JAWS and the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot: One-and-done players, Part 2
The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2016 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to this year's ballot, please see here. For an introduction to JAWS, see here.
Continuing what I started earlier on Tuesday, here are five more candidates from the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot who won’t receive the minimum 5% percent required to remain on the ballot. None of them has anything close to a true case for Cooperstown, but all were accomplished players who generated their shares of highlights during their careers, and thus deserve their valedictory.
|Avg. HOF 3B||67.4||42.7||55.0|
|Avg. HOF LF||65.1||41.5||53.3|
|Avg. HOF CF||70.4||44.0||57.2||W||L||ERA||ERA+|
|Avg. HOF SP||73.9||50.3||62.1|
The best of the one-and done bunch according to WAR, Glaus was gifted with enough raw power to put up stratospheric home run totals, but injuries, including a variety of leg problems and recurrent right shoulder woes, cut his time in the majors short. Additionally, his admitted use of PEDs cast his career in a different light, helping to explain why the talented slugger changed addresses so many times.
A college shortstop at UCLA, Glaus was the overall No. 3 pick of the 1997 draft behind flame-throwing washout Matt Anderson (Tigers) and indie league bound J.D. Drew (Phillies), and made his major league debut less than 14 months later. Though he struggled in 48 games, managing just one homer, he rewarded the Angels’ patience by bopping 29 homers as a 22-year-old in 1999. He upped that to an AL-best 47 the following year, hitting .284/.404/.604 en route to a 7.8-WAR season (third in the league), not to mention his first All-Star appearance. Though he couldn't quite maintain that high standard, he reached 41 homers and 5.2 WAR in 2001, then 30 homers and 4.3 WAR in 2002, the year the Angels won the World Series. Glaus bashed seven home runs in the postseason, including three apiece in the Division Series and the World Series. Five of the shots came in Angels losses, but his eighth-inning homer off the Yankees’ Orlando Hernandez in Game 2 of the Division Series proved decisive, as did his two-run eighth-inning double off the Giants’ Robb Nen in Game 6 of the World Series. His .385/.467/.846 line in the seven-game classic garnered him series MVP honors.
Alas, a shoulder strain and eventual surgery to repair tears in his labrum and rotator cuff limited Glaus to just 159 games over the 2003-2004 seasons. He still swatted a total of 34 homers in those partial campaigns, enough to convince the Diamondbacks to risk a four-year, $45 million deal on him as a free agent. The deal started well enough, with Glaus hitting .258/.363/.522 with 37 homers in 2005 despite playing through a strained tendon behind his left knee that required three cortisone shots to manage, but he nonetheless fell out favor, with the D-backs letting it be known that they viewed him as having a lazy work ethic. Twelve and a half months after signing him, they dealt him to the Blue Jays in a four-player deal that brought back Orlando Hudson and Miguel Batista. In Toronto, Glaus picked up where he left off, with a 38-homer, 4.3 WAR season, but plantar fasciitis and a compressed nerve in his left foot, which required surgery to alleviate, limited him to 115 games in 2007.
Just before he was shut down for the season, Sports Illustrated reported that back in 2003 and ’04, Glaus had received multiple shipments of testosterone and nandrolone from the same Florida pharmacy that supplied Rick Ankiel. MLB didn’t hand down a suspension at the time due to insufficient evidence, but Glaus later admitted to using the PEDs, telling investigators, “I just wanted to get better, and play,” adding that he was “willing to take the risk.”
He was included in the Mitchell Report that December, and roughly a month later was on the go again, sent to the Cardinals for Scott Rolen in a straight-up challenge trade.
St. Louis got the better end of the deal at first, in that Glaus turned in a very typical .270/.372/.483 showing with 27 homers and 4.4 WAR, but the automatic exercise of his 2009 player option as part of the trade backfired, because further shoulder troubles required offseason debridement surgery, limiting him to a 14-game September cameo. Via free agency, he landed in Atlanta on a one-year, incentive-laden deal and shifted to first base, but a hot start was offset by knee troubles, and after a replacement-level performance, he limped away. Though he mulled a comeback in the winter of 2012-2013, going so far as to reach out to the Yankees, nothing came of it.
