2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Class

On Wednesday the Baseball Hall of Fame inducted four new members. Congratulations to Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, and Jim Thome! For those unfamiliar with the process, the way it works is as follows (per baseball-reference.com):

Each voting cycle, qualified members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) name no more than 10 eligible players whom they consider worthy of Hall of Fame honors. To be enshrined, a player must be named on at least 75% of the voters’ ballots. Currently, players are removed from the ballot if they are named on fewer than 5% of ballots or have been on the ballot 15 times without election (previously it was 10 times).

The Hitters

We’ll start with the stats these guys compiled over their illustrious careers:

Years Played Games At Bats Runs Hits Homers RBI Steals Walks Batting Ave. On Base %
Chipper Jones 19 2499 8984 1619 2726 468 1623 150 1512 0.303 0.401
Vladimir Guerrero 16 2147 8155 1328 2590 449 1496 181 737 0.318 0.379
Jim Thome 22 2543 8422 1583 2328 612 1699 19 1747 0.276 0.402
Larry “Chipper” Jones

Chipper played third base for the Atlanta Braves his whole career and was the consummate pro. He quietly went about putting together perhaps the best career ever for a switch hitter. In fact no other switch hitter ever had a career average over .300 AND 400+ home runs and he trails only Eddie Murray for career RBIs among that group. He won a World Series in 1995 and the organization retired his #10, but garnering more than 97% of the vote his first time on the ballot tells us everything we need to know about the quality of Chipper’s career and about his place in the history of the game.

Vladimir Guerrero

Vlad played the most important part of his career with the Expos and then the Angels before winding down his career with short stints in Texas and Baltimore. He’ll be remembered for not wearing batting gloves and for his free swinging style as demonstrated by the comparatively low number of walks he drew in his career. He was notorious for what we would today call “poor plate discipline” constantly swinging at pitches outside the zone, but with his natural talent it didn’t really matter. Guerrero is the only 2nd ballot HOFer in this class, most likely held back by his years as a DH, but that .318 career batting average is good for 55th in baseball history (and most of the players ahead of him on the list played before WWII).

Jim Thome

Unlike Chipper and Vlad, Thome never won an MVP award, but he goes in as a first ballot HOFer for putting up some impressive career power numbers for six different teams. Although he played in baseball’s “steroid era” he was never suspected of using and is one of just nine players in the lengthy history of the game to hit 600 career home runs. Jim was quiet but, by all accounts, a terrific teammate. His distinguished left handed swing will fit nicely in the Hall.

The Reliever

Trevor Hoffman

Trevor gets in on his 3rd try as the National League’s all-time leader in saves with 601 and only fellow HOFer, the Yankee’s Mariano Rivera, has more. Hoffman played for a few organizations around MLB, but spent the bulk of career with the San Diego Padres who retired his number 51. His last year with the Padres was my first year living in San Diego so I didn’t get to see him in person many times, but I will never forget him entering from the bullpen to ACDC’s Hells Bells. Just thinking about it gives me chills to this day! Trevor Hoffman saved 53 games for the 1998 team that won the NL pennant and is one of just 14 members of the Padres Hall of Fame. Believe me when I tell you that the man is royalty in America’s Finest City and we are all thrilled to see him inducted as part of the class of 2018.

Congratulations once again, Trevor!!