Famers on the Fringe

Updated: December 29, 2006, 1:09 PM ET

Last year Bruce Sutter was the only player to receive 75 percent of the vote, the total necessary for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, four players -- Jim Rice, Goose Gossage, Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven -- received more than 50 percent of the vote.

With this year's Hall of Fame ballots due on Dec. 31, ESPN.com takes a closer look at the four players in the following order:

Dec. 26 -- Jim Rice
Dec. 27 -- Andre Dawson
Dec. 28 -- Bert Blyleven
Dec. 29 -- Goose Gossage

Are they Hall of Famers? You decide.


Position: RHP | Years: 1972-94 | Teams: White Sox, Pirates, Yankees, Padres, Cubs, Giants, Rangers, A's, Mariners
Key stats: 310 saves; 115 relief victories; 3.00 ERA; 22 seasons
Highlights: 9-time All-Star; AL Rolaids Relief Award (1978); 3-time AL saves leader; 1 World Series title
Years on ballot: 8 | Highest vote total: 336 (64.61%), 2006
Now that Bruce Sutter is in the Hall, what's the justification for keeping out the Goose? That his facial hair wasn't up to Hall of Fame standards? Fact is, Goose Gossage was better than Sutter. And he had a career almost twice as long. Let's review these mind-shaking credentials again: Over his first 10 seasons as a closer, Gossage had an ERA of 2.27 or lower in eight of them. He chewed up an incomprehensible number of innings early in his career (130-plus three times, 99 or more two other times). He made nine All-Star teams in 11 years. And according to Retrosheet, those poor right-handed hitters he faced over 22 seasons hit a combined .211 (with a .285 OBP and .311 SLG) against him. So you could make a case this man was the most dominating closer ever. Making him suffer through eight Hall elections is a bigger disgrace than "The Real Gilligan's Island."
-- Jayson Stark
I'm the bad guy in the Gossage debate for two reasons: (1) Every Hall of Fame voter at ESPN (and there are 12) votes for Goose, and (2) I don't have a vote. So I'm taking one for the team. At the same time something must have convinced at least 35 percent of the voters not to pick Gossage last year. In his first year on the ballot (2000), the non-Goose supporters numbered more than 68 percent. So what's wrong? The relief-pitcher prejudice no longer applies, since Bruce Sutter just followed Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley into the Hall. I could fixate on awards. Gossage won only one Rolaids Relief Award (1978), while Sutter and Fingers won four and Eck two. Plus, Sutter won a Cy Young, and Fingers and Eck both won a Cy Young and an MVP award. In the end, though, it's pretty hard to argue against Gossage. I'll just say Goose was great, but not Hall-worthy. After all, somebody had to do it.
-- David Kull