While we're sitting around waiting for the Prince Fielder sweepstakes to be decided, my thoughts have wandered back to the Hall of Fame.
For many years, I was on the Bert Blyleven bandwagon, and finally Blyleven made it in. It doesn't say a lot for the writers who left him off their ballot for as long as they did, but, hey, he made it in while he was still alive to enjoy it. This year's selection of Barry Larkin was appropriate, but it has me thinking about Alan Trammell, who was just as good but hasn't come close.
At least he's still on the ballot, though, which is more than you can say for Ted Simmons.
Today on "The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" we spoke with Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. Wieters, a switch-hitting backstop with power, qualities that remind many, myself included, of Simmons. Wieters is much bigger physically than Simmons was, and has the good fortune of playing in an era in which every game is televised, so every good defensive play or timely hit is played over and over again.
Simmons broke in with the Cardinals in 1968 as an 18-year-old. He came up to stay in 1970, and by the time he retired in 1988 had amassed 2,472 hits, 1,389 RBIs, a career batting average of .285 and eight All-Star appearances. On baseball-reference.com they list players who are most similar offensively for every player. Simmons' list includes Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk,Gary Carter and Yogi Berra - all catchers - as well as middle infielders Larkin, Joe Cronin and Ryne Sandberg.
Now, can anyone explain how Simmons only got 3.7 percent of the vote his first time on the ballot in 1994? In case you didn't know, the threshold for remaining on the writer's ballot is 5 percent, so Simmons' lot is now in the hands of the Veteran's Committee. Because his career straddled the Golden Era(1941-72) and the Expansion Era" (1973-later), I'm not sure which committee has the last word, though I suspect it will be the latter. Whatever, it's an oversight that needs correcting.
By the way, another name on Simmons' list of comparables is Trammell's double play partner, Lou Whitaker. Like Simmons, "Sweet Lou" didn't get enough votes his first year on the writer's ballot in 2001 - just 2.9 percent - to stay there. That's another error on the Baseball Writers' Association of America that will hopefully be rectified in the future.