Dan's Dugout: Expect a Haul for the Hall • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan’s Dugout: Expect a Haul for the Hall

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The annual ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame should have many check marks on it.

Voting writers are allowed up to 10 choices and need to mark them all in order to avoid skewing the required 75 per cent for the most deserving players.

Any voter marking just a handful of names – or none in a continued protest of Pete Rose’s exclusion – lessens the prospect of anyone getting in.

An earlier election by the Veterans Committee, to be announced at the Baseball Winter Meetings Dec. 5, does not have the same 10 spots but does have 10 names on the ballot in case anyone on the 16-man committee chooses them all.

If Latino Sports were participating, here’s how those 10 spots would be filled out:

Fred McGriff was a force who hit 493 home runs, tying Lou Gehrig

Fred McGriff was a force who hit 493 home runs, tying Lou Gehrig

1. Fred McGriff – Dangerous clutch hitter who won home run crowns in both leagues en route to 493 career homers, same as Lou Gehrig. Won All-Star MVP award after pinch-homer in ninth. After midseason trade, hot bat helped Atlanta overcome 10-game NL West deficit to beat San Francisco by one game in last pure title chase (1993). Three years remaining on ballot.

2. Gary Sheffield – Extremely patient hitter with more career walks than strikeouts but more than 500 career homers. Won all three legs of Triple Crown while playing third base and outfield for more than a half-dozen clubs. Undeserved bad rep held him to 11.6 per cent of the vote last year but he has eight years to go on Cooperstown ballot.

3. Vladimir Guerrero – Great bad-ball hitter also known for rifle arm in right field. Last great player of Montreal Expos, later won American League MVP award with Angels. Career .318 hitter with nine All-Star selections, he’s the best of the first-year Cooperstown candidates this year. Finished with 449 home runs in 16 seasons.

4. Trevor Hoffman – First closer with 600 saves, he just missed first-time election

Trevor Hoffman has a good chance to reach Cooperstown in 2017

Trevor Hoffman has a good chance to reach Cooperstown in 2017

last year with 67.3 per cent of the vote. San Diego’s biggest superstar not named Tony Gwynn, Hoffman helped keep the Padres in contention when he was a one-man show on their pitching staff. Virtually certain to reach Cooperstown, probably this year, since he’ll have nine more chances on the ballot beyond 2017.

5. Jeff Bagwell – Comparable to McGriff, a fellow first baseman, but with better glove and more speed. Had 71.6 per cent of the vote last year, when he was 15 votes short. His .297 average, 448 home runs, 202 stolen bases, and multiple Gold Gloves make it likely he’ll join long-time Astros teammate Craig Biggio under the golden arches of Cooperstown.

Tim Raines will make a good run at Cooperstown

Tim Raines will make a good run at Cooperstown

6. Tim Raines – In his final try, this former Montreal speed merchant should finally crack the door of the Hall of Fame gallery. The National League’s answer to Rickey Henderson, Raines was a superb leadoff man who collected stolen base crowns the way kids collect baseball cards. Never a slugger, Raines stole 808 bases and made seven All-Star teams but probably doesn’t deserve enshrinement ahead of colleague Dale Murphy, a two-time MVP who now has to wait for Veterans Committee admission.

7. Edgar Martinez – Unfairly kept out because of a prejudice against designated hitters, he was a line-drive machine for the Seattle Mariners. Netted only 43.4 per cent of the vote last year but should get a big boost by the big year David (Big Papi) Ortiz compiled as a DH in his final season.

8. Larry Walker – A Gold Glover and batting champion, Walker is handicapped by the fact that he played so many seasons in hitter-friendly Coors Field. He got 15.5 per cent of the vote last time but has four more turns on the ballot before his candidacy befalls the Veterans Committee.

9. Billy Wagner – Probably the best lefthanded closer in baseball history, he deserved

Billy Wagner may have been the best lefty closer

Billy Wagner may have been the best lefty closer

more than the 10.5 per cent of the vote he received in 2016, his first year on the ballot. Flame-thrower finished with 400+ saves while pitching for several contending clubs.

10. Lee Smith – Once the lifetime leader in saves, he was hurt by bouncing from one ballclub to another. Hard-throwing and durable righthander, in his last year on the ballot, got 34.1 per cent last year but will have to double that and beyond to win enshrinement this winter.

Not this time: Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez, 14-time All-Star with 13 Gold Gloves, 311 homers, and MVP award but tainted by steroids suspicions; Curt Schilling, star postseason pitcher whose penchant for controversy held him to 52.3 per cent last year; and Jeff Kent, slugging second baseman with bad attitude, bad glove, but big-time pop.

Not ever: Suspected steroids abuse keeps Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Manny Ramirez on the outside looking in.

Maybe some day: Mike Mussina, with 270 wins and 43 per cent of the vote last year, and long-time teammate Jorge Posada, career Yankee catcher who anchored four world title teams.

Veterans Committee: Bud Selig (lock), John Schuerholz (probable), Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella (likely), Harold Baines (near-miss), Mark McGwire (why bother?).

Elsewhere in baseball:

The Mets caught a huge break when ace pitcher Noah Syndergaard elected to skip the ill-timed World Baseball Classic, scheduled in direct conflict with spring training against the wishes of all 30 major-league managers . . .

Good luck to Roger McDowell in his challenging new role (predicted here last week) as Baltimore Orioles pitching coach . . .

Ralph Branca was one of baseball's good guys

Ralph Branca was one of baseball’s good guys

The baseball world lost one of its most magnificent men when Ralph Branca passed away at age 90 Tuesday. The father-in-law of former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, he was an articulate and affable man who was one of the last links to the glory days of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ralph will be missed.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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