Only five players who are eligible for the Hall of Fame have hit 400 or more career home runs without being elected. Only two of those are still on the ballot. Of course, this number will go up in years to come, if others accused of using PEDs become eligible (Palmeiro, Sosa, Bonds, etc.) fail to garner enough support for election. Here’s a run-down of the current five:
1. Mark McGwire – With 583 home runs, good for eighth on the all-time list, the steroid allegations have hit McGwire the hardest so far. The only one on this list who was considered a shoo-in prior to the scandal, he is struggling to receive even a quarter of the votes needed. Only time will tell if the voters’ stance will soften and let McGwire in. If he makes it, expect Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens to follow him in. Should he fall off the ballot, then he will be counting on the Veterans Committee, most of whom are against the idea of the enshrinement of supposed cheaters (at least to this degree).
2. Jose Canseco – The other “bash brother” from Oakland played longer than he should have, trying to reach the formerly magical number of 500. He ended up with 462. He is also known as the first 40 homer/40 stolen base man, and was a major part of Oakland’s 1988-1990 successes. Jose is still trying to get to 500, apparently playing in independent leagues and trying to catch the eyes of major league teams to give him another look. Hey, I hear Tampa Bay is looking at Barry Bonds…how about giving Jose a shot? (No, not that kind of shot.) Canseco was on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2007, but only received 6 votes.
3. Dave Kingman – “King Kong” was a monster at the plate…when he made contact. He led the league in homers twice, finishing second 4 other times. He was voted in to start the All-Star game twice, and was selected a third time by the All-Star manager. Despite his power, Kingman struck out a lot and finished with a .236 career batting average. In his sole appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot (1992), Kingman received only 3 votes (0.7%).
4. Andre Dawson – “The Hawk” toiled for eleven years in Montreal before hitting the national spotlight in 1987 with the Chicago Cubs, when he hit 49 round-trippers. That was good for a National League MVP award, despite the Cubs’ last place finish and a very solid season by Cardinals’ slugger Jack Clark. Dawson’s 438 career dingers have garnered him serious consideration on the Hall of Fame ballot, receiving at least 50% each year except his first. In 2008, he was third on the list with 65.8%, behind Goose Gossage and Jim Rice.
5. Darrell Evans – The last man on the list was the most surprising to me. I never thought of Evans as a power hitter, though he lead the American League in 1985 with 40 homers. Evans was only twice selected for the All-Star game (1973 and 1983), and never finished in the top 10 for MVP voting. He finished his career in 1989 with 414 longballs, but his .248 career batting average undoubtedly ruined his call to Cooperstown. Like Kingman and Canseco, Evans was only on the ballot once, pulling in eight votes in 1995.
Perhaps in a few years we will need a post dedicated to players with 500 career home runs who are not in the Hall. However, they will be locked out for a much different reason than some of these guys.