At last, the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 has been named. For the most part, there were no surprises in the group elected that included Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.
Johnson, a left handed starting pitcher, nicknamed the Big Unit, at 6’10 and 225 pounds, won 303 games and lost only 166 in his 22 year career and posted a 3.29 ERA with 4,875 strikeouts. He won five Cy Young Awards, was named to the All Star Team 10 times, was MVP in the World Series in 2001, when his team won the World Series. He was named on 97.3 percent of the ballots cast. A candidate must be named on 75% of the ballots to be elected.
Martinez, a right handed starter, won 219 and lost 100 in an18 year career with five different teams. He had a career 2.93 ERA, won the Cy Young Award three times and was a member of the Red Sox team that won the World Series in 2004. He was an eight time All Star Team member and won the MVP Award in the 1999 All Star Game. He was named on 91.1 % of the ballots.
Smoltz, who spent most of his 22 year career as a starting pitcher, compiling a 213-155 won loss record, with a career 3.33 ERA, won the Cy Young Award in 1996. In addition to his 481 starts, from 2001-2004, he was the Closer for the Atlanta Braves, where he spent all but the last year of his career. During that four years, he saved 154 of 169 save attempts. He was named on 82.9 % of the ballots.
Biggio, spent his entire 20 year career with the Houston Astros. He had a career batting average of .281 and amassed 3,060 hits in that time. He was a seven time All Star and won four Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers. He hit over .300 just four times and posted his highest average, .325, in 1998. He led the league in doubles three times, in stolen bases once and in runs scored twice. Although his statistics seem rather modest for the Hall, the 3,000 hit plateau, like 500 homers or 300 pitching victories has always been the benchmark fore admission and he did join that rather exclusive club. He was named on 82.7 % of the ballots.
There were also few surprises in the group that did not get elected. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were excluded again this year. Clemens was named on a mere 37.5% of the ballots and Bonds on just 36.8 %.
Clemens pitched for 23 years during which time he won 354 games and lost 184 and compiled a 3.12 ERA. He won seven Cy Young Awards with four different teams, was MVP in the American League in 1986, was selected for the All Star Team 11 times and was MVP in the All Star Game in 1986. He was on the Yankee teams that won the World Series in 1999 and 2000. He was never proven to have used any type of steroids or drugs.
Barry Bonds, on the other hand, a proven PED user, hit 762 home runs, the most by any player in history, hit 73 homers in one year, 2001, hit over 30 homers in 13 seasons and was the National League batting champion in 2002 and 2004. He was named to 14 All Star teams and was Most Valuable Player in the National League seven times.
Both are being systematically excluded from the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association, completely arbitrarily. The rules for voting in Hall of Fame elections state that ‘Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.’
In Clemens case, there is no basis whatsoever in the rules to exclude him. In Bonds case, unless you consider that, in his era, a large percentage of the players he was competing against were also using some type of PED, you might exclude him for PED use.
The Hall of Fame needs to do something to allow the exceptional performance of these two to be recognized in the Hall. When Roger Maris hit his 61 home runs in a 162 game season and broke Babe Ruth’s record of 60 in a 154 game season, an asterisk was added to his total in the record books to indicate the difference.
Worse yet, is the exclusion of Pete Rose from the Hall of Fame. In 24 years in the Majors, Rose hit safely 4,256 times the most by any hitter in history. He averaged .303 in that illustrious career and was the poster boy for all out effort on the field. Because he gambled and bet on his own team, he was banned from baseball by the Commissioner and thereby excluded from the Hall of Fame.
People on both sides of this argument can make valid points but the bottom line is this. The player with the most hits in baseball history, the one with the most home runs and the last 300 game winner in the history of baseball are not recognized in the Hall of Fame. Whether you like them or not, whether you think they deserve inclusion or not their numbers cannot be changed. Over the years, countries like Russia have erased their leaders from history when it is convenient.
Excluding them from the Hall of Fame does not resolve anything. Their records are there and cannot be changed. Section 9 of the Rules For Election to the Hall says ‘The Board of Directors of the National Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc., reserves the right to revoke, alter or amend these rules at any time.’ The time is now and the Board has the right to rectify this situation. All it takes is an amendment and, oh yes, a little intestinal fortitude.