After all the speculation and campaigning the Hall of Fame votes are finally in, and I must say that this year's voting is a nice suprise with common sense and an honest appreciation of players' contribution to the game taking priority over big-market-centrism and an over-valuation of 'big characters' (i.e. Goose Gossage).
Andre 'Hawk' Dawson is 2010's sole inductee and my view on this, once I'd gotten over the initial shock of 'What? Just one new Hall of Famer?' is: well, fair enough.
There are very few who will seriously dispute Dawson's Hall of Fame credentials. He's got the Home Runs, the Hits, The MVP award. No problems there. The guy had to sit by and watch inferior player, such as Jim Rice enshrined and thoroughly deserves his moment in the spotlight.
I'm a little suprised that Blyleven has gotten so close, just 5 votes shy of finally getting enshrined. Blyleven is an interesting case in terms of his Hall-worthiness. The argument against Bert is that he is little more than a 'compiler', slowly accumilating his stellar K and Win totals through 20 plus years of above average performance rather than the dizzying brief spells of Koufax and Martinez. I accept and agree with that argument in part, however in an environment where baseball players retain their place in the lineup only as long as there is no young stud waiting in the wings to replace them (see Tom Glavine) the fact that Blyleven was able to be considered worthy of taking the ball every 5th day for so long is certainly highly complementary of his abilities as a player.
I for one would certainly prefer a dependable if not astounding pitcher like Bert who played well into his 40s than elite pitchers such as Roy Oswalt and Carlos Zambrano who seem content to dangle threat of retirement in their early-to mid 30s in front of their team's fans.
Roberto Alomar narrowly missing the cut is perhaps more suprising. Certainly Robbie has the stats and the reputation to be a Hall of Famers and I doubt many eyelids would have been raised had he made it to Cooperstown in his first year of eligability. I know that many Hall of Fame voters seems to have a perculiar aversion to 1st time ballottees and can only assume this has hurt Alomar, a player who is not as 'open and shut' Hall-worthy as the likes of Cal Ripkin and Tony Gwynn. I certainly hope that the Hirschbeck incident and the recent rumours about his health have not hurt Alomar's Hall-chances. While ugly, the incident with Hirschbeck has now been long resolved and apologised, if not atoned for and ought not negatively impact Robbie's chances.
It seems likely that both Blyleven and Alomar will be admitted next year and in all honesty I have very little problem with that.
Further down the ballott i'm a little peeved that Lee Smith has once again missed the cut, although he had a slightly higher voting percentage than last year. Hopefully this trend will continue and Smith may well sneak into the Hall in years to come. Admittedly Smith has to be inducted before the likes of Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman become eligable for his stats to still stand out as memorable. Frankly, if Sutter and Gossage are Hall of Famers (and to my mind neither of them are) then Smith deserves to get in.
I was dissapointed to see that Harold Baines still languishes at the foot of the voting table, accumilating far less votes that Edgar Martinez and Mark McGwire. Baines, while primarily a DH has 2,886 career hits, WAY more than Martinez and Big Mac, both players who one could argue were far more one dimensional than Baines. I think we can now write the 6-time All-Star and White Sox legend off as a potential Hall of Famer, which is a crying shame as far as i'm concerned.
As for next year I expect to see Blyleven and Alomar inducted. Barry Larkin is an outside bet for enshrinement, although I believe Larkin to be a borderline Hall of Famer at best. His offensive numbers are perhaps negatively comparable to Ozzie Smith's and, given that Smith is in the Hall largely due to his defensive prowess, this does not do Larkin any favours. Jack Morris should also have a fighting chance, and to be honest, I would not object as Morris has always been one of those 'he's not in the hall?' type players for me (this, admittedly is born more out of reputation than exceptional statistics).
I expect the big, new numbers of next year's ballot to be done by Larry Walker, Juan Gonzalez and Jeff Bagwell. None of these guys are hall of famers but I'd imagine 1st year voting percentages in the high 30s-early 40s are in order. This should clear away the likes of Blyleven and Morris from the ballot in preparation for the bumper crops of 1st time inductees that will begin to appear in 2012 and 2013, including (gasp)....Barry Bonds