Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
The winter meetings are done. Christmas is near, and it's time for Hall Watch to get rolling in earnest again. We will begin with the starters. Before we tackle the big questions such as "is Roger Clemens better than Walter Johnson?", we need some tools. The first step is getting a statistical handle on starting pitchers over the last 100 years.
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It's time to have another look at Edmonds. Here is what I thought last year.

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Baseball is done for 2005. Before we shed too many tears or get too embroiled in the off-season machinations, let's get sidetracked. Yes, it's time for Hall Watch 2005.

I was planning to start with the pitchers, but the retirement of Larry Walker has forced a change of plans. How can a website which promises "baseball from a Canadian perspective" not address the question of Walker's Hall fitness and chances? Easily, I suppose, but I cannot resist.

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I know, I know, I'm probably about to jinx him into an 0-for-100 slide, but as I write this, Rafael Palmeiro is sitting on 2,999 career hits.
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Fantasy baseball, like our BBFL, has its moments. One of mine was in 1991. My arch-rival Howard lost an outfielder, who was not producing, to the DL at just the right time, and snapped up Phil Plantier. "Howard got the Second Coming of JC", I complained to my secretary the next morning. A couple of weeks later, I lost a similar non-producing outfielder to the DL. The next morning, I arrived with a wide grin on my face. "Wazzup?" asked my secretary. "Howard might have got the Second Coming of JC, but I got Bernie Williams", came the reply. "Who's he?". "The Third Coming".

Phil Plantier's Hall of Fame train was derailed in about 1995, but Bernie, well, he was just getting rolling.

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For those of us who followed Jim Edmonds' early career, seeing his name here as a possible Hall of Famer is a bit of a shock. But it's no joke. He's arrived in his mid-30s as a powerful centerfielder, with a great glove and a discerning eye. 2004 was his best year yet as he put up a very pretty .301/.418/.643 line in 612 plate appearances. He was a key cog in the Cardinals National League champions.

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Say it aint so, Barry. Tell me that ballplayers are athletes and not entertainers. Tell me that while almost everybody lies sometimes, that doesn't make it right. Ah, forget it.

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Sammy Sosa hit another 35 homers in 2004, but left Chicago on a sour note. He now has 574 career homers, and his Baseball Reference comparables read like a "who's who?" of inner-circle Hall of Famers- Mantle, Mays, Mathews, Frank Robinson.

Somehow, I doubt that history will see him this way, but is it possible that he could not be admitted to the Hall of Fame?

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2004 was a year Manny Ramirez will never forget. It started with a blow to the ego, as it was publicly disclosed that the Sox had placed him on waivers, and any team could pick him up. "Manny for nothing" was the headline in da Box. When it was all over, Manny was still in Boston and had posted his 10th straight Hall of Fame quality season (.308/.397/.613), made his 7th post-season appearance (at the age of 32), and been fitted for his first World Series ring. Zero to hero in nine months.

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Robin Ventura is a 6 time Gold-Glove winning third baseman and a fine hitter. That normally isn't enough for the Hall, and it probably won't do for Ventura, but I thought that it would be fun to recap his career and remember some other fine third basemen who are just outside the Hall. Ventura hit .243/.337/.362 in 152 ABs for the Dodgers in 2004 at age 36. His career does seem to be winding down.

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Chipper Jones had his worst season in 2004 since his rookie campaign. His 2004 age 32 line was .248/.362/.485. A touchy hammy probably contributed mightily to his sub-par results. It did however continue a 4 year pattern of decline for Chipper, which he must reverse, if he intends to get the plaque in Cooperstown that seemed to be already inscribed for him in 2000.

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If anyone made a big step toward Cooperstown in 2004, it was Scott Rolen. Always a great third baseman, he took a step forward with the bat, hitting .314/.409/.598. He was a clear MVP candidate for the first time in his career.
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He may not be a Hall of Famer, but Julio Franco's story will be told long after he hangs up his spikes. Even if that doesn't happen for another 10 years.
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Barry Larkin is perhaps the most anonymous great player of our time. That's not a selling point when the time comes for him to be considered for a ticket to Cooperstown. In 2004, he performed exactly how a great 40 year old shortstop should, providing below average but not horrible defence and hitting .289/.352/.419. Not that this performance affects his Hall chances one iota.
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Derek Jeter will go in to the Hall of Fame. As an icon of the age, fame defines him. His merits as a ballplayer are not quite so clear-cut.
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