MLB is preparing to honors its latest Hall of Fame class this summer. Thinking about the sheer number of players who suit up for major league teams shows how difficult it truly is to make the Hall of Fame.
Looking at the great players who didn’t make it makes that even more clear. Here are five overlooked players who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
If the Mitchell Report had never implicated Roger Clemens, baseball would have inducted him into the Hall of Fame long ago on his first available ballot. Unfortunately, the widespread belief that he used performance-enhancing drugs is what’s keeping him out of the Hall.
That said, absolutely no one can question the results Clemens got when he played. He won 7 Cy Young Awards while pitching for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros.
He struck out 4,672 batters over a 24-year career. What made Clemens so impressive was his ability to reinvent himself – he was thought to be done as a player when he departed Boston after the 1996 season.
Clemens quickly rebounded with Toronto before winning two championships in New York. Of course, many believe his late-career renaissance was due to PED use.
Like Clemens, Barry Bonds is a no-doubt Hall of Famer if the question of PED usage isn’t in play. Bonds is quite simply one of the great hitters of all time. If one assumes Bonds began his PED use in 2000, one could argue that even without the surge in his late 30s, he was a Hall of Famer.
Barry Bonds was a prototypical five-tool player. He had power, speed, a great arm, and fantastic defensive instincts in left field. Though Bonds not being in the Hall may be self-inflicted, something about both him and Clemens remaining out of the Hall – despite their transgressions – doesn’t feel quite right.
Curt Schilling will forever be known for bloodying a sock in the best way possible.
Schilling’s regular-season numbers were amazing, but it was his postseason performances that make him a legend. Along with Randy Johnson, he led the Arizona Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series championship over the New York Yankees.
He then helped the Boston Red Sox overcome a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS before helping them win a World Series as well. Schilling wasn’t just along for the ride. It’s safe to say that neither team wins a championship without him.
Schilling has been left out of the Hall most likely due to his controversial political opinions. That’s the only logical argument, as his on-the-field case is too strong to deny.
His stats may not pop out at first glance, but sometimes one must look beyond the stats to truly measure a player’s impact on a team. Thurman Munson was the Yankees captain in the 1970s, an honor given to only a handful of players in the franchise’s storied history.
He won the 1970 Rookie of the Year Award and the 1976 MVP but is best known for being a crucial cog in their 1977 and 1978 championship teams as the catcher. He was the team’s leader on the field and in the clubhouse.
Sadly, Munson’s career and life were cut short by a plane crash in 1979, rocking the Yankees team and fans. Munson would have likely played another 4-5 years and added to his stats without the tragic accident. His place in Yankees lore should earn him a spot.
The Boston Red Sox have become synonymous with winning, but there was an 86 year stretch before 2004 when they were better known for always coming up short.
One of the greatest players of the era right before they became perennial contenders was Nomar Garciaparra. The 1997 Rookie of the Year was one of the best shortstops in the league from 1997-2003, hitting .313 with an on-base percentage of .361. He won back to back batting titles in 1999 and 2000.
Garciaparra was traded during Boston’s 2004 title season and has become something of a forgotten great from that era. He had several solid seasons after that but his career fizzled towards the end due to injuries. The greatness Garciaparra displayed during his prime years should earn him inclusion.