HOF — In, Out, Changes by Bob Ryan

So last week, the Baseball  Hall of Fame in Cooperstown voted in 4 new members. Without question all of the foursome are well qualified– Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman .. It’s only the 2nd time since 1955 that a foursome are entering the HOF. Each one had his own case…take a look  at some of these stats on these players that we all recall watching….

Chipper….drafted in 1st round by the Atlanta Braves in 1990….played ENTIRE career for the Braves … you won’t  see that much any longer….played in 21 different post-season series….so we all saw a lot of him on the tube…voted into HOF on 1st year of eligibility…in 8 All-Star games…became a regular at age 23…played until he was 40 years old.. batted a career …19 seasons….OPS of .930 batting avg .303 with 468 dingers…didn’t realize that he piled up 150 stolen bases…will be remembered for his all-around skill as a hitter & fielder

Jim Thome…an ol’ fashioned power hitter…also his 1st year on the HOF ballot..banged out 612 HR in 2543 games…that’s  8th on the MLB HR list… he’s between Albert & Sammy Sosa….also it’s a HR every 4.1 games!!  Thome played in 17 post-season series with most of his best years @ Cleveland. His 22 year  career OPS was .956…18th in MLB history!

Vlad….I really enjoyed watching him hit….great bat speed…swing at almost anything between the ankles and throat…but hit he did..he played 16 seasons…first 9 years with Montreal..lifetime average of .318…only hit below .300 three time…his 1st year, last year & 1 other year…OPS of .931…34th all time MLB history…was the AL MVP once…didn’t reach the world series until he was 35 years old with Texas…I didn’t even remember him playing for Texas.

Hoffman….probably 1st of several closers of the “modern” (after 1990)…was voted into the HOF in his 3rd year of eligibility… currently 2nd all time in Saves …behind Mariano Rivera…with 601 saves…spent most of career with San Diego…his best pitch…at least in part of his career was his change-up….his fastball topped out at his peak around 86-87 mph..so his pinpoint use of his sharp slider …around 81mph and his changeup piled up  his outs in the 9th inning….his career ERA was 2.87 in 1035 games.

No arguments on any of these four players….but there are other ideas swirling around HOF selections.. 

….Stars of years ago “stood out” as they do now…the first 5 players—Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson were clearly recognized during their careers as the “best” in the league….and DO belong in the HOF

…but….as the years went by…..the HOF attempted to “catch up” on HOF worthy players who had been overlooked…so the Veterans Committee was formed…THEY chose players that they felt belonged  in the HOF and had been overlooked…there were definitely some….but …..some others inducted through this process were not of the same ilk..couple examples…catcher Ray Schaulk played 18 seasons …career batting .253…played with Shoeless Joe Jackson on the Chicago “Black” sox scandal of 1919…another is Harry Hooper played 1909-1925…primarily on the Red Sox..played 17 years while batting .281….there are a few others…..in the modern era Pee Wee Reese and Catfish Jim Hunter appear to be in deeper waters than they belong….so……what happens once a guy gets in who doesn’t belong….nothing….he’s in..there is a list of 20 or so players who some experts believe don’t belong in the baseball HOF…suggestions…

….let the veterans committee…of which Bob Broeg …long time sports editor of the StL Post-dispatch was a key member….btw…he pushed in some former Cardinals ..Chick Hafey,  Frankie Frisch, Pud Galvin, Orlando Cepada, Roger Bresnahan, Jake Beckley  who were…no doubt… good players…but …HOF level?? …returning to the point…the veterans committee should meet once every 5 years not every year..the new  players chosen should not be recognized as players at the bottom of the HOF totem pole but ones who…for some reason…are CLEAR HOF’ers and belong in the HOF.

…possibly set of number of players as the maximum for the HOF ….there are currently 319 people in the baseball HOF…222 former major league players, 30 executives, 35 Negro league, 22 mgr/umpires…put the non-playing HOF’ers in their own section…the Negro League has probably maxed out on its stars since that league disappeared and those players justifiably became part of the MLB…..umpires/manages don’t compete on the field…put them in their own sections… maybe a max of 250 or 300 players in the elite HOF….as the number  of players pushes past that point..put the lowest ranked  of the list of players in the historical HOF..probably most coming from the Veteran’s committee choices….don’t allow an unlimited number to fill up the baseball elite HOF.

