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Alomar and Blyleven Enshrined – Palmeiro, Bagwell, and Smith Snubbed

The Baseball Hall of Fame announced Monday that Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven both receive the number of votes necessary for enshrinement. Alomar recived 90 percent of the vote while Blyleven received 79.7 percent. 75 percent of the vote is required for a player to become a member of the Hall of Fame. The next closest player on the list was Barry Larkin with 62.1 percent of the vote.

This was Blyleven’s 14th time on the ballot. Had he not been inducted, next year would have been his last chance. The former pitching great won 287 games over a 22 year career. In addition, he finished his career with 3,701 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.31. Alomar played for 17 years with his most notable years with Baltimore and Toronto. He batted .300 for his career with 2,724 hits and 10 gold gloves.

While much of the day focused on the two that made it into the Hall of Fame, much more time has been spent on those that did not make the cut, including several from the “steroid era” that fared very poorly. Rafael Palmeiro was on the ballot for the first time and received only 64 votes, which equated to 11 percent of the vote. A player must get 5 percent of the vote just to stay on the ballot. This does not bode well for
his future chances. As players on Texas Hold’em poker sites know, a hand with an 11 percent chance to win isn’t worth playing. Next year very well could be his last on the ballot.

Palmeiro was not surprised that he did not get in, but was surprised that he did not get more support. I cannot say that I totally agree with this statement as Palmeiro was outright caught taking steroids and his career was effectively over with. Mark McGwire admitted to taking steroids, but he was never outright caught taking them. Palmeiro was, and as such, voters will punish him more than McGwire.

One player who did not fare well in the voting was Jeff Bagwell. Many feel that Bagwell suffered the stigma of the steroid era, although he has repeatedly claimed that he never took them. His vote total tends to make me believe that some people believe him, but it may be a few years before Bagwell gets a fair shake.

A player I am surprised that still has a lot of room to make up is former reliever Lee Smith. For his career, Smith had a 3.03 ERA and 478 saves over an 18 year career. His 478 saves is 3rd all-time behind Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Smith was a reliever in an era where relievers were not viewed as superstars. He was really one of the first superstar relievers. He made a career closing out games and it is surprising that the
man that essentially defined the save doesn’t get more support. Perhaps it is the fact he played on so many bad teams and only made the post-season twice. In either event, the Hall of Fame is about individual achievement, and Smith definitely should be enshrined.

Next year should prove a good year for players such as Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, and even Lee Smith to gain some support. The class does not include any definitive superstars, so perhaps a couple of players snubbed this year will have a chance to get in.

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