The best offensive catcher of all time. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1993 and finished in the top-five in MVP voting in each of his first five full seasons. From 1993-2002, Piazza posted an OPS of over .900 every season. He was also the only player who primarily played catcher with more than 400 career home runs. Sure, he wasn’t a great defender, but the offense would have been Hall of Fame caliber at any position.
To be honest, I never saw Trammell play, or have recollection of seeing him play, so all of my information on him is second-hand. However, reading scouting reports and looking at his numbers, it seems that he should have an easy time getting in.
That is, until you look at the fact that he’s nearing his final ballot and received just 20.8 percent of the vote last year. Thanks, BBWAA! Not only was Trammell a good offensive shortstop, finishing his career with a 111 wRC+, he also had a reputation as a great defender.
Couple that with excellent metrics and four Gold Glove Awards, and you have yourself a complete player. Granted, he probably played a year or two too long, but Trammell is a great example of a player that you like the more you look at him.
Another player I don’t remember seeing play, Raines was similar to Rickey Henderson in his skillset — a left fielder who hit leadoff and stole a whole lot of bases. In fact, “Rock” ranks fifth all-time with 808 stolen bases.
The main knock on Raines is his other counting numbers. He didn’t get to 3,000 hits and he only topped 100 runs scored six times in 23 seasons. Now, those numbers don’t matter much to me, but they may be the primary reasons why some writers are lukewarm on Raines. After all, his career OBP was .385 and he hit 170 home runs, so it’s not like speed was the only thing he offered at the plate.
He’s simply another case of a player getting overlooked.
Now, back to players I remember watching play. Biggio is more of a traditional candidate, with over 3,000 career hits, ranking 15th on the all-time Runs Scored list, fifth with 668 Doubles and second with 285 times being hit by pitch.
The counting stats are there, but he was also a dynamic player. He began his career behind the plate but moved to second base in his fifth Major-League season, where he became a Gold Glover. In 1998, Biggio hit 51 doubles, 20 home runs and stole 50 bases, and finished in MVP voting.
Biggio made seven All-Star teams, won five Silver Slugger Awards and four Gold Gloves.
I know what you’re going to say. “Walker only hit because he played in Coors Field!” Well, you’re wrong!
Walker was a good hitter in Montreal, posting a .981 OPS in his final season with the Expos. Sure, moving to Colorado helped, but he put up astronomical numbers away from Coors as well. In fact, during the 1997 season, which culminated in an MVP Award, Walker posted a higher road OPS than he did in Denver.
In 1999, when Walker hit .379/.458/.710, he finished 10th in MVP voting. Not only did he produce an OPS of over 1.000 six times from 1997-2004, he also won seven Gold Glove awards. Playing for the Rockies was surely a windfall, but you can’t ignore his overall production at the plate and in the field.
I’ll probably hear about omitting John Smoltz the most, but looking at his numbers, I just didn’t see as consistent dominance as I did with the other three pitchers. Also, I’m not as concerned about him not getting in as I am with other players like Trammell and Raines.
Smoltz will likely hear his name called on Tuesday, so try not to shed a tear. Two other pitchers, Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina, were on the bubble but ultimately fell short. Like Smoltz, I see both of them eventually getting in.
Then you have the sluggers like Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield and Jeff Kent. Ten slots simply isn’t enough.
So, to recap, here are my 10 selections in alphabetical order: