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9 Overlooked Players Who Should be in the MLB Hall of Fame
Baseball, being so rich in nostalgia and steeped in tradition, holds sacred the Hall of Fame in a manner that no other sport does. Consequently, any snubs at the hand of the induction committee are seen, justifiably, as slights against a given player’s legacy. However, there are only so many spots that can be handed out before the Hall starts to lose its cache. Consequently, the discussion of players that are and have been on the bubble ebb and flow every year. While some will have to live with the disappointment of not making the cut, below are 9 players that have strong cases for making the trip to Cooperstown.
9. Bert Blyleven
A 22-year career that results in 287 wins and 3,701 strikeouts inexplicably hasn’t rolled out the red carpet for Bert, who has struck out 13 straight times on the HOF ballot. He narrowly missed the threshold for admission this year, so things are looking good, but the fact that it’s taken this long can probably be attributed to being a great pitcher for 22 years without having banner years the way other pitchers such as Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Mike Scott, and Dwight Gooden did during his career.
8. Mark McGwire
Mark McGwire would probably have a statue in front of the Hall of Fame were it not for one nagging fact. He used steroids the entire time he was establishing himself as perhaps the best power hitter in baseball history. His stats are widely known, and though he has lost the single season throne to Barry Bonds, his numbers are staggering nonetheless. Despite the fact that steroids weren’t explicitly banned during his drug days, his use demonstrates a mentality and flaw that goes against what many of the purists voting on inductions hold dear about baseball. During his four years of eligibility, Big Mac hasn’t cracked receiving 24% of the vote, which means that it will be a long time, if ever, before McGwire sees the inside of Cooperstown.
7. Don Mattingly
Mattingly has the dubious distinction as being the best Yankee to never win a ring, which may account for voters’ reluctance to usher him into the hall. During the dog day 80’s for the Yanks, Donnie Baseball was an offensive juggernaut that also was able to score 9 Gold Gloves. His career stats include 2,153 hits, .307 average, 222 homers, and a scant 14 stolen bases. He was constantly in the hunt for batting and RBI crowns and was named MVP in 1985. Perhaps if he had been playing for a less storied franchise, these numbers would have been enough without pennants and titles, but, alas, he played for the Yankees.
6. Ron Santo
In a 15-year career, Santo chalked up 9 All-Star appearances and 5 Gold Gloves but never got the nod for admission to the Hall. He had 8 consecutive seasons of 90 RBI, hit .300 and 30 homers four times each. Despite these numbers, he had a difficult time garnering support for his Hall of Fame campaign, getting just 4% of the vote. Many attribute this to the voters’ historical overlooking of third basemen. In recent years, Santo’s support has grown, but sadly, it didn’t happen in his lifetime, as he passed away on December 2, 2010.
5. Lee Smith
Relief pitchers have historically had a tough go of it when it comes to getting into the hallowed hall. Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Goose Gossage, and Bruce Sutter are the only relievers to have made the cut, but Lee’s exclusion still might be the most baffling omission on this list. Smith held the MLB record for career saves and saves in a season during his career, though both have been eclipsed in recent years. He’s been up for induction five times since his eligibility began in 2003, but Smith has only been able to Garner about 40% of the votes each outing, a ways short of the 75% required for entry.
4. Pete Rose
Clearly his omission from the hall isn’t a function of his accomplishments on the field. Rose was the poster boy for the Major Leagues with the stats to back it up. However, everyone knows how this story ends. In 1989, he accepted a ban from baseball after admitting to gambling on his baseball games, including his own team, while he was a player and a manager. The manner in which he has handled his ban has been far from graceful, but with so many players of dubious repute having made the cut, continuing the ban for gambling seems like a ploy by idealistic baseball purists who refuse to examine the issue from a practical standpoint.
3. Dale Murphy
Despite maintaining a mediocre (by HOF standards) batting average of .265 over his 18-year career, Murphy put up career stats of 398 HR’s, 1,266 RBI’s, back-to-back MVP’s, and five straight Gold Gloves. However, his offensive dominance didn’t translate to success for his Braves, who made only one postseason appearance during the Murphy era, with Murphy himself putting up lackluster numbers during their series against the Cards in 1982. His downward slide marred his early accomplishments, with his final year’s performance producing a batting average of less than .200.
2. Dwight Gooden
While he may not have had the duration of career that many Hall of Famers look for, his “burn out bright” career trajectory matches that of legendary pitcher and Hall of Fame fixture Sandy Koufax. During the late 80’s, there wasn’t a more feared pitcher in the league, but any goodwill that Gooden amassed during this period was handily eclipsed by substance abuse and legal troubles on the downslope of his career. Further, his gaudy numbers that he established early on were offset by waning success later in his career, marginalizing his career stats, which of course carry profound weight in the induction process. Still, his banner year in 1985 with 24 wins, 268 K’s, and a 1.53 ERA is one of the greatest single-season performances in the history of the game.
1. Roberto Alomar
Playing for eight different teams during a career is a difficult way to build an identity in the eyes of the Hall of Fame voters. That said, it does demonstrate versatility and consistency when, during that career, you are able to amass 2 rings, 12 All Star appearances, and 10 Gold Gloves. Offensive stats for second basemen are historically anemic, making Alomar one of the more prolific in the history of the game. He amassed a .300 average, 2,724 hits, 1,134 RBI’s, 474 steals, and 210 homers. However, Alomar’s snub will likely be short-lived. He missed induction by only eight votes in his first year of eligibility, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be on the sidelines for long.