The Hall of Fame voting was announced Monday and hoooraaaaaaay for Barry Larkin! As a high-average, long-tenured, face-of-the-franchise, OBP-hound with well-regarded defense, Larkin bridged every divide between traditionalists and saberists possible. Well deserved, Mr. Larkin.
But Larkin and his burly 86.4% of the vote, is the only player being inducted this year, so this year's results are almost more interesting for judging who will get inducted in future years than the current crop. That's great for people who love tracking prospects, or otherwise watching something slowly come to fruition without ever really enjoying the payoff. Behold!
Juan Gonzalez's 434 HR apparently weren't good enough to make up for middling on-base skills and DH-quality defense. Oh well, the 90's continue to die hard.
Larkin's explosion in vote totals is obviously the most noteworthy, but no players White Sox fans care about have the skillset of Barry Larkin. If there was such a player, being a White Sox fan would be an entirely different animal.
When it comes to the Hall of Fame, White Sox fans care about Frank Thomas, and maybe Tim Raines. Maybe they figure that Jack Morris getting in will up Buehrle's chances of qualifying because they're both "gamers", but really just those two for the moment.
Raines didn't have his super-elite prime in Chicago, but he spent 5 years on the team, was awesome in '92, contributed solidly to the '93 and '94 teams, and was a coach on the 2005 World Series winning squad.
There's little chance Raines goes in with a White Sox hat on, but it'd be fun event, if for no other reason than he deserves it for being a really, really good leadoff man. Raines saw a significant 11.2% jump in his voting this year, which was the largest during his eligibility (which last for another 10 years). It brought him tantalizingly close to the 50% mark, which only Gil Hodges has reached without getting elected. Of course, he's still not particularly close to the 75% mark, the mark which literally everyone who has ever reached has made the Hall of Fame. He seems to be on his way, slowly but surely.
Jeff Bagwell and Edgar Martinez could be viewed as possible primers for Frank Thomas' upcoming candidacy in 2014. Bagwell is encouaging! Martinez is..uh, Martinez is not so encouraging.
We all have illusions and dreams of Frank Thomas being a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He was a joy to watch, eclipsed the illustrious 500 HR mark, hit for average, piled up walks, and was probably the greatest hitter in franchise history. And maybe, just maybe, Frank being every bit as gung ho and outspoken against steroids as the most crusading sportswriter will squeeze out the necessary votes that are possibly being withheld from Bagwell.
One would hope, because Thomas, Bagwell and Martinez are pretty much the same quality hitters. Thomas has a career wRC+ of 154, while Bagwell posted a 149, and Martinez 148. Martinez's campaign looks to be in real danger of stalling in the mid-30's, as he's being punished for spending his career as a DH, and not having the traditional power stats one often associates with the position.
More encouragingly, Bagwell looks to be well on his way given the jump he experienced this year, and chances are that the advantages he had over Frank in terms of fielding and baserunning won't get as much play in traditional media as the 72 HR difference in their career totals.
Those slightly gaudier traditional hitting totals and the multiple MVP awards mean that Frank should be fine even if the topic that he was never any good at anything beyond the duties of being a DH comes up. But during a stretch of voting that's seen his peers held up for reasons that could also affect him (lack of non-hitting skills, playing in a crazy era for hitting), an unexpected hiccup is more than possible.
While Raines and Thomas' path to the Hall of Fame promises to be gradual and slowly satisfying, another ascension could be in the work at this very moment.
@CST_soxvan Daryl Van Schouwen
Jays designate Mark Teahen for assignment. Jays on hook for $5.5mil in '2012. Hit .190 in 27 games for Toronto
Say, the White Sox have a spot a roster spot for an iffy veteran who can kinda fill in at 1st, 3rd and the corner outfield! Would there be anything more poetic than the player that Kenny Williams traded for after a down year, promised a starting spot to, inexplicably gave a contract extension to, and shipped off a solid rotation piece to dump the salary of, being picked up for the veteran minimum after the team Williams dumped him to ate his salary just to be rid of him?
No, no. The fans wouldn't stand for it. And there's some axiom about if a certain percentage of your roster qualifies as "rebound candidates", it just means you're unabashedly terrible.
@ESPY_TEAHEN Mark Teahen
BlueJays are a class org. Players & Coaches r great & Alex A is a man of his word. Excited 4 bigger role elsewhere but thankful 4 time n TO
Being relegated to the same scant bench role he had in 2011 probably isn't what Teahen has in mind when he says "bigger role". He needs a team with no locked-in infield starters, a team that will probably be searching for corner outfield upgrade by mid-May, a team that has shown the boldness to take a chance on aging veterans to retain previous heights of serviceability.
Make it so, Ned.
Tags: alan trammell, barry larkin, baseball, bernie williams, bill mueller, brad radke, brian jordan, dale murphy, don mattingly, edgar martinez, eric young, Frank Thomas, fred mcgriff, hall of fame, jack morris, javy lopez, jeff bagwell, jeromy burnitz, juan gonzalez, larry walker, lee smith, mark mcgwire, phil nevin, rafael palmeiro, ruben sierra, terry mulholland, tim raines, tim salmon, tony womack, vinny castilla, White Sox