Last year, as part of the regular United Cardinal Bloggers‘ schedule of projects, we discussed who we thought should go into the Cardinal Hall of Fame. It was all theoretical then, though we did foresee a few things, such as all the retired numbers would go straight into the Hall. Also, a good number of the folks selected by the bloggers last summer wound up on the first official Hall of Fame ballot this winter.
So now, given that we have said ballot, our project this year is simple: to select the two players from the ballot that we believe should go into the Hall this summer and to explain why. It may be a simple task, but it’s not an easy one. Everyone on the ballot has a strong argument to get through the doors, which is to be expected when it is the first group of folks to ever be voted on.
I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any combination, but if they asked me, these would be my two selections:
Bob Forsch: I posited in one of the preseason roundtables that Forsch could be the best pitcher in Cardinal history not in the Hall of Fame. To be honest, you could make the case that he’s better than Dizzy Dean, given the different times they lived in, the longevity of his career, the fact that he never played for the Cubs, the two no-hitters, etc. I’m not sure I’m wedded to that argument, mind, but it could be made.
Forsch had the best years of his career in the runup to the 1982 season when the Cards returned to national prominence, which is probably why he’s overlooked even by some Cardinal fans when talking about great pitchers in the club’s history. He did win 15 games for the ’82 champs and also played on the ’85 and ’87 pennant winners, though he didn’t contribute to the level that he did in ’82 (and, indeed, spent much of ’85 coming out of the bullpen).
He put up seven seasons with an ERA+ over 100 and also cracked the 200 inning mark seven times as well. He checks all the boxes for a Cardinal Hall of Famer and I believe he should get in, though I would expect it won’t actually happen this summer.
Jim Edmonds: Most folks are going to vote for Willie McGee and I don’t fault them for that at all. Willie’s got an amazing case as well and has plenty of years of fan sentiment behind him. However, I got to see Edmonds play on a regular basis and it’s darn tough for me to leave him off my ballot.
It’s funny, but for all the offensive exploits of Edmonds, the two years of 40+ homers, the three years of hitting over .300, being part of the legendary MV3, it’s the defense that always comes to mind first. Specifically, this defense.
There were also the myriad of over-the-wall catches, including what seemed like every home run Cincinnati tried to hit against him, especially in Great American Ball Park. Sure, Edmonds had a touch of the showboat to him, but as the old Diz said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.”
When you put all of that together, leaving Edmonds out of the Hall of Fame just isn’t feasible. He’d probably dive over the doors and get in anyway, holding up his plaque like a snagged baseball.
Again, you could put Edmonds and McGee on your ballot (which seems to be the most popular choice in the fan voting) or McGee and Mark McGwire or McGwire and Matt Morris or any other combination and you’d have a strong case. These are my selections–at least right now. Never know when I might change my mind!