Hall of Fame: Murphy thumbs up, juicers thumbs down

There's too much smoke about steroid use.

There's too much smoke around Bagwell

Murphy will get my vote -- but he won't get in.

Murphy will get my vote -- but he's a longshot.

I was going to hold off on this blog for a few weeks until I actually had the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot in my hand and started checking off names for the next class to be enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y. (a trip that, by the way, remains on my bucket list). But after listing the candidates Wednesday and finding myself debating the merits of Dale Murphy (clean) and Mark McGwire (dirty) on Facebook and Twitter, I figured I might as well get this out of the way now.

So, following are the 27 players on the ballot. Voters can select anywhere from zero to 10 players for enshrinement. Some voters are really silly about this, like they won’t vote a guy in the first time because they don’t think he’s a “first ballot” Hall of Famer, but they’ll vote for him after. Seems kind of stupid to me. If a guy belongs in, I don’t see the point in waiting. Anyway, I’m voting for seven. (Prediction: Only Barry Larkin and Jack Morris get the required 75 percent of the vote to make it in.)

As always, those who’ve admitted or were suspected of using steroids and/or performance enhancing drugs generally are going to be rejected by voters. (By the way: Barry Bonds will be on the ballot next year.) So with that, here are my thoughts on the candidates. And yes, I’m voting for Murphy.

(Listed alphabetically.)

• Jeff Bagwell: No. He has a Hall of Fame credentials (449 homers, 1,529 RBI, .297 average, MVP). But he was well short of induction last year with only 41.7 percent of the vote, at least in part because he has been suspected of using PEDs. Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci summarized the Bagwell debate nicely when he wrote: “Bagwell was an admitted Andro user who hired a competitive bodybuilder to make him as big as he could be, who claimed, [Mark] McGwire-like, that Andro “doesn’t help you hit home runs,” who went from a prospect with “no pop” to massively changing his body and outhomering all but six big leaguers in the 13 seasons before steroid penalties (Ken Griffey Jr. and five connected to steroids: Bonds, [Sammy] Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, McGwire and Juan Gonzalez), and who condones the use of steroids — but said, “I never used.” Yeah. I’m going to need a few more years on this one.

• Jeromy Burnitz: No. But he played for eight teams, including the Indians, Cubs and Pirates. At the very least, I think we owe him a beer.

• Vinny Castilla: No. Castilla was hitting 40 homers a year in Colorado. He hit 12 and 22 in his two seasons in Atlanta, batting .254. Chipper Jones will never forget those two season. He watched them from left field.

• Juan Gonzalez:  No. Has been linked to steroids and HGH. He was named in the Mitchell Report, which detailed how he was found with a bag at the airport loaded syringes and steroids. Most meaningless statistic of all: his 434 homers.

• Brian Jordan: No. One of my all-time favorite athletes (in two sports). It would’ve been fun to see what he could’ve done if he just played one. Had a terrific career (15 seasons, .282, 184 homers, 821 RBIs) but not Cooperstown material.

• Barry Larkin: Yes. I can’t believe he didn’t get in last year (received 62.1 percent of the votes) but he’ll get in this year. A 12-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove, nine-time Silver Slugger at shortstop with Cincinnati. Finished with 2,340 hits. Slam dunk.

• Javy Lopez:  No. The former Braves catcher doesn’t have the career numbers, and for those with suspicious minds, his 43-homer season in 2003 (a contract year) jumps way off the page.

• Edgar Martinez: No. A strong case can be made that Martinez has HOF credentials: .312, 2,247 hits, 309 HR, 1,261 RBIs. But I don’t like the fact that for most of his career — 6,218 of 8,672 plate appearances — he was a designated hitter. DH is a half-player in my book.

• Don Mattingly: Yes. Over 2,000 hits, nine Gold Gloves, seven All-Star Games. One MVP. A great ambassador for baseball. A thousand times, yes.

• Fred McGriff: Yes. Even if he didn’t hit 493 home runs, I think the fact that the Atlanta-Fulton Stadium press box caught on fire the day the Braves traded for him, cementing their 1995 World Series championship, is reason enough to put him in the Hall.

• Mark McGwire: No. He only finally admitted steroid use, not because of regret or shame but because he wanted to come back to coach and try to salvage his legacy. And by the way, I’m not sure he would’ve been a HOF player without steroids.

