With another Hall of Fame induction ceremony fast approaching, it’s time to take a gander at the list of first time eligible players for next year’s ballot. There are some intriguing names with Rafael Palmeiro the first real legitimate HOF name tarnished by the steroid scandal. How will he do in the vote? His numbers are all Hall worthy, but he has fallen in public opinion given his history with steroid abuse. Mark McGwire hasn’t fared too well, but he isn’t what I call a legit Hall of Famer, like Raffy, who reached 3,000 hits.
Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell will make his first appearance on the HOF ballot next year. A former MVP winner and well-rounded talent, Baggy could mash with the best of them but did something other first basemen from his generation couldn’t: steal a base. His ailing shoulder, which forced him to retire early, can’t help his chances but Baggy was one of the best for a long period.
Kevin Brown was a star pitcher who had his share of postseason success. John Franco was a terrific fireman for the Mets. Juan Gonzalez was an offensive terror until injuries derailed his career. Tino Martinez and John Olerud were reliable first basemen, Bret Boone had some good years, B.J. Surhoff was a fine hitter, Marquis Grissom was where flyballs went to die and Larry Walker could do it all for the Rockies.
Other names making the ballot for the first time are left-handed pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Al Leiter and Kirk Rueter, infielders Carlos Baerga, Jose Offerman and Rey Sanchez, right-handed pitchers Cal Eldred and Ismael Valdez, outfielders Raul Mondesi and Bobby Higginson, backstops Charles Johnson, Benito Santiago and Dan Wilson, and firemen Paul Quantrill, Steve Reed and Ugueth Urbina
The following poll asks you the aspiring voter which new face stands the best chance of getting enshrined next year?