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A Look at Cooperstown’s Newest Members

Eight-time MLB All-Star Chipper Jones was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons
Eight-time MLB All-Star Chipper Jones was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. PHOTO/ Flickr Creative Commons

By Ivan Morrobel

Published: February 14th, 2018

Since 1936, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) and Baseball Hall of Fame Committee on Baseball Veterans (1953) have elected former players, managers, umpires, and executives who exhibit the qualities to become members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Among the inductees of the 2018 Hall of Fame (HOF) class are Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman. Jones, the former Atlanta Braves third baseman, received the most votes with 410 (97.2 percent), followed by Guerrero (92.9 percent), Thome (89.8 percent) and Hoffman (79.9 percent).

Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were also inducted as members of this year’s HOF class.

Jones played his entire career (19 seasons) with the Atlanta Braves organization after he was selected number one overall in the 1990 MLB Draft. The 1999 National League (NL) MVP is considered to be one of the greatest switch hitters ever and was a lifetime .303 hitter. He finished his career with 2,726 hits, 468 home runs, and a 1995 World Series Championship. 

After winning one World Series, Jones helped the Braves win the 1996 and 1999 National League pennants and 11 straight NL East division titles (1995-2005), which eventually led to the team retiring Jones’ jersey number (#10) in 2013.

Although Thome finished with the third-most votes, he joined Jones as one of the two players of the 2018 class to be elected in their first year of eligibility. Thome played for six different teams (Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnestota Twins, and Baltimore Orioles) over the course of 22 seasons. 

In 1995 and 1997, Thome led the Indians—the team that drafted him in the 13th round of the 1989 MLB Draft—to the World Series.

Thome hit 30 or more home runs 12 times, but despite being one of the greatest power hitters ever, he led the NL in home runs only once (2003). Unlike other players who played during the steroids era, Thome was never linked to performance-enhancing drugs, and he finished his career being one of only nine players ever to hit 600 or more homers (612). 

Former right fielder Guerrero was eligible for the HOF as of 2017, but didn’t garner enough votes, as he finished with 71.7 percent. Many fans argued that he deserved to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and that the BBWA was wrong. However, he easily became a member of the 2018 class after obtaining 92.9 percent of the votes.

During his 16-year career, Guerrero was most known most notably for gunning players out from right field and being the best bad-ball hitter the game has ever seen.

Guerrero played for four teams—the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, and the Orioles—but early on, he was recognized for his power hitting and batting average. He never had an issue with aggressiveness at the plate, and managed to strike out no more than 95 times in a single season. The nine-time All-Star won the 2004 American League (AL) MVP as a member of the Angels and finished his career with a .318 batting average, 2,590 hits, and 449 home runs.

In comparison to Guerrero, Hoffman wasn’t inducted in his first year of eligibility, nor his second. The former reliever received 67.3 percent of the votes in 2016 and 74 percent in 2017. Prior to Mariano Rivera setting the all-time saves record (652) in 2011, Hoffman held the record with 601 career saves and was the first to reach 500 and 600 saves, which causes some confusion as to why Hoffman wasn’t inducted in 2016.

Hoffman, who played for three teams (Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers) in 18 seasons, was a two-time NL saves leader, seven-time All-Star, and finished second in NL Cy Young voting twice.

The 2018 Major League Baseball HOF class is officially in the history books, and their careers will be celebrated on Sunday, July 29 at the Induction Ceremony. Fans can now gear up for what’s in store for 2019 when players such as Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Michael Young, and the late Roy Halladay become eligible.

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