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former-brave-bruce-sutter-elected-to-hall-of-fame-2 | January | 2006 Articles

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Former Brave Bruce Sutter elected to Hall of Fame

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In what I would describe as one of the best examples of missed opportunities in the Hall of Fame's history, only one player was elected to the Hall of Fame from the 2006 ballot, despite a list of names worthy of the honor who will probably never have an opportunity like this year's again. I don't mean to disrespect Bruce Sutter -- 300 saves in 12 seasons before the closer's role was molded into what it has become today is a hugely impressive accomplishment worthy of baseball's highest honor. But others on this year's ballot were also deserving, and for many, the lack of any standout shoo-ins made this year's ballot their only chance. Here's how this year's 520 ballots were cast. Keep in mind that 75% (390 votes) gets a player in, and less than 5% (26 votes) eliminates him from the ballot forever.
Player  Votes%
Bruce Sutter400  76.9%
Jim Rice33764.8%
Rich "Goose" Gossage  33664.6%
Andre Dawson31761.0%
Bert Blyleven27753.3%
Lee Smith23445.0%
Jack Morris21441.2%
Tommy John15429.6%
Steve Garvey13526.0%
Alan Trammell 9217.7%
Dave Parker 7614.4%
Dave Concepcion 6512.5%
Don Mattingly 6412.3%
Orel Hershiser 5811.2%
Dale Murphy 5610.8%
Albert Belle 40 7.7%
Will Clark 23 4.4%
Dwight Gooden 17 3.3%
Willie McGee 12 2.3%
Hal Morris 5 1.0%
Ozzie Guillen 5 1.0%
Gary Gaetti 4 0.8%
John Wetteland 4 0.8%
Rick Aguilera 3 0.6%
Doug Jones 2 0.4%
Gregg Jefferies 2 0.4%
Walt Weiss 1 0.2%
Gary DiSarcina 0 0.0%
Alex Fernandez 0 0.0%
Take a good look at that top four after Sutter, and tell me why any one of them is less deserving than this year's only electee. Rice and Gossage belong in the Hall, but I'm not nearly as upset about them missing (by just over 10%) as I am about Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven being even further behind them. Bert Blyleven retired after the 1992 season with 3701 strikeouts (third-place at the time, now he's fifth, where he'll stay for many years) and 287 wins (23rd at the time, 25th now). He also walked less than half as many batters as Nolan Ryan walked in nearly the same amount of innings pitched, and Blyleven had the better ERA+ (118 to 112). Blyleven's only drawbacks are the uniforms he wore (Twins, Rangers, Pirates, Indians, Twins again, and Angels), injuries in the early '80s that kept him from 300 wins, and the fact that he was consistently good with only bursts of greatness -- he was nearly always overshadowed by someone having a better season. But Bert Blyleven belongs in the Hall of Fame. And Andre Dawson deserves it even more. 2774 hits, 503 doubles, 438 home runs, 314 stolen bases, eight gold gloves, eight All-Star games. I'll stop there and ask just one question: how many members of the 300/300 club don't belong in the Hall of Fame? Willie Mays is the only one of the four who's made it so far, but Barry is still playing and Bobby belongs in the Hall anyway, in my opinion. Of all players with 400 or more home runs who have been on a HOF ballot, only Dave Kingman (442), Dawson (438), and Darrell Evans (414) have not been elected -- but the other two batted under .250 for their careers; Dawson batted right at .280. And it's worth mentioning that Dawson's home runs came before the offensive explosion of the early '90s; he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Lee Smith has 478 career saves, more than anyone else, and he got started in the early '80s before saves had earned their current status. Tommy John pitched in 26 different seasons, won 288 games, and had a category of surgical prodecures named after him. And, after all, this is a hall of Fame. And Dale Murphy came up as a catcher, then migrated to first base and then center field, where he enjoyed a couple of 30/30 seasons and won several gold glove awards and two MVP awards -- plus, his character off the field is one of the finest in MLB history, a la Cal Ripken. (Not to mention, we're Braves fans around here.) I think Dawson should get in before 2010, but if the Jim Rice example is one to rely on, then Dawson may be out of luck. This was also Blyleven's best chance. Those two and several others may have to rely on the Veteran's Committee in future years if they are ever to be elected to the Hall
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