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Former Mets may now have a better shot at the Hall of Fame

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Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets waving to crowd during the celebration of the 20th reunion of the New York Mets World Series team of 1986 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York on August 19, 2006. (Photo by Bryan Yablonsky/Getty Images)
Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets waving to crowd during the celebration of the 20th reunion of the New York Mets World Series team of 1986 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York on August 19, 2006. (Photo by Bryan Yablonsky/Getty Images) /
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There likely won’t be any New York Mets going into Cooperstown this summer. However, the future does look bright for a few Mets alumni.

On Sunday, December 9th, a committee of MLB veterans and executives gathered to vote for players from the “Today’s Game Era Ballot” to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This ballot included Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Lou Piniella, Lee Smith, and George Steinbrenner. Only Johnson represented the New York Mets as a possibility to get into Cooperstown.

After hours of debate, the two individuals who received at least 75 percent of votes were Baines and Smith.

This decision from voters sparked confusion and anger in the baseball community. Many fans believe that Baines and Smith were not Hall of Fame players, and most would argue that the two were not even the most deserving on the ballot.

Carter, who had a shorter career, had six more 100+ RBI seasons than Baines and is known for one of the greatest moments in MLB history: his walk-off home run in game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Belle also had six more 100+ RBI seasons than Baines, along with a higher career batting average, OPS and WAR.

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Another more deserving player, Hershiser, won a Cy Young award, a World Series MVP, and was arguably more impactful to the game of baseball than Smith. Although there may be some controversy surrounding the character of Steinbrenner, there is no doubt that his handling of the New York Yankees is reason enough to put him in the hall. One can also make arguments for legendary managers Manuel and Piniella, who combined for 2,835 career wins and three World Series appearances.

The result of this election can have a significant impact on the Mets. If this decision changes the criteria for players to be voted into the hall, a number of former Mets can be affected by it.

John Franco is one of the most beloved Mets of all time. He served as the team captain from 2001 to 2004 and was a solid, reliable closer during his Mets career. However, he was never considered to be a Hall of Famer by many outside of New York.

This decision can change that view. Franco’s career was very similar to that of Smith. He played three more seasons, pitched in a World Series and had a lower career ERA. If the rationale for putting Smith in the hall is his longevity, then Franco also deserves to have his name mentioned.

Billy Wagner is another former Met who could be impacted by this decision (although he’d most likely go into the hall sporting an Astros cap). There is some debate regarding his Hall of Fame status, but he should almost be considered a lock if players like Smith are considered good enough to be inducted.

Wagner was a significantly more dominant closer, with a career ERA of 2.31, compared to Smith’s 3.03. Billy the Kid also had a lower career WHIP, and a similar WAR in almost 200 fewer games.

Every Mets fan you ask will tell you that Keith Hernandez is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer. However, he never received enough votes by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and eventually fell off the ballot. One would have to think now that Baines is in, Hernandez deserves to be voted in by a veterans committee.

Hernandez served as a team captain, won eleven gold gloves, an MVP award, and made two World Series appearances. Compared to Baines, he had a higher career batting average, OPS and WAR. He had some personal issues that may have been a blemish on a great career, but there is absolutely no reason this great Met should not get into the hall, given the recent circumstances.

As fans, we kill the writers every year for the way they vote. Some hold personal grudges against players and others vote based on odd principles. This most recent decision by the Veterans Committee shows that no matter what, there will always be bias in Hall of Fame voting. Certain voters have an agenda that ruins the integrity of the voting system, and many deserving players pay the price for it.

The effect that this election could have on the former Mets mentioned depends on where the National Baseball Hall of Fame goes from here. If this decision does indeed change the criteria for voting, and it becomes the “Hall of Very Good,” as some would like to say, then there is a great chance all of these players get in.

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However, if future voters accept this as a mistake or a product of bias, then nothing changes and we go back to knowing these Mets as great players who fell just short of Hall of Fame caliber.

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