There are several enjoyable moments in baseball, but in my opinion, none may be greater than Hall of Fame induction day. Not only is it a distinct honor for sportswriters to vote on who should represent the sport’s history, but for the players, it’s simply a life-changing experience- it’s an objective that many hope to achieve, but few actually are able to obtain. This year, Derek Jeter and Larry Walker will join some of the game’s legends in Cooperstown. We’ll look back at both of their achievements, as well as explore some other players on the short end that perhaps should’ve received more consideration.
SS Derek Jeter (NYY)
The only question regarding Jeter’s candidacy was whether he would be unanimous, and in the end, the Yankee legend missed out on that 100% mark by one single vote. Either way, he’ll deservingly earn his place in Cooperstown. Although defensive metrics aren’t favorable for him, he still compiled a 73 fWAR, posted a .377 lifetime on-base percentage, and is a part of the very small 3000-hit club. Add in his impact on the game as far as paving the way for taller shortstops and representing the league’s most popular franchise with such class, and there’s no question whether he was deserving or not; rather than fret on the vote he didn’t get, let’s cherish the 396 he did receive.
OF Larry Walker (MON, COL, STL)
It may have taken Walker the full ten years to finally make the Hall of Fame, but that certainly doesn’t make him any less-deserving. Between a 68.7 career fWAR, 140 weighted-runs-created plus (wrc+), and .400 on-base percentage, the credentials are certainly there. So why did it take him so long? For starters, his durability was a concern, as he only eclipsed 150 games in a season once. Yet, Colorado is known to take a toll on players’ health, and perhaps most importantly, the lack of games played may actually make his compiling statistics, which are Hall of Fame worthy, even more impressive. As for the benefits of playing at Coors Field, wrc+ is ball-park adjusted anyways, and his 126 road wrc+ shows that he was much more than a product of his home park; he had elite plate discipline, and was also a tremendous defender in the outfield. Walker will be the second Canadian to be voted into the Hall of Fame, and in my opinion, this was long overdue.
Didn’t Get In, But Probably Should
SP Curt Schilling: Schilling’s questionable character is a concern, but there are many questionable characters in the Hall of Fame, and with a 79.8 fWAR and 4.38 K-BB ratio, he is certainly qualified. He received 70% of the vote this year, and figures to make it next year, which is his 9th year on the ballot.
OF Barry Bonds and SP Roger Clemens: This all depends on your view on steroid users, but to me, Bonds and Clemens were too dominant to deprive them of their place in the Hall of Fame. Bonds, in particular, had a career 164.4 career fWAR, a 20.2% walk rate compared to a 12.2% strikeout rate, and was one a hall-of-fame track record. I’m not confident either will make it, as they barely progressed in the votes this season, which is a shame.
3B Scott Rolen: His career 69.9 fWAR is actually better than Walker’s, and may be more impressive than Jeter’s considering he played in around 700 fewer games. Not only was he an above-average hitter (122 wrc+), but his defense at third base was incredible, as he had a 30 drs season and a 9 WAR season in 2004. By receiving 35.3% of the votes, he doubled his total from last year, and heading into his fourth year on the ballot, will likely be in the Hall of Fame in a couple years.
OF Andruw Jones: Based on career fWAR, Jone’s 67 total amount is enough for him to reach the Hall of Fame. Sure, his career peak was rather short, but in that span, he’s up there with some of the game’s top outfielders of all time. A career .337 on-base percentage would be my only concern, as his good-not-great offense may leave him in the “Hall of very good”. He only received 19.4% of the votes this year, and is a longshot to eventually make it.
RP Billy Wagner: We obviously can’t use career fWAR to evaluate relievers, but if not Wagner, who should get in? His consistency was very rare given the volatility of relievers, and his 3.99 K-BB ratio is also very impressive. He definitely should be receiving more votes than the 31.7% he earned this year.
We can worry about the players who did not make the Hall of Fame, but that can be for another time. Instead, I want to congratulate Derek Jeter and Larry Walker for earning their way into the most prestigious place in baseball history. Both had excellent careers, and rightfully deserve to have their day in the spotlight as their careers are honest. As mentioned previously, this is the best day in baseball (outside of maybe Opening Day or Game 7 of the World Series); for both of these players, their dreams have become reality.