Friday, June 17, 2005

Sox in the Hall

Which current and former Sox players have Hall of Fame credentials yet aren't in the pantheon of stars at Cooperstown?

On the mound, it's impossible to overlook Pedro Martinez, the best pitcher of his generation, albeit without the durability and numbers of Roger Clemens. If I had to win one game, Pedro in his prime was the guy. Luis Tiant remains deserving, but I wonder whether Luis will ever get there. He played for some bad teams and doesn't get as much credit as he would have had the Sox won the series in his era. Curt Schilling had a slow career start and has had a gangbusters finish. The black and grey ink stats at plus his postseason heroics (bloody sock not included) argue that he's going to Cooperstown, 200 wins or not.

I'm a closet Dwight Evans guy whose defense and second half of his career gets him in. Unfortunately, the first years of his career drag his candidacy down, and Dewey's probably going to have to be content with Bill James' notion that he's the best right fielder not in the Hall. Jim Rice was the dominant right-handed slugger of his era, although 'surliness' and relative career brevity limit his possibility. Rice was a much better defender than acknowledged (think about Greenwell in left) and had the Sox had him in the post-season in 1975, maybe the 86 years was a mere 57. Manny Ramirez seems like a lock from this viewpoint.

David Ortiz is coming into his own, and at age 29 has already played in 7 post-season series, winning 5 of them. 'Cookie' could be a 400+ homer guy with a lengthy and healthy career. As Joaquin Andujar would say, "they have a word for it in English - youneverknow."

In the infield, Nomar Garciaparra presents enigmatic possibilities. When healthy and happy, Nomar was among the best hitters of this era, could run, and made spectacular plays, although objectively he was an average overall defender (check the numbers). Unfortunately, the NFL mantra 'ability and durability' hurts Nomar. Can he get in without a few more stellar seasons? Ask Tony Oliva, who won three batting titles, led the league in hits five times, and was an eight time All-Star.

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