Suppose you had two first baseman up for Hall of Fame consideration. We'll save the names for later. Our first candidate played until he was 40 years old, slugged 493 home runs, drove in 1,550 runs and had a career batting average of .284.
Our second candidate played until he was 37 and was forced to retire because of a chronic hip condition. He belted 473 home runs drove in 1,512 runs and batted .280 for his career. The numbers are pretty close so far.
Our first candidate played for six different teams. Six times he finished in the top ten in MVP voting. He was a five-time All-Star and won three Silver Slugger awards for his hitting ability.
Candidate number two was a two-time All-Star who also won three Silver Sluggers and in 2000 won the Hank Aaron Award in the American League and was named Major League Player of the Year. In 2006, he was presented with the Roberto Clemente Award for his Humanitarian work.
So far both of these gentlemen appear to be legit candidates for the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. How about their post-season efforts? Well, our first candidate appeared in 10 series over a five-year span. He hit .303 with 10 homers and 37 runs batted in and won his lone World Series in 1995 with Atlanta.
Candidate number two didn't have the same amount of good forture in the post-season. He only played in two playoff series, both in 2006. He hit .429 with one homer and two runs batted in during an NLDS victory over the Dodgers. Then in the NLCS against St. Louis which his team lost, he batted .304 with three homers and nine runs batted in. He never played in a World Series.
Our first candidate played in two World Series, winning one and losing one, while hitting .279 with four homers and nine RBI's. Strictly by the numbers and by virtue of more post-season success, candidate number one would appear to have the edge.
Now for the unveiling. Number one is former Blue Jay Fred McGriff who was part of the trade along with Tony Fernandez that brought Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar to the Toronto from San Diego. He was also the MVP of the All-Star game in 1994. Fred has been Hall of Fame eligible now for a few years and has peaked at 23.9 per cent of the vote.
Candidate number two is Carlos Delgado, who had his name raised to the Level of Excellence on Sunday in front of over 41,000 fans at Rogers Centre.
Though his career numbers don't quite equal McGriff's, Carlos possessed great intangibles such as leadership. In all of the Blue Jays' 37 seasons, Carlos was the one who defined the word Captain.
It's never easy comparing players from different eras because of rule changes, equipment variations, steroids (in some cases), and things like specialization of relief pitching roles and pitch counts.
This is not to denigrate either of these two men, but Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez are both in the Hall of Fame, with numbers that are comparable or in some categories lesser than Delgado's and McGriff's.
Cepeda, the "Baby Bull", made his name with the Giants and Cardinals and hit .297 with 379 homers and 1,365 runs batted in. Tony Perez, an RBI machine for Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" batted .279 with 379 homers and 1,652 runs batted in.
One first baseman who I have always felt should be in Cooperstown is former Brooklyn Ddogers great Gil Hodges. He hit .273 for his career with 370 home runs and 1,274 runs batted in. He was a three-time Gold Glover and was regarded as a core player for those great Dodgers teams of the 50's.
Hodges also managed the New York Mets to their first World Series title before passing away suddenly and shockingly of a heart attack at age 47. Hodges won't be eligible again until the Golden Era Committee reconvenes again late in 2014.
There are 18 first basemen in the Hall of Fame. At the very least, McGriff and Delgado deserve strong consideration to be numbers 19 and 20.
Part of History
Canadian-born lefty Erik Bedard of the Astros joined some elite and exclusive company Saturday night at Houston. He became one of only nine pitchers since 1901 to throw six or more no-hit innings, leave a game and lose. Bedard took himself out after six and a third innings against the Mariners after reaching his pitch count of 109. Bedard's defence of his decision was that he has already had three shoulder surgeries and didn't want to risk further injury by pushing his pitch count. His manager Bo Porter backed Bedard's decision all the way. Ironically, it was another Canadian, M's outfielder Michael Saunders, who had the only Seattle hit of the game, a game-winning two-run double not too long after Bedard departed.
The way the Astros rotation lines up, Bedard should be on the mound when Houston hits Rogers Centre Thursday night to kick off a four-game series against the Blue Jays.
Before that though, the L.A. Dodgers hit town to open the final home Interleague series for the Jays on Monday night. That means Jays fans should get their first up-close look at Yasiel Puig. After a torrid, if not historic start to his Big League career, Puig has cooled off of late. He's in a 4-for-25 slump and was given Sunday off by skipper Don Mattingly to clear his head. With Matt Kemp nursing a sprained ankle, Puig figures to be back in the line-up for Game 1.