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Thome, Santana Get First Shot At The Hall

The 2018 Baseball Writers’ Association of America released their Hall of Fame ballot on Monday. Returning names like relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero are almost assured of election. Hoffman fell five votes short in 2017 and Guerrero was 15 votes shy of induction.

There is a strong crop of first time nominees as well. Third baseman Chipper Jones and shortstop Omar Vizuel each have strong resumes. Two former Twins, Jim Thome and Johan Santana, will also be on the ballot for the first time.

Could Thome or Santana be inducted next summer?
Image courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Thome’s Resume
Thome’s numbers speak for themselves. Only nine players have surpassed the 600 home run plateau and Thome is one of them. He also compiled 1,699 RBIs, 1,583 runs scored, a .402 OBP and 2,328 hits. According to Baseball Reference’s Offensive WAR, he has the 44th highest total in baseball history and his WAR for position players is in the top 55. His career slugging (.544) and OPS (.956) both rank in the top 25 all-time. He also ranks seventh in base on balls (1,747). His demeanor on and off the field also separated him from the pack. Former teammate Joe Crede said, “He’s the epitome of a baseball player.” That kind of resume will be tough for the writers to ignore.

Santana’s Resume
Santana provides a more interesting case for the Hall of Fame. He was the most dominant pitcher in the game for a five-year stretch but his career was eventually derailed by injuries. Earlier this year, Seth compared Santana’s career to the great Sandy Koufax. There are similar career paths for both players. Baseball Reference’s Cy Young Career Shares (2.72) has him 12th all-time. Of the players in front of him, eight are in the Hall of Fame. The four not in the Hall are Roger Clemens, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, and Max Scherzer. Clemens may never get in but the other three all have a very strong chance. He ranks in the top 20 all-time in strikeouts per nine and adjusted ERA+.

Predictions
Other sluggers from Thome’s era have struggled to make it on the first ballot. A steroid era cloud has hung over some players like last year’s inductee Jeff Bagwell. Thome’s numbers are some of the best all-time and his overall contributions to the game will make it tough to keep him out of Cooperstown. This year’s ballot is stacked so he could fall victim to too many people passing him over to keep other players on the ballot. That being said, I still think he gets in.

Santana is going to be a tough player for the writers to consider. I think it would take multiple years of him being on the ballot to start building up a case in his favor. He would need writers talking about how dominant he was before the injury. Twins fans saw a player like Kirby Puckett get inducted even though his career was cut short by an injury. Could the baseball writers do the same thing with Santana? It doesn’t seem likely for him to make it in 2018.

Do you think either player makes the cut? Should Santana make it for his dominant stretch? Who else on the ballot will be elected? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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17 Comments

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theBOMisthebomb
Nov 21 2017 07:34 AM
Santana should make it. Does he have the "it" factor to capture the voters' attention? That lost Cy Young to Bartolo might really hurt.
    • Dantes929 likes this

Compare and contrast Santana's peak with Doc Gooden's peak.Pretty similar, with Gooden having one of the most dominant seasons ever, plus Gooden has a ring.If Gooden is not in, Santana should not be in.

 

Thome will make it, but I feel that he is as much a Twin, as Brett Favre is a Viking.Thome killed the Twins.

    • mikelink45 and Tom Froemming like this
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EddieMatthews
Nov 21 2017 08:46 AM

I'm not sure if it was poor timing, or poor handling of the pitching roster, but Santana showed promise in 2002 and 2003, but couldn't land the job of a full-time starter until 2004.  His ERA+ for those two years topped the Twins staff starters.

 

We could speculate on those two years, and what that adds to his career, as well as the impact of injuries.  Johan could have had a few more stellar seasons, maybe adding 50 wins.  That doesn't even get him to 200 wins.  

 

HIs career totals fall short of HOF expectations, and I doubt that sportswriters will consider him for that reason alone.  It was so disappointing when he went to the Mets.  With the strict pitch-counts applied to Twins pitchers, I was hoping that Santana would have a half-dozen more Cy Young level years in Minnesota.

Thome and Jones are the two sure bets in my assessment which is seldom dependable.Santana - no.We have had a number of great pitchers for five year stretches that never made it.Koufax is the exception for a number of reasons - he played in Los Angeles, not MN, (true Santana was in NY, but his career there was really short of accomplishments due to injuries), Koufax went out on top - he retired at the top of his game garnering great attention and disappointment while Santana struggled to get back leaving us with an image of a damaged athlete, not a great one. 

 

I would be fine if Hoffman and Vlad took a step back.  

 

Santana should make it. Does he have the "it" factor to capture the voters' attention? That lost Cy Young to Bartolo might really hurt.

He had a really strong case in 2008 also with the Mets.I think three CYA would get him there. He could have very reasonably had 4.The fact he only had two probably keeps him out.

 

I'm not sure if it was poor timing, or poor handling of the pitching roster, but Santana showed promise in 2002 and 2003, but couldn't land the job of a full-time starter until 2004.  His ERA+ for those two years topped the Twins staff starters.

