11/26/10 11:00 AM EST
Fringe candidates make their bid for Hall
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
They're not slam dunk Hall of Famers.
But they had impressive big league careers and deserve consideration for baseball's highest individual honor.
They include dependable starters such as Kevin Brown and Al Leiter; shutdown reliever John Franco; top hitting infielders John Olerud and Bret Boone and talented outfielders B.J. Surhoff, Marquis Grissom and Raul Mondesi.
Nothing is guaranteed for these candidates and they must receive five percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America members to remain on future ballots. A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote to gain election to the Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y., with former Expos and Cubs great Andre Dawson reaching that threshold to gain entrance in 2009.
These candidates aren't expected to be first-ballot Hall of Famers, but are up for consideration:
John Olerud: A career .295 hitter, Olerud won the American League batting title in 1993 when he hit .363 with a .473 on-base percentage with the Blue Jays, and he helped lead the club to their second straight World Series title that season. In a 17-year career with the Blue Jays, Mets, Mariners, Yankees and Red Sox, Olerud won three Gold Gloves at first base and was an All-Star twice. He also collected 2,239 hits with 255 home runs and 1,230 RBIs before retiring after the '05 season.
Kevin Brown: Baseball's first $100-million man, Brown won 211 games with a 3.28 ERA over 19 big league seasons with the Rangers, Orioles, Marlins, Padres, Dodgers and Yankees. He led the American League in wins with 21 with the Rangers in 1992 and twice won ERA titles with a 1.89 ERA with the Marlins in '96 and a 2.59 ERA with the Dodgers in 2000. He also posted a 4.19 ERA in 19 postseason outings, winning the World Series with the Marlins in '97. He also struck out 2,397 hitters, topping the 200-strikeout plateau for four straight seasons from '97-00.
B.J. Surhoff: The No. 1 overall pick by the Brewers in the 1985 Draft, Surhoff posted a career .282 batting average with 188 home runs and 1,153 RBIs over 19 seasons with the Brewers, Orioles and Braves. He began his playing days as a catcher, but ended up playing every position except pitcher during his career. He was named to the American League All-Star team in '99 with the Orioles and finished second in hits that season with 207. He also batted .267 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 27 postseason games, but never reached the World Series.
Marquis Grissom: Known for his combination of power and speed, Grissom hit 227 home runs and stole 429 bases over 17 seasons with the Expos, Braves, Indians, Brewers, Dodgers and Giants. He also had a career .272 batting average and was an All-Star while with the Expos in 1992 and '93. Primarily a center fielder, he won four straight Gold Gloves from '93-96, winning two with the Expos and two with the Braves. He also had a career .317 batting average in the postseason, helping lead the Braves to the World Series title in '95 before being named MVP of the '97 ALCS with the Indians.
John Franco: The all-time leader in saves by a left-hander, Franco finished his career with 424 saves, which was the second most in history at the time of his retirement in 2005. He pitched for 21 seasons with the Reds, Mets and Astros with his 1,119 career games pitched setting a National League record. He also won 90 games and posted a 2.89 ERA while being named an All-Star four times. He never won a World Series, but recorded a 1.88 ERA in 15 postseason appearances, including a perfect 0.00 ERA in 3 1/3 innings in the '00 World Series.
Bret Boone: One of the best offensive second basemen of his era, Boone was a three-time All-Star and won two Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves. He also batted .266 with 252 home runs and 1,021 RBIs over 14 seasons with the Mariners, Reds, Twins, Padres and Braves. His best season came with the Mariners in 2001 when he led the AL with 141 RBIs and set career bests with a .331 batting average and 37 home runs. Boone also hit .288 in 31 postseason games, but never won a World Series title.
Al Leiter: A two-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion, Leiter won 162 games with a 3.80 ERA over 19 seasons with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Marlins and Mets. He struggled with arm problems early in his career, but won World Series titles with the Blue Jays in 1992 and '93 before helping the Marlins to the World Series title in '97. His best season came in '98 with the Mets when he posted a career-best 2.47 ERA and won 17 games to finish sixth in the balloting for the Cy Young Award. He also threw the first no-hitter in Marlins history against the Rockies on May 16, 1996.
Benito Santiago: The 1987 NL Rookie of the Year with the Padres, Santiago was one of the better hitting catchers of his era while spending 20 seasons in the Majors with the Padres, Marlins, Reds, Phillies, Cubs, Giants, Royals and Pirates. He tallied a career .263 batting average with 217 home runs and 920 RBIs in 1,978 games. He also won four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and was a five-time All-Star. He never won a World Series, but was named MVP of the 2002 NLCS while with the Giants and had a career .250 batting average in 28 postseason games.
Carlos Baerga: A three-time All-Star over his 14-year career, Baerga brought plenty of offense to the second-base position, winning the Silver Slugger with the Indians in 1993 and '94. He had a career .291 batting average and collected 1,630 hits with 134 home runs and 774 RBIs while with the Indians, Mets, Padres, Red Sox, D-backs and Nationals. He also hit .292 in 15 playoff games, but fell short of winning the World Series in '95 with the Indians when they lost to the Braves in six games.
Raul Mondesi: A five-tool player who won the 1994 NL Rookie of the Year while with the Dodgers, Mondesi had three seasons of at least 30 home runs and three seasons of at least 30 stolen bases, including '99 when he joined the 30-30 club with 33 homers and 36 stolen bases. He batted .273 with 271 home runs, 860 RBIs and 229 stolen bases over his 13-year career with the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Yankees, D-backs, Pirates, Angels and Braves. He was also known for his defense and strong arm in right field, winning the Gold Glove in '97 and being named an All-Star in '95.
Bobby Higginson: A rare example of a player who played his entire career with one team, Higginson played 11 seasons with the Tigers, batting .272 with 187 home runs and 709 RBIs over 1,362 games. He was never an All-Star, but had a career year in 2000 when he became one of 19 players in Major Leauge history to bat .300, score more than 100 runs, hit 30 home runs, hit 44 doubles, drive in more than 100 RBIs and steal 15 bases in one year.
Charles Johnson: A defensive stalwart behind the plate, Johnson won four consecutive Gold Gloves from 1995-98 with the Marlins. He was also an All-Star while with the Marlins in '97 and '01 and helped the club to the World Series title in '97. His best season offensively came in '00, when he hit .304 with 31 home runs and 91 RBIs while splitting time with the Orioles and White Sox. He batted .245 with 167 homers and 570 RBIs in a 12-year career with the Marlins, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Rockies and Rays.
Kirk Rueter: The winningest left-hander in San Francisco Giants history, Rueter won 130 games with a 4.27 ERA in 13 seasons with the Expos and Giants. His best season came in 2002 with the Giants when he went 14-8 with a 3.23 ERA and helped lead the club to the World Series against the Angels before ultimately losing in seven games. He retired having the most wins by a San Francisco Giants left-hander with 105 of his 130 career wins in a Giants uniform.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.