A four-time All-Star and a Gold Glove winner, Lowell gives the 2016 ballot's one-and-done bunch a third World Series MVP alongside Glaus (2002) and David Eckstein (2006). In addition to starring for the Red Sox in their 2007 win over the Rockies, he was part of the 2003 Marlins’ upset of the Yankees. Ironically, it was another World Series MVP, 1998 winner Scott Brosius, whose resurgence prevented Lowell from establishing a foothold with the Bronx Bombers, who drafted the Puerto Rico-born third baseman out of Florida International University in the 20th round in 1995.
On the heels of a stellar showing at Triple-A Columbus (.304/.355/.535 with 26 homers), Lowell played in eight games for the Yankees at the tail end of that stellar 1998 season, but the team chose to re-sign Brosius via a three-year deal, making his potential replacement expendable. On Feb. 1, 1999, Lowell was dealt to the Marlins for a trio of pitching prospects who never amounted to a hill of beans, totaling 44 big league innings between them. Less than three weeks after the trade, however, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer requiring surgery and radiation treatment. With a clean bill of health, he began the year in Triple-A, and took over the Marlins’ hot corner duties in late May, beginning his seven-season run in Miami.
Lowell hit .270/.344/.474 with 22 homers, 91 RBI and 2.2 WAR in 2000, the first full season of a five-year run during which he averaged 25 dingers, a 117 OPS+ and 3.0 WAR. His best season at the plate came in 2003, when he batted .276/.350/.530 for a 128 OPS+ and led the Marlins with 32 homers and 105 RBI despite missing four weeks in September due to a fractured metacarpal in his left hand. He played sparingly early in the postseason, but his game-winning pinch-homer off the Cubs’ Mark Guthrie in the NLCS opener led to his return to the lineup. Four of his five World Series hit came in the final three games as the Marlins upset the Yankees in six.
While the champagne was still drying, Lowell agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with the Marlins, one with a unique player option that allowed him to escape its 2005-2007 portion if the team’s attempt to secure financing for a new stadium wasn't in place. It wasn’t, but Lowell exercised his option nonetheless. After a 4.3 WAR season in 2004, he slipped below replacement level in ’05, though he did win his lone Gold Glove. In November of that year, he was sent to the Red Sox along with Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota in exchange for Hanley Rmairez, Anibal Sanchez and two lesser prospects. He rebounded with a 20-homer, 3.2-WAR season in 2006, then posted a career year in '07 (.324/.378/.501 with 21 homers, 120 RBI and 5.0 WAR) and got even hotter in the postseason (.353/.410/.608 with two homers and 15 RBI). The Sox swept the Rockies in the World Series; Lowell became the first Puerto Rican player to win MVP since Roberto Clemente in 1971 thanks to a 6-for-15 showing with four extra-base hits and the go-ahead RBI in Game 2.
That was Lowell’s peak. He managed two more solid years with the bat, but missed about one-quarter of each season due to injuries, and fell off considerably on the defensive side. Boston’s December 2009 attempt to trade him to Texas fell through due to a torn ligament in his right thumb that required surgery. After struggling in 2010, he hung up his spikes.
Anderson is Mister Angel, as he not only spent 15 of his 17 major league seasons (1994-2010) with the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles of Anaheim franchise but stands as their all-time leader in terms of games (2013), plate appearances (8,408), hits (2,368), doubles (489), runs (1,024) and RBI (1,292). It’s the road to that last mark for which he is most renowned, as his four seasons driving in at least 115 runs (2000-2003) made him a lightning rod when it came to old school/new school debates over value between traditionalists and statheads, for his aversion to taking a walk—only three times did he top 30 bases on balls—stood in stark contrast to the Halos’ top rivals of the day, the Moneyball-vintage A's.
