Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bernie gets no love from Hall of Fame voters

Bernie Williams got no love from the Baseball Hall of Fame voters.

Williams only got 9.6% of the vote, which guarantees that he will remain on the ballot for next year, but also means that it is highly unlikely he will ever get anywhere close to the 75% threshold needed for induction into the Hall of Fame. The voters simply didn’t buy his Hall credentials despite a .297 batting average, 287 home runs, 1,257 runs batted in and all his postseason numbers, with Bernie ranking first or second in many categories. They didn’t care that he was a key member of four World Series champion teams and played the glamour position of center field for the New York Yankees.

The result is disappointing, but not surprising. I had been hoping for support in the 20-30% range, but was not optimistic. Bernie’s chances did not look good when New York-based writers such as Jack Curry and Jon Heyman publicly acknowledged their refusal to vote for him.  But it is galling to see Bernie get fewer votes than known cheaters such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. Sure, Bernie’s power numbers do not compare to their numbers, but Bernie was a clean player, which is a lot more than we can say for those guys.  

Other former Yankees again struggled in the voting. Legendary Yankees Captain Don Mattingly only received 17.8% of the vote in his 12th year on the ballot, making it a virtual certainty that Donnie Baseball will not go into the Hall as a player. Lee Smith received 50.6% of the vote in his 10th year on the ballot and Gil Hodges is the only player with more than 50% who has failed to gain entrance into the Hall. But too many writers struggle with or scoff at the saves category, Smith’s biggest credential for the Hall with 478 career saves, so I doubt he will make it in. Ruben Sierra, in a total shocker (J.K.), did not get one vote in his first year on the ballot so we won’t have to consider his candidacy ever again.
The one positive vote for the Yankees was the 48.7% for Tim Raines, who continues his steady climb toward that magical 75% threshold. Raines, who has the support of prominent writers such as Heyman, has 10 more years of eligibility left so I have high hopes that he will eventually make it into the Hall.

Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada will be on the ballot in four or five years, respectively (assuming the reports that Posada will retire are accurate) and will be interesting candidates for the Hall, although Pettitte does not get my vote because of his admitted human growth hormone use. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, whenever they decide to call it quits, will be surefire, first-ballot Hall of Fame inductees. But Bernie Williams will never again be a real candidate for the Hall of Fame and that is truly disappointing.  

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