A trio of baseball kings are going into the Hall of Fame together this year in what could be one of the biggest classes in Cooperstown history. The 16-member expansion era committee unanimously and rightfully decided that former managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre belonged in the hall. Looking at these numbers, there is no doubt that they all undoubtedly deserve the honor...
Bobby Cox (Atlanta 1978-1981, 1990-2010 / Toronto 1982-1985)
- 2,504 wins
- 1 World Series title (1995)
- 5 National League pennants
- 15 Division titles (11 NL East, 3 NL West, 1 AL East)
- 4-time Manager of the Year (3 National League, 1 American League)
- Holds the MLB record for regular-season ejections by a manager with 158. (3 more in the postseason)
Tony LaRussa (Chicago White Sox 1979-1986, Oakland 1986-1995, St. Louis 1996-2011)
- 2,728 Wins (3rd all-time)
- 3 World Series titles (1989, 2006, 2011)
- 6 Pennants (3 National League, 3 American League)
- 13 Division titles (5 AL West (CWS and OAK), 8 NL Central)
- 4-time Manager of the Year (3 American League, 1 National League)
Joe Torre (NY Mets 1977-1981, Atlanta 1982-1984, St. Louis 1990-1995, NY Yankees 1996-2007, LA Dodgers 2008-2010)
- 2,326 Wins
- 4 World Series titles
- 6 American League pennants
- 13 Division titles (10 AL East, 3 NL West (ATL and LAD))
- 2-time Manager of the Year (both AL)
This year's ballot for players, as voted on by the Baseball Writers of America Association, includes several "locks" for election, at least in my mind.
There is no doubt that fromer Braves Gregg Maddux and Tom Glavine should be first-ballot Hall of Famers. If elected this year, the two would be the first teammates ever elected to the Hall in the same year. Maddux amassed 355 wins in his career and 4 Cy Young Awards (consecutively by the way 92-95), a record 18 Gold Glove awards and nearly 3,400 strikeouts. While Glavine doesn't have that much hardware, he's a two-time Cy Young Award winner, 305 wins and (more impressive than a Gold Glove) 4 Silver Slugger Awards.
Also on the ballot is "The Big Hurt" Frank Thomas. Aside from being one of my favorite players as a kid, he is one of the few studs in the steroid era who has never been tied to PED's. He won back-to-back AL MVP awards in 1993 and 1994 and was impressively in the top 5 in MVP voting six times. He hit 521 home runs for 18th all-time and 1,704 runs batted in for 22nd all-time.
Next on my "lock list" is Craig Biggio. The former Asheville Tourist was the leading vote-getter in last year's HOF balloting when no one was inducted. Biggs was a mere 39 votes shy of hitting the 75 percent needed. Biggio could do it all playing catcher, 2nd base and the outfield in his career. He accumulated 3,060 hits adn was a 7-time All-Star.
Jack Morris should also be voted in. This is Morris' 15th and final year of eligibility to be voted in by the writers. There has been a growing movement to put him in the hall. Morris won more games in the 1980's than any other pitcher, but having no Cy Youngs to his credit and fewer than 300 wins hurts his case. He was the World Series MVP in 1991, when he pitched a 10 inning shutout against the Braves in the clincher.
Mike Piazza, one of the best offensive catchers in history, should also be a shoe in for induction. In 16 seasons Piazza was an All-Star 12 times and won a Silver Slugger Award 10 times. Despite his embarassing showings in the Home Run Derby, his power numbers are unrivaled for a catcher. Piazza hit 396 home runs as a catcher, the most for that position in history. He ended his career with 427 dingers and a .308 batting average. Last year Piazza was 4th in the HOF voting.
I think the ballot should also include Jeff Bagwell. Though many assume that Bagwell was a steroid user because of his girth, he has never been tied to PED's much like Frank Thomas. Bagwell was an amazing hitter in his 15 seasons. He finished his career in the top 70 in seven different offensive categories. He had a .297 lifetime batting average and was in the top 10 in NL MVP voting six times including winning the 1994 award.
Personally I would also like to see all stars from the "steroid-era" in the Hall of Fame, but I know that won't happen any time soon - if ever. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire not being in the Hall is a crime. Yes, I feel the same about Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson. Regardless of whether you like them as people, their contributions to baseball are too great to go unrecognized and revered.
Paul Lo Duca