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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Darryl Strawberry. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Darryl Strawberry. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

One and done: Darryl Strawberry

Through most of the 1980s, the mere idea that Darryl Strawberry would not be an easy first ballot Hall of Famer would have seemed laughable. If Strawberry wasn’t the game’s most feared slugger, he was on the short list.

The Mets right fielder hit 39 home runs in 1987, repeated in 1988, and had 335 for his career, with 1,000 RBI. That 1988 season was memorable: Strawberry led in homers (39), slugging (.545), and OPS (.911.)

He could also run. Strawberry stole 20 bases or more for five straight seasons between 1984 and 1988. He was the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year.

What happened? At or close to the peak of his performance, Strawberry fell victim to a couple of the most common curses of American life: drugs and/or alcohol. Although still just 30, by 1992 his demons largely reduced Strawberry to the status of part-time player, first with the Dodgers, then the Giants, and finally the Yankees.

The impact was obvious. For the first nine seasons of his 17-season career, Strawberry had a .358 on base average and .516 slugging average in 4,408 official at-bats. For the final seven seasons of that career, he got only 1,010 at-bats and his slugging average evaporated, all the way down to .335.

So we are talking here about a peak Hall candidate. In fairness to Strawberry, there have been some superb peak candidates, the prototype of which is Sandy Koufax. It’s also likely that some voters were turned off by all the off-field, self-destructive drama.

Fair enough. Maybe Strawberry isn’t a Hall of Famer. But certainly his resume is worth more than the half-dozen votes he got when his name hit the ballot in 2005.