Hall bound Blue Jays
There have been many great players to put on the double blue in the last 30 years but none of them have been inducted into Cooperstown wearing a Jayâ€™s hat. Part of the Cooperstown mystique is a multi-team player choosing the team he would like to be remembered by. There has been some controversy lately Gary Carter as an Expo, Dave Winfield as a Padre and Nolan Ryan as a Ranger.
Donâ€™t get me wrong there are Jays in the Hall of Fame Winfield, Paul Molitor and Phil Neikro to be exact.
There have been Blue Jays at the bottom of many ballots in the last few years, namely Tom Henke, Dave Steib, George Bell and Joe Carter have had a handful of votes between them but none were good enough to consider ever being inducted as a player; Steib maybe as a long shot.
Letâ€™s look at the greatest Blue Jays who spent enough time with the Jays to rationally consider going in as a bluebird. The one that comes to mind immediately is currently active Carlos Delgado. The two Wild Cards that should stir up discussion if not downright arguments are Fred McGriff and Roberto Alomar. Both Alomar and McGriff have solid Hall of Fame credentials. There are lesser players in the Hall now. Also, if elected, both players have a rational choice to make between other teams they played with.
Lets look at the Crime Dog first. His reciprocating â€œplayer most like himselfâ€ formula puts him in the company of Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell, both HOFers. His 493 career dingers should get him into the Hall. I realize there is a magic number of 500 and 7 more homers would have made him an automatic. His 493 tie him with the immortal Lou Gehrig for 21st all-time. If 493 is not enough; he will have the most homers without being inducted. He was also extremely consistent; he could be counted on for 30 HR and 100 RBI in any season with an average between .275 and .310. So, with those credentials McGriff, not a shoe-in, can probably expect to be giving an induction speech in Cooperstown sometime in the next 20 years.
Now, the question, will he go in as a Blue Jay? A simple answer – probably not. McGriff played 19 seasons in 6 different uniforms. His career highlight should be winning the 1995 World Series with the Braves. His best years were his two and a half-year stint with the Padres from 1991-1993 and the years 1999-2000 which he split between the Devil Rays and the Cubs. McGriff, being from Tampa may want to go in wearing his home team jersey. With all this in mind there is little that would make him decide to don a Blue Jays uniform on his special day in Cooperstown. The only thing I can think of is any sentimental memory of his early days in the bigs or wanting to be the first Blue Jay Hall of Famer.
He may not get a chance to join before Roberto Alomar is inducted. No matter what you think of this player and what he thinks of Toronto, Alomar should go down as one of the best all round second basemen in history and one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time. His 2724 career hits gave him a .300 career average. He had more power than most second basemen hitting 210 career home runs and knocked in 77 runs on average. He was a 12-time All-Star and 4-time Silver Slugger. He also won 10 Gold Gloves, more than any other second basemen including Bill Mazeroski, who Alomar is almost incomparably better than with the stick. Alomar benefited by playing on some amazing teams in Toronto, Cleveland and Baltimore but even in pressure packed situations he responded by making some clutch hits, key defensive plays and batting .313/.381/.448 in 58 playoff games â€“ marginally better than his regular season stats.
Alomar could make an argument to go into the Hall as either an Indian or an Oriole but it was in Toronto that Alomar was catapulted into superstardom. It is also here that Alomar won his only World Championships. While playing only 5 of his 17 seasons in Canada he was a Blue Jay longer than any other team he played for.
Alomarâ€™s name, regardless of his accomplishments, is infamous in Toronto and this may sway his decision in going in as a Jay. Alomar wanted out of Toronto after the teamsâ€™ fortunes took a downfall and his celebrity in the city attracted deranged stalkers. He became unpopular after sitting out the final games in 1995 to maintain his .300 average hoping to attract a hefty off-season deal. Alomar, then with the Orioles visiting SkyDome spat in the face of an umpire in the last week of the regular season. With Bud Seligâ€™s Vice Squad in a frenzy they failed to suspend Alomar during the playoffs. After that incident Alomar, caused no further problems and matured into a steady batter and a spectacular glove in the field. His production took a nosedive when he moved to the Mets and the National League in 2002. Alomar retired before the 2005 season when he was cut from the Chicago White Sox. Alomar has yet to be recognized by the Blue Jays in the Level of Excellence â€“ their answer to retiring numbers, which he certainly deserves. Perhaps Ted Rogers, JP Riccardi and Alomar are expecting the Toronto faithful to show up and jeer.
Both Alomar and McGriff are still a few years away from eligibility. There is one former Blue Jay who should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Carlos Delgado had several MVP-like seasons with the Jays and the way he continues to produce he should be able to become only the 5th man to collect 3000 hits and 500 HR. Those credentials make him, like I said a first balloter. He should go in as a Blue Jay. He played from 1993-2004 with the Jays. The only thing that I can see that would make him opt for another cap is to win a World Series title with the Mets. He is also about 10 years away from eligibility.
So, it is a race between Delgado, Alomar and McGriff to get into the Hall. Does McGriff have the numbers to get in? Will Alomarâ€™s reputation keep him out of the HOF for years to come and permanently out of a Blue Jays uniform? Will there still be no Jays in the Hall of Fame when Carlos Delgado gets his day in the Sun? Maybe one of these men will enter Cooperstown as a Blue Jay, but maybe the current crop of Blue Jays will produce the franchiseâ€™s first Hall of Famer.