No real surprises in this year's Hall of Fame balloting

Posted by Scott Wuerz on January 8, 2014 

There's always controversy, it seems, when it comes to Hall of Fame balloting.

Either someone gets in and a segment of the population is outraged because they're going to tarnish the sanctity of the Hall of Fame with their presence. Or else someone is martyred because they deserve more than anyone else in the history of humanity to get it in.

While there is a little bit of controversy this year, at least there is no true outrage. A couple of true Hall of Famers got in and some of the guys who have been on the bubble didn't.

How can anybody say that Greg Maddux, arguably the best pitcher of his generation, was about as close to a unanimous selection as a player is going to be in the modern era. And it's tough not to see Tom Glavine as being not too far behind.

Personally, I am a little dubious about Frank Thomas being voted in. But I'm not going to flip about it.

Thomas hit 521 homers and had a .301 batting average. Historically, those numbers would be a pretty good bid for enshrinement. But, in the steroid era, voters have held power hitters to a tougher standard, almost assuming if they put up big numbers they were cheating.

The Big Hurt was never implicated in performance enhancing drug abuse. And, while I am surprised he gets a free pass when so many other players of his generation are tainted whether it's been proved they did anything wrong or not, that's not why I am a little bit down on him.

My problem is that Thomas played a substantial portion of his career as a designated hitter. By definition, I think that makes him an incomplete player.

I'm not going to jump up and down about it because Thomas was truly dominant, maybe the best hitter in baseball, early in his career when he actually played in the field. But part of the Hall of Fame equation is consistency and longevity, and Thomas certainly benefited from not having to suffer the wear and tear of playing in the field. He also benefited from not having to display the weakest part of his game: Playing defense.

I'm not a fan of designated hitters getting more consideration than guys who had to play in the field. Especially when there still seems to be a bias against closers.

I'm more disappointed that Craig Biggio missed making the Hall of Fame by two votes. He's a ballplayer's ballplayer. A guy who was excellent at three different positions and who didn't have an attitude about moving to make his team better.

 

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