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Archive for Sunday, July 30, 2000

Who’s next for shrine?

Many on Cooperstown bubble

July 30, 2000

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Now that Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez are in the Hall of Fame, it's time to check out the rmof some current players.

There are some who can already book a weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y., five years after they retire. Cal Ripken, Roger Clemens, Rickey Henderson, Greg Maddux, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds are shoo-ins as first-ballot Hall of Famers.

And younger players like Alex Rodriguez, Mike Piazza and Pedro Martinez will most certainly join them.

But the most interesting cases are of those players nearing retirement who are borderline selections. Here are the arguments for and against:

Randy Johnson. A third Cy Young award this season should cement his place. His 175 wins aren't Hall material, but his .658 winning percentage and 2,921 strikeouts are.

David Cone. About a year ago, it looked like Cone had solidified his spot, pitching a perfect game and with 200 wins in sight. Yet with only three wins in his last 32 starts, Cone is still 19 away from 200. He does have four World Series titles, a Cy Young and a .618 winning percentage.

Tom Glavine. A similar case to Cone, a big-game pitcher for a winning team. But he has two Cy Youngs, four 20-win seasons, is one win shy of 200 and is still going strong. Count him in.

David Wells. When he was 90-75 as a 33-year-old after the 1996 season, only a ticket would have gotten him into the Hall. But he is 67-27 since then with a second World Series title, a perfect game and a shot at the Cy Young this year. Two more strong seasons could bring 200 wins and a tough debate.

Harold Baines. Getting 3,000 hits has always been a lock unless you're Pete Rose. Baines entered the weekend 159 hits shy of the milestone. Yet even if he sticks around long enough to reach it, the career DH has no place in the Hall.

Edgar Martinez. Also a DH, he has better credentials than Baines. One of five right-handed hitters since 1950 to win at least two batting titles, Martinez is working on his fifth 100-RBI season, fifth with 100 runs and first with 30 homers. But he has more than 1,000 fewer hits than Baines and only 223 homers. That's not nearly enough.

Rafael Palmeiro. Has taken advantage of this hitter's era to turn a good career into a possible Hall of Fame one. Overshadowed by McGwire, Frank Thomas and Mo Vaughn at times, Palmeiro is working on his sixth straight 100-RBI season would be eight without the 1994 strike. Is closing in on 400 homers and has an outside shot at 3,000 hits, which would probably push him over the top.

Jose Canseco. Perhaps the most feared hitter in baseball over a five-year period early in his career, Canseco was hitting 40 homers when it still meant something. He also has a World Series title and an MVP, but the second-half of his career has been too one-dimensional, despite 439 career homers. If he gets to 500 which is looking less likely he could have an outside shot.

Fred McGriff. He is one homer shy of hitting 20 or more for the 13th time in 14 seasons. He has 409 career homers, good for 30th on the career list. But by the time he is Hall eligible, he'll be passed by many of today's sluggers on that list and in Hall credentials.

Barry Larkin. An interesting case, as the bridge between Ripken and today's three superstar shortstops: Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter. He has an MVP, World Series title, 1,985 hits and 178 homers. That should be enough at a primarily defensive position.

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