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2016 HOF Debate: Lee Smith

Last year, we did our first ever debate on where we tackled the Hall of Fame merit of twenty-four men who are on the Hall of Fame ballot, in what was in our opinion the most loaded ballot in our lifetime.

Since it was so much fun last time, we thought we would do it again!

One thing that has not changed is the number.  We will again debate twenty-four men who are on the ballot.

What has changed are the ones debating.  Last year I had the pleasure of having DDT, the curator of DDT’s Pop Flies blog and D.K. of the Phillies Archivist blog.  This year, Spheniscus, who has participated in past Rock and Roll discussions, will be joining me.

Chairman: Lee Smith retired as the all-time leading leader in Saves, and here we are entering his fourteenth year on the ballot where he came off of a 30.2 percentage, 20 points lower than what he got in 2012. 

How did he plummet so bad?  I think a large part of that is because the stat of the Save is not what it was and when you look at his advanced stats, he isn’t what he should be in reference to other closers.  His 29.6 bWAR and 25.4 JAWS put him ahead of new ballot relievers, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner but with Smith what gets me is that unlike Hoffman, I never felt that Smith was a dominant closer, and what I mean is that did I ever feel he was one of the top two or three in the game.

I think what dissuades me the most about Smith is that for a reliever, how much he didn’t matter when the light shone brightest (his playoff numbers are terrible) and for all of the Saves he accumulated, how many do people remember?

Spheniscus, this is a guy who every year I talk myself more and more out of the Hall.

Spheniscus: I saw him play for two and a half seasons during my impressionable years when I followed every pitch of every game. Never once did I realize that he might be a Hall of Famer some day. All we talked about was how Smith wasn’t as good as the Steamer, Bob Stanley. And really, Bob Stanley wasn’t that good.

When we traded him to the Cardinals for former Twins “great” Tom Brunansky, there isn’t a Sox fan I know who didn’t think we got the better of the deal. Although, it helps that Brunansky made an incredible play in the right field corner to clinch a Sox playoff berth on the last game of the 1990 (the “Morgan Magic”) season. I mean we thought so highly of Smith that we were psyched when another former Twins “great” (and my former neighbor) Jeff Reardon was signed to replace him. And neither Reardon nor Brunansky are ever sniffing the Hall.

I already did his stats in the Trevor Hoffman section and I agree with you, he just doesn’t make it on paper. But at no point does he make it in reputation either. Literally the definition of a compiler. And a compiler in a category that no one cared about until Rivera retired. If someone passes Rivera in career saves people will notice. No one noticed when Hoffman passed Smith. And no one noticed with Rivera passed Smith either. I have 22 other people on this list ahead of him in my opinion. He’s not getting in. Ever.

Chairman: B. I. N. G. O.  

The Chairman cannot even remotely disagree with anything you said…however…

I can disagree with my own thoughts.

Had I a ballot twelve years ago I very well might have voted for Smith, erroneously believing that being the all-time leader in Saves should warrant him serious consideration for the Hall of Fame, and that would have been the wrong choice to make. 

There is no other stat in Baseball (and yes I will include wins and losses) that you can poke more holes in than the save.  You can stink and still get a save.  You can throw one pitch and get a save.  You have no opportunity to pick up a save if your team is never winning late in the game.  You called Lee Smith a compiler, and sure enough when I looked him up in Webster’s, there he was looking like he just came off of an advertisement for Soul Glo. 

There is no “lights out” feeling when Smith took the mound.  His playoff stats are not good, which was only 5.1 innings with an ERA near 9.  Some difference maker if he hardly got his team to the dance, and when he showed up it was the chicken dance. 

You called it when you as a Boston fan didn’t care when he left.  Did they at Wrigley either? 

He got over 50% in 2012 but last year he barely topped 30%.  He was lucky to get that. 

Spheniscus: And he won’t get that 15th year on the ballot bump either. If you had to choose between Hoffman and Smith for the 10th vote on your ballot, you would take Hoffman (again, you should take Billy Wagner over either but no one is going to do that). And believe me, he is the 10th vote on a lot of people’s ballots. My guess is that he ends up in the 20s and we unfortunately have this “debate” again next year. Then he mercifully drops off the ballot. This is one case where the new 10 year limit would have actually helped.

Chairman:  He will finish with his lowest total, and yes, he is now the third best reliever on the ballot.

I will go one step further in that he will never make a Veteran’s ballot in the future. 

My fictional vote is a no, and my prediction echoes yours:  24%.

Spheniscus: Looking at the list, he probably finishes somewhere around 12th overall. Last year, 12th got 12.9%. That seems like a big drop, so I’ll say 20%. 

The Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 is announced! Griffey and Piazza are in!

This is one of our favorite days of the year.

Today the Baseball Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2016 and two former baseball greats will be immortalized in Cooperstown.

As expected, Ken Griffey Jr. breezed through on his first attempt.  Griffey Jr. set a new record for voting percentage, receiving 99.3% of the vote.

Griffey’s Hall of Fame co-entrant will be former Catcher, Mike Piazza who enters on his fourth try with 83.0%.

While Griffey and Piazza are excited today, there are certainly a lot of disappointed former baseball stars that were hoping for a certain Hall of Fame call.