….It is extremely difficult to compare players from different eras….in fact…I don’t think that you can do it fairly….look at some of the changes  from 50-60-90 years ago …HOF opened up in 1939 @ Cooperstown NY….it wasn’t opened or owned then …or now…by the MLB…it was opened by Stephen Carlton Clark, the owner of a local hotel, with the  purposes of stimulating his tourism business in this small…out of the way…NY town.

…..along those lines….you MUST compare the players to the era that they are playing..not the past. Expectations of behavior on and off the field  are always changing….PED use vs gambling?….spitballs were allowed at one time…not now….stealing signs was viewed as a skill…not illegal…at one point..beanballs are forbidden now….at one time, they was used to send a message…the game changes….judge the players on the current mores of the time….not to the standards of 50+ years ago.

…another area to consider is that the game has changed….it’s not like it was in 1919 …or 1939…or during the war years…or even the 1960’s…..look at some of the changes…

….medically….these players have treatments now that weren’t even considered  earlier….these players play longer, through injuries that once ended their careers, recover quickly …all due to modern medicine….the ol’ timers era just didn’t have that available to them..by playing longer, many players are able to pile up far higher career stats that boost their attractiveness to Cooperstown

…ballparks have increased in size minimally but the size…height, weight, muscle mass…. of the players has really  grown…ergo…many, many more home runs

…development of the youthful players has taken on a much more rigorous routine….coaching is now vastly improved for the youth….for many talented youngsters it’s a 12 month a year commitment and a commitment of significant money to fund the camps, traveling  teams, etc, etc….btw….you wonder why we’re seeing so few African-Americans in baseball….the honing and development of the elite level baseball skills is now done primarily through expensive traveling teams….the poor families can’t afford it…. Soooo…. their sons are not exposed the intense, rigorous, extensive skills developed through the traveling leagues….hence…development lags

……modern technology has assisted players in developing the correct angles of their swings to derive the most benefit from this “good” contact….players can go in the clubhouse between innings and check the pitcher  in slo-mo….not just with their eyes…to enhance their success

….expansion of the league…..for several decades there were 8 teams in each league–400 players in the MLB….now there are 30 teams…750 players……I’m making the supposition that the real star players “back in the day”  would be star players today….just think if there were half as many teams….how good would the starting rotations be as compared to today?That’s a big difference.. I’ve noticed for a few years now that many of the “good” hitters in the MLB are so-so against quality pitchers but pile up the numbers against the weaker pitchers…those bottom half of the pitching staffs  would NOT even have been in the MLB with only 16 teams…

….Hall of Fames are interesting to the exuberant  fans….and the casual fans… of the game….it brings back memories…. or maybe… sheds new light … on the best players of all the eras of that particular sport.  Speaking from personal experience….I’ve really enjoyed the Baseball HOF…my wonderful wife sat as I read each and every plaque …  & Football HOF ..lots of hands-on stuff….but hockey HOF in Toronto was a dud..it was in a high story building …located on 1st..maybe 2nd floor…my kids were really disappointed because I knew more of the ol’ time HOF than they did.

Some other thoughts…info….about HOF….

….when I read that Chipper Jones was only the second player inducted into the HOF who was the #1 overall pick of the draft…the other was Ken Griffey JR what about othe.#1 overall picks…from the past of a few decades ago….the #1 picks that made the MLB  and their accomplishments…1965 Rick Monday(All Star); 1969 Jeff Burroughs; 1976 Floyd Bannister (All Star), 1977 Harold Baines (All Star); 1978 Bob Horner (All Star & Rookie of year); 1980 Daryl Strawberry (All Star & ROY);’1981 Mike Moore (All Star); 1982 Sharon Dunston (All Star); 1985 BJ Surhoff (All Star); 1988 Andy Benes (All Star)’ 1992 Phil Nevin (All Star); 1993 Alex Rodriguez (All Star + very good); 1995 Darin Erstad (All Star)…that means since between 1965-2000…the players drafter #1 OVERALL from 1966, 1967, 1968, 19780 1971, 1972 1973, 1974, 1975 , 1979, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, `989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 either didn’t make the majors or didn’t ever qualify for 1 All Star game…that’s with the #1 OVERALL pick!!!  How could the teams be THAT wrong? Since 1999…drafting has improved….some of the #1 drafted are 99-Josh Hamilton; 2000 Adrian Gonzalez; 2001 Joe Maurer;2005 Justin Upton; 2007 David Price, 2009 Stephen Strasburg; 2010 Bryce Harper; 2011 Gerrit Cole; 2012 Carlos Correa—sooo…it appears that MLB has started to figure out better way sto draft #1 overall picks…

….some of the best players not in the HOF and NOT on the ballot may surprise you…

…Gil Hodges ….1B of the Brooklyn Dodgers through their great days of the 50’s—played 18 years, was an All-Star 7 of 8 years in the midst of his career….273 hitter with 370 HR…lifetime OPS of .846..played in 7 world Series in his career,,,sharp fielder  at 1B

…Tony Oliva …played entire career in Minnestota…during the 2nd dead ball ear (early 70’s)…led the AL in batting title 3x, led AL in hits-5X, led AL in 2B-4x, career .304 hitter in 15 years…hurt badly by playing entire career in Minnesota…small market, little national recognition

….Lee Smith…pitched 18 years…remembered most for his first 8 years with Cubs…had  478 saves…was the All-Time Leader in Saves  from 1993-20006 when passed by now HOF Trevor Hoffman…lifetime ERA…18 seasons…3.03….did not just pitch the 9th inning…for example with the Cards…90-93…the lean years before AB sold the Cards…90—53 games-63 inn; 1991- the most saves of his career-47—67 games -73 innings. He led the league I 4 different years from 83 to 94! He’s been on the ballot since 2003…highest total was 50.4% and in 2017 dropped to 34%….was he much different than Hoffman?

…there are more…Billy Wagner a contemporary of Hoffman….seems to be on this way out…it’s believed however that hitters thought Wagner was better than Hoffman …that Wagner was tougher to hit!!??

Now…some quick hitters …

….What’s in the water in Columbia…over the last 2-3 years the Head Football Coach, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, the Head Baseball Coach and now this week the Head Softball Coach have all changed…some resign… some fired…has the SEC “brand” done this?

…Brewers look like they are “all in” with the acquisition of Christian Yelich from Miami and the free agent signing of Lorenzo Cain.  The perennial question….Do they have enough Pitching?

….SLU & Mizzou are each experiencing similar issues on the basketball court…depleted rosters… lack of a consistent “go to” guy, head coaches of each team are brand new (1st year) or relatively new (2nd); fan bases had high hopes in pre-season which have been dashed by a myriad of circumstances.

….looking at 2 of the top HS teams in the Lou…the Hazelwood Central Hawks are 20-1…only loss to an OOT …and out-of-state team..1st year coach Brandon Gilmore…who was the top assistant to 12 year Head Coach Josh Martin..has led them to tournament Championships @ Vianney,  Meramec-Coaches vs Cancer and Parkway West tournaments…this type of winning isn’t anything new @ Central…their teams have won 74 games over the last 3 years, the Hawks are led by the 4-some of Shaun Williams, Cameron Williams, Xavier Ball and Telly Wright.  Central has 11 seniors on the team….so ….this could be the year that they reach Columbia.

….coming on strong as the season unfolds are the Chaminade Red Devils (15-2)coched by Frank Bennett…last week Chaminade knocked off Whitney Young (Chicago)..ranked in top 25 by USA pre-season poll…a school that has 3 NBA players of recent history..(David Lee ..who just retired after 12 NBA years)…Bradly Beal (just earned his 1st All-Star berth in NBA)…and Jayson Tatum…do I need to say anything about him?…now Chaminade has another super talent that’s headed to N.Carolina State—Jericole Hellems.  Hellems is 6-7, carries 23ppg avg, rebounds aggressively, run the floor well….but he’s not alone…6-6 Soph  Luke Kasubke is the long-range bomber…he’s downing 3-balls at at 44% clip….his high level of skill…brings back memories for me of his Mom (Michelle Hennon Kasubke) who was one of the best women HS basketball players that I coached in my coaching career.  

