The National League was absolutely loaded with starting pitchers in 1988. At the end of the year, it was a three-man race for the Cy Young Award, but at mid-season the field was wide open. Dwight Gooden got the starting nod. You would not have convinced me in 1988 that he would never be on another All-Star team.
Next up was Houston’s Bob Knepper, the only Astro on the team. I shook his hand during the All-Star workout the night before. I didn’t have anything to get signed with me, and he was the only one that acknowledged my existence.
David Cone is another one of the borderline Hall of Fame cases. I wouldn’t vote for him, but there are a lot of Coneheads who believe he was snubbed by the voters.
I never would have guessed that Kevin Gross was an All-Star. He did have 10 wins at the break, though, and 2.47 is a pretty good ERA. He just doesn’t register as an All-Star in my brain.
Mark Davis got a hefty raise after his 1989 Cy Young season, but he never pitched like he did in 1988 and 1989 again.
As names go, “Walk” may be one of the worst for a pitcher. “Homer” beats it, but “Walk” is not far behind. Fortunately, Bob Walk never appeared in the top ten for walks.
Orel Hershiser spent 18 years in the majors, winning 204 games for the Dodgers, Indians, Mets, and Giants. 1988 was his greatest season, winning the Cy Young Award, the NLCS MVP, and the World Series MVP.
Just as Tom Kelly chose his closer for the American League roster, Whitey Herzog named his closer Todd Worrell to the National League team. Worrel actually got into the game and retired the side in the top of the 9th: George Brett, Cal Ripken Jr., and Don Mattingly.
Greg Maddux made his first of eight All-Star teams in 1988, but didn’t pitch in the game. Am I the only one who thinks eight is way too low of a number for one of the greatest pitchers ever?
Danny Jackson was one of three Reds on the roster, but didn’t get to play in the game. There should be a rule that all players from the host city get to play. Jackson only made one more All-Star roster; while with the Phillies in 1994, he faced Scott Cooper, Kenny Lofton, and Will Clark without getting an out. He allowed two inherited runners and one of his own to score.
Here it is, not even two weeks into 2008, and already I’m looking forward to 2008. That happens every January, when the Hall of Fame announces their current inductees. People immediately begin talking about the next year. I’ve written a couple of posts dealing with the holdovers from this year’s election, but haven’t made any mention of newcomers to the ballot next year.
The no-brainer for 2009 is the ageless Rickey Henderson, the all-time stolen base leader. No, he won’t receive 100% of the votes because of some writers’ resistance to voting for first timers on the ballot, but he should rake in well over 90%. Really, no discussion needs to take place here. Rickey is one of the all-time greats.
We come next to Mark Grace, the consistent first basemen who spent his career with the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks. Grace made a splash on the major league scene his rookie year, finishing second to Chris Sabo for the 1988 Rookie of the Year award. One of the most consistent hitters of the 1990s, Grace finished his career with 2445 hits (100th on the all-time list) and a .303 batting average. He never hit for power, his highest season total being 17 dingers in 1998, and he never drove in many runs, 98 being his career-high in 1993. As consistent as Grace was, however, he was never dominant. I expect he will receive 10-15% support, but never rise much higher than 20% in his time on the ballot.
Other first-timers next year will include David Cone, Ron Gant, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn, and Matt Williams. Certainly stars during their time, but not even close to HOF credentials. It would not surprise me if 2009 is their last time on the ballot.