A fourth-round 1990 draft pick out Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, California, Anderson got his first taste of big league action just before the 1994 players’ strike and by the following July took over as the team’s full-time leftfielder. He hit a sizzling .321/352/.505 with 16 homers and a 121 OPS+ for the Angels, who frittered away an 11-game AL West lead and wound up losing a Game 145 play-in (that season was shortened by the strike as well) to the Ken Griffey Jr.-led Mariners. That performance was good enough to place the 23-year-old Anderson very close second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind long-forgotten Twins outfielder Marty Cordova. It didn’t exactly herald instant success for Anderson, however, as he spent the next three seasons as a significant drag on the Angels’ offense, with a combined 91 OPS+ despite a superficially respectable .294 batting average. In the high-offense era, his 1997 line (.303/.334/.409 with 92 RBI but just eight homers) translated to a mere 92 OPS+, though above-average defense (+16 runs) pushed his value to 3.3 WAR.
Over the next few seasons, Anderson spent significant time in centerfield and rightfield and gradually gained power, reaching the 20-homer plateau for the first time in 1999 and then bopping 35 and driving in 117 runs in 2000, though his .286/.307/.519 line again meant just a 103 OPS+, with 1.9 WAR to boot. He set career bests in the last two categories in 2002 (127 OPS+, on a .306/332/.539 line, and 5.1 WAR) in 2002 while driving in 123 runs, leading the AL with 56 doubles, earning All-Star honors for the first time and, most importantly, helping the Angels to both a wild card berth and the only championship in franchise history. His third-inning bases-loaded double off the Giants’ Livan Hernandez accounted for the margin of victory in the Angels’ 4-1 win in Game 7 of the World Series.
After a near-carbon copy season in 2003—131 OPS+, 4.0 WAR, a career-high 201 hits including a league-leading 49 doubles, pus another All-Star berth—Anderson slipped to 14 homers in 2004, his age-32 season, thus beginning his decline phase. A four-year, $48 million extension signed in April of that year, covering the 2005-2008 seasons, turned out to be a major boondoggle; he averaged 86 RBI and a .288 batting average over that span but topped a 100 OPS+ just once and delivered a total of 2.3 WAR for the deal. Though he helped the Angels to four playoff appearances in the 2004-2008 span, Baseball Prospectus 2006 summed it up well: “Anderson is a player who’s gone from underrated to overrated as fast as any in recent memory.” Upon the expiration of that deal, he spent an underwhelming season as a 37-year-old regular with the Braves and then a dreadful one as a bench player for the Dodgers the following year, drawing his release in August. Overall, while he’s of outsized importance in the history of the Angels franchise, he’s no Hall of Famer.
A switch-hitting speedster who topped 20 steals five times in a 13-year career, Winn may be best remembered as the player once traded for manager Lou Piniella, who left the Mariners for the Devil Rays in order to be closer to his ailing father. Drafted by the Marlins out of Santa Clara University in the third round in 1995, Winn was plucked away by the cross-state Devil Rays in the 1997 expansion draft, but other than stealing 26 bases as a rookie the following year, he struggled to find his footing at the major league level, bouncing between the minors and majors in 1998, ’99 and 2000 while posting just a 77 OPS+ and a total of 1.8 WAR.
After a slight improvement in 2001, Winn finally broke out in 2002, his age-28 season, hitting .298/.360/.461 with 14 homers, 27 steals and 4.9 WAR. The performance earned him his lone All-Star berth, and Seattle’s insistence on receiving him as compensation for Piniella (who still had one year under contract) and infielder Antonio Perez turned out to be a shrewd move, as over the nest two seasons, he delivered a total of 7.7 WAR. A sluggish showing through the first four months of the 2006 season led the Mariners to trade him to the Giants, for whom he provided more homers and a higher WAR in 58 games (14 and 2.6, respectively) than he had in 102 games in Seattle (six and 1.1, respectively); he hit .359/.391/680 after the deal.
Nobody could maintain such a blistering clip, let alone Winn, who stayed in San Francisco after they exercised a $5-million club option on his services, then signed a three-year, $23.5 million extension later that winter. His contributions to the Giants were uneven, with two good seasons, including a 4.0 WAR showing in 2008, sandwiched by two very mediocre ones. He left the Giants following the 2009 season to sign with the Yankees, but played in just 29 games before drawing his release, and struggling again after being picked up by the Cardinals. Somehow, in the space of two years, he managed to miss the championship seasons of three teams—the '09 Yankees, '10 Giants and '11 Cardinals—by a year, not exactly a great advertisement for his services. A bid to make the Orioles the following spring fell short, marking the end of his career.
