Tuesday, January 9, 2007

A Bomber & A RedSox Should Also Join Hall

This afternoon the BBWAA will obviously elect 1st-ballot locks Cal Ripken Jr and Tony Gwynn into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cal gets by on "the streak" and his baseball ambassador-hood alone, while Gwynn may be one of the top-10 pure hitters of all time. There is no argument with either of these selections, although I think Gwynn should be labeled 1) and Ripken 1a).

Besides the 1st-balloteers, my well-deserved-yet-overlooked picks to enter Cooperstown would include Rich "Goose" Gossage and Jim "A-hole" Rice. Once Bruce Sutter earned his hallpass and plaque, Gossage should be guaranteed one as well.

Goose met the requirements as he dominated the Majors for an extended period of time (my personal timeline is eight years) and was one of the top lock-down closers of all time. During his era, pitchers like Sutter and Gossage were usually called upon for multiple inning saves - whether that be two or even three frames. This was a time when the term "Fireman" meant what it implied. Closers came in when there was trouble and were expected to douse the flames.

His most dominant years came between 1975 and 1985. At which time his average ERA was 2.41; average WHIP was 1.09; had a 2.38 k/bb ratio; and a 7.94 k/9. If that's not a hall of fame caliber, I don't know what is. His career WHIP of 1.23 and career ERA of 3.01 further impresses since his career spanned 22 seasons.

During Sutter's nine-year period of dominance (his final 3 years unimpressive) his WHIP of 1.10; k/9 of 7.41 and 3.13 k/bb rate is extremely comparable to Goose's eleven-year averages. One could make the argument that Gossage should have been voted in before Sutter (or at least simultaneously) because Goose was able to remain very good even after his most dominant seasons.

As far as Rice goes, it is an absolute travesty that he's been denied the opportunity to drop an F-bomb or two on an induction stage. During a twelve year span Rice was one of the most dominating and feared hitters in the AL.

Between 1975-1986 Rice averaged .304, 29 homers, and 106 RBI, earning himself six top-5's in MVP voting. Rice led the league in total bases four times and is an eight-time allstar. He also racked up four 200-hit seasons, eight 100 RBI seasons, and eleven 20 homerun seasons. His career numbers are: 2,452 hits, 382 HR, 1,451 rbi, 79 triples. In three different seasons Rice was able to generate 39 homeruns. In 1978 Rice clocked 46 homeruns, 139 RBI and batted .315 to assure himself the AL MVP. (Important to remember that 40 homerun type seasons were not a dime-a-dozen as they are today)

Rice's caustic relationship with the media and injury-shortened career are the primary reasons for his Hall-holdout. In today's era of steroids and "performance enhancing drugs" it is nearly impossible to say for sure which athletes are legit and which are pumping horse plasma into their calves.

So, when a guy like Rice undoubtedly puts up legitimate hall-of-fame numbers he should be allowed a place in Cooperstown. To deny his entry into the hall because of his attitude becomes playground behavior when comparing his sins to that of McGuire, Sosa, Bonds and who knows how many others.


Patrick said...

Cal had almost 3,200 hits, more than 400 homeruns.

Cal played not just every game for many, many years, but every inning of those games.

He changed the position (with Trammell's help) from a light-hitting glove position to the big body, big bat position of today...Arod, Jeter, Nomar - you're welcome.

He won Rookie of the Year, has a World Series ring and was twice named MVP.

Cal is 1a?

yankeesZrider said...

As I said, I have absolutely no qualms Patrick as far as Cal's worthyness of the hall.

Many people look at the hall of fame in many ways, and my personal criteria is "did he dominate the game for an extended period of time?" I simply believe that Gwynn was more of a dominate force than Ripken, and he was also an extremely underrated talent as far fielding his rightfield position.

I am not trying to disrespect Ripken's accomplishments b/c no one marvels at his ability more than I. However, the greatest attribute he possesses is his consistency. Whether that be never missing a start (and as you stated, these games were never 3inning vacations) or effortlessly posting 18-27 homeruns along with 80-90 RBI seasons.

As you said, these types of numbers changed the position, but in some ways I am more impressed with the Jim Rice player who undeniably dominated the game for a number of years rather than a player who tirelessly compiled consistently very good numbers.

Remember Ripken was career .276 hitter but he did have career OPS in the 800+ range. I am not saying Ripken does not extremely impress me, he does. I am only saying that Gwynn's ability (career .338 average, 89 triples, 319 stolen bases, 390 OBP, avg. 24 k's/SEASON)was a rung higher.