Longtime Houston Astro, Jeff Bagwell, continues to be snubbed.  Like Piazza, Bagwell is on his fourth year of eligibility however like many on this ballot, he received his highest vote total, with 71.6%.

The Today's Era Committee announce the 10 Finalists to the Baseball HOF

It is a pretty big day in the Baseball Hall of Fame as the Today’s Game Era Committee has announced their 10 nominees for the Hall. This is one of four committees, which includes the Modern Baseball, Golden Days and Early Baseball. Specifically, the Today’s Game Era Committee comprises candidates whose contributions occurred from 1988 on. Along with the Modern Baseball Committee the Today’s Era Committee meets twice in a five year period. The last time they met was in 2016 where Commissioner Bud Selig and longtime Atlanta Braves Executive, John Scherholz.

The nominees include six former players, three managers and an owner.

Let’s take a look at the nominees!

Harold Baines: A six time All Star, Baines was an elite Designated Hitter who had 384 Home Runs and had 2,866 Hits over his career. Baines played 14 of 22 his seasons with the Chicago White Sox and he also spent time with Baltimore, Oakland, Texas and Cleveland. He is ranked #39 on

Albert Belle: Belle was one of the most feared power hitters for a time and he would blast 381 Home Runs and he would lead the American League in that category in 1995. The five time All Star was a three time RBI leader and he was in the top three in AL voting three years in a row (1994-96). Belle played for Cleveland, the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore. He is ranked #56 on

Joe Carter: Carter smacked 396 Home Runs but it was one that he hit in Game 6 to win the World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays that he will always be remembered most for. He was a six time all star who also played for the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants. He is not ranked on

Will Clark: Clark was best known for his hitting prowess as a member of the San Francisco Giants where he would have four top five finishes in American League MVP voting. Clark retired with a .303 Batting Average with 284 Home Runs. He also played for Texas, Baltimore and St. Louis. He is ranked #58 on

Orel Hershiser: The long time Los Angeles Dodger won the Cy Young in 1988 and was in the top four in voting three times. He was a three time All Star who won 204 Games and he also played for Cleveland, San Francisco and the New York Mets. He would be the MVP in the Dodgers 1988 World Series win and would later be the ALCS MVP for Cleveland in 1995. He is ranked #75 on

Davey Johnson: Johnson helmed the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series and he was a two time Manager of the Year. He compiled a 1,372 and 1,071 record over stints with New York, Cincinnati, Baltimore, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington.

Charlie Manuel: Manuel would take the Philadelphia Phillies to back-to-back World Series appearances winning the first one in 2008. Manuel won an even 1,000 Games against 826 losses and he also managed the Cleveland Indians over his career.

Lou Piniella: Piniella was a pretty good player in his own right who played 20 years as a player but he is nominated here for his work as a Manager. He was a three time Manager of the Year who took the Cincinnati Reds to a surprise World Series win 1990. He also managed the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Chicago Cubs and he had a 1,835 and 1,713 record.

Lee Smith: Smith at one time was the all-time leader in Saves (with 478) and he was a seven time All Star who played for Chicago Cubs, Boston, St. Louis, the New York Yankees, Baltimore, California, Cincinnati and Montreal. He is ranked #35 on

George Steinbrenner: The iconic and late owner of the New York Yankees was certainly hands on and wanted to win and as an owner the Yankees would win seven times.

Voting will take place on December 9 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

Lee Smith and Harold Baines elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame will have two new members as the Today’s Game Committee have elected Harold Baines and Lee Smith.

Over a 22 year career, Baines collected 2,866 Hits with 384 Home Runs and 1,628 RBI. Primarily a Designated Hitter, Baines was with the Chicago White Sox for 14 of those years and he was a five time All Star.  He also played for Baltimore, Texas, Oakland and Cleveland.  The selection of Baines bodes well for future Designated Hitters. 

Lee Smith recorded 478 Saves, leading his respective lad in that four times and at the time of his retirement he was first all-time in Saves.  Unlike Baines who was only on the Hall of Fame ballot for six years, Smith lasted the entire fifteen years on his initial eligibility. 

Smith received all 16 votes and Baines got the minimum 12 votes needed for election. Lou Piniella just missed with 11 votes. 

The selection of Baines is turning heads in some circles as he never was never a strong MVP candidate.  He never had a bWAR over 4.2 and if there was a Hall of Very Good, Baines would be the perfect selection.  Jerry Reinsdorf, who was his owner when he was with the White Sox, is on that committee and he allegedly lobbied hard for this induction.  Baines also had other ties with Pat Gillick (former GM), Roberto Alomar (former teammate) and Tony LaRussa (former Manager).  This one will be debated for years to come.

We here at would like to congratulate Lee Smith and Harold Baines for this honor.

If I Had a Vote in the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame Election

As we gear up for the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting and announcements, the overriding question is: Have we returned to normal?

To put that into perspective, how's this for abnormal? In 2013, with a ballot overstuffed with Hall of Fame-caliber candidates (I counted 14), not one candidate was elected to the Hall. Adding to the debacle was the first appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both of whom brought the bubbling issue of players suspected or confirmed of having used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to an apoplectic, moralistic boil.
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