The lone pitcher among this ballot’s likely one-and-done crop, Hampton was a sinker-dependent southpaw whose ability to generate tons of groundball allowed him to offset mediocre walk and strikeout rates. He helped the Astros, Mets and Braves reach the playoffs a total of six times during his career, making two All-Star teams along the way, and emerging as the game's best-hitting pitcher. His failure to live up to a record-setting eight-year, $121 million deal with the Rockies overshadowed the second half of his career and made him the butt of many jokes, but he showed impressive resilience by battling back from three-year stretch of injuries.
A sixth-round 1990 draft pick by the Mariners out of a Florida high school, Hampton reached the majors in April 1993, when he was still just 20 years old, but he was pummeled for 20 runs in 17 innings spread across two brief major league stints. That December, he was traded to Houston in a deal for journeyman Eric Anthony. It turned out to be a steal. After spending the strike-shortened 1994 season pitching out of Houston's bullpen, Hampton cracked the rotation in 1995, making 24 starts with a respectable 3.35 ERA (115 ERA+). He followed that with three similarly effective seasons as a mid-rotation innings eater behind the likes of Shane Reynolds, Darryl Kile and (briefly) Randy Johnson, helping the Astros to NL Central titles in 1997 and ’98, then stepped to the forefront in ’99.
Riding strong offensive and defensive support (6.9 runs per game and a .288 BABIP, respectively) he posted a league-best 22-4 record to go with a 2.90 ERA (155 ERA+), earning his first All-Star appearance, finishing second behind Johnson (by then a Diamondback) in the NL Cy Young race and helping Houston to another division title. Alas, the Astros dropped their Division Series in all three seasons.
Hampton would pitch further into the postseason in 2000, that after the Astros, who were unable to convince him to sign an extension before entering his walk year, traded him and struggling Derek Bell to the Mets in a five-player deal for Roger Cedeno, Octavio Dotel and another player. Hampton went 15-10 with a 3.14 ERA and, for the second season in a row, the league's lowest home run rate (0.4 per nine). The Mets won the NL East, and while Hampton was roughed up in his Division Series start against the Giants, his 16 shutout innings in two starts against the Cardinals, including a series-clinching three-hit shutout in Game 5, garnered him NLCS MVP honors. He was unable to replicate that success in the Subway Series, however.
After the season, Hampton signed his jaw-dropping deal with the Rockies, the largest in the game's history until Alex Rodriguez's $252 million whopper was inked just days later. The move generated guffaws, both for Hampton’s choice of the pitchers’ hell of high-altitude Coors Field and his insistence that the quality of the school system in Denver, not the dumptruck full of cash, was the key to the move. Though he made the NL All-Star team after a strong first half (4.02 ERA, 0.6 HR/9), he was torched in the second (7.46 ERA, 2.3 HR/9), though he did hit the first seven homers of his major league career, the most by a pitcher in 33 years. That earned him the first of four straight Silver Slugger awards as the game’s best-hitting hurler; for his career, he batted .246/.294/.356 with 16 homers in 845 career plate appearances, enough to account for 8.2 of his 29.0 career WAR.
Too focused on throwing his four-seam fastball at the expense of his two-seamer, Hampton was bombed for a 6.15 ERA in 2002, and walked more hitters than he struck out. As enamored as he may have been about Denver schools, the Rockies wanted to be rid of him, and in a complicated three-team deal that featured the Marlins absorbing $30 million of his salary, he wound up with the Braves. He reverted to some semblance of his pre-Colorado form, helping Atlanta to back-to-back NL East titles in 2003 and 2004, but a forearm strain and a herniated disc limited him to 12 starts in 2005, and he underwent Tommy John surgery at season's end.
Hampton not only missed all of 2006, he missed all of ’07 as well due to surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon, then lost the first four months of ’08 to a pectoral strain. Improbably, he reemerged in late July of that year; the results were uneven, as his 4.85 ERA attested, but he managed nine quality starts out of 13. A free agent at season’s end, he returned to the Astros for 2009 but scuffled before needing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum. Doggedly, he finished his career with 10 scoreless September appearances as a lefty reliever with the Diamondbacks before finally walking away from the game under his own power.