Hall of Fame Hopefuls- Left Field

Left field is always difficult to judge due to the fact that it is typically occupied by big bulky sluggers who are poor defenders.  As such, those few that can actually field well (Yaz, Rickey, Bonds) tend to get a boosted ranking because they can stand out more.  Still, if a player isn’t a big power hitter, it’s tough for them to be considered a great left fielder.  Left fielders have a median score of 22948, which would be Fred Clarke’s score with 19 left fielders in Cooperstown already.  Here’s how a few outsiders look:

Should be definites:

1. Barry Bonds

Score: 73181

Most similar to: Ted Williams

Next eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Giants

Synopsis: Yes, he did steroids.  He still was the best hitter since Ted Williams, and maybe is the best hitter ever.  The most homers ever, second most extra base hits ever, most walks and most intentional walks ever, Bonds even was a great base runner and fielder.  He could do everything.  He may have had some help, but there are very few people in history who had Bonds’ talents.

2. Manny Ramirez

Score: 37076

Most similar to: Rickey Henderson

Next eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested team: Red Sox

Synopsis: Ramirez was one of the greatest right handed hitters ever.  He was also twice caught using steroids after the rules were set in stone, so he basically shot himself in the foot for induction.  Still, don’t forget how much of a monster Manny was as a hitter, with more than 500 homers and 1800 RBI along with a wRC+ of 153.  Manny may have been spacey and a weird guy, but as a hitter, few could compare.  Should steroids keep him out?  In this case, yes, as he was suspended twice after the suspensions were in place.

3. Tim Raines

Score: 21989

Most similar to: Clarke

Next eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Suggested team: Expos

Synopsis: Raines was a lite-version of Rickey Henderson.  He stole bases at a success rate of 84%, reached base more than 3000 times and stole more than 800 bases.  If Raines had the power that Henderson had (170 homers vs 297 homers), it’s likely that Raines would be in already.  Still, ignoring Raines, one of the most consistent and dominating base runners ever, would be terrible.  He should have been in long ago, but is trending toward induction in this, his final year on the ballot.

Close but not quite

4. Matt Holliday

Score: 19308

Most similar to: Zack Wheat

Next eligible: Still Active

Synopsis: Boy if he didn’t get injured half way through 2015, this entry would probably be higher up.  Holliday is one of the most underrated hitters of the past 10 years, holding a 137 wRC+ and nearly 300 homers.  His leg injuries in 2015, and decline following that, have curtailed a potentially great career, as he could be closing in on 350-400 homers this season with good health.  Still, if he rebounds with a good year or two before hanging it up completely, this is one that could be revisited later.

Never Gonna Happen

5. Albert Belle

Score: 16814

Most similar to: Joe Medwick

Next eligible: 2019 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: Injuries ruined what would have been a great career.  Belle pounded the ball, and had the power potential for both 500 doubles and 500 homers had he been healthy.  Belle’s hip wore out on him and he definitely had a poor attitude towards the media, but Belle’s career was too short to warrant induction.

Stay tuned for the next update.

On deck 1/8/17: On to centerfield.

 

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