Jim Rice, Rickey Henderson Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

With the recent induction of Jim Rice and Ricky Henderson into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s timely to look ahead at candidates for the next couple of classes.

A player must be retired for a minimum of five years to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. In order to be elected, a player must be mentioned on at least 75% of the ballots.

Next year, eligible players include Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Andy Ashby, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Shane Reynolds, Robin Ventura, and Todd Zeile.

The two who have the best chance of getting elected are Alomar and Larkin.

Roberto Alomar was a 12-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner and was arguably the best second baseman of his era. Over the course of a 17-year career, he batted .300 with 210 home runs,  474 stolen bases and 502 doubles.

Barry Larkin was a 12-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner and played his entire 19-year career for the Cincinnati Reds. The shortstop was also the 1995 NL MVP. If you compare Larkin’s stats to other Hall of fame shortstops, he holds up well. His batting average is higher than thirteen Hall of Famers and he hit more home runs than every Hall of Fame shortstop except Cal Ripken Jr, Robin Yount and Ernie Banks.

Two other interesting candidates are Edgar Martinez, who’s considered the greatest designated hitter ever (MLB has renamed the Designated Hitter Award the Edgar Martinez Award), and Fred McGriff, a five-time All-Star who hit 493 home runs, just shy of the 500 mark, which is normally a ticket to Cooperstown.

In 2011, eligible players are

Wilson Alvarez, Carlos Baerga, Jeff Bagwell, Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, Cal Eldred, John Franco, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, Raul Mondesi, Jose Offerman, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Paul Quantrill, Steve Reed, Kirk Rueter, Rey Sanchez, Benito Santiago, B.J. Surhoff, Ugueth Urbina, Ismael Valdez, Larry Walker, and Dan Wilson.

The only lock is Jeff Bagwell, who played his entire 15-career with the Houston Astros and batted .297 with 449 home runs, 1,517 runs scored and 1,529 RBI. He also stole 202 bases, including two seasons of 30 or more. He won numerous awards, including Rookie of the Year (1991) and MVP (1994). He was a three-time Silver Slugger and one-time Gold Glove winner.

Rafael Palmeiro would have likely also been a lock if he wasn’t involved in the steroids controversy. You might also hear a few arguments for John Olerud and Larry Walker, but I don’t see them getting in.

The real controversy will be in 2013, when Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens become eligible. Whether the three of them should be inducted will be the subject of heated debate likely even more intense than the issue of whether Pete Rose belongs in the Hall.

PFP Sports and Celebrity Talent Agency is a speakers bureau and top booking agent for sports stars, athlete appearances, endorsements and celebrities. For more information call 800.966.1380