The 2013 Hall of Fame Ballot is jam packed this year with players that were once considered automatic first ballot players that have now been thrown into question whether they will ever be allowed in the Hall at all. Included are two players with 3,000 hits (Rafael Palmeiro and Craig Biggio), four with 500 home runs (Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and the all time leader in baseball history, Barry Bonds) and one with 300 wins (Roger Clemens). These all used to be milestones that meant automatic induction, but every single one of these players have had their careers tarnished by playing in the steroid era, whether they actually did them or not. Of those listed, only Palmeiro was actually suspended for illegally doing steroids and while some of the rest have been accused, none have been convicted.
Along with the players listed above, there are six former Indians new to the 2013 ballot and one on the Veteran's Ballot. Here are their cases, starting with the Veteran's Ballot:
Ferrell played a 15 year career that started in Cleveland at the age of 19. During his career he received MVP votes in four seasons, his best chance at the award coming in second in 1935 with Boston. Ferrel made two All-Star games, one with the Red Sox and one while he was still in Cleveland. From 1935-1937 he lead the league in innings pitched and complete games every year and he lead in complete games once before in 1931 as well. His 4.04 career ERA does not look good for a pitcher in his era, but is tarnished by his last few seasons (from 1938-1941) when he struggled with four separate teams. He will probably not get inducted into the Hall of Fame, but if he did, it would be as an Indian.
This is the O.G. Roberto Hernandez, who played a season for the Indians in 2007, not the new Roberto Hernandez who used to be Fausto Carmona. If this Hernandez makes it in, it will almost certainly be as a member of the Chicago White Sox, where he was a closer for the first seven years of his career. Although he will probably not make it first ballot, he deserves consideration for pitching more than 1,000 innings with an ERA below 3.50. He also saved 326 games, good for 13th on the all-time list.
Morris played almost his entire career with Detroit, but stopped in Cleveland in his final year, 1994, and made 23 starts. If he makes it in, it should be on the strength of his almost 4,000 innings pitched and five all star appearances, but he probably will not be elected.
Franco had one of the longest careers in baseball history and holds distinctions for doing a lot of things as the oldest baseball player ever, such as the oldest player to hit a grand slam and steal a base. It was so long ago that many may not remember, but Franco got his start with the Indians, taking second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1983. During his career he won five Silver Sluggers and a batting title, moving from position to position as needed. In his first stint with the Tribe he played short stop, but was moved to second in 1988, then DH in 1993 with the Rangers. When he returned to the Indians in 1996, he was used primarily as a first baseman. Towards the end of his career he was forced into a pinch hitting role with a couple of National League teams. Franco played until he was 48 and is an example of the amount of numbers a player can add up if he plays long enough. He does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, but if he did make it in it would likely be as an Indian.
Mesa was one of the best closers in Indians history and continued his success with the Phillies a few years after leaving Cleveland, racking up 321 saves by the time he retired (14th all time, right behind Hernandez). Mesa's career numbers are very similar to Hernandez's, but they achieved them in different ways. When Mesa was good, he was great, by far the best in the league, but when he struggled (like every year before 1994 and 1998-2000) he was terrible. Hernandez was a much more even player, putting up consistent numbers year after year. If one of these two makes it in, they both deserve to, although first glance shows neither should. If Mesa did make it in the Hall of Fame he would go in as an Indian, much to his dismay.
Sandy Alomar, Jr.
Alomar is another case of an above average player playing for an extremely long time. Alomar played catcher for 20 seasons, quitting after he hit 41 years old. Offensively, he ranks behind another catcher on the ballot (Mike Piazza) for his era and defensively he always sat right behind Pudge Rodriguez, but Alomar deserves some credit for his own. During his time with the Indians he went to six All-Star games, won a Gold Glove and Rookie of the Year. When he left the Tribe, Alomar never really started again, but moved into more of a player/coach role, mentoring young catchers with every team he went to. The chances of Sandy making it into the Hall of Fame this year are very low, but he deserves some consideration and would be entered as a member of the Cleveland Indians.
Lofton deserves a real chance at a place in the Hall of Fame, not just for his offensive contributions, but his glove as well. During most of his career he was considered the best defensive player at his position, which is filled with great defensive players. Offensively, only Ken Griffey, Jr. bested Lofton as a centerfielder, and they played a completely different type of game. During the mid 1990's Lofton went to 6 consecutive All-Star games and won four Gold Gloves. Starting in 1995 he played in the postseason every single year except two, all while playing for six different teams (and three different stints with the Indians). His 622 stolen bases rank 15th all time, despite playing in a time when the steal had gone out of style and he lead the league every year from 1992-1996. Lofton absolutely deserves a place in the Hall of Fame and his number "7" retired by the Cleveland Indians. If he makes it in he will be inducted as an Indian as he played ten years in Cleveland and no more than a single season anywhere else.