed with everyone else. He was never on top of the game at any point in his career, in any capacity.
I also can’t come to voting for Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, or Barry Bonds. If they have been linked to steroids, I just can’t vote for them. They may have been great players, but it was with a little help along the way.