12/23/09 7:00 PM ET
Hall could call for unheralded candidates
Karros, Ventura, Appier among solid players on ballot
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
They're not the headliners.
They're the ones who may have been overlooked because of the teams they played on, the markets they represented or the roles they had. The ones who might have missed a few more good years because of injuries. Or the ones who were simply beaten out on hardware by premier players in their respective leagues.
They're solid corner infielders like Eric Karros, David Segui, Todd Zeile and Robin Ventura; steady right-handers like Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson,, Kevin Appier and Shane Reynolds; and five-tool outfielders like Ellis Burks and Ray Lankford.
And the National Baseball Hall of Fame can come calling for them, too.
A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America members to gain election to the Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y., with leadoff great Rickey Henderson and former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice reaching that threshold to gain entrance in 2009.
Results of the election will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Former Expos and Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson (67.0 percent) and former Twins ace Bert Blyleven (62.7 percent) had the highest totals among those not elected in the 2009 voting and remain eligible for '10. They're joined on the ballot this year by a group of newcomers that includes former All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar, Reds superstar shortstop Barry Larkin and Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez.
But while those guys will garner most of the attention, here are some of the others who will receive consideration:
Kevin Appier: Through his 16-year career, the right-hander won 169 games and posted a 3.74 ERA, but only made the All-Star team once -- in 1995, when he finished 15-10 with a 3.89 ERA. But that wasn't his best season. Appier's finest campaign probably came in '93, when he finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting after going 18-8 with a league-leading 2.56 ERA.
Ellis Burks: A five-tool player when healthy, Burks compiled a .291 batting average, 352 home runs and 1,206 RBIs while spending 12 of his 18 seasons with the Red Sox and Rockies. A two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger, Burks' best season came with Colorado in 1996, when he hit .344 with 40 homers, 128 RBIs, 142 runs and 32 stolen bases while finishing third in National League Most Valuable Player voting. The right-handed hitter also won a Rawlings Gold Glove in center field in '90.
Pat Hentgen: The right-hander certainly had some rough years -- especially towards the end -- but he had some great ones, too. Hentgen's finest campaign came in 1996, when he won the AL Cy Young Award as a member of the Blue Jays -- for whom he pitched 10 years for -- after going 20-10 with a 3.22 ERA, 10 complete games and three shutouts in 265 2/3 innings. The three-time All-Star finished his 14-year career 131-112 with a 4.32 ERA.
Mike Jackson: Through 17 years in the big leagues from 1986-2004 - not counting '00 and '02, which he missed entirely -- the right-handed relief pitcher posted a 3.42 ERA. Jackson's finest season came with the Indians in '98 -- his first as a full-time closer -- when he posted a 1.55 ERA and converted 40 of 45 saves. The following year, he converted 39 of 43 save chances. Jackson pitched for a total of eight teams, with his most time -- five seasons -- being spent with the Mariners.
Eric Karros: The longtime Dodger got off to a good start when he was named NL Rookie of the Year in 1992, and he wasn't too shabby thereafter. In his 14-year career, Karros hit .268 with 284 home runs and 1,027 RBIs while winning a Silver Slugger in 1995. That year, Karros batted .298 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs. And from 1995-97, he compiled 97 homers and drove in 320 runs. Karros put up pretty consistent numbers in 12 years in Los Angeles, with his finest season coming in '99, when he hit a career-high .304 with 34 homers and a career-high 112 RBIs.
Ray Lankford: In one muscular 5-foot-11 frame, Lankford could do it all on the baseball field. It showed when he finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1993, when he led the league with 15 triples while adding 44 stolen bases, 69 RBIs and 83 runs scored. And when he notched five seasons with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases -- in '92, '95, '96, '97 and '98. And also when he made just one error in 144 games in center field in '96 to post a .997 fielding percentage. Lankford, an All-Star in '97, hit .272 with 238 home runs and 258 stolen bases in 14 seasons in the big leagues, with the better part of 13 years coming with the Cardinals.
Shane Reynolds: A 13-year Major Leaguer who spent 11 of those seasons in Houston, Reynolds finished with a career record of 114-96 and a 4.09 ERA. The right-hander struggled late in his career, but he had a great run from 1995-99, when he averaged 14 wins and a 3.73 ERA. His best season came in '98, when he went 19-8 with a 3.51 ERA. He made his only All-Star Game appearance in 2000.
David Segui: He didn't have the power of a prototypical first baseman, but Segui could still hit, as evidenced by his .291 career batting average in 15 seasons in the big leagues. Segui hit for .300-plus clips several times in his career and had a very productive stretch from 1995-2001, when he hit .307 while averaging 15 homers and 68 RBIs a season. During that span, he played for the Mets, Expos, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rangers, Indians and Orioles. Segui, however, was also named on the Mitchell Report for alleged use of performance-enhancing substances in 2007.
Robin Ventura: A great defensive third baseman with an impact bat, Ventura compiled six Gold Glove Awards and was named to two All-Star Games in his 16-year career. The left-handed hitter spent his first 10 years with the White Sox and finished his career with a .267 batting average, 294 homers and 1,182 RBIs. Ventura had nine 20-homer seasons, three with triple-digit RBIs and six campaigns that saw him hit for at least a .280 batting average. His best season came in the first of three with the Mets in '99, when he hit .301 with 32 homers and 120 RBIs, while finishing sixth in NL MVP voting and winning his final Gold Glove.
Todd Zeile: The journeyman corner infielder played for 11 teams throughout the course of a 16-year career, compiling a .265 batting average and 253 home runs. Originally drafted as a catcher, Zeile hit more than 20 homers in four different seasons, topping out at 31 in 1997 with the Dodgers. In 29 career postseason games, he hit .292 with four home runs and 14 RBIs.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.