• Jack Morris: Yes. He also should be in already (received 53.5 percent of the vote last year). Beat John Smoltz (barely) in the greatest pitching match-up most have ever seen (1991 World Series). Won 254 games, finished with 2,478 strikeouts, 175 complete games.

• Bill Mueller: No. I’ve heard of him.

• Terry Mulholland: No. Ex-Brave. Can’t knock a guy who has a 20-year career. Just doesn’t mean he gets a bronze plaque.

• Dale Murphy: Yes. Murphy won’t get in but I’m voting for him anyway — again. I’ve heard the arguments about him not having the career numbers. But when you win consecutive MVP awards, there’s an acknowledgement that you were one of the best players in the game. Five Gold Gloves, four Silver Slugger Awards, seven All-Star selections, 398 homers — and he mostly played on crummy teams.  And yes, he should get points for not juicing and representing the game the right way.

• Phil Nevin: No. Suddenly became Hercules in 2001 with 41 homers in 2001. Go figure.

• Rafael Palmeiro: No. I went to those Congressional steroid hearings in Washington D.C. The only difference between McGwire and Palmeiro is Palmeiro lied. (McGwire wasn’t interested in answering questions at all.) Palmeiro even pointed his finger at the panel for impact!

• Brad Radke: No. Did he room with Bill Mueller?

• Tim Raines: Yes. He was one of those players who always scared me. He played 23 seasons and had career averages of .294 with 57 stolen bases and 93  runs. He had six straight seasons of 70-plus steals and the 808 in his career rank fifth all time. For some reason, he has been kept out.

• Tim Salmon: No. But he did hit 299 homers and captains the All-Fish team with Mike Carp, Mudcat Grant and, of course, Catfish Hunter. (Feel free to add more down below.)

• Ruben Sierra: No. He’s on the ballot for the first time. He had a long (20 year) and solid career. He goes into the Hall of Very Good.

• Lee Smith: Yes. But it’s close. Some never considered a dominant closer, just a very good one. But he led the National League in saves four times and his 478 saves rank third in history. Isn’t that worth something?

• Alan Trammell: No. Another Hall of Very Good member. Over 2,000 hits, four Gold Gloves and a World Series MVP won’t be enough. 

• Larry Walker: No. Much like my aversion to career designate hitters (Martinez), I’m predisposed to giving the stink eye to guys who build career numbers in the thin air of Colorado. Walker hit 258 homers and batted .334 in 10 years with the Rockies. He hit 125 homers and batted .282 in eight seasons in Montreal and St. Louis. Thumbs down.

• Bernie Williams: No. Another very good player, but that’s it. If his vote total becomes inflated, it’s because he played for the Yankees.

• Tony Womack: No. A bad way to end a career, via Wikipedia: “He received a non-roster invitation to spring training with the Washington Nationals for the 2007 season, but was released on March 8.”

• Eric Young: No. Played for 15 seasons. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

169 comments Add your comment

Feeanch

November 30th, 2011
11:39 pm

5150 UOAD

November 30th, 2011
11:48 pm

I love Murphy. Always a class act. Don’t know if he belongs in the HoF for his play, but for his Character. If Rose isn’t in the HoF then who cares anyway.

BravesFanLostInOhio

November 30th, 2011
11:48 pm

Jeromy Burnitz: No. But he played for eight teams, including the Indians, Cubs and Pirates. At the very least, I think we owe him a beer.

Dude, for real.

Chris

November 30th, 2011
11:50 pm

Using wins, RBIs, and saves as arguments for being Hall worthy won’t get you very far. As for steroid users, have to assume everyone was doing them. Bagwell, McGwire, and Palmeiro were among the best of that era. They should be in.

Bagwell, Larkin, McGwire, McGriff, Palmeiro, Raines.

Benjamin

December 1st, 2011
12:00 am

Jeff, take a little longer look at Trammell. He [like Murphy] won’t get in, but he [like Murphy] deserves closer consideration, in my opinion. He was an outstanding all around shortstop from 1980-1993, and was a key member of some very good Tiger teams including the WS MVP winner in 1984, as you mentioned, which does deserve some serious mention on “Hall of Very Good” players. He was as good an offensive shortstop as anyone during the prime of his career.

He was also a better defensive shortstop than he got credit for. In 1982, if you look at the numbers, he was the hands-down Gold Glove deserving winner, but in the way that Gold Gloves are voted for, he didn’t get it.

