MLB: The one-and-done All-Star team of Baseball Hall of Fame rejects

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08: Lance Berkman #17 of the Houston Astros homers to left field in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates as catcher Jason jaramillo #35 frames the pitch at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08: Lance Berkman #17 of the Houston Astros homers to left field in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates as catcher Jason jaramillo #35 frames the pitch at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Johan Santana.. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Johan Santana.. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

One and done: Johan Santana

Like Strawberry, Santana is a peak candidate. For eight seasons between 2003 and 2010, he may have been the game’s best pitcher. But arm troubles set in, all but ending his career by age 31.

His 139-78 record looks superficially OK but unspectacular. Consider it, however, on a season average basis. For the eight seasons of his prime, he averaged 15.5 wins against just 7.5 losses, won three ERA titles, and rolled up a 2.89 ERA.

In 2006 and again in 2008, he led his league in innings pitched, both times topping 230 innings. He was twice a unanimous Cy Young Award winner for the Twins, at 20-6, 2.61 in 2004 and 19-6, 2.77 in 2006.

You want strikeouts, Santana gave you strikeouts. He totaled 1,988 for his career, including a three-season stretch between 2004 and 2006 when Santana whiffed 748 opponents. He led his league all three of those seasons, and not by small margins. Santana had 38 more than the runner-up in 2004, 27 more in 2005 and 43 more in 2006.

Santana’s Hall case was undermined by a series of physical breakdowns. There were arm injuries, then back problems, then a torn Achilles that finished his 2012 comeback attempt with the Mets.

As a result, his 51.7 career WAR comes up short compared with Hall starters of longer duration. That appears to be how Hall voters saw it, anyway. When Santana came onto the ballot in 2018, voters appeared to consider only his broken down post-career self. Of 422 ballots cast, he got 10 votes.