Thursday, January 6, 2011

Yankees getting little love from Hall voters

Once again, no player who wore a New York Yankees uniform got anywhere close to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t call it a snub, but the former Yankees currently eligible for enshrinement are not getting much love from the writers.

Legendary Yankee Don Mattingly has more important things to worry about, namely prepping for his first season as a big-league manager. But it’s disappointing that Donnie Baseball continues to slip in the voting, falling from 16.1% last year to about 13.6% in 2011. But Mattingly seems at peace with not making the Hall as a player. Perhaps he can follow in his mentor Joe Torre’s footsteps by becoming a Hall of Fame manager (as Torre will soon gain entrance on the strength of his stewardship of the 1990s Yankee dynasty).

In his 9th year on the ballet, closer Lee Smith is also watching the Hall slip further away from his grasp. His 478 career saves (third-most in baseball history behind Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera) are just not getting any respect from the voters. He still has six more years of eligibility, but his vote totals have not made the slow, but steady upward movement that would indicate he has any chance to make the Hall.

But Tim Raines, a beloved teammate during his baseball career, is inching upward after garnering 37.5% of the vote, up from 30.4% last year and 22-24% during his first two years. Raines was one of the most dynamic leadoff hitters in the game and that, combined with his popularity, works in his favor. Given that he still has more than 10 years of eligibility left, he could follow Bert Blyleven’s slow path toward enshrinement.

None of the other eligible former Yankees will even get another chance at the Hall after falling well short of the 5% needed to stay on the ballot. My boy Tino Martinez only received the support of six writers in his first year of eligibility. I wasn’t expecting Tino to get anywhere close to enough votes for enshrinement, but I was hoping for a better showing for a guy who was such an integral part of the last Yankee dynasty.

At this rate, the Yankees may have to wait until Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter retires before they get another player into the Hall.

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