While the big news regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame is that no players were voted in this year, one of my favorite things to do when the vote tally comes out each year is to see which players got at least one vote in their first year of eligibility, but not enough votes to stay on the ballot next year – or as I like to call them, the Hall of Fame one-and-done players.
This year had plenty of those players, ranging from leading one-and-done vote getter, Kenny Lofton, with 18 votes to Aaron Sele (he of the 4.61 career ERA) with one vote, presumably from someone who owes him money but has no other way to pay him back.
There are many talented players who end up in this group, however, and I thought it would be fun to see if I could make an All-Star team out of one-and-done players from the past five years. So, I put my mad scientist baseball cap on (a popular item among us sciency baseball nerds), and got started on exactly that:
The Batting Order:
1. CF Kenny Lofton (18 votes): With 622 career stolen bases and a career .299 batting average, Lofton is doing what he did best throughout his career – leading off.
2. 2B Eric Young (1 vote): An ideal second hitter, Young had speed with 465 stolen bases and could hit the ball with consistency as he had a .283 batting average.
3. DH Mo Vaughn (6 votes): A tough call for the third spot, but I'm going with Vaughn and his .298 batting average, 328 home runs and 1,064 runs batted in.
4. 1B Andres Galarraga (22 votes): The Big Cat is the ideal clean-up hitter as he tallied 399 home runs and 1,425 runs batted in in his career.
5. RF Shawn Green (2 votes): Going to go a little righty/lefty here and throw in Green, who had 328 home runs and 1,071 runs batted in.
6. 3B Matt Williams (7 votes): What I remember best about Williams was that he – more than any other player – terrified me when I pitched against him in R.B.I. Baseball 3. His 378 home runs and 1,218 runs batted in back up that memory.
7. LF Ellis Burks (2 votes): Not a lot of left fielders to choose from (Burks was the only one who spent a good chunk of time there), but I'm OK with that, especially knowing he had 352 home runs and 1,206 runs batted in.
8. C Javy Lopez (1 vote): The best hitting catcher among the one-and-done players, he had 260 home runs and a .287 batting average.
9 SS Julio Franco (6 votes): I wanted to make Franco the utility player, but the shortstop position was between him and Jay Bell. I went with Franco and his .298 average and 2,586 hits.
C – Sandy Alomar Jr. (16 votes): Alomar was a superb defensive catcher..
3B – Vinny Castilla (6 votes): A good slugger in his day, but not as good as Williams.
SS/2B – Jay Bell (2 votes): The team needs a middle infielder.
1B – Tino Martinez (6 votes): A worthy backup to Galarraga.
OF – Marquis Grissom (4 votes): The toughest decision to make was who got the final outfield position. Ultimately wanted Grissom's speed and 429 stolen bases in case a pinch runner is needed.
The Starting Rotation:
1 – David Cone (21 votes): Your ace with 194 wins, a 3.46 ERA and 2,688 strikeouts.
2 – Kevin Brown (12 votes): You could easily consider him 1A, with 211 wins, a 3.28 ERA and 2,397 strikeouts.
3 – David Wells (5 votes): The ERA was a little high at 4.13, but I'll take those 239 wins.
4 – Kevin Appier (1 vote): I enjoyed watching him pitch. Finished his career with a 3.74 ERA and 1,994 strikeouts.
5 – Al Leiter (4 votes): Not bad for a fifth starter. A 3.80 ERA and 1,974 strikeouts.
Middle relief – Pat Hentgen (1 vote): Well, he's better than Aaron Sele.
Middle relief – Brad Radke (2 votes): Also better than Aaron Sele.
Middle relief – Aaron Sele (1 vote): He is Aaron Sele. But I need pitching depth and there aren't many pitchers among the one-and-done group.
Middle relief – Mark Grace (22 votes): I really need pitching depth, and Grace did a great Mike Fetters impression during the one time he was allowed to pitch. I'm also happy to have him pinch hit with his .303 batting average and 2,445 hits.
Setup – Jesse Orosco (1 vote): One of two true relievers on this list, Orosco had a 3.16 ERA and 144 saves.
Closer – John Franco (27 votes): The other true reliever and a perfect closer for this team with a 2.89 ERA and 424 saves.
Robin Ventura (7 votes): The former third baseman has made an excellent coach so far. He'll continue that role with this team.
In the Minors:
These are the players that didn't quite make the cut. I especially would have liked to have found a space for Steve Finley and John Olerud, but – unlike Grace – they don't have a Mike Fetters impression: Steve Finley (4 votes); Tim Salmon (5 votse); Bill Mueller (4 votes); John Olerud (4 votes); B.J. Surhoff (2 votes); Bret Boone (1 vote); Benito Santiago (1 vote); Eric Karros (2 votes); David Sequi (1 vote).
This team has it all. Speed, power, quality pitching – as long as Grace isn't needed in middle relief. These players might not be in the Hall of Fame, but they make one heck of an imaginary baseball team. And I'm sure that means almost just as much.
• Going for Gusto is a blog by Joe Grace. Columns, videos, lists and quick thoughts posted throughout the week. Send questions, comments and blog ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/therealjoegrace.
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