For only the fourth time in history, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWA) has inducted four players to the Hall of Fame (CBS Sports). Of those eligible to be nominated, the four players elected into the hall today were Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome. Despite the history with the way players are voted in, these four players have had incredible careers and obviously deserve to be in the hall.
I am finally getting to an age where some of the best players that I have ever seen play the game are being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It is both a sobering reminder that I am getting older, as well as the fact that I got to see so much talent when I was a young player (including the steroid era).
One of the first memories I have of Guerrero is something you will only see once or twice in a generation of baseball…he threw a runner out at the plate from the right field wall on one bounce. We are talking about a 350-foot accurate throw. Besides the possibly illegal cannon he had in right field, he was a monster at the plate too. Over his 16-year career he had a slash line of .318/.379/.553. If those are not Hall of Fame numbers alone, I don’t know what is. But again, it wasn’t just his bat that got him there, after all, he only hit 449 career home runs and had 1,496 RBIs.
The Dominican-born Guerrero was a nine-time All-Star, an eight-time silver slugger, and an MVP (by the way he finished in the top 25 for MVP votes 11 times including his second to last year). He would have gone to nine straight All-Star games had it not been for his shortened 2003 season.
Guerrero played for four teams in his career, with most of his accolades coming from his time with the Montreal Expos (now Washington Nationals) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I loved to watch this man play the game as it was meant to be played. You could see it every time he stepped on the field that he was excited to be playing the game, he took it to the next level every day, and now he has his legacy cemented until the end of time as one of the greatest that has ever played the game.
One of the good things about coming into the big leagues as a relief pitcher is you tend to have a longer shelf life than that of starting pitchers (or position players for that matter). You are typically used in situation where you only need an inning or two of work every other day. Hoffman, however, was probably the second best closer in MLB history. Many people would probably argue that Mariano Rivera is the best, and I can get on board with that.
Trevor Hoffman had a 2.87 ERA over his 18-year career, recording an astonishing 601 saves and had 1,133 strikeouts (giving him a career K/9 of 9.4). Getting to see Hoffman pitch was both terrifying and exciting at the same time. It was exciting because of how good he was and terrifying because if he is pitching against your team, you knew that the chances of getting even a walk against him was a stretch, let alone a run. I had the pleasure of seeing Hoffman pitch a few times in person and remember how demoralizing it was because that meant the game was over.
Even as a relief pitcher, Hoffman finished in the top-six four times for the Cy Young. What is even more fascinating, he finished in the top 28 for MPV voting five times in his career also (not to mention his seven All-Star appearances).
The California native played for three teams in his career; the Florida Marlins, the San Diego Padres (where he spent most of his career), and the Milwaukee Brewers. What is probably a little frustrating for him is that he also played during the time of Mariano Rivera (who will undoubtedly be inducted into the hall next year in his first year of eligibility). Hoffman’s brilliance was often overshadowed by Rivera, but obviously people still noticed how dominate Hoffman was, as he is now in the Hall of Fame.
Another player I got to see play several times, and man did I hate him. Let me tell you why. Jones was so good, that it didn’t matter what you did he would either have a 12-pitch at bat only to get a double down the line, or he would rob you of a base hit with a ridiculous diving play at 3B.
One thing is for sure, I did not hate him because of the outstanding player he was, I hated him because he was always so good against your teams. Now that I am older I have nothing but respect and admiration for the man, as he will also go down as one of the best players in the history of the game.
Over his career he had a .303/.401/.529 slash line as a switch hitter. He played the game hard and had fun with it, as everyone should. One of my favorite memories of him is a candid moment when he is sitting in the dugout laughing at how his teammate Brian McCann slid head first into third base only to do a faceplant on his first triple (he was safe), as shown below:
Jones, the Florida native, spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves, a rarity in today’s game. Over his career he earned one MVP, two silver sluggers, one batting title, a World Series champion, and was an eight-time All-Star. Other noteworthy accomplishments include 13 top 32 MVP finishes, a Rookie of the Year runner up, and had 468 career home runs and 1,623 RBIs. Though not the best defender, Chipper Jones will regardless be know as one of the best of all time.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen Jim Thome play. Either on a rival team or on your own, Jim Thome did what most people couldn’t do during the steroid era, stay out of even allegations of drug use, despite being a power hitter.
The Illinois native spent 22 years of his life in the big leagues with six teams, spending most of his career with the Cleveland Indians. Thome had a career .276/.402/.554 slash line with 612 home runs and 1,699 RBIs, good for 8th and 26th all-time, respectively. Some of his accolades seem a bit disappointing considering the career he had, with only five All-Star appearances and one Silver Slugger award.
He did finish in the top 21 in MVP voting nine times, including four times in the top ten. Thome was a blast to watch at the plate too. He had such a unique swing that you could almost tell instantly if it was a home run based on the trajectory of the ball, because it was likely going 400+ feet. What I really enjoy about Thome is that he stayed drug free. I put emphasis on this again because three players who have over 600 home runs (Albert Pujols excluded because he is still an active player) did so during the steroid era and are not in the Hall of Fame, but Thome is.
Congratulations to the class of 2018 for their induction into immortality. I have seen each and every one of the players play in person and cannot be more excited about this year’s class. All four players played the game like baseball legends day in and day out, and now they have gotten their recognition.
Do you think any of the other steroid era players should be inducted yet? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo Credit: MLB Hall of Fame
Video Credit: MLB
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
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Photo Credit: Jody Gomez
Photo Credit: AP
Video Credit: MissCarolinaDreamer
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Photo Credit: Sporting News
Stats Provided By: Baseball-Reference.com
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