The 2015 Hall of Fame class hasn’t even been inducted, but in the late days of January when there isn’t much to write about, I have decided to have some fun, and take an early look at the 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot.
Ken Griffey Jr. is an obvious first ballot Hall of Famer, and will lead the 2016 class. Griffey Jr. won 10 gold gloves, and 7 silver sluggers while appearing in 13 All Star Games during his 22 year career. Griffey Jr finished with a career wRC+ of 131, a career .wOBA of .384, and a career OPS+ of 134. He finished with a career WAR of 77.3 good for 56th in baseball history.
Many of the defensive metrics don’t like Griffey Jr, but he was one of the most exciting center-fielders to watch during his career. From 1990-2000 he was one of the best players in the game. For most hall of famers, I look at a seven year peak, but Griffey Jr’s peak came in 10 years.
From 1990-2000, he hit 382 HR’s, with a triple slash line of .302/.384/.581, and he was worth 69 runs above league average in CF. He was the definition of a complete player, and as a result complied an unbelievable 68.7 WAR which is a lock for the Hall of Fame.
If I were putting together a list of the greatest single seasons in MLB history, Griffey Jr’s 1996, and 1997 seasons would be right up there. In 1996 he hit .303 and slugged .628 with a .427 wOBA.
He was worth a ridiculous 32 runs in CF, and he complied one of the few 10 WAR seasons. He complied an almost identical season offensively with a .304 average, and a .424 wOBA. He was worth a +15, and complied a 9.4 WAR.
Thanks to his consistent performance throughout the decade, Griffey Jr.’s career was right on pace with Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, and Willie Mays. If not for a ton of injuries late in his career, we would talking about him as one of the greatest players of all time.
Trevor Hoffman will also be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year, and if it weren’t for Mariano Rivera, Hoffman would be the greatest closer of all time. He saved 601 games during his career, and he had eight seasons with at least 40 saves. His save percentage is one of the best all time. He was efficient and historically consistent.
There are two problems for Hoffman: first, he threw 1,089 1/3 innings, and only one pitcher has been elected to the Hall of Fame with fewer IP. Billy Wagner is also up for the Hall of Fame. He saved 422 games, with a 11.92 K/BB ratio in 903 innings.
No pitcher has ever been elected to the Hall of Fame with fewer than 1000 innings. Also, Lee Smith was a closer, and he has had a really hard time getting in despite being the all time saves leader when he retired.
As far as the returning players go, Curt Schilling, and Tim Raines deserve more votes, and Mike Mussina is highly underrated. I have always believed that Alan Trammel is a Hall of Famer, and it would be a shame if he doesn’t get in.
Next year will probably be the year that the greatest offensive catcher of all time Mike Piazza is inducted despite recording a career UZR/150 of -14.1. For me, defense is an important aspect of a catcher, and he was so terrible even his offensive prowess doesn’t make up for that.