…not much to lose….Phillies signed Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league contract…IF….and that’s a big if…he refinds his “stuff”and makes the Phils…they get a seasoned bullpen guy of $2.5m….he was horrible last year..7.82 ERA ….soooo.. it’s a gamble…but what do they have to lose?

….How does Lovie Smith keep getting a pass?  He was “on top” of his game with the design and use of the “cover 2” defense….but …over the years …teams have adapted….has he?  One WOULD have to say that he’s looking ahead by hiring the Trinity HS football Coach, Corey Patterson,  as an assistant… Trinity seems to be loaded with talent in the upcoming years….so…you see the landscape…former HS coach…needs players @ collegiate level…yada-yada-yada

…How can you bet against the Patriots?  For a long time I called him Bill Belicheat..but….I’ve got to give it to him….he finds a way to win….year after year with an ever changing cast of characters… except at QB…hw wins…..although he  did win when Brady was hurt a few years ago.

..the Atlantic 10 basketball conference has seen minimal success in NCAA Tournament…since their formation…only 5 teams have reached the Sweet 16 of the tournament…LaSalle-2016; George Mason-2006—actually made final 4!!; Duquesne-2014; Rhode Island-1998…so…Bills keep plugging away.. you can make some headway in this league.

…in the NHL…it’s amazing…the expansion team—Las Vegas Golden Knights are STILL in 1st place in the Eastern Conference…and are 2nd in the entire league in wins with 32….wonder if some of other NHL teams are.. “reevaluating the situation”… about their assessment of personnel ?

…..you earned HOF credentials for making it to the bottom…thx…









  1. What is your take on the HOF caliber players that are steroids connected?

  2. Joe Parisi says:

    Great HOF research Bob!
    For the most part “ golden age” Hall of Famers played 15 plus years, piling up huge stats… hits, homers, victories, strike outs, etc.

    With today’s stars careers being much shorter , the 500 homer, 300 win and 3,000 strike out benchmarks will obviously be reduced for HOF consideration.
    The old guard voters are diminishing, being replaced by the saber-metric guys…
    ESPN,MLB Network, Yes Network, Local Fox Networks have expanded the exposure of MLB
    Players, placing more emphasis on colorful, flashy play, good sound bites, as opposed to hardcore stats
    My “homer push”….. Ted Simmons and Lee Smith continue to be ignored… their stats say they belong. Not playing for winning teams overshadows their eligibility.
    Another major oversight …. Fred McGriff

  3. Yes, there are probably a few guys that should be in the baseball HOF, but there are even more that probably should not be in there. Too much consideration is given to where you played, there is definitely an east coast bias. In addition, if you happen to play for a team that reached post season on a regular basis it usually gets a player more votes. Finally, the position you played also makes a difference. There are very few third basemen, catchers and relief pitchers in the Hall.

  4. Kevin Niewoehner says:

    Am I on the air? Hi Bob. I’m a long time reader, third time poster. Frank brought up an interesting subject. Should the PED players be included? Well, should Gaylord Perry be kicked out of the Hall of Fame? After all, he threw spitters. If we’re going to use a morality test, maybe Babe Ruth ought to be kicked out since he visited houses of ill repute while he was married. Also, Willie Stargell ought to be kicked out since he used pot while it was still illegal in 50 states. The counter-argument would be that PED’s enhanced performance. Well, the spitter probably helped Gaylord’s pitching. Sharpened spikes probably helped Ty Cobb steal a few more bases.

    Your take?

  5. I did make it to the bottom. I agree with the thinking some veteran players are not in the hof and some think they’re better than some entering the hall now. Maybe more veterans should be looked at and compared to the younger players but how can you compare the decades of change in the ball, the bats the equipment used now versus then. I do believe there should be more veterans enshrined than we see now. I still believe that PeteRose should be judged on his playing career and not his coaching life in baseball. If he would have left mlb after playing he would have gone in on the first ballot. There are writers who say that they will never vote for Rose. As long as that mentality exists and no new voters come along and judge him as a player he will remain on the outside looking in. Many think he belongs in. And I am one.

