Monday, November 30, 2009

No Yankee likely to make Hall in 2010

Lee Smith has the best case for inclusion into the Baseball Hall of Fame among former Yankee players eligible during this round of voting. Despite having the third-most saves in baseball history, he will likely fall well short again. Smith's difficulty getting into the Hall reflects a bias against closers who usually enter the game to pitch one inning. But Smith was a dominating reliever, retiring with 478 saves and 1,251 strikeouts. Yet, his vote totals have fallen in the 37%-45% range.

Smith had an extremely short career in pinstripes, pitching in only eight games although he saved three of them and did not give up a run. If Smith does eventually make it into the Hall of Fame, he will not be wearing a Yankees cap.

Tim Raines was a key role player during the 1996-98 World Series-winning Yankee teams, serving as a mentor to younger players like Derek Jeter. But during the 1980s, "Rock" was known as one of the most dynamic leadoff hitters in baseball. He ended his career with a .294 batting average, 2,605 hits and 808 steals, the 4th most in baseball history. Raines was named to the All-Star team seven times. But he only received between 22-24% during his first two years of eligibility. Although his career numbers are probably not enough to get him into the Hall of Fame on the writers' ballot, his play during the early and middle parts of his career and good guy personality will probably continue to get him some votes.
Two other former Yankees, good friends Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile, are on the ballot for the first time. Of the two, Ventura has a better case for the Hall, but neither player stands much of a chance. He has a low career batting average of .267, but hit 294 home runs, knocked in 1,182 ribbies and won six Gold Gloves at third base. Ventura's offensive numbers are all slightly better than his pal Zeile, who was not a strong defensive player.
Ventura was a favorite of the writers, always good for hilarious quotes. Upon finding out he was named to his second All-Star team in 2002, 10 years after his first appearance, he said: "I like to spread them out. It's easier on your body that way." But another Ventura quote is likely to define his Hall of Fame candidacy. When he hit the 16th out of his 18 Grand Slams, he was told by the writers that Dave Kingman was the only member of that select group of hitters not in the Hall. Ventura's deadpan response: "So I'll join Dave Kingman then."
Thanks to Terren Peterson via Wikipedia for the photo.

1 comment:

  1. So good to see Ventura and Zeile's names that tandem, even if they don't make the HOF.