OUT: Garret Anderson
Anderson has an outside shot at 3,000 hits. He's not a great player due to his mediocre on-base percentage and has only topped 30 home runs once, but that magic barrier makes him a candidate.
37. Johan Santana and 38. Joe Mauer
I like that Santana wasn't overly used as a young pitcher. I like that he's already won a Cy Young Award. I like that in an "off" year he has a 154-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. As for Mauer, he has, as they say, more tools than the Iron Chefs.
OUT: Alfonso Soriano and Mark Teixeira
It's possible that Soriano will pass Kent someday as the all-time home run leader for second basemen. But keep in mind that he's already 29 (he was one of those who "matured" in the infamous Dominican Aging Scandal), is losing speed (from 43 steals as a rookie to 12 this year) and will eventually move to the outfield. Teixeira certainly has enormous long-term power potential -- if he stays with the Rangers. Eighteen of his 27 home runs this season have come at home.
39. Omar Vizquel
The way I see it, the cynical old-timers who hate all the pumped-up modern-day sluggers will vote for Omar, a symbol of the good old days when baseball was pure, when Hall of Famers played for the love of the game, when you actually had to be a good fielder to make a major-league team!
Does he deserve it? The obvious comparison, of course, isn't to his power-hitting contemporaries, but to The Wizard, Ozzie Smith, another light-hitting glove magician.
First, the hitting stats:
|OMAR VS. OZZIE|
Overall, pretty even. Both started out as terrible hitters (Ozzie hit .211 with 27 RBI in 1979, while Omar couldn't crack the .250 barrier until his fourth season) and eventually became good enough to post above-average OPS marks despite their lack of power. Ozzie became a little better at the plate, nine times posting an adjusted OPS of 90 or better; Omar has done that six times. Both were even traded early in their careers in lopsided deals (the Padres acquired Garry Templeton for Smith, while the Mariners acquired Felix Fermin and Reggie Jefferson for Vizquel).
In two other categories, Ozzie holds a more significant edge:
Ozzie is probably the greatest fielder at any position, ever. He was enormously popular with the fans. Vizquel only made three All-Star Games, but look who he was competing against: Ripken, Rodriguez, Jeter, Garciaparra and Tejada. Ozzie was battling Hubie Brooks and Rafael Ramirez for starting spots.
Vizquel might not be Ozzie, but that doesn't mean he won't make Cooperstown. He has the flair and reputation that go beyond numbers, and that should be enough to persuade the voters.
OUT: Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Rich Harden
Hudson hasn't won a Cy Young, but among this group he's had the best career so far (99-44 career record). He's 30 and hasn't been quite as good the past two seasons, and I wonder if he'll hold up. But all of these guys have early Hall potential, and it wouldn't be unexpected to see one of them end up in Cooperstown.