Thursday, February 11, 2010

I was on the Baseball Hall of Fame's Web site the other night and they had a poll question: Who would be elected to the Hall of Fame first: Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter or Omar Vizquel?

Now, Jeter is obviously a first-ballot, no-brainer Hall of Famer. Only the curmudgeons who refuse to vote for a guy in his first year of eligibility will keep him from being a unanimous selection. When he goes in depends on when he retires. Vizquel is probably the best defensive shortstop of the last 20 years, but he's probably a bubble guy. He may get in eventually, but I would be surprised if it was the first ballot.

But Nomar? Nomar essentially had 7 good seasons. His first 4 years were amazing and included a Rookie of the Year Award, top-10 finishes in the MVP voting each year, and two batting titles. Then he got hurt and missed most of 2001, had good years in 2002 and 2003 and was traded from the Sox to the Cubs in the epic 2004 deadline deal. After that, he only had one good year (2006) and two years where he played more than 100 games. He basically made J.D. Drew look durable.

Listen, I love Nomar for what he did here. He always played hard when he was healthy until things got ugly at the end. He was spectacular in his first four seasons, and I would have thought he was a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame if you had asked me at the end of 2000 (or even 2003). But he didn't play at that level for long enough. The only way Nomar is going to see the Hall of Fame is to go to Cooperstown and buy a ticket.


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