Last week, the Baseball Writers Association of America elected three players – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas to Cooperstown, but like last year there is just as much focus on who didn’t make the cut and a vote-giving scandal.
Among the players who did not get in to the Hall of Fame are a pair of former Montreal Expos. Tim Raines is widely believed to be a Hall of Fame player, at least except in the eyes of most of the voters. Raines is compared to Rickey Henderson, who he was second best to for most of his career. Playing in the shadows of Montreal further obscured his accomplishments.
The limit of 10 players on a ballot surely hurt Raines, and three players falling off of the ballot and Jack Morris out of years on the ballot means that Raines should have be able to find a way on more ballots.
There are many players who feel that Raines has a better case than many players already in the Hall of Fame, including contemporaries Andre Dawson and Jim Rice.
Raines is possibly the last player that can be inducted into Cooperstown as a Montreal Expo. There are others who have played for the Expos who will be eligible – namely Larry Walker, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Vladimir Guerrero.
Walker would go in (and we’ll get to that shortly) – if he does at all – as a member of the Colorado Rockies, Martinez with the Red Sox, Johnson with the Mariners (or possibly Diamondbacks) and Guerrero’s Hall of Fame case is hit or miss but would probably go in as an Expo if he gets the call.
Larry Walker is a marginal candidate and is someone that is being penalized for playing most of his best years in Denver, where the ball notoriously flew out of the stadium. Many people against him point to the split of his home and away statistics, and tend to ignore players already in the Hall of Fame who have just as wide career splits but when it wasn’t widely available. However, Walker – even when taking into account the statistics at Coors Field – makes a stronger Hall of Fame case than the vote totals would show.
Walker stated after the results that he hopes to be on the ballot for all 15 years and if he does, he may end up with a good chance of improving his case.
The best part of this vote is that an increasing number of voters used a full ballot. If the BBWAA decides to raise the limit that would help both of the former Expos on the ballot.