2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot
Joel Luckhaupt - Reds and Blues
To tell you the truth, I have never really put much thought into the Hall of Fame voting. It seemed to me that there were always
obvious choices and for the most part those guys got elected each year. However, there aren't any sure-fire Hall of Famers on
the ballot for the first time this year, so anything can happen. It sounds like a good chance for a couple of deserving players
who have spent some time on the ballot to finally get their due.
Bert Blyleven: Blyleven deserves to be elected based solely on his classic Chris Berman nickname back when it meant
something to get a nickname from Chris Berman. Sadly, Berman is essentially a caricature of somebody doing a Chris
Berman imitation these days, and Bert "Be Home" Blyleven is still not in the Hall.
Every year I become more amazed at the lack of support for the Blyleven campaign, which is growing but still falls well short of
the necessary 75%. I don't know what else the guy would have to do to have a Hall of Fame resume. His counting stats are
impressive: Fifth in strikeouts, 9th in shutouts, and 7th in innings pitched. His Sabermetric stats are impressive: 17th in RSAA,
21st in Win Shares for pitchers. He had a career ERA of 3.31 and stellar ERA+ of 118. Yet, many writers leave Blyleven off of
their ballot predominately because he lacks that golden nugget - 300 wins. Never mind the fact that he is 24th on the overall
wins list with 287 and ranks ahead of Hall of Famers Robin Roberts, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Palmer, and Bob Gibson, among
others. He continues to be turned away from the Hall.
I could continue to make more of a case for Blyleven, but there are much smarter writers out there who have already done it
better than I ever could. Rather than just plagiarize their text here, go check out The Baseball Analysts' "Bert Blyleven Series"
for a couple of articles that hit all of the major points one could make about Blyleven's case for the Hall. If you don't think he is
a Hall of Famer after reading that site, well, then he must have stole your bike when you were a kid.
Alan Trammell: Part of my reason for giving a vote to Trammell is very personal, but not because of any attachment that I have
to him. Rather it is my belief that former Cincinnati Red Barry Larkin, who I watched for his entire career, is a definite Hall of
Famer and I'm afraid that if Trammell doesn't make it into the Hall that it will hurt Larkin's chances of making it as well. If you
check out either Larkin or Trammell's page on Baseball-Reference.com, you'll that they are each other's most similar player for
their careers. It makes sense too since most of their major counting stats are relatively tight for two guys with a combined 39
seasons of Major League experience.
In my eyes, the easy case for Trammel starts with the fact that his 318 Win Shares as a shortstop rank him 9th all time, ahead
of other Hall of Famers like Pee Wee Reese, Luis Aparicio, and Lou Boudreau. He helped usher in, along with Cal Ripken Jr.
and Robin Yount, a new era of good hitting, good fielding shortstops during the 1980s. He won 4 Gold Gloves from 1980-84
and posted an OPS that was at least 20% better than the league six times in an eight year stretch during the 1980s. And he
was a leader on two playoff teams and even took home the World Series MVP during the 1984 Series when he hit .450 with 6
RBI and 2 HR in the five-game series.
But the argument could be made that Trammell was never a dominant player. The only statistical category that he ever led the
league in was sacrifice hits, though he did do that twice (1981, 1983). He was only an All Star 6 times, but that is a factor of
playing during the same era as Cal Ripken as much as anything. The truth of the matter is that Trammell was one of the top 3
or 4 producing shortstops every year for nearly a decade and a half. He should have won the MVP in 1987 when he put up a
.343/.402/.551 line, but lost out by a slim margin to George Bell of the Blue Jays who wowed voters with his 47 home runs and
I believe his consistency gets him in, but then I'll be honest and admit that I may be a little bit blinded on this one. However, in
a year where there are very few candidates, and in a Hall where there are more than a couple questionable inductees, I think
you could do a lot worse than Trammell.
Here are a few others that were close, but didn't quite make the cut for me:
Andre Dawson: After watching him limp through the last 10 years of his career, it may be hard to remember that Dawson was
a bit of a speedster when he came up. In fact, he stole over 20 bases in each of his first six full seasons and he's just one of
three players with over 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases (Barry Bonds and Willie Mays are the others). His cannon of an
arm helped him to 8 gold glove awards and his 49 home runs and 137 RBI famously got him an MVP award in 1987 even
though he played on a last place team. Dawson is one of those players who is a great story and would be suited just fine for
the Hall. However, his peak seasons were just very good, but not great. His MVP probably shouldn't have been as he barely
made it into the top 25 for Win Shares in the NL that season. Even though he played 21 seasons, he only managed 216 Runs
Created above the league average. That's good for just 259th all time, just behind Rick Monday, Ray Lankford, and John Kruk.