Brian Jordan

December 1st, 2011
12:01 am

Very weak class with all the PEDs swirling around the top players.

Braves Blog: Craig Kimbrel – http://bit.ly/atlblog

Paul in NH

December 1st, 2011
12:07 am

I’d love to see Dale Murphy elected to the HoF – he was the 2nd best slugger of his era after Mike Schmidt and I think he deserves it. I can’t believe that Tim Raines isn’t in already – you can bet if he had spent the majority of his career in New York or Boston instead of Montreal he would be in by now.
BTW Jeff – you described game 7 of the 1991 WS as the best pitching match up most have ever seen – can you think of any better one ever? I know I can’t.

dabbas

December 1st, 2011
12:08 am

So you’re going to vote for Murphy because of his two MVPs but won’t vote for Edgar because he was a DH. Are you going to vote for Frank Thomas when his turn comes?

Benjamin

December 1st, 2011
12:12 am

Raines should’ve been in years ago. You could make a strong case that he’s top five all time when it comes to leadoff men, and he was a fantastic defensive outfielder, to boot.

Larkin should’ve been first ballot.

Let's see...

December 1st, 2011
12:24 am

I too like Dale and wish more players today had his character on and off the field. BUT, he played on some God awful teams and frankly there were not that many “moments” of excellence to warrant his induction right now. Plus, it pains me to say he really struggled with the curve ball. I know Atlantans want Murphy in but you’ll have to wait five years after Mr. Personality at 3rd base retires.

jlrbrave

December 1st, 2011
12:41 am

Murphy would have been in easily if not for the Steroids era and how it inflated stats. People look at 36 homers these days without any interest but this was like 50 homers in the 90’s or 40 homers today.

Murphy had more total bases than any other player of the 80’s and only Schmidt had more homers and Murray had more RBI’s (all from mlb.com). He was undoubtedly one of the greatest 10 players to play in the 80’s but his biggest mistakes were resigning with the losing Braves and hanging out his career too long with too many bad years at the end (note Chipper is doing the same now).

Murphy and I agree Mattingly both should be in the HOF and I didn’t even bring up how priceless their rookie cards were in the 80’s.

jlrbrave

December 1st, 2011
12:48 am

RE: Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas

I am also not real high on career DHer’s but if either of them get in, it only gives another catapulting reason for Murph to be in – people came to the park as much to see Murph play CF as they did to see him hit – the guy won 5 gold gloves (Larkin only won 3 and he’s a shoo-in?)

[...] be announced on Jan. 9. You can watch the announcement live at 2 pm ET on an MLB Network …Hall of Fame: Murphy thumbs up, juicers thumbs downAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 12 news [...]

Ed

December 1st, 2011
1:09 am

Why does the AJC let you vote on the Hall of Fame but not for other awards as you have mentioned before?

Prestadigitation

December 1st, 2011
2:30 am

In my opinion, if Duke Snyder is a hall of famer, then Dale Murphy is as well. The Duke hit 9 more home runs and 77 more RBI’s then Dale, and had 1 more all star appearance (8 vs. 7). However, on most other categories, Dale has him beat. Dale was a 5x gold glover, 4x silver slugger, and back to back MVP, which is a distinction that should put Dale over the top.

Stinger2

December 1st, 2011
4:00 am

In fairness to all players, there should be a set of guidelines to determine who can qualify to be elected.
If the player does not meet the requirements he should never be on the ballot.
Example:
Must have played for at least xx full seasons or xx number of career at bats.
Must have career BA of at least xx., xx hrs. and xx rbi.
Pitchers must have at least 300 wins and ERA below 3.50.
No player is eligible if use of steroids is admitted or
proven to be true.

DeepDiver

December 1st, 2011
5:04 am

Great line on Burnitz.

Don’t think it’s fair to penalize E. Martinez because he played in the American League — DH is legal over there you know. He is probably the greatest one of all time.

I personally hate the DH but it’s in the game as currently constructed, so that’s how it should be judged.

JoeDawg

December 1st, 2011
6:21 am

Jeff, I can see your stance on steroid users at the plate, but what about on the mound? At the same time the batters were juicing, so were the pitchers. The whole era was that way. As someone who watches a lot of baseball, (umpire at the high school and college level), I truly believe that it takes more than muscles to hit home runs. At the high school and college level, for example, the aluminum bats are evolving backward to the same level as wood. Consequently, home run totals at the high school and college level are plummeting. As for Mark McGwire, he hit 50+ his first year as a skinny, bean-pole. Did the steroids really help that much? I guess my position boils down to this, the steroid era produced inflated numbers at the plate. But, the pitchers were juicing also, so it was an “even” playing field.

