Looking at the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot (Part Two): The First Half of the Newbies
Much of what I wrote about Bonds could be said about Clemens. He was among the best in the game in his early career (in his case, most of the Boston years), winning three Cy Youngs in the process. No one is sure when he started using PEDs (the consensus guess is around the point he joined the Blue Jays), but it was that which likely allowed him to keep being a top pitcher until well into his 40s. The only difference is Clemens actually wasn’t that great his last few years with the Yankees, before going to Houston and putting up insane numbers despite being over 40.
Just like Bonds, most concede the Roger Clemens was a Hall of Fame level player even before he started using drugs. Like Bonds, I must vote yes on Clemens given what I wrote in Part One. Also like Bonds, Clemens will come nowhere close to election this time around.
Jeff Conine: NO
He is most loved by Marlins fans due to his role on both their World Series teams, but I was a fan of his from his time with the Orioles. He was a pretty solid outfielder for both teams. He also played for the Royals, Phillies, Reds, and Mets in his career. Conine is of course nowhere near a Hall of Famer, but a tip of the hat to him for a fine career.
Steve Finley: NO
Steve Finley had 2548 career hits. Yeah, I was surprised to find that out too. He was often average to above average in his 19 year career, especially during his time in Arizona. That said, a career hitting line of .271/.322/.442 is only good enough for a 104 OPS+ and is not Hall of Fame worthy.
Julio Franco: NO
If there was a special wing in the Hall for interesting careers, then Franco would be a slam dunk. From his days as a shortstop with the Indians in the early 80s, to a second baseman with Texas, to the Mexican League, to pinch hit duty as a Brave and Met, Franco was a professional ballplayer for 31 years, 23 of them in the big leagues. He retired at the age of 49. The final numbers on Franco are 2586 hits, 173 homers, and a .298/.365/.417 batting line (111 OPS+). It’s not quite Hall of Fame level (not enough peak seasons), but it’s doubtful there will ever be a career quite like Julio Franco’s again.
Shawn Green: NO
From 1999-2002, his last year in Toronto and first three in Los Angeles, Shawn Green was a very good player. The rest of his career he was merely good, but never bad . In total he had 2003 hits, 328 homers, and a batting line of .283/.355/.494 (120 OPS+). It’s not enough for serious Hall consideration, but a very good career regardless.
Roberto Hernandez: NO
This Roberto Hernandez is the former closer for the White Sox, Devil Rays, and Royals in the 90s and early 2000s, not the Roberto Hernandez who used to be Fausto Carmona. His 326 saves are actually 13th all-time, which should tell you something about the evolution of the save and of bullpens. Relief pitchers justifiably have a high bar to clear to make the Hall, and clearly Hernandez does not meet that bar.
Ryan Klesko: NO
I always associate Klesko with the Braves, but he actually played more games as a Padre. He’s yet another corner outfielder/first baseman (he was about 50/50 as both) to have a good batting line (.279/.370/.500, 128 OPS+) but not enough total career heft (1564 hits, 278 HRs) to warrant consideration.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the other half of the first time players.