Results from the 2011 Hall of Fame voting will be announced on January 5th, and there are no less than four former Diamondbacks on this years ballot. Ok, odds of any of them wearing our hat, even if they did get in, are basically zero, but after the jump, we'll take a look at their time spent in the desert, and analyze their changes of making it to Cooperstown. We'll also have a Hall of Fame ballot for you to fill in, listing all thirty-three of this year's nominees, so you can pick those worthy of enshrinement.
However, before clicking through, can you name the four ex-Diamondback players in question?
Lenny Harris played for half the teams in the National League at one point or other, but arrived in Arizona at the end of August 1999, in a trade with the Rockies, for a minor-leaguer (Belvani Martinez, who never made it above AA). He was part of our push to the NL West pennant, and made the post-season roster, appearing in two games against the Mets off the bench. However, he went 0-for-2, and hit .188 the following year, before being dealt, ironically, to the same New York Mets for another no-impact player. Chances of induction: sub-zero. Seriously, he'll be lucky to get a vote. The guy has a career negative WAR, and quite how he lasted 18 years in the NL escapes me.
Raul Mondesi came to us, with a bagful of cash, from the Yankees in exchange for three players, the most meaningful of whom was David Dellucci. We were second in the NL wild-card race at the time of the trade, just three games back, and it was hoped Mondesi would boost the offense. He did his part, batting .302 with eight HR in 183 PAs down the stretch, for an OPS+ of 121, but it wasn't enough. The Diamondbacks posted a losing record the rest of the way, and Mondesi left as a free agent. Change of induction: zero. One All-Star appearance and a 15th-place finish in the 1997 MVP, doesn't exactly scream "Cooperstown."
Carlos Baerga, a.k.a. the Shetland Pony, for his running style [there's a reason he had only two triples during his last decade in the majors]. But he still holds the franchise record for highest batting average in a season (min. 200 PA's): he hit .343 for AZ in 2003, though regressed to .235 the following season. He was almost exclusively a pinch-hitter for us by that point, starting just six of his 79 games for Arizona in 2004, and less than a quarter overall. Trivia question. What HR feat did Baerga manage that Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds never could? Chance of induction: zero. Had three All-Star seasons with Cleveland, but a career OPS of 100 won't cut it.
Roberto Alomar just missed out last time, falling eight votes short of the 405 necessary for election, so there's a good chance he'll get a few more, from those unconvinced of his merits as a first-ballot HoFer. In that area, he may also have been punished for the 1996 incident where he spat in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck, as ballot instructions tell voters to consider the "integrity, sportsmanship, character", of the candidate, among other things. But that seems a minor blip for a player considered by some as "one of the five greatest second basemen of all time." Chances of induction: excellent, to the point that I'd be very surprised if he doesn't make it.
Outside of those, there are 29 others. All told, fourteen are carried forward from last year, getting more than 5% of the vote, and nineteen are new names, whose hopes range from the possible (and we'll get to those soon) to the "token gesture" (Kirk Rueter? Really?). The fallout from the steroid era continues to grow, with the arrival of Benito Santiago and his somewhat murky past, having been mentioned in both the Mitchell Report and Game of Shadows. But the biggest name there is likely Rafael Palmeiro. Will his 3,000 hits be enough to overcome his positive test for steroids, or does he join Pete Rose as the only eligible member of the 3K club not in the Hall?
Of the returning players, Bert Blyleven may finally make it in, at the fourteenth attempt, having missed out last time by an even smaller margin than Alomar. It's an amazing feat, given he received only 17.5% in his first year of eligibility, then dropped, to just 14.1% the following season. For Jack Morris and Barry Larkin, this will be their twelfth and second appearances on the ballot respectively; each received more than 50% votes last time, but both men have significant ground to cross to reach the 75% required. It's hard to see anyone else of the ballot "veterans" making much inroad into their shortfall.
Among the newcomers, the two beyond Palmeiro with the best credentials seem to me to be Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker. The former had an impressive career OPS+ of 149, though it ended at a relatively young age of 37. His consistency was remarkable: in his first 13 seasons, he never had an OPS+ below 128, a number ever reached by only five qualifying players in D-backs history (Gonzo got there four times). Walker picked up seven Gold Gloves and five All-Star appearances, but may be hurt by being seen as having benefited from pre-humidor Denver. It's a fair point: over his career, Walker's road OPS was more than two hundred points lower than his home one.
Outside of Blyleven, who could become the first pitcher elected since Goose Gossage in 2008, the arms seem a relatively thin crop - seven of the 33 this year in total, and only four of 19 among the new names. Kevin Brown is likely the best of the latter, while John Franco, fourth on the all-time saves list, may be a useful test of the voters' fondness for relief pitchers. Here are the numbers posted by all the candidates, for you to consider as you fill out the ballot...
Answer to trivia question: Carlos Baerga is one of the elite club of players to two hit home-runs in the same inning. He did it while with the Indians against the Yankees, in the seventh inning on April 8, 1993. And below, you'll find your ballot for Cooperstown. Who do you think deserves to make it in? You can provide your ballots and any additional thoughts, in the comments...