Bone

December 1st, 2011
6:33 am

If Reggie Jackson, who had a terrible career batting average and so-so fielding got in, only because he was a Yankee, then Murphy should be there as well. These sports writers need to look at stats more than their love affair with a player/team.

jerry

December 1st, 2011
7:04 am

Snider, not Snyder. The Duke of Flatbush.

K Conway

December 1st, 2011
7:09 am

No juicers period! You can’t reward cheaters! Murphy a good guy but not good enough!

Doc

December 1st, 2011
7:19 am

HOF is so watered down its irrelevant. Give me 3 guys at each position per decade, if they have the numbers.

Bill

December 1st, 2011
7:22 am

I would not vote Bagwell in either.But it is worth noting that as a power hitter some of his numbers were in that canyon known as the Astrodome.

Wish you hadn’t brought up that Smoltz-Morris game again.

Richard Alpert

December 1st, 2011
7:26 am

I also don’t think its fair to penalize Edgar Martinez. He did spend time at 1st base as well, and if the rules are that the DH counts as an ENTIRE player, he should get an ENTIRE vote. Are you saying that he wouldn’t have had the batting stats if he had been playing 1st base each inning?

Here are my “votes” –
Jack Morris (winningest pitcher of the 1980’s, when you win your decade, you are in)
Edgar Martinez (See above)
Fred McGriff (CRIME DAWG! My favorite Brave EVER! Plus, he had an amazing career at the plate and an underrated fielder)
Barry Larkin (I agree with you, should’ve been a lock last year)
Jeff Bagwell (The guy could flat out hit, and built his body legally)
Don Mattingly (If he was on the 90’s or 00’s Yankees, he’d be a lock)
Lee Smith (DOMINANT closer)
Tim Raines (Rickey Henderson without the crappy attitude, although he carried cocaine in his pockets early in his career)

Class of '98

December 1st, 2011
7:26 am

Tim Raines? You have got to be kidding. Induct HIM into the Hall of Very Good. I don’t even think Larkin deserves it.

You voters water down the Hall by voting for these good, not great, players.

Class of '98

December 1st, 2011
7:28 am

In 50 years the Hall of Fame is going to be a million square feet. It will be the size of Mall of America with all these chumps you writers vote in.

Freedom from insanity

December 1st, 2011
7:44 am

What about the “seniors” class? Specifically Ron Santo.

Ostrich Racer

December 1st, 2011
7:44 am

Murphy should be in. When Channel 17 went national (remember the Super Station?), he became the face of baseball during the game’s greatest period of expansion, and he was always a first-class representative of the city and the game. He elevated baseball, and that’s got to be worth something.

Morris and Raines should also be in. I agree with benjamin on Trammell — we is vastly underappreciated.

Also, the Fish need Kevin Bass in the outfield.

Ostrich Racer

December 1st, 2011
7:45 am

“He” (Trammell) is vastly underappreciated. “We” (me and Sonny Clusters) are probably overappreciated.

Josh

December 1st, 2011
7:47 am

Good article. I appreciate your explanations. Don’t really agree with the DH thing though. I get how they can be looked at as 1/2 a player, but they are playing, and in Martinez’s case, excelling, within the system that allows them to do so right? Martinez is probably the best, or one of the best, to ever DH on a consistent basis. I think from that perspective he might deserve a little more consideration.

Mike Trout

December 1st, 2011
7:56 am

Don’t forget me on your All-Fish Team!

Hit A Single

December 1st, 2011
8:17 am

Dale Murphy deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. 2 time MVP and could have gone to other teams but stayed loyal to the Braves. Also changed positions due to his throwing problems behind the plate and did an outstanding job defensively in the outfield. Many times teams could have pitch around him because he just didn’t have a threat hitting behind him. Sure he chased bad pitches but he knew he had to swing it for the Braves to be successful. If Bob Horner could have stayed healthy there is no doubt in my mind that Dale would have hit 400 or 425 homeruns.

