Setting the Hall of Fame Bar at Dale Murphy and Above

Every year the sports world is treated to a disgruntled Braves fan who thinks that Dale Murphy is getting the shaft on the Hall of Fame voting. I consider myself one of them, and I have been one of those fans who has repeatedly come out with articles lambasting the BBWAA for not putting Murph in the Hall.

(Since then I have come to the conclusion that the Hall of Fame is basically just a big Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs circle-jerk that could care less about most baseball players who didn't wear one of those three uniforms. If you disagree with me on that, imagine if Murphy wore one of those uniforms -- he'd already be in. But still, it is the only Hall of Fame for baseball, so I digress.)

This year the SB Nation baseball blogs are doing a mock Hall of Fame voting, and I thought it would be a fun exercise to see who falls above (and who falls below) the Dale Murphy Bar that I have set.

My rationale here is that I firmly believe Dale Murphy is a Hall of Famer. Yes, it's partly a hometown thing, but I've stared at stats too and come to the same conclusion. With that firm belief in mind, who else would I need to vote for in order to justify a vote for Murphy (or better yet, who else would the BBWAA need to collectively vote for).

Here are all 26 names on this year's ballot with my yay or ney and why:

Roberto Alomar - HOF defense, 10 GG, his rates and totals seem to be in line with Joe Morgan's, who is a Hall of Famer. He was a great middle infielder, finished 6th or higher in MVP voting 5 times. I'm going with YES on his Hall vote.

Kevin Appier - A pretty quick NO.

Harold Baines - Majority DH, had good rates, but for how long he played he didn't compile the big totals I would expect from a hitting position. He never had a dominant season. Solid NO.

Bert Blyleven - The classic case of being around forever and not sucking too terribly, but never being too brilliant either -- he's a bubble guy for a reason. I'm going to go with YES on Bert, even though he played in more of a pitcher's era. Durability with above average success over a long period of time for a pitcher is pretty worthy.

Ellis Burks - His homerun totals especially, surprised the hell out of me. Still, he had just one dominant season and it was in Colorado during the glory days for hitters. NO.

Andre Dawson - Won an MVP, finished 2nd twice, 8 gold gloves, both speed and power. His rates weren't as good as Murphs, but his other stats make up for them. I'm going YES.

Andres Galarraga - A former Braves player. We're getting into those players where we have to figure out how to count Mile High aided play, and the Big Cat's numbers are certainly much more impressive when played in low gravity, to the tune of being almost .200 points higher than his career OPS. The one year in Atlanta where he did just as good as he had in Colorado helps him, but I'm still going to say NO -- just not enough dominance for the hitters' era.

Pat Hentgen - Thanks for playing, but NO.

Mike Jackson - NO.

Eric Karros - Nice guy, good announcer, but NO.

Ray Lankford - NO.

Barry Larkin - He's one of these guys who gets talked up a lot. He probably would have won a lot more Gold Gloves if not for Ozzie Smith. I wonder if he's one of these guys we assign the "he-may-have-done-roids-because-of-that-one-anomalous-season-then-he-got-hurt" banner to. It was 1995 and he stole 51 bases when he had never stolen more than 40 in a season, and he had only stolen more than 30 in a season twice. The next year he hit 33 homeruns, when he had never hit more than 20 in a season, and never hit more than 17 after that. Should Hall of Fame voters be right in questioning these types of seasons? Do they matter when a player has an overall career that was great? Larkin was good as a hitting shortstop, but not very consistent. I'm going to pencil him in the NO category, but I reserve the right to give him more thought.

Edgar Martinez - Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap, over-rate-ed. NO.

Don Mattingly - Kind of like Murph in the sense that he had some really great seasons for several years in a row, but Murph had more and for longer. NO. And the fact that Don Mattingly got more votes last year than Dale Murphy proves that it's a circle-jerk, as I said above.

Fred McGriff - YES. Perhaps that's a bit of my Atlanta bias infringing on my judgment, but the Crime Dog was very consistent for most of his career, and while he never won any major award, he was as important to the teams he was on as anyone else.

Mark McGwire - What he did was legal at the time, right? He did do a lot of good for the game in 98/99, even if it was tainted. Even before then, he was a powerful slugger, even as a rookie. I'm inclined to say YES, even though I'm a bit conflicted. Even.

Jack Morris - NO. Not quite enough... and game-7 still hurts.

Dave Parker - Close, but not quite enough power or dominance over any period of time. NO.

Tim Raines - The stolen base is generally an under-appreciated part of baseball, so what should that say about the guy who is fifth on the all-time stolen base list. The problem I have is that only 6 times did he turn those gaudy yearly stolen base totals into more than 100 runs in a season. He was good, and he stole a lot of bases, but all-around play matters, and Raines was too one-dimensional, so he's a NO for me for the Hall.

Shane Reynolds - NO.

David Segui - NO.

Lee Smith - He saved a lot of games, and was the career leader for a while, but he was not that dominant guy that screams Hall. He was just slow and steady for a long time, but rather unspectacular. Unlike a starter, where that may be a plus, saves are somewhat like stolen bases, in that they aren't necessarily a game-changing stat. NO.

Alan Trammell - Good, but not quite as good as Larkin, who I didn't vote for either. NO.

Robin Ventura - Decent numbers, and I like the guy, but NO.

Todd Zeile - If only because he played for 11 different teams. NO.

...and now here is the same breakdown for Dale Murphy...

Dale Murphy - A central period of dominance in the middle of his career with decent to good outlying years. He was an elite player who played the majority of his games in an era dominated by pitching. Had 5 Gold Gloves and good speed to go with excellent power. He dominated during his prime and lasted long enough to put up good overall numbers... YES.

After all of that hashing out, six guys appear on my ballot: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, and Dale Murphy.

Obviously this was an exercise in who I would have to vote for if I used Murphy and everyone above as a cut off. There's probably a lot of argument over McGriff, and of course McGwire. Blyleven will probably still face an uphill battle, as will Dawson, even though both came pretty close to getting in last year. Larkin was tough to leave off, but in the end he just wasn't above "that level" for long enough.

Murphy seems to be discounted because he is of a different era than many of the other players on this list, and the gaudy career numbers players are putting up today don't necessarily apply to him. But of all the players on this list, he has won more MVP awards than anyone, and he has won more homerun titles than anyone but McGwire and Dawson.

Every year Murphy is left off is another year that I'll keep trying to get him in.

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