Players Who Should Be In The Baseball Hall of Fame
Below is a list of players I believe should be in the Hall of Fame based on the player’s merits alone and not a comparison to players now in the Hall. I make no distinction between players who have been linked to PEDs and those who have not. I considered all players who are eligible for the Hall of Fame which means players on Major League Baseball’s banned list such as Pete Rose and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson were not considered.
First Base – Carlos Delgado
First Base – Gil Hodges
First Base / Designated Hitter / Outfield – Rafael Palmeiro
Second Base – Jeff Kent
Outfield – Barry Bonds
Outfield – Vladimir Guerrero
Outfield / Designated Hitter – Manny Ramirez
Outfield / Third Base / Designated Hitter – Gary Sheffield
Designated Hitter / Third Base – Edgar Martinez
Pitcher – Roger Clemens
Pitcher – Mike Mussina
Pitcher – Curt Schilling
Pitcher – Trevor Hoffman
Pitcher – Billy Wagner
Eligible since 2015 Carlos Delgado was one of the best and most consistent run producers of the late 90s and early 00s in Toronto. Playing in the often forgotten about Canada may ultimately end up hurting his candidacy. Nevertheless, he had the combination of power and average numbers worthy of enshrinement. His career slash line was .280/.383/.546 along with 473 homers and 1,512 rbi. Delgado also made two All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger Awards as well as finishing in the top nine in MVP voting four times including runner-up in 2003. During his 17-year career he played for the Toronto Blue Jays (1993-2004), Florida Marlins (2005), and the New York Mets (2006-2009).
Eligible since 1969 Gil Hodges lack or enshrinement might be one of the biggest oversights in Cooperstown history. He was one of the most important cogs in the Brooklyn Dodgers machine that made six World Series appearances in 11 years. Hodges put together a nine year run (1949-1957) together that is as good as any player in Dodger history. His career slash line was .273/.359/.487 along with 370 homers and 1,274 rbi. He made eight All-Star teams, won three Gold Glove Awards as well as finishing in the top eight in MVP voting twice. During his 18-year career he played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (1943-1957) and New York Mets (1962-1963)
Eligible since 2011 Rafael Palmeiro was one of the rare first base offensive weapons that was not simply serviceable but a good fielder. For the better part of a decade, Palmeiro was one of the best hitters in the game. Sure we all remember him wagging his finger at congress but that doesn’t erase all the things he did on the field. And he did most of them well. His career slash line is .288/.371/.515 to go along with 3,020 hits, 585 doubles, 569 homers, 1,835 rbi, and 1,353 walks. He made four All-Star teams, won three Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards, and finished in the top eight in MVP voting three times. During his 20-year career, he played for the Chicago Cubs (1986-1988), Texas Rangers (1989-1993, 1999-2002), and Baltimore Orioles (1994-1998, 2004-2005). Palmeiro was one of the most incredibly consistent players during his career.
Eligible since 2014 Jeff Kent had one of the best and longest offensive runs of any second baseman in baseball history, 1997-2005. He had six consecutive seasons with at least 22 homers and 101 rbi. His career slash line is .290/.356/.500 to compliment his 560 doubles, 377 homers, 1,518 rbi. Kent won the 2000 NL MVP as well as four Silver Slugger Awards and being named to five All-Star teams. During his 17 year career Kent suited up for the Toronto Blue Jays (1992), New York Mets (1992-1996), Cleveland Indians (1996), San Francisco Giants (1997-2002), Houston Astros (2003-2004), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2005-2008).
Eligible since 2012 Barry Bonds was said to have been on a path leading directly to Cooperstown prior to the start of what is believed to be the PED years. Bonds seemed destined for baseball greatness with his father Bobby Bonds and godfather Willie Mays to look up to. He could run, hit for power and average, and play above average defense. Besides holding the all-time career record in homers (762), walks (2,558), and intentional walks (688) and the single season home run record (73) he also is a seven-time NL MVP winner including four consecutive (2001-2003). Bonds also is a eight-time Gold Glove winner, 12-time Silver Slugger, and a 14-time All-Star. Bonds played the first 7 years of his career (1986-1992) in Pittsburgh before signing with the San Francisco Giants and spending the remaining 15 years of his career (1993-2007) there.
Eligible since 2016 Vladimir Guerrero never saw a pitch it didn’t like. Willing and able to hit any pitch out of the park Guerrero’s ability to hit for such a high average over his career is unbelievable. His career slash line is .318/.379/.553 to go along with 449 homers, 1,496 rbi and 181 stolen bases. He won the 2004 AL MVP as well as finishing in the top nine five other times. He was also an eight-time Silver Slugger and a nine-time All-Star. During his career Vladdy played for the Montreal Expos (1996-2003), Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels (2004-2009), Texas Rangers (2010), and the Baltimore Orioles (2011).
