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Bert Blyleven was the big winner in this year’s Hall of Fame voting, as he finally gained the necessary amount of votes in his 14th year of eligibility. He will join Roberto Alomar who was elected in his second year on the ballot.But there were also a number of players that took big hits to their hopes of someday receiving baseball’s highest honour (percentage of votes in parentheses, 75% required for induction)…
Jack Morris (53.5%) – A lot of the debate surrounding this year’s vote was Blyleven versus Morris. And while the Circle-Me-Bert supporters finally pushed their man through, Morris remains as polarising as ever. And now it looks like it will be too little too late. With only three years of eligibility remaining, he probably needed to be above 60% this year to keep his momentum going. A 1.2% increase over last year is just not enough.
Lee Smith (45.3%) – When Smith retired, he was the all-time saves leader (478), and he is still one of only five players with at least 400 saves. But despite some recent love for relievers in Hall voting, Smith’s vote total actually went down in his ninth year of eligibility. He has consistently fallen between 37% and 45% of the vote, and he just doesn’t have the upward trend needed to eventually get in.
Edgar Martinez (32.9%) – Like Smith, Martinez’ total went down this year from 36.2% a year ago. And while it is just his second year of eligibility, there are just too many people out there penalising him for being a DH. This, despite the fact he never hurt his team defensively as many Hall of Famers did. Until that stigma is removed, Edgar is not getting in.
Mark McGwire (19.8%) – McGwire admitted using steroids this year. And the result was his lowest vote total in his five years of eligibility, dropping from his high of 23.7% last year. The problem with McGwire is that, unlike Barry Bonds, a lot of people don’t think McGwire is a Hall of Famer without the home runs. The rest of his numbers just aren’t that impressive. And unless attitudes on steroids change, he will never be a Hall of Famer.
Fred McGriff (17.9%) – It is curious that voters will so blatantly penalise known or suspected steroid users. And yet they won’t promote a guy like McGriff, a player that most people think played clean. Despite 493 home runs, a total that would likely be Hall-worthy in any other generation, Crime Dog’s vote total went down (from 21.5%) in his second year of eligibility.
Don Mattingly (13.6%) – Donnie Baseball received 28.2% of the votes in his first year of eligibility. And now in his 11th year, that number has been more than cut in half. What is interesting with Mattingly is that voters will penalise DHs for not playing defence, but they don’t give Mattingly credit for playing great defence.
Rafael Palmeiro (11.0%) – In his first year on the ballot, the voters made their case loud and clear. No proven steroid users.
BJ Surhoff (0.3%) – Surhoff received two votes. Yes, two. That’s not unusual. Writers can vote for up to 10 guys, and occasionally somebody will give a token vote to a friend or to a player that treated them well. But Surhoff didn’t reach the necessary 5% to get back on next year’s ballot. And that’s a damn shame (not really).
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