It’s that time of year again. The 2021 Hall of Fame ballot has been announced.
With no obvious inductees this year, pretty much all of the discussion will be about Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens – for reasons that I don’t intend to go into here.
As seems to be a typical thing for me, I’d like to have a round of applause for the “new guys” on the ballot. You need to have been in the “bigs” for at least ten years; to last that long is a significant accomplishment. And even if they don’t make it to a second year on the ballot, they’ve all got something in their careers to be proud of.
Mark Buehrle was a workhorse on the mound. For fourteen consecutive years, he hurled at least 200 innings – a mark reached only by Greg Maddux, Phil Niekro, and Christy Mathewson. He earned five All Star nods, and a World Series ring with the White Sox in 2005. He’s got two no-hitters to his credit – one of which was a perfect game. Here he is enjoying some media attention afterwards:
A.J. Burnett had his best year in 2008, when he went 18-10 for the Toronto Blue Jays and led the A.L. in strikeouts with 231. With the Marlins in 2001, he threw a no-hitter against the Padres. He won a World Series ring with the Yankees in 2009; he got the win over the Phillies in Game 2 of the series, going seven innings while striking out nine and giving up only one run. On two occasions, he recorded four strikeouts in one inning.
Michael Cuddyer spent most of his 15 year career with the Twins, where he is a member of that team’s Hall of Fame. He made the All Star team in 2011, his last year with them. Moving to the Colorado Rockies, he won the NL batting title and another All Star nod in 2013. He managed to hit two home runs in one inning on 8/23/2009, and when called to pitch in a blowout game on 7/25/2011, gave up two hits and a walk – but no runs in 2/3 of an inning.
Dan Haren pitched for eight teams in his thirteen year career, and is one of the handful of pitchers to have beaten all 30 teams. With the Athletics in 2007, he was picked to start that year’s All Star Game (he’d make two more All Star teams). His career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4.03 is the seventh best all time.
LaTroy Hawkins worked as a relief pitcher for eleven teams. His total games pitched of 1,042 is currently tenth best all time. He was with the Rockies when they won the NL pennant in 2007, and appeared in two games in the World Series that year. In 2011 with the Brewers, a 2.42 ERA in 52 appearances helped them win their first division title in decades.
Tim Hudson, like Dan Haren, has defeated every one of the 30 MLB teams. In his second year, he won 20 games for the Athletics and came in second in the Cy Young voting to Pedro Martinez. That year saw him earn his first of four All Star nods. He was with the Giants in 2014 when they won the World Series, and finished his career the next year with 200+ wins and 2000+ strikeouts.
While earning win #200, he also connected for a double and a home run:
Torii Hunter gained fame patrolling centerfield for the Minnesota Twins. He made five All Star teams, and won nine Gold Glove awards (putting him seventh on the list for Most Gold Gloves by an Outfielder).
Aramis Ramirez played third base for the Pirates, Cubs, and Brewers. Over his 18-year career, he earned three All Star selections, and slugged 386 home runs. In 2004, he twice hit three home runs in a game, making him the 14th player to accomplish that feat. He earned a “Silver Slugger” award in 2011 for the best offensive performance by a third baseman in the NL.
Here he is belting two home runs in Game 3 of the 2003 NLCS:
Nick Swisher was a switch-hitting power hitter for five teams. He was a member of the World Champion New York Yankees in 2009, and was picked for the All Star team the next year. He hit twenty or more home runs in nine consecutive seasons.
He also pitched an inning for the Yankees in 2009:
Born in Wailuku HI, Shane Victorino is known as “The Flyin’ Hawaiian”. He twice led all of baseball in triples (13 in 2009, and 16 in 2011). He earned World Series rings with the Phillies in 2008 and Red Sox in 2013, made two All Star teams, and won four Gold Gloves. He is one of two players (the other is Jim Thome) with two post-season grand slams – the second of which came at a very important time:
Barry Zito won the AL Cy Young Award in 2002, when he led the league in wins with 23 (against five losses) and had a 2.75 ERA. He made three All Star teams, and won a ring with the Giants in 2012, getting the win in Game 5 of the NLCS and in the first game of the World Series against the Tigers.
He’s also an accomplished musician: