I am certainly never going to have a MLB Hall of Fame vote. But who are we kidding here? The Hall of Fame has become completely illegitimate in recent years, as old white guys have flexed their baby-boomer-longevity to keep voting against the man who is obviously the greatest hitter most people have ever seen. But that’s a different rant for a different time.
There are 42 players on the ballot this year, and a number of great first-time entries. In all likelihood, none of the guys I vote for will even appear on future ballots, let alone get into the HOF. But I say if some old, angry former baseball writer gets to say Barry Bonds doesn’t belong in the Hall, then I get to weigh in with my opinion on who SHOULD be in there.
- Russ Springer–RHP
Springer had a long and largely undistinguished career, pitching for ten teams over 18 season in the Big Leagues. He never played more than four seasons for any one of those ten. A reliever by trade, Springer started 27 games in the Majors, all in his first seven seasons. All said and done, Springer’s 740 appearances place him 75th in MLB history, and his 36-45 career record to go with his 4.52 ERA place him somewhere in the middle of the pack.
- Fernando Tatis–3B
Ferndando’s 1999 season alone should put him in the Hall. That year, Tatis hit 34 homers and drove in 104 runs. He never hit more than 18 dingers in any other season. He had health problems throughout his 11-year career, and never played more than 114 games after that magical 1999 season. He never made an All-Star Game but he deserved to be standing on the Fenway grass that year, and get struck out by Pedro Martinez. He didn’t get the call to the All-Star game that year, but this year we give him the call to the Hall!
- Gary Matthews–OF
Sure, you may know that the 5-year, $50 million contract the Angels gave Matthews is one of the worst deals in baseball history, but that’s not his fault. Matthews just happened to hit the free agent market at exactly the right time, after his 2006 season with the Rangers. That year, his only all-star season, Matthews beat his career OBP (.332) by 40 points, and hit 19 home runs. His OPS was an impressive .866, and his flashy outfield play helped his cause in free agency as well. Matthews got 12 seasons in the Big Leagues, and his contract with the Angels lasted over a year after he played his last game.
- Randy Winn–OF
I always had a soft spot for Randy Winn. When I was a kid one of my favorite video games was MVP Baseball 2005, and Winn always put up great numbers for the Mariners in the game. In real life, the best stretch of Winn’s career came down the stretch of ’05, when he hit 14 home runs in just 58 games, after he was traded by the M’s to San Fransisco. Sadly, Winn never appeared in a postseason game in his 13 seasons. But I say he belongs in the Obscure Athletes Hall of Fame.
- Russ Ortiz–RHP
When Ortiz was out of the Majors in 2008, I thought it was over for the righty. But alas, 2009 saw Ortiz come back to pitch for the Astros, and appear in 23 games. Russ’ greatest year was 2003, in which he led the league with 21 wins, and finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting for the Braves. I’ll always remember how long he took between pitches, and his ability to walk batters while getting out of innings. He twice led the league in walks (including his ’03 All-Star appearance). 2008 proved to me that the world needs Russ Ortiz. And the Hall of Fame needs Russ Ortiz.