Thursday, January 15, 2009

Unanimous election to the Hall of Fame

After an extraordinary and lengthy career, Rickey Henderson was just elected to the Hall of Fame, which should surprise no one--Bill James said you could split him in two and you'd have two Hall of Famers. Nonetheless, he did not secure a unanimous vote, which leaves me to wonder if anyone can. Joe Posnanski thinks Greg Maddux has a shot:
"His Hall of Fame call is five years away, but I’m already making the prediction: Greg Maddux will finish with the highest percentage in baseball history. And he has a shot at unanimous — I say he gets within five votes of unanimous."
It is difficult to imagine how a voter could exclude Maddux, on his merits, on the first ballot, but it's easy to imagine a voter ignoring the merits and opposing  based on other motives.
With that said, there are at least two active players who
might join Maddux in warranting a unanimous vote:

Alex Rodriguez--His fielding and hitting stats are superb across the board, but some voters will oppose his election if he fails to win a World Series. They may also vote against him for ambiguous character issues.

Albert Pujols--His hitting numbers are stellar, almost unparalleled, he has won a World Series, and his character appears solid, but it remains to be seen whether he can sustain such a prodigious output into his mid- to late-thirties.