After reviewing all of the candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot which members of the Baseball Writers Association of America had to fill out by Dec. 31, it seems to me that the guy who is going to have the happiest New Year is Barry Larkin. While I believe that others are equally deserving, I believe that when the votes for induction into the Hall in Cooperstown in 2012 are tabulated and announced Jan. 9, Larkin will be the only player that receives the necessary 75 percent.
Larkin went into this year’s process carrying over a ledger with 62.1 percent of the vote from the last go-round of Hall voting. No new slam-dunk candidates were added to the ballot this year, so being the highest vote collector left over can definitely benefit Larkin. The long-time Cincinnati Reds’ shortstop’s credentials include being a 12-time All-Star, a nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner, the 1995 National League MVP, and a three-time Gold Glove winner. His lifetime batting average is .295.
I am high on Lee Smith, with his 478 saves, Alan Trammel, with his two decades of patrolling the Detroit Tigers’ infield, the best-ever designated hitter Edgar Martinez, and three-time batting champ Larry Walker, as well. But I predict that Jack Morris will come in second to Larkin, but will not get the 75 perecent he needs. I am hopeful that Jeff Bagwell, Don Mattingly and Tim Raines pick up more support than they have been getting to increase their chances of election in future years.
The debate will continue on whether Mark McGwire and his 583 home runs deserve to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame despite his confessing to using performance-enhancing drugs and to whether or not outfielder Rafael Palmeiro ever deserves to get in. Palmeiro swatted 569 home runs and cracked out 3,020 hits. Those are stats that ordinarily automatically ensure election. But he flunked a drug test.
I think the silent majority of the voters, not those who necessarily opined in their chosen mediums, will prevail and prove how the annual indicator of how sentiment is running, yea or nay to McGwire and Palmeiro. Likely more than enough nay voters are out there choosing not to overlook those two players’ standing as essentially outlaws of the game. Perhaps McGwire and Palmeiro will be forgiven in time, but I doubt either one will garner anywhere near enough votes to come close to election any year soon.
There were some great ballplayers on the ballot, some very good ones, and some who made a good living and experienced special moments during their careers, but never were stars. It is quite likely one, or even several of them, perhaps Tony Womack, Terry Mulholland, Phil Nevin, Jeremy Burnitz, Eric Young and Brad Radke, Tim Salmon, and Bill Mueller, will disappear from the ballot, never to return.
Tags: Alan Trammell Barry Larkin Bill Mueller Brad Radke Cincinnati Reds Don Mattingly Edgar Martinez Eric Young Hall Of Fame Jack Morris Jeff Bagwell Larry Walker Lee Smith Mark McGwire Phil Nevin Rafael Palmeiro Terry Mulholland Tim Raines Tim Salmon Tony Womack