Home Runs and the Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez.

Hall of Fame Class of 2017
Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez.

Hitting home runs still doesn’t hurt a player’s chances of reaching the Hall of Fame after he retires.  As long as he does it in large double-figure droves each season over a period of 15-20 years – and preferably, but not exclusively, for a winning club – that has some familiarity with “winning” at the World Series level. Exceptions are plentiful. Ernie Banks sure didn’t need that last media-tilting edge.

With the selection of Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell into the Hall of Fame earlier this week, we thought it would be interesting to take a brief look at how things stack up for HOF membership with all HR leaders from # 38 Jeff Bagwell up to # 1 Barry Bonds as far as enshrinement at Cooperstown now stands.

Take a look at the rank order list that now exists first and we shall continue this observation on the other side. As you will quickly note, the number of ties on the list account for the fact that the 38 spots totals is actually expanded to include a true total of 39 players and former players.

Home Runs – All Time MLB Leaders

From Bonds to Bagwell

Source: Baseball Almanac.com

Barry Bonds 762 1
Hank Aaron 755 2 (HOF)
Babe Ruth 714 3 (HOF)
Alex Rodriguez 696 4
Willie Mays 660 5 (HOF)
Ken Griffey, Jr. 630 6 (HOF)
Jim Thome 612 7
Sammy Sosa 609 8
Albert Pujols 591 9
Frank Robinson 586 10 (HOF)
Mark McGwire 583 11
Harmon Killebrew 573 12 (HOF)
Rafael Palmeiro 569 13
Reggie Jackson 563 14 (HOF)
Manny Ramirez 555 15
Mike Schmidt 548 16 (HOF)
David Ortiz 541 17
Mickey Mantle 536 18 (HOF)
Jimmie Foxx 534 19 (HOF)
Willie McCovey 521 20 (HOF)
Frank Thomas 521 20 (HOF)
Ted Williams 521  20 (HOF)
Ernie Banks 512 23 (HOF)
Eddie Mathews 512 23 (HOF)
Mel Ott 511 25 (HOF)
Gary Sheffield 509 26
Eddie Murray 504 27 (HOF)
Lou Gehrig 493 28 (HOF)
Fred McGriff 493 28
Stan Musial 475 30 (HOF)
Willie Stargell 475 30 (HOF)
Carlos Delgado 473 32
Chipper Jones 468 33
Dave Winfield 465 34 (HOF)
Jose Canseco 462 35
Adam Dunn 462 35
Carl Yastrzemski 452 37 (HOF)
Jeff Bagwell 449 38 (HOF)
Vladimir Guerrero 449 38

Some Reflections on the Chart

  1. Including the 2017 selection of Jeff Bagwell, 23 of the 39 men on this list are members of the Hall of Fame – and 16 are not.
  2. Of the 16 HR leaders who are not members of the Hall of Fame, only one (1) player, Albert Pujols, remains ineligible for HOF consideration because of his still active player status.
  3. David Ortiz should be a first ballot “shoo-in” HOF selection in his 2022 first eligible year possibility.
  4. Alex Rodriguez had a great statistical career, and will also be on the ballot a first time in 2022. When we factor in his arrogance and evidence of lying about steroid use, he’s got a great need for the forgiveness grace to kick in before he makes it, if ever does.
  5. Barry Bonds belongs in the HOF by virtue of the fact that he already was great on that level – and long before he ever used a single steroid.
  6. Of the 13 other non-HOF members of the Bonds to Bagwell Career HR Leader list, only one (1), Vladimir Guerrero, appears to be a “sure thing” for admission in the 2nd or 3rd year on the ballot.
  7. Jim Thome’s possibilities may have been helped by the recent selections of Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell.
  8. Rafael Palmeiro had a great HOF career, but he hooked pretty hard on the “liar, liar, pants on fire” nail out side the Hall.  Will the voters forgive him and simply look at what he did for 20 years, presumably playing clean?
  9. Manny Ramirez is another guy, even more so than Palmeiro, who is deserving of the HOF on performance merit.
  10. Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, and Adam Dunn all hit a ton of homers, but did not have HOF careers, otherwise, – to say the least. We don’t see any of these guys getting into the HOF.
  11. Fred McGriff is deserving now and so is Chipper Jones, when he hits the ballot in 2018.
  12.  If 22 years work, a near .300 BA, and over 500 HR mean anything, We think Gary Sheffield deserves the HOF too, if he can override voter memories of him as a surly, hard-to-like personality.  If baseball players got jobs on the basis of a positive initial job interview, it’s possible that Sheffield might have never played an inning in the big leagues.
  13. Carlos Delgado is one of those guys who may have stopped at the “near great” mark for consideration. In his case, an excess of 500 HR would have helped his case.
  14. In every case, the voters should consider this question: “Does the selection of this player elevate or lower our performance expectations for membership in the Hall of Fame?”
  15. The Hall of Fame should not be a club that baseball tries to fit marginally good to near great performers into because they will draw a crowd on induction day. Nor is it a place where truly incredible accomplishments should be overlooked because the voters did not like, or could not forgive, the human frailties that come with the players who did these great things.
  16. Of the men on this list who are not in the HOF, are there any that you have strong opinions about – as to letting them in or keeping them out – either way?
  17. In conclusion, this exercise reminds me of something former Astro Jimmy Wynn told me when we were working on his McFarland Books memoir, “Toy Cannon”. And you bet we used it in the body of his story. The quote will follow  as one summary of this whole topic, but please leave us your comments too.


“When I was playing baseball as a kid, my dad liked to say that home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Chevrolets.  I tried to keep that in mind when I grew up.” ~ Astros Icon, Jimmy Wynn.


HOF Note: A Bagwell/Biggio Induction Year Numbers Irony ….

Very Interesting! – It only now occurred to us ~ Jeff Bagwell’s uniform # 5 appears as the last digit in Craig Biggio’s 2015 HOF selection year. ~ Craig Biggio’s uniform # 7 appears as the last digit in Jeff Bagwell’s 2017 HOF selection year.

Mighty Superstition …. writing on the wall!


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle


4 Responses to “Home Runs and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Mike McCroskey Says:

    Nothing to do with home runs, but when first glancing at the picture; I thought, could this be the shortest HOF class ever? Might be worth some research as a topic for another column.


  2. gregclucas Says:

    From the list what struck me was that some names stuck out as “no chancers”. McGwire essentially because without the HRs (legal or not) he was not really a HOF type. Adam Dunn was a great guy with great power, but almost a Dave Kingman-type. HR (or walks) or nothing and not a good glove man. Canseco would have been close at one point during his career as just a player if not for the PEDs and that he deteriorated defensively very much as his career went on. Every one else on the list would be a decent bet to be a HOFer if not for the PEDs. Some may ultimately be enshrined after time passes and voter’s attitudes change. Non PED suspects like Fred McGriff and Chipper Jones should make it for sure.

  3. A Bagwell-Biggio Numbers Irony | The Pecan Park Eagle Says:

    […] Astros, Baseball History, and other Musings of Heart and Humor « Home Runs and the Hall of Fame […]

  4. David Munger Says:

    What is a sore spot with me is the Writers control the Hall of Fame Vote. So what if players are surly, you have Writers that are Asses, too. It’s about the players career not a personality contest. Lastly is the fact that some of these writers and talking heads consider themselves as the Story.If it weren’t for the Sport and the Players there would be no occupation for these “Experts”. Its quite ironic that some players get voted in long after they die. Lol, did they suddenly get better.

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