Eligible since 2016 Manny Ramirez was one of the games greatest hitters of all-time. He combined power and pure hitting like few before him. He put together a 14-year stretch nearly unmatched in both production and length in which he hit .300 or better every season but three seasons (.294 in 1998, .292 in 2005, .296 in 2007), hit 31 homers every year but two (26 in 1997, 20 in 2007), drove in 100 runs in all but two years (88 in 1997, 88 in 2007), and had an OBP of at least .400 nine times. While he never won an MVP award he did finish in the top 9 nine times including eight years in a row (1998-2005). He also won nine Silver Slugger Awards and was selected to 12 All-Star teams. During his career Manny played for the Cleveland Indians (1993-2000), Boston Red Sox (2001-2008), Los Angeles Dodgers (2008-2010), Chicago White Sox (2010) and the Tampa Bay Rays (2011).
Eligible since 2014 Gary Sheffield is one of the most successful players to have played for 8 teams. Exactly why Sheffield never stayed with any team for more than six-years may be a mystery. The reason there was always a new team willing to pay north of $10 million a season is obvious: he was one of the best offensive players in baseball during his 22-year career. Sheffield was a nine-time All-Star and a five-time Silver Slugger. He also finished in the top nine of MVP voting six times including one second place finish and two third place finishes. During his career he played for the Milwaukee Brewers (1988-1991), San Diego Padres (1992-1993), Florida Marlins (1993-1998), Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-2001), Atlanta Braves (2002-2003), New York Yankees (2004-2006), Detroit Tigers (2007-2008), and the New York Mets (2009).
Eligible since 2010 Edgar Martinez was the best pure hitter in the American League during his career. He played in 2,055 career games of which he played in the field in 592. That lack of defensive play fuels the debate about his Hall of Fame candidacy, much like, during his playing days, his MVP candidacy was called into question. His career slash line of .312/.418/.515 is so rare that only 20 other players have slashed .300/.400/.500 over their career and 13 of them are in the Hall of Fame, 2 are currently active (Mike Trout & Joey Votto), two are not eligible (“Shoeless” Joe Jackson & Chipper Jones) and three others (Larry Walker, Manny Ramirez, and Todd Helton) are not in the Hall, yet. Along with his impressive career slash line he also has 514 doubles, 309 homers, 1,261 rbi and more walks than strikeout (1283 vs. 1202). He was a seven-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and twice finished in the top six in MVP voting. Martinez spent the entirety of his 18-year career playing for the Seattle Mariners.
Eligible since 2012 Roger Clemens, just like Bonds, was pitching his way to the Hall of Fame prior to what is believed to be the “steroid era”. Clemens was mowing down AL hitters and piling up wins and strikeouts while keeping his ERA well below league average. While no one may ever be able to know why he took PEDs it doesn’t seem to have been necessary. Clemens won the 1986 MVP and Cy Young. He would go on to win six more Cy Young Awards and finish in the top eight of the MVP voting three times. He was also selected to 11 All-Star teams and has the third most career strikeouts (4,672). During his 24 years in the bigs he pitched for the Boston Red Sox (1984-1996), Toronto Blue Jays (1997-1998), New York Yankees (1999-2003, 2007), and the Houston Astros (2004-2006).
Eligible since 2014 Mike Mussina was one of the most ridiculously consistent pitchers of the modern era despite pitching during the heart of what is believed to be the “steroid era”. Considered an ace during his career the knock on Mussina is that he didn’t hit any of the generally accepted Hall of Fame worthy bench marks; 3,000 strikeouts (2,813), 300 wins (270), or a Cy Young winner. He did win at least 11 games in 17 consecutive seasons (all but his first year in the league in which he only pitched 12 games) and started at least 27 games every year except 1993 & 1994. Nine times he finished in the top six in Cy Young voting. He did win seven Gold Gloves and was selected to five All-Star teams. Mussina split his 18-year career between the Baltimore Orioles (1991-2000) and the New York Yankees (2001-2008).
Eligible since 2012 Curt Schilling was one of the best big game big stage pitchers of all time. Bloody sock anyone? Much like Mussina, I think that his lack of a Cy Young Award and his relatively small number of wins, 216, is enough to keep him off enough ballots to keep him out of the Hall. He was one of the premier strikeout pitchers during his career and hardly ever walked anyone. He finished in the top four in Cy Young voting four times, three times finishing second. Schill did make six All-Star teams and holds the best K/BB ratio of any pitcher with at least 1,500 innings in baseball history. Schilling played his 20 year career with the Baltimore Orioles (1988-1990), Houston Astros (1991), Philadelphia Phillies (1992-1999), Arizona Diamondbacks (2000-2003) and the Boston Red Sox (2004-2007).
Eligible since 2016 Trevor Hoffman was among the most dominating and consistent relievers of all time. The question of the validity of the relief pitchers place in the Hall has ended in recent years with the elections of Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley, and Goose Gossage. The fact the Trevor Hoffman retired as the all-time leader in saves, more than all the relievers now in the Hall and second most all-time, begs the question why was Hoffman not elected? Hoffman finished in the top six in Cy Young voting four times including two second place finishes (1998 & 2006). He was selected to seven All-Star teams. During his 18 year career Hoffman closed out games for the Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, and Milwaukee Brewers.
Eligible since 2015 Billy Wagner was among the most dominating closers of all time. Wagner could and did strikeout anyone and everyone. He had three seasons where he struk out more than 14 batters per nine innings. While he never led the league in saves he did collect 422 saves during his career and twice finished in the top 6 in Cy Young voting. He also made seven All-Star teams. During his 16 year career Wagner finished games for the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, and the Atlanta Braves.