There are also two former Mets who are returning to the ballot in 2015 (Mike Piazza, Jeff Kent), making the other 15 holdovers jealous because they never got the support of Mets fans during their active days as a player. Well, technically Kent didn't get the support of Mets fans, either, but at least he got the support of the writers of the show "Reno 911!", who clearly modeled the character of Lt. Dangle after him.
As Mets fans, we should know quite a bit about travesties and being overlooked. After all, of the 14 players who received fewer than 5% of the Hall of Fame votes in 2014, thereby removing them from this year's ballot, five of them were former Mets. Moises Alou, Hideo Nomo, Armando Benitez, Paul Lo Duca and the beloved Kenny Rogers will no longer be considered by the BBWAA for Hall of Fame enshrinement. But that doesn't mean that a former Met or two will be denied this year.
Here's the list of players I'd vote for if not for that stupid "you're just a blogger, not a ten-year writer for a respected publication" rule.
For the early part of his career, Johnson was the left-handed version of Nolan Ryan. From 1990 to 1992 (the first three seasons in which Johnson made 30+ starts), the lanky southpaw averaged 221 strikeouts and 139 walks per season and he barely had a winning record (39-35) in those three campaigns. Then 1993 happened, and the man who possessed a slider named Mr. Snappy exploded as a perennial All-Star.
For a ten-year period (1993-2002), Johnson was the most dominant pitcher in baseball, going 175-58 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.08 ERA and an incredible 2,928 strikeouts. He also learned how to throw pitches a little closer to the plate, as his walked just 712 batters over the decade.
Johnson finished his career as the second-greatest strikeout pitcher of all time, behind Nolan Ryan. The ten-time All-Star won five Cy Young Awards, finishing in the top three in three other seasons. He also received MVP votes in nine seasons, an almost unheard of feat for a pitcher. And of course, he shared MVP honors in the 2001 World Series (with Curt Schilling) when he won three games against the Yankees.
Mr. Snappy and the man who threw him is without question deserving of the call from the Hall.
|Mr. Snappy crackled in the air and popped in the catcher's mitt. (Photo by Elaine Thompson/AP)|
Although Martinez "only" won 219 games in his 17-year career, his Hall of Fame candidacy rests on all the No. 1s he racked up in his career. Are you ready for this long list?
Martinez led the league in wins once, winning percentage three times, ERA five times, WHIP six times, strikeouts four times (excuse me while catch my breath ... okay, let's continue), strikeouts per nine innings five times, fewest hits per nine innings five times, strikeout-to-walk ratio four times, shutouts once and complete games once.
The former Met pitched in two World Series, winning it all as a member of the Red Sox in 2004. He also posted an 86.0 WAR as a pitcher, which ranks him 17th all-time in that category. Fourteen of the 16 pitchers ahead of him are already in the Hall of Fame. A fifteenth should enter this year (Randy Johnson), while the sixteenth is Roger Clemens, who would be a shoo-in for the Hall if the specter of PEDs wasn't scaring voters away.
Pedro Martinez once threw Don Zimmer to the ground. Now he should throw down at Cooperstown as a slam dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer.
|Pedro Martinez sprinkled in some fun during a wonderful major league career. (Photo by Frank Franklin II/AP)|
The Braves had two eventual 300-game winners in Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. But the most dominant pitcher during their era of greatness in the 1990s might have been John Smoltz.
Whereas Greg Maddux would paint the corners with the precision of a surgeon and Tom Glavine would confuse umpires into calling strikes on pitches that were off the plate, John Smoltz would come right after the hitter. He did it as a starting pitcher. He did it even better as a relief pitcher. But he was truly at his best as a postseason pitcher.
After a slow start to his career (78-75, 3.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP from 1988 to 1994), Smoltz turned the corner in 1995 by going 12-7 during the strike-shortened campaign and striking out over a batter per inning for the first time in his career. A year later, Smoltz won 24 games and the Cy Young Award. Two years after that, Smoltz led the league in winning percentage (17-3, .850 win %) and finished fourth in the Cy Young vote. Injuries kept him from pitching in 2000, but when he came back in 2001, he became the Braves' closer. Smoltz saved 154 games in three-and-a-half seasons, including 55 in 2002, which is still tied for the all-time National League record.
Smoltz pitched in 41 postseason games, both as a starter and reliever, winning 15 games and saving four others. The 15 postseason wins are the second-highest total in history. Smoltz also posted a 2.67 lifetime ERA in October and struck out 199 batters, the most of any pitcher in postseason history.
Had he not lost four-and-a-half years to injury and closer's duties, Smoltz might have approached 300 victories (he won 213). He should approach (and surpass) the 75% minimum needed to enter the Hall of Fame.
|Mets fans should tip their caps to John Smoltz on the day he enters the Hall of Fame. (Rich Pilling/MLB Photos)|
Among returnees on the ballot, I would vote for Mike Piazza (duh) and Craig Biggio (double duh, which is appropriate since doubles were his specialty, as he hit the fifth-most doubles in MLB history).
The other five votes I'd be allowed to cast (if I were allowed to cast any at all ... stupid BBWAA not letting me play in their sandbox) would go to Jeff Bagwell, Curt Schilling, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez and Jeff Kent.
Lieutenant Dangle's doppelganger may not have been the friendliest guy in the world, but he sure put up great numbers (regardless of position) for a large chunk of his career. And "dangle" in the fact that he did all this as a middle infielder, well, he deserves to be mentioned among the best to play the game, as do Bagwell, Schilling, Walker and Edgar Martinez.