Who’s in?

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce the 2019 Hall of Fame class Jan. 22.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce the 2019 Hall of Fame class Jan. 22.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce the 2019 Hall of Fame class Jan. 22.

Daniel Tobias, social media staff

Every year, an authorized group of baseball writers chooses a maximum of 10 players they would like to see put into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce the 2019 Hall of Fame class Jan. 22. This year’s ballot proves especially intriguing as writers are left to decide whether or not steroid users, designated hitters and those who played the majority of their career in the high altitude of Colorado should be immortalized in the Hall. Below is a list of players who truly deserve to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. My following list does not include those who abused performance-enhancing drugs like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. However, you will find Colorado Rockies and a designated hitter who could not control where or at what position they played. Most of all, the list below includes players whose numbers support their induction and legends of baseball.

 

Billy Wagner- Closer 

Admittedly, Billy Wagner was the most difficult player to put on this list. Wagner didn’t appear a real dominant closer of baseball, never once leading the league in saves. However, in December 2018, closer Lee Smith was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Eras Committee, strengthening Wagner’s case. His career numbers are far better than those of Smith, posting a better ERA, far fewer Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched and averaging more saves each season. Wagner is not only Hall of Fame caliber when compared to Smith, but his .182 opponent batting average is also lower than even Mariano Rivera’s, who is largely considered the greatest closer ever, by over 20 points.

Lance Berkman- Outfielder

Berkman’s worthiness as a hitter is undeniable. Berkman’s .943 On Base Plus Slugging (OPS) is only behind 17 current Hall of Famers including some of the game’s greatest hitters like Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Schmidt and Hank Aaron. However, many believe that Berkman did not have the longevity to make the Hall of Fame after playing only 15 seasons. Berkman played long enough to accumulate 1234 runs batted in and 422 doubles, both numbers better than the average Hall of Famer.

Larry Walker- Right Fielder

Larry Walker likely will not make the Hall of Fame again this year. He has been on the ballot for eight years now, never receiving more than 35 percent of the vote. Yet, Walker is perhaps the most deserving player on this year’s ballot. Like Helton, Walker played the majority of his career in Colorado and his lack of longevity due to injuries is also used against him. However, those against Walker’s admittance do not take into account Denver’s effects on health and how impressive Walker’s numbers really are. Thin air and cold temperatures in Colorado cause more home runs, but they also can cause injuries with the potential to cut a career short. Furthermore, Walker is one of baseball’s few true five-tool players, with a .313 Batting Average, 383 Home Runs, 230 Stolen Bases and seven Gold Gloves in Right Field. His .965 OPS would rank eleventh among all Hall of Famers, with nobody possessing near as many Stolen Bases or Gold Gloves.

Todd Helton- First Baseman

Despite being one of the most productive hitters of the 21st century, Todd Helton’s case for the Hall of Fame will always be obstructed by a career in Colorado. Helton could not control where he spent his career, and claiming that his .316 Batting Average or 1406 RBI are not a reflection of his skill but simply a byproduct of Denver’s altitude is just wrong. Most hitters hit better at home and Helton is certainly no exception. Still, his .386 On Base Percentage (OBP) away from Colorado would place him well above the average career OBP of a Hall of Famer. Helton’s three Gold Gloves are another aspect of his career that could not be aided by thin air.

Omar Vizquel- Shortstop

Baseball is a multifaceted game and those who excel at aspects other than hitting should also be recognized as the game’s best. Omar Vizquel’s greatest claim to the Hall of Fame would certainly be his 11 Gold Gloves, more than any other American League shortstop in baseball history. Furthermore, his .985 Fielding Percentage ranks first among non-active players, and he has turned more double plays than any other shortstop in baseball history. However, Vizquel excelled at other aspects of the game as well. His 404 career stolen bases would rank him 28 out of 260 Hall of Famers. His .272 batting average exceeds that by 10 points of the only shortstop with more Gold Gloves than Vizquel: first-ballot Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

Roy Halladay- Pitcher

To exercise such dominance over an era of baseball the way Halladay did from 2003 to 2011 is rare. In that span, Halladay won two Cy Young awards (for the best pitcher that season) and finished in the top three in Cy Young voting three more times. During that span, Halladay won 20 games three times and posted an Earned Run Average (ERA) under 2.50 three times as well. Perhaps, most impressive, though, was Halladay’s ability to finish what he started, leading the league in complete games seven times. Furthermore, Halladay’s admittance to the Hall of Fame would be a great way to honor his life, which was cut short due to a plane crash in November, 2017.

Edgar Martinez- Designated Hitter

Playing designated hitter makes a player no less of a Hall of Famer. The fact is, Edgar Martinez’s numbers are Hall of Fame caliber, and what position he played while putting up those numbers should not be considered. Besides Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, no DH produced like Martinez, posting a .933 career OPS.

Mariano Rivera- Closer

The case for Mariano Rivera is an easy one to make. At this point, the question is not whether Rivera will make the Hall of Fame or be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but rather if Rivera will receive every single vote. No pitcher in baseball history dominated hitters quite like Rivera did and his legendary cutter and 652 saves will likely never be replicated. If inducted, Rivera’s 2.21 ERA would be by far the lowest in the modern era. His five World Series rings also highlight his need to be inducted.

 

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