Aho's Hall of Fame Ballot

Every year the Hall of Fame selects the most obvious choices for Cooperstown. However, it seems as if the hall excludes too many deserving players becuase they don't fit into the tradtional mold. A player's worth is rarely possible ascertain using the artifical standards of three hundred wins or five hundred home runs. Considering that there were 42 voters foolish enough to vote againist Wade Boggs, and almost a quarter of the voters voted againist Ryne Sandberg I shouldn't be shocked. I will make a late attempt to make my case for a few potential hall of famers and as honor the two players (Boggs and Sandberg) who did manage to gain enterance into the Hall.

1. Wade Boggs

The great average hitter for his time, hitting for an average of .352 the decade of the 1980's. Boggs held a lifetime OBP of .415 same as Hall of Famer Stan Musial and just ahead of Hall of Famer Mel Ott. Boggs was a pitcher's nightmare, leading the American league in intential walks for six seasons. Boggs was the consumate hitter of the 1980's.

2. Ryne Sandberg

It is absolutely amazing that it took so long. When I think of the Cubs in the 80's the first name that comes up is that of Sandberg. Sandberg was so good that he ranks not only as thre best second basemen of his era, but as one of the best second basemen ever. Sandberg ranks second among second basemen in home runs (Kent passed him this fall), won nine gold gloves, and holds a lifetime fielding percentage of .989. In an era where second basemen were not expected to hit, Sandberg created a whole new offensive standard for his postion.

3. Bert Blyleven

Blyleven has become the textbook case for why 300 wins is a foolish standard for the Hall . Blyleven's combined ERA from 1970 to 1978 was 2.84 and yet he only went 136-123 in the same period. Blyleven had a habit of playing for teams with bad pullpens, such as the world champion 1979 Pirates who gave Blyleven twenty no decisions. His 287 wins still far exceed the totals of several Hall of Famers such as "Catfish" Hunter or Sandy Coufax. Blyleven is the only non-active player to rank in the top 10 in career strikeouts not in the Hall of Fame. Blyleven (tied for sixth) is the only non active player aside from Mickey Lolich (tied for tenth) in the top 10 for number of seasons with 200+ strikeouts not in the Hall of Fame. The only non active player in the top ten in shutouts not in the Hall of Fame. Here are baseball-reference.com's statistically most similar pitchers to Bert Blyleven:

Don Sutton (914) *
Gaylord Perry (909) *
Fergie Jenkins (890) *
Tommy John (889)
Robin Roberts (876) *
Tom Seaver (864) *
Jim Kaat (854)
Early Wynn (844) *
Phil Niekro (844) *
Steve Carlton (840) *

* - Signifies Hall of Famer
If stats don't do it for you ask any player who faced Blyleven in the 1970's or 80's about that curveball. Or watch some tape of the 79' or 87' series. Just please, don't be as foolish as the voters and dismiss him based on his win-loss record.

4. Goose Gossage

Before the closer came into vouge there was the fireman. Like the modern closer the fireman was usually the best pitcher in a bullpen, but instead of only being used in the bottom of the ninth to protect a lead the fireman was expected to do much more. The fireman would take over a game (usually, but not always with the tie or the lead) anywhere from the 6th inning onward and be expected to finish it. Gossage was one of the last of the firemen, and one of the very best. Gossage pitched over 130 inning in relief three times, and pitched over 90 innings in relief six times. Gossage held opposing batters to an astonishing .228 average over his long career. Gossage's save total looks puny compared with absurd numbers of the modern closer, but Goose earned his 310 saves two, three or even four innings at a time.

5. Andre Dawson

Pity the Expos. First the 1994 strike killed what ought to have been a great year for baseball in Montreal, then Jeffery Loria ran the team into the ground, and now they don't even exist. Today the Hall of Fame voters seem determined to punish former an outstanding former Expo for playing north of the border. Andre Dawson was one of the jewels produced by the Expos farm system. The striking thing about the Hawk is how complete a player he was. Dawson won eight gold gloves, the only two players to match his totals in Home Runs, Hits and Stolen bases are Barry Bonds and Willie Mays, elected to the all star team eight times and a rookie of the year in 1977. Unforunately for Dawson all of his best years were with Montreal and the turf in Stade Olympique demolished his knees. The voters remember the player they saw with the Cubs, still an excellent hitter but hampered by injury. Without any knees Dawson could never be the same combonation of speed, defense and power that he was as an Expo. However the Hawk won the NL MVP award in 1987, proving that he would not go away quitely.