First, I do want to congratulate the three players voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame on January 8, 2014: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas. Maddux was a shoe-in, and he had a terrific chance of becoming the first-ever unanimous inductee. I am a little surprised that he did not get every vote. According to MLB.com, Maddux received 97.2% of the votes, which will rank him eighth all-time on the percentage list. Glavine received 91.9% (25th), and Thomas received 83.7%.
Glavine’s induction was never in doubt, but many asked whether or not Thomas (AKA “The Big Hurt”) would get the necessary 75% of the just-over 500 votes needed for induction. I had no doubt that Thomas deserved to get in on his first ballot. The voters got it right on all three fronts.
However, some voters missed the mark by saying “No” to three former Red Sox pitchers (as well as some other players) who all deserve induction: Lee Smith, Curt Schilling, and Roger Clemens.
Lee Smith, 29.9%
First, I am highly upset that Smith did not get in yet again. This year, he received just 29.9% of the vote. How in the world can the man who retired after 18 years as the all-time leader in saves get only 29.9% of the vote? Furthermore, why has he dropped in percentage? Smith saved 478 games, mostly for the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, from 1980-1997. He held the saves record for nine years. I laid out his case much further just before his snub in 2012.
Smith pitched three years for the Red Sox from 1998 to mid-1990. During his time in Boston, he saved 58 games with an ERA of 3.07 and a WHIP of 1.287. He struck out 11.2 hitters per nine innings pitched. He allowed just 13 home runs in 168.2 innings pitched with approximately half of those innings coming in Fenway Park. Smith’s first ballot came in 2003; this means that the voters have snubbed him for the 12th time in 2014.
Smith has three more chances to get in through the BBWAA, which apparently needs some major correction. He deserves induction, but I am afraid that it will have to come from a future veterans committee as Ron Santo‘s induction (finally) did. Hopefully, Smith will live to see it happen.
Curt Schilling, 29.2%
Although I did not expect former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling to get in on his first ballot in 2013, I thought he would get much closer this year. I strongly believe that he had a Hall-of-Fame-caliber career. Curt Schilling will get in one day and likely not too many years from now. Schilling was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.137 WHIP over 20 years with Baltimore, Houston, Philadelphia, Arizona, and Boston from 1988-2007. It took him a few years to get going, but from 1990 on, Schilling’s ERA was over 4.00 only three times. He had an average WAR of 6.1 for that time span.
With Boston in his final four years, Schilling was 53-27, 3.95 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 4.5 WAR in 119 games from ages 37 to 40 — a time in which most pitchers are just trying to hang on. He went out a World Series winner. In my pre-vote write-up about Schilling’s Hall of Fame credentials, I briefly explained how he compared with some pitchers in the Hall of Fame:
“Schilling’s 216 wins alone are more than the win totals of 19 current Hall-of-Famers, including Dizzy Dean (150), Lefty Gomez (189), and Sandy Koufax (165). Granted, Koufax had his career cut short to elbow problems, and some of those pitchers with fewer wins were relievers (Rollie Fingers, Rich Gossage, Hoyt Wilhelm), but Schilling still pitched as well in his role as they did in theirs.”
Roger Clemens, 35.4%
Yes, I fully understand the controversy surrounding Roger Clemens, but I cannot overlook his career record of 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 1.173 WHIP, 4,672 strikeouts, and 5.8 average WAR over 24 years. The Rocket Roger Clemens is the A.L.’s all-time strikeout leader and winner of seven Cy Young Awards. Clemens dominated his era as well as or better than most pitchers, even those already in the Hall of Fame.
With Boston from 1984 to 1996, Clemens was 192-111 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 100 complete games, 38 shutouts, and 2,590 strikeouts. He also won his first three Cy Young awards.
Even amidst controversy, he would get my vote. Besides, Clemens was acquitted of his perjury charges. I am a firm believer in the Constitutional principle of Innocent until Proven Guilty, and MLB did not prove him guilty.
Four more picks
Obviously, if I had a vote, I would have voted for these six players, and the rules stipulate that I would get to vote for four more. On the 2014 ballot, I would have voted in favor of the following four more: Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Fred McGriff, and Alan Trammell. Some others deserve it and will get in eventually, but under the current rules, I would have to make sure that these players got in while they still had the chance. McGriff still has ten years left. Morris, unfortunately though, will have no more chances. That is another story altogether.
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