The 2014 Hall of Fame ballot was released Tuesday, which means the only argument more annoying than postseason award arguments has officially begun.
But because I care way too much about things like this, I’m here to break down which former White Sox are included on this season’s ballot.
A player has not been inducted into the HOF as a member of the White Sox since Nellie Fox was voted in by the veterans committee in 1997. To find a member voted in by the BBWAA, however, you’d have to go all the way back to 1984 and Luis Aparicio.
With this year’s inclusion of Frank Thomas on the ballot for the first time, it would seem the White Sox have as good of a shot as ever of snapping their HOF-less streak.
Thomas, however, isn’t the only former White Sox player on this year’s ballot. And given how pointless an article listing the Big Hurt’s many accolades would seem to be, let’s rundown the former White Sox players the voters can consider, starting with the least likely to gain admittance and moving on up.
Let’s start with the obvious. No, Ray Durham won’t be elected to Cooperstown in this or any year. But every year I find myself glancing down at the bottom of the ballot to read some of the names that will appear on the ballot only once. And every year, some schmuck tosses a vote the way of a guy like Durham, giving me the opportunity to nostalgically peruse his Baseball Reference page.
Durham’s career began in 1995, which coincidentally enough is the first year I actually remember watching baseball games (I was 8). Durham finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting that year and was the kind of player young kids like myself immediately clung to. My memory has him being a lot better player than he actually was, but he had a fun eight-year career in Chicago that included two All-Star appearances. He’s not anywhere near a Hall of Famer, but thanks to this year’s ballot for allowing me to reminisce about one of my favorite players as a kid.
I’m know he counts as a former White Sox, but I’m not going there.
If (when?) Tim Raines is elected to Cooperstown, he won’t have a White Sox hat on his plaque. Raines spent the first 12 years of his career in Montreal and could very well be the last player ever to go into the Hall of Fame with the Expos.
Raines’ five years with the White Sox were hardly unproductive despite being well below his prime years in Montreal. His B-R page is one of my favorite to look at, and the BB/K ratio never fails to amaze. He had more strikeouts than walks just once during his career as a regular, and led the league in stolen bases four times.
Purists scoff at Raines’ HOF candidacy, citing things like that he was never one of the best players in the league at any point during his career. The flaw in that argument is that if we knew then what we know now about the value of a player, Raines’ career would’ve likely been seen in a drastically different light. When factoring in walks, Raines isn’t an incredibly different player offensively than Tony Gwynn. If you’re measuring them side-to-side, Gwynn gets the edge, but the difference isn’t so much as to not include Raines in Cooperstown when Gwynn was a Hall of Famer. I really hope he gets in.
Listen, Thomas is a Hall of Famer. You don’t need some jackass to tell you that. But the point of this isn’t to argue whether the Big Hurt put up numbers worthy of consideration, it’s to wonder if the lunacy that is Hall of Fame voting will prevent him from enshrinement in 2014.
Hall of Fame voting has become so damn insane since the “steroid era” guys began showing up on the ballot that it’s impossible to predict what will happen. There has never been so much as a hint that Jeff Bagwell did steroids, but that didn’t stop voters for deeming him unworthy for at least a year despite more than deserving statistics.
Thomas, like Bagwell, has never been suspected of taking PEDs. Thomas has also been a very large man for his entire adult life and aged like you would expect a large slugger to age. But the fact that he played in the era he did, and the fact that there is a contingent of voters who seem hellbent on playing the morality police and “punishing” guys who played during that era for at least a few years, makes me wonder if he’ll hit the 75 percent mark in year one.
I, like many other White Sox fans, plan on traveling to Cooperstown for his enshrinement, but I sure as hell am not booking my tickets until all the votes are tallied.