Dawson was a better player than all of those guys, but his career is lacking just a bit for me to give him a vote for the Hall.
Will Clark: He was probably the best player in baseball from 1988 to 1992. His 44 Win Shares in 1989 were the most in the
last 50 years by someone not named Bonds or Mantle (and somehow he still didn't win the MVP that year). He was a really
good player for at least 11 of his 15 seasons, and he definitely still had the skill to play after the 2000 season, but a bad back
forced him out of the game at age 36. He is one player that you might be able to convince me is Hall-worthy with some
discussion, but without the extra 2 or 3 years to fill out his accomplishments, I think he falls just short. Playing a power
position like first base, he did not reach 300 home runs and his 440 doubles tie him for just 87th all time. He was an excellent
player but just not a Hall of Fame player in my eyes.
Tommy John: On the surface, it might look like you can make the same sort of arguments for John as those that are made for
Blyleven. He ranks ahead of Blyleven with 289 wins. His 47 career shutouts are the 27th most in history. He has a surgery
named after him. (That's gotta count for something, right?) But a lot of what John accomplished was due in large part
because of his longevity - he pitched until his age 46 season. He was never a dominant pitcher as he only managed 20 Win
Shares in a season once (1979). He is just 45th on the career strikeout list despite pitching the 8th most innings in the last 50
years. And his peripherals just aren't up to par with Blyleven's, which is why he does not make it onto my ballot for the Hall.
However, I do wish I am as active as he was when I turn 46.
Dave Concepcion: As a Reds fan, it was hard for me to leave Davey off of my ballot. The Reds have a history of being strong
at the shortstop position, and Concepcion is one of the strongest links in a chain that dates back to the 1950s. He was a
defensive wiz that is commonly credited with inventing the short hop throw to first base on Astroturf. He had a strangle hold on
the Gold Glove in the late 70s before Ozzie Smith came along. Unfortunately it's his bat that will keep him out of the Hall.
During his time, weak hitting shortstops were the norm - and he wasn't too bad of a hitter for a shortstop - but his OPS was
12% below the league average for his career and his career slugging percentage was a pathetic .357. He used his speed
effectively on the base paths, stealing over 320 bases at a 74% rate, but doing the little things just isn't enough when you are
talking about something as big as the Hall of Fame. Sorry Davey, but I just can't put you on my ballot.
Jack Morris: Morris is one of those guys that almost gets in because of the memories that he created. His performance in
Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was historic and will live in legend for as long as people keep talking about baseball. He
was one of the best, if not the best big game pitcher of the late 80s/early 90s, helping his teams to 3 World's Championships.
He owns a no-hitter and started 3 different All Star games. But, he never finished higher than 3rd in Cy Young voting and his
ERA+ of 105 is just barely better than average. Unlike Blyleven, Morris only ranks 29th in strikeouts, 135th in shutouts, and
32nd in innings pitched and his 254 wins are 33 behind Blyleven as well. He had a solid career, but just doesn't have the
numbers to get him over the top.
Albert Belle: He's the only player ever to hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in the same season (1995). It's very impressive,
but his 103 extra base hits are only good for sixth best all time and has been equaled or bettered 4 times since he did it. He
helped launch the latest offensive explosion, and from 1994-1998 he was clearly the best hitter in baseball. But, his
personality soured his image and his degenerative hip shortened his career, causing him to play his last game at just age 33.
If he had had a couple of more seasons under his belt, he could have been a no doubter, but as it is, he doesn't make it.
Other players like Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, Jim Rice, and Dave Parker received some consideration from me, but in the
end, I just didn't feel like they had enough to get close. I loved to watch each one of those guys play when I was growing up,
but their careers were either too short or not bright enough to catch my fancy enough to give them a vote.
You may notice that I don't have some of the more popular names on my list like Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage. I'm still
not sure what to think about relievers getting into the Hall of Fame. The position has changed so much in the last 20 years, it's
hard for me to get a clear baseline of expectation out of a reliever. If I had several years to really research it, perhaps I would
end up voting for one or both of these guys, but until I feel comfortable that I understand the value that they provided their
teams, I'm going to defer judgment.