Paul Molitor played second base for the Milwaukee Brewers on July 9, the Saturday before the All-Star Game, because he hadn’t played the position all year. He was on the ballot at 2B, but Jim Gantner was the primary second sacker for the Brew Crew.
Johnny Ray and Harold Reynolds were chosen as backups for Molitor. Both were the lone representatives from their teams at the All-Star Game. The players’ choices would have changed all three second basemen on the roster:
- Julio Franco 41
- Frank White 37
- Marty Barrett 32
- Lou Whitaker 29
- Harold Reynolds 14
- Paul Molitor 8
- Willie Randolph 1
- Jim Gantner 1
- Luis Salazar 1
- Curt Wilkerson 1
- Glenn Hubbard 1
- Tony Fernandez 1
- Johnny Ray 1
Paul Molitor took home the Hutch Award in 1987. While several superstars have won the award (including Mickey Mantle, Andre Dawson, Carl Yastrzemski, and Johnny Bench), it is not necessarily given to a big-name player. It has also gone to Ron Oester, Don Robinson, Dennis Leonard, and Mark Teahen.
According to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center website, “MLB teams have the opportunity to nominate one player from their team that exemplifies the fighting spirit of the legendary leader Fred Hutchinson. Former winners then vote on the nominees to select the next Hutch Award winner.”
Paul Molitor really flew under the radar in Milwaukee, but in 1993 he took center stage, winning the World Series MVP for the Toronto Blue Jays. He picked up 3319 career hits and finished with a .306 batting average.
Is “The Ignitor” the worst nickname ever? And is the Brewers’ glove logo the best logo ever? I think the answer to both of those questions is yes.
Five players, one manager, and one player/manager, all Hall of Famers, have been honored with the retirement of uniform #4.
Paul Molitor, Milwaukee Brewers
The ease with which Molitor was voted into Cooperstown surprised me because I never considered him a Hall of Famer during his career. Yes, he had a .306 career average, and yes, he collected more than 3000 hits. But he never struck me as a Hall of Famer until after he was elected and I went back and looked at his career again.
Duke Snider, Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers
Earl Weaver, Baltimore Orioles
Joe Cronin, Boston Red Sox
Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees
Luke Appling, Chicago White Sox
Mel Ott, New York Giants
Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh Pirates
The results were just announced a couple of days ago, and Andre Dawson was the only player chosen by the BBWAA to enter the Hall of Fame in 2010. It was Dawson’s ninth year on the ballot. Some are grousing about his lack of qualifications, while others are ecstatic that he is finally in. To me, Dawson is a Hall of Famer. He was one of the heroes of my childhood due to his exposure on WGN, and it’s hard to erase childhood memories even when statistics are hurled at you.
Another complaint I have seen on several blogs is the concept of “first ballot Hall of Famers.” The line of thought is, “How can someone be a Hall of Famer next year, but not this year? If you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer plain-and-simple!” While there is merit to this, I can understand the line of thinking of those who refuse to vote for certain players on their first ballot. The idea is that a first ballot induction is somewhat of a higher honor, and it is. Sure, there were oversights (Ryne Sandberg, Carlton Fisk), and there were some who got in on their first ballot that really didn’t deserve it (Paul Molitor? Seriously?), but in an imperfect system it’s a reasonable line of thought.
That’s why I don’t really have a problem with Alomar waiting a year, and Larkin a couple of years. I’m surprised that Alomar was not elected (especially after the Paul Molitor debacle), but not offended. He’ll get in next year, along with Blyleven, and while that may take a potential vote away from Larkin, I’m confident Barry will be inducted in 2012 or 2013.
Here are my predictions of Hall inductees for the next several years (* = first ballot, ** = final year of eligibility):
2011: Alomar, Blyleven
2013: Craig Biggio*, Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez
2014: Greg Maddux*, Tom Glavine*, Frank Thomas*
2015: Randy Johnson*, Tim Raines
2016: Ken Griffey, Jr.* (assuming he retires after this season), Mike Mussina
2017: John Smoltz (assuming he retires after this season), Lee Smith**
Bagwell may squeeze through in 2012 on his first try, but to me he just doesn’t qualify as a first ballot Hall of Famer if you are going to limit it to the greatest of the great (Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn). And I’m still not sold on Edgar, but I do believe he will pick up enough steam over the next few years.
2014 will be interesting – all three are more than deserving of first ballot status, but when is the last time three guys went in on their first try in the same year? It’s only happened once (excluding 1936, the first year of voting). You have to go back to 1999 – Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Robin Yount – just barely. Ryan and Brett both received more than 98% of the vote; Yount got just 77.5%.
Thomas’ latter years may hurt him, but he should still go in on the first ballot with at least 80%. Glavine should also receive at least 80%, although if the writers look back at history and see that Warren Spahn only received 83.2%, a few might hold back their votes. Maddux, on the other hand, should receive 100%. He won’t, but he should. Any writer who fails to vote for Maddux should have his voting rights stripped, taken out into the street and be publicly flogged.
2015 is the year I have Raines finally getting in. The writers have to wake up eventually, right?
The Big Unit will cruise in, as will Junior (I’m assuming he retires after this season). The Moose will have to wait a couple years, and Lee Smith will get in during his final year of eligibility.
You might notice that I didn’t use any statistics in this post, other than the voting percentages that Hall of Famers received. I’m not anti-stat; I think stats are great. But I just get overwhelmed with all the new stuff that has picked up steam in this internet age. WHIP, WAR, Win Shares, OPS+…I don’t understand half of them. I’m more of a counting stat guy. And yeah, I know Molitor had 3k hits. But he still shouldn’t have been in on the first ballot.