  6. Coach – Let’s begin by me stating the obvious…I’m hard-headed, opinionated, and totally anti-PED. My thoughts say…If you used, you lose…as far as the HOF is concerned. However, I’m also a realist so I believe that the new generation of HOF voters will eventually elect Bonds, Rodriquez, Clemens and a few of the other super-charged super stars. It’s a different society and outlook, but the pro-PED voters have a weak argument. When they say, “It’s baseball’s HOF” not a priesthood and folks should only be judged on their playing ability, they miss the main point. When you use a substance to illegally enhance your performance you’re cheating! You’re not playing by the rules and you are knowingly prostituting the game. To me, that is disrespect for the game and for the others players who did it the right way. Today, I realize that I was probably given steroids to aid my performance playing college ball, but I didn’t knowingly try to cheat. The trainer gave us pills, told us they were good for us, and thanks to my ignorance I simply saluted and did what I was told. As far as I knew, there was no harm, not foul. Perhaps, or probably, I’m being self-serving, but I see a difference in intent from my case (and thousands of others like me), in comparison to the baseball cheaters. Finally, I can almost make a case to support some marginal player taking PEDs to hang on for another year for the money. He’ll never be considered for the HOF, he enjoys the adulation and prestige of being a big leaguer, and yes he’s cheating but for an entirely difference reason. The Hall is supposed to be a shrine to honor only the best of the best. Does it work flawlessly? Of course not, but when you look at the vast majority of its members, the voting committees over generations seem to have done a fairly good job.

  7. Good stuff – as usual! – thanks. One topic which particularly triggered me was when you cited the litany of #1 draft choices who never made a dent. You asked about the quality of scouting, and that’s a good question. Conversely, how in the world could Pujols have been undrafted until, what, the 14th round?

    Granted, these are often simply older kids when they’re drafted, and even if their bodies are fully developed, their minds certainly are not. Of course, then, maturity, focus, and resiliency – or lack of – play a significant role in an athlete’s trajector

  8. Great article Bob
    Was in Memphis watching my Youngest daughter playing Club Volleyball tourney.
    As a Padre fan I am very excited and can’t wait to see Trevor Get inducted in July.
    Tony Gwynn was my favorite and I was very fortunate to see him & Cal Ripken get inducted with my son Ty.
    It’s a great class & Bob Costas getting the Frick award.
    Edgar Martinez will get in next year with Jeter & Riveria
    Agree Hazelwood Central basketball is very strong & experienced!
    Only team to worry is Chaminade but their loss was too Vianney..They may have to talk to Kevin
    Walsh the head basketball coach for Vianney for a game plan.
    You are correct you can’t bet against 12
    Too much experience & he always finds a WAY to get it done
    Pats 32 Eagles 20 Have a great day!

  9. Jim Pleimann says:

    Lots of good material, sir! I agree it is very hard to compare era’s. ERA’s too – see what I did there?
    I just say that today’s athlete has so much more at his disposal to play baseball it is almost unfair to compare. Each era had so much to offer and special players that were HOF worthy. What is fun about baseball, maybe more so than the other major sports, is that discussions can go on and on about who was better than who. It is part of what I love so much about the game.

    This week’s guest reference…. Bob (bow tie) Broeg. There is one person a week that come out of left field (note the baseball theme) ha! in your blog.

    All four players inducted year all met my approval. And I am pretty tough. So with that said… I too think poor Pete Rose deserves to be in for what he did on the field as a player. As a person, not so much.
    Ron Santo? No way. Sympathy vote in my opinion (and he was a Cub who wasn’t much better (if at all)than Ken Boyer. See, great discussions. Did I mention I hate the Cubs? Spring training can’t get here soon enough.

    Completely off the baseball subject – Bob, you’re in charge of getting Jake Allen’s @#$! together for the stretch run to the playoffs. (Carter Hutton my never come out as the starter – and good for him)

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