Bob the Blogger

December 1st, 2011
8:17 am

Fred McGriff hardly got any votes last year, but he’s a HOFer for sure. His average, OBP, slugging pct all are significantly higher than Dawson’s, and his 493 HRs and eight 100 RBI seasons put him in elite company. He was very good for a very long time, and did it without the juice.

tp

December 1st, 2011
8:21 am

Here’s one for the ‘fish list’: Kevin Bass.

He wasn’t linked to steriod use, but fellow players say he had a big mouth …

bravo bravos

December 1st, 2011
8:25 am

Good piece! Hard to believe some of the names even on the ballot…Tony Womack? Terry Mulholland? Murphy should be in. He played in a different era and his stats for the decade of the 80’s are right up there at the top of the very best of his day. He played great defense in the outfield and represented the game with class as well as anyone I’ve ever seen play the game.

As for the juicers…while the point can be partially made about both pitchers and hitters using steroids, therefore the playing field was even, it is largely off the mark. Let’s say 20-25% of everyone, pitchers and hitters, were juiced. That means that the 20-25% had a distinct advantage over the other 75-80%. The users were going up against non-users at least that 75-80% of the time which gave them an edge over the non-users. Cut their stats accordingly and see where they stack up against everbody else.

Max Sizemore

December 1st, 2011
8:27 am

Jeff, I’m quite impressed with your baseball knowledge, and I like your reasoning on most of the ballot. But I’m with Benjamin (obviously a baseball guy) and Ostrich, Trammell should be in.

bravo bravos

December 1st, 2011
8:27 am

Favorite fish team player….Sid Bream

Brian B.

December 1st, 2011
8:36 am

Want to win a few bar bets ??? Name the player who had the most HR’s and RBI’s in the 80’s …
Answer … Dale Murphy.

One of the criteria for the Hall should be whether or not you were clearly one of the best players of your era. I don’t think there is any doubt that Murphy was. If he had played his career in NY or LA, can you imagine the media drumbeat that we would now be hearing demanding his induction ?

Jack Straw

December 1st, 2011
8:39 am

Your arguments are good, but I disagree on Trammell. Shortstops are overlooked in HOF voting. Trammell has all the qualifications.

John S

December 1st, 2011
8:41 am

I would vote Bagwell, Larkin, E Martinez, McGriff, Raines and Trammell. Murphy was a very good player, had a few great peak years, and then fell off a cliff. I don’t buy into the DH issues with Martinez.He could certainly have played a position adequately for a lot longer than he did. Trammell is vastly under-appreciated.

Hoof Hearted

December 1st, 2011
8:47 am

Jeff, I agree with your analysis completely. . .the end is near.

I grew up idolizing Dale Murphy, so I’m probably not too objective about him being in the HOF, but after reading your argument for his inclusion, I yelled (literally, out loud, at my computer screen) a very un-Dale-like “F@&$ YEAH!”

Newman

December 1st, 2011
8:48 am

Raines has been kept out because he was a coke head.

1eyedJack

December 1st, 2011
8:49 am

Maybe one day Dale will get appointed by the Veteran’s Committee.

Hankie Aron

December 1st, 2011
8:54 am

Mark- Thanks for the trip down memory lane for these 80’s kind of guys.

GTT

December 1st, 2011
8:56 am

Curious, I thought a vote like this would violate AJC policy? Dumb policy by the way.

Hankie Aron

December 1st, 2011
8:57 am

My favorite player Fred “The Crime Dog” Mcgriff should have been in before. Maybe, just maybe this is his year

MatthewH

December 1st, 2011
8:57 am

It was my understanding that the AJC didn’t let its writers vote on awards. DOB has said that he couldn’t vote on Rookie of the Year for baseball as well as MVP. I think Bradley has said the same thing. The reason given is that the AJC didn’t want its writers to become part of the story.

Is this different? Does the AJC let you vote on HOF?

the real OLD GOLD

December 1st, 2011
9:08 am

You’re dead on Mark. “Hall of Fame Numbers” are not to be compared to numbers from the entire history of baseball. A baseball Hall of Famer is supposed to be the best player from their particular era.. and Murphy had leading numbers in countless categories throughout the late 70s and early to mid 80s. He was at the top of his era and belongs in the Hall.

timthebrave

December 1st, 2011
9:14 am

my vote would be for Larkin, Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly, and Fred McGriff. Jack Morris is close but the 3.90 ERA makes me say no. Lee Smith and Raines are borderline but a no for me as well

Bristol Palin 2012

December 1st, 2011
9:15 am

Great job Jeff. Only one I question is Lee Smith.