Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Updated: July 27, 10:52 AM ET
A dozen for the Hall
By Jonah Keri
Special to Page 2
Craig Biggio's announcement that he'll retire at the end of the season should have Astros fans making plans to hit Cooperstown in 2013. Biggio is one of a dozen eligible or soon-to-be eligible baseball figures deserving of election. The 12 noted here are ranked by strongest case for induction, given their eligibility dates.
Marvin Miller: Father of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Ended the system of indentured servitude the players had served under for nearly a century.
Mark McGwire (583 home runs, seventh all-time): Suspect whatever you want -- his 583 homers and .982 career OPS are what matter here.
Goose Gossage (nine years of 150 or better ERA+): One of the most dominant relief pitchers of all time. A true fireman who'd often come in with the game on the line, rather than being pampered and rested until his team was up two or three runs in the ninth.
Bert Blyleven (287 wins; 3,701 strikeouts, fifth all-time): Blyleven played for some lousy teams, in ballparks that significantly favored offensive production. Adjust his stats to neutral run-support and park-factor levels and he's well over 300 wins with an ERA near or under 3.00.
Ron Santo (125 OPS+, five-time Gold Glover): Sentiment aside, Santo was one of the best offensive and defensive third basemen of all-time. The Hall needs to go beyond handing out tickets to one-dimensional home-run hitters at non-premium positions.
2008 Tim Raines (808 SBs, fifth all-time): Lou Brock with a better batting eye, Raines had tons of pop for a leadoff hitter, but he hit a lot more doubles than homers due partly to Olympic Stadium's high fences. Rickey Henderson played in the same era, but that doesn't diminish Raines' greatness.
2009 Rickey Henderson (2,295 runs, 1,404 SBs, both first all-time): The best leadoff hitter of all time and one of the biggest characters the game will ever know.
2010 Roberto Alomar (10-time Gold Glover, 12-time All-Star): A rare combination of power, speed, great batting stroke and dazzling defense, Alomar ranks just below the Morgan/Hornsby class on the "best second basemen of all time" list.
2010 Barry Larkin (1995 MVP, 12-time All-Star): Similar profile to Alomar's, only at shortstop. The prototype for the A-Rod/Nomar/Jeter class that took over the position in the mid-'90s.
2010 Edgar Martinez (.312/.418/.515, two-time batting champion): I agree with the general sentiment that DHs should be penalized for not having any defensive value. But that doesn't mean no DH should ever be allowed in. Edgar was one of the best hitters ever to play the game. That's good enough for me.
2011 Jeff Bagwell (.948 OPS, 1994 MVP): In an era clogged with slugging first basemen, Bagwell's on-base ability (.408 career OBP), handy glove work and huge peak seasons stand out against his peers.
2013 Craig Biggio (3,014 hits, 1,826 runs): Another all-around threat who did everything well, and for a long time. Sabermetrician Bill James famously called him the second-best player of the 1990s. Not sure about that, but you could make a strong case for top five.
Jonah Keri is a regular contributor to Page 2 and the editor and co-author of "Baseball Between the Numbers." You can contact him here.