The Baseball Hall of Fame vote was announced on Wednesday afternoon, and to the surprise of few, the Baseball Writers Association of America voted to enshrine no one to Cooperstown this summer.
It was the first time since 1996 that no one was voted into The Hall, thanks largely to the fact that the voters weren't sure what to do about the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and other baseball players suspected (or admitted) of using performance enhancing drugs. I guess this answers that question.
The biggest crime -- at least, in this blogger's eyes -- is not so much that Bonds (who is possibly the greatest hitter of all time) wasn't inducted, but that every single former Phillie on the ballot was denied entrance to Cooperstown. Nonsense! To be fair, it's not like there were too many slam dunk cases on the ballot, but let's take a look at former Phightins who had a chance...
Curt Schilling (First year on the ballot, 38.8 percent of vote): Say what you want about his politics, his personality, or his failed video game company, but there is no denying that Schilling was one of the greatest Phillies pitchers of all time(101-78, 3.35 ERA over nine seasons), as well as one of the best starters of the last two decades. He owns a 216-146 record, a 3.46 ERA, and 3,116 strikeouts in 3,261 innings pitched. Add to that three World Series rings, three second place Cy Young finishes, and a stellar postseason pitching record (11-2, 2.23 ERA in 19 career postseason games), and you have a very compelling case for induction into Cooperstown. Not to mention, Schilling's peak between 1996-2004 was absolutely bananas (3.23 ERA, 2,127 SO, 5.36 SO/BB in 2,007 IP) considering that it coincided with the inflated offense of the steroid era.
Dale Murphy (15th year, 18.6 percent): In his final year on the ballot, multi-position Murphy came up well short of induction, and for good reason. He owns a career OPS of .815, and failed to reach any of the milestones that HOF voters typically reward. His peak was impressive (.289/.382/.531, 218 homers, 145 OPS+ from 1982-1987) and it included back-to-back MVPs in '82 and '83, but he just wasn't good enough for long enough. He was traded to the Phillies during the 1990 season, and from then until 1992, had a .709 OPS with 27 homers in 228 games. He won't be on the Wall of Fame in Citizens Bank Park anytime soon.
Kenny Lofton (First year, 3.2 percent): Lofton, a speedy centerfielder who played for 11 different teams over his 17 year career, was sneakily one of the best players in an era dominated by power and should warrant induction (one day) into Cooperstown. He was the spark plug for the great Cleveland Indian teams of the '90s, then spent the rest of his career plying his trade for whatever team was in need of his excellent skill set. He was a .299/.372/.423 hitter over his career, and sits 15th all time with 622 stolen bases. In 2005 with the Phillies, he had a .335 batting average to go along with a .392 OBP and 22 stolen bases.
Julio Franco (First year, 1.1 percent): Near the end of his career, Franco was known more for being really old (he was 49 when he played his last game) than anything else, but that didn't stop him from having a .358 OBP in his 40s. There are some players in their 30s who can't even do that. He had a solid, yet unremarkable career (.298/.365/.417, 173 homers) that saw him win a batting title in 1991 when he led the AL with a .341 average. Originally signed by the Phillies as a free agent in 1978, Franco played all of 16 games for the club in 1982 (.633 OPS, one double, no homers, three RBIs) before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in the infamous “Five-For-One” Von Hayes trade. Although Franco has been out of the game for 2007, he would no doubt start more games than Domonic Brown in 2013 if Ruben Amaro Jr. had his way.
Jeff Conine (First year, no votes): “Mr. Marlin” helped the Fish to a World Series title in 1997, then again in 2003, but did little to garner any serious consideration for the Hall of Fame. He joined the Phillies during the 2006 season, where he hit .280 with one homer and 17 RBIs in 28 games as the team came up short in their push for the playoffs.
Roberto Hernandez (First year, no votes): To be honest, I forgot that Hernandez even played for the Phillies until I was reminded by my editor on Wednesday night. Reason being because his unmemorable 2004 campaign consisted of a 4.76 ERA in 56 innings. Fun fact about that 2004 season: Eric Milton led the team with 201 innings pitched. They've come a long way, eh?
Jose Mesa (1st year, no votes): The relief pitcher nicknamed “Joe Table” had a remarkable 1995 season with the Cleveland Indians, where he had a 1.13 ERA to go along with 46 saves. Aside from that, he was mostly rubbish, with a 4.36 ERA and 321 saves over 19 seasons. He first tour with the Phillies from 2001-2003, where he had a 3.77 ERA and 111 saves in 206 games. He returned to the club in 2007, because either Pat Gillick was insane or he really needed bullpen help. I can't be sure, but he had one save and a 5.54 ERA in 40 games that year. Either way, Joseph Table's 112 saves as a Phillie marks the franchise record.