When Hall of Fame voting started, I thought Jim Thome was a slam-dunk first-ballot hall of famer – largely on the strength of his 612 (relatively untainted) home runs.
I figured Omar Vizquel, also in his first year of eligibility, would get into the Hall of Fame, but this wasn’t his year due to a crowded ballot. Chipper Jones is probably a first-ballot hall of famer too, and it sounds like Vladimir Guerrero – probably the best bad-ball hitter of his era – is finally getting the traction he needs for a plaque in Cooperstown. And of course, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens loom large over the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s voting process.
I had no idea a Vizquel hall of fame candidacy would be as controversial as it seems to have become.
Next year’s Baseball Hall of Fame inductions could have a Cleveland flavor to them.
What’s even more likely is that they’ll have more than a touch of controversy.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced on Monday the list of candidates on this year’s ballot for potential induction in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Several players with strong ties to the Cleveland Indians will make their first appearances.
A total of 33 candidates are up for the vote this offseason, including 19 players for the first time. The new class of candidates include several former Indians – Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel – as well as former Atlanta Braves stars Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones, New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, and lethal left-hander Johan Santana.
The improbable occurs as the Cleveland Indians stage “The Comeback” on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball by scoring 13 unanswered runs to shock the Seattle Mariners, 15-14, in eleven innings.
Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to Opening Day!
Countdown to Opening Day – 13
When using wins above replacement (WAR) to compare the players to wear the number 13 throughout baseball history, one thing becomes clear – Omar Vizquel has been not only one of the best to do so for the Cleveland Indians, but has been one of the best to wear it in Major League Baseball history.
Vizquel now is a painful sight to see in the Detroit first base coaching box when the Indians and Tigers match up 19 times a year. His name still comes up frequently in discussion among Cleveland fans, especially when watching Francisco Lindor flash the leather from Vizquel’s old shortstop position now or when considering the legitimacy of his Hall of Fame candidacy in a few years.
In the end, his spot in Cooperstown is no guarantee.