I think the Twins did a good job of building up Santana in 02 and 03 before making him a fulltime starter in 04. He had only pitched 130 innings combined in 00 and 01 so he threw back to back 160ip seasons before 04. 

 

What I always forget is that he didn't come in second that year to Colon. Rivera was second.

    • EddieMatthews and Doctor Wu like this
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Winston Smith
Nov 21 2017 09:27 AM

On a MLB Network roundtable yesterday they were really high on Santana for whatever that's worth.

Thome is a no doubter to make it.As a Twins fan I would love to see Johan make it but believe it will be a stretch for him to do so.I hope I am incorrect on that assumption.The Koufax comparison is a very compelling argument for certain in Johan's favor.You never know what is in the writer's heads when it comes to how they vote.

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Tom Froemming
Nov 21 2017 10:17 AM

Thome obviously had an incredible career, but how often was he truly among the absolute best few players in baseball? His MVP shares is shockingly low at 1.22. He topped out with a fourth-place finish in 2003. You may think that's a poor point of focus, but a lot of the same people who vote for the MVP also vote for the Hall of Fame.

 

Jose Bautista has more MVP shares. So does Paul Goldschmidt. So does Nolan Arenado, who's only played five seasons.

 

Thome was also only an All-Star five times.That's one fewer than Will Clark, Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko and Don Mattingly and the same as Andres Galarraga, Todd Helton and Fred McGriff. Again, not the greatest point of reference, but I think it's worth pointing out.

 

Thome will get into the Hall of Fame, but if guys like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell couldn't get in right away I think it'll take Thome a few years. Hell, guys like Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker are probably never getting in. 

    • Thrylos and Doctor Wu like this

Killebrew took three ballots. That's my guess for Thome. 

    • Tom Froemming likes this

I read a thing recently that compared Santana to Koufax. Totally dominant lefty pitchers who had short careers. I think he deserves to be in-- not sure he'll actually be voted in though. 

Compare and contrast Santana's peak with Doc Gooden's peak. Pretty similar, with Gooden having one of the most dominant seasons ever, plus Gooden has a ring. If Gooden is not in, Santana should not be in.

Thome will make it, but I feel that he is as much a Twin, as Brett Favre is a Viking. Thome killed the Twins.


Baseball HOF has a character clause. I would suspect that has at least a little to do with Gooden not being in.
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IndianaTwin
Nov 23 2017 10:26 AM

I think Thome gets in. 

 

Santana vs. Koufax is a great comparison. However, Bill James used to point to the problem of comparing to a marginal HOFer -- if "A is in, then so should B" isn't that helpful if A shouldn't be in.

 

Koufax is a great example of the "peak" argument. He had 6 (5 2/3, really, missing time one of those years) great years, but the other six were basically league average. With what seems like a greater emphasis on sustained excellence, I'm not sure that Koufax would get elected if he was on the ballot now. And while I like Santana, if I look closely at their dominant streaks, it seems like Koufax has more "black ink" as a league leader. Different voting mindset, perhaps, but in his best years Koufax was not only Cy Young, but also MVP one year and second twice. That's really dominant, compared to Santana being just dominant. ("Really" is a technical term, by the way. :) )

 

So while I WANT Santana to be in, I'm not sure I'd put him in my top 10 of guys on the ballot, and I don't think he'll get anywhere close to election this year. In total War, he's 18th on the ballot, and in his peak 7 years, he's just 6th. In "JAWS," which averages the two, he's only 15th. Even if you're a "No Bonds/Clemens/Sosa/Sheffield/Manny Voter," he's still on the edge of the top 10.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

I think Thome will get it, he was a feared slugger in both leagues for many years. Johan Santana is my favorite Twins pitcher but even I don't think he should get into the Hall of Fame. His peak was amazing but it was so brief. Even though he wasn't playing for the Twins any more it was kind of sad to see his career derailed by injuries.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

I think the Twins did a good job of building up Santana in 02 and 03 before making him a fulltime starter in 04. He had only pitched 130 innings combined in 00 and 01 so he threw back to back 160ip seasons before 04. 

 

What I always forget is that he didn't come in second that year to Colon. Rivera was second.

Bartolo Colon had 4.0 bWAR that year (2005). Rivera had 4.0 bWAR.

Johan had 7.2 bWAR. A terrible choice that year.

 

Bartolo Colon had 4.0 bWAR that year (2005). Rivera had 4.0 bWAR.

Johan had 7.2 bWAR. A terrible choice that year.

Not saying it was right, just forgot that Rivera was ahead of him. And WAR ain't a great stat (I mean, all stats show that Santana was better).

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ashburyjohn
Nov 25 2017 04:42 PM

In the straw poll at the SABR Rhode Island chapter meeting today, only Chipper Jones achieved the necessary 75% vote, among the fifty or so codgers who attended, and none of the Veterans Committee candidates made it. Thome came close at around 70% and I think Vladdie was above 50%; Tiant was the biggest vote-getter in the other poll, not surprisingly given the audience.


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