Baseball HOF: The Cuts (Part 2 of 3)

Back with Part 2 of the review of players eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but failing to receive 5% of the vote in order to stay eligible for next year’s balloting.  Yesterday in this space we covered the Albert Belle, Orel Hersheiser, Brett Saberhagen, Jose Canseco and Paul O’Neill.  The first four of whom I’m sure were considered likely HOF selections early in their careers.  But things don’t always work out.

Today’s group, with perhaps one exception, never labored under the illusion of HOF aspirations, but each was a fine player in his own right.  On to today’s contestants:

 Tony Fernandez ($21 million) First thought: Light hitting Jays shortstop.  Second thought: Slick fielder.  Third thought: That’s about it.

A look at his stats shows he broke in at age 21, played reliably for 17 seasons.  A three time all star.  Four time Gold Glover, consistent with my recollection of his fielding ability.  Higher career batting average than I would have guessed – a very good .288.  As I remembered, a light weight bat with just 94 HRs, but did leg out 92 career triples.  Was the youngest AL player in 1983 and the AL’s oldest in 2001, a seemingly rare double.  Best season was 1987 when he finished 8th in MVP voting by hitting .322 with 67 RBIs and 90 runs scored.

Dante Bichette ($43 million) First thought: Brawny slugger.  Second thought: Broke in with Angels.  Third thought was a Coors Field-inflated-stat guy.

His career stats tell pretty much that story, but as with Fernandez, Bichette was a lot more impressive than my memory allowed.   He played 14 years with stints including the Angels, Brewers, before the Rockies and the Reds and Red Sox late in his career.   Walked only 355 times, compared to 1,078 career whiffs.  While in Colorado, he posted five straight seasons with RBI totals and batting averages of 128/.340, 141/.313, 118/.308, 122/.331 and 133/.298.  Wow!  Finished second in MVP voting in 1995 while stroking 40 HRs along with the aforementioned 128 RBIs and .340 average.  Made four all star appearances.  Lifetime batting average of .299.

Eric Davis ($32 million) First thought: What a freaking talent.  Second thought: Too bad he did not get to realize it.  Third thought: Looked like the perfect ball player thin waist, big shoulders.  Fourth thought: Amazingly fast swing.  Fifth thought: I wonder how many all star teams he made?

Turns out the answer is just two (’87, ’89).  Check out these MVP finishes in his first five full seasons (400+ ABs): 12th, 9th, 13th, 9th, 12th.  Would have finished higher, but missed at least 27 games each of those seasons.  In my mind’s eye, I remember him as a Bo Jackson-type of talent that we/he never got to fully realize.  Not that he had Bo’s talent – just that we never got to see it fully blossom.  Since he was not a full time major leaguer until 24, reaching the HOF would have been a long shot, but man could he hit and field.  With so many injury plagued years, tough to declare a “best” season, but his last hurrah in ’98 with the O’s at age 36 stands out.  Hit 28 dongs, drove in89 and hit .327.  Good enough to earn him a two year deal, that included his highest salary ever: $4.4 million.

That’s all the time I’ve got for today…the next installment will appear Tuesday when you return to your offices.  Enjoy the MLK Holiday.  See you next week…Dr. Dick


One Response to “Baseball HOF: The Cuts (Part 2 of 3)”

  1. dberri Says:

    When this blog started you were all about basketball. Now it is all baseball. The problem is that its January. Who is thinking about baseball right now? I think you need to focus on what matters now.

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