On to the first-timers with more of a case...probably should have included Kenny Lofton on this post, but whatever.
Shawn Green - a weird case. Had some pretty good numbers that, had he stuck around longer (he was done at 34), might have piled up and gotten him in, particularly during the PED era. As it was, he looked on track for a HOF-type career at 26: He was coming off a 972 OPS season in Toronto with 45 doubles, 42 homers, 123 RBI, 134 Runs, 20 stolen bases, Gold Glove...and went to the Dodgers as the #1 free agent in his class, where he was just average for a season, at the worst possible team. Had he been great in that first Dodger season, he would have stayed in the public consciousness, but fans kinda forgot about him at that point, as they sometimes do. He then had two really terrific seasons, but that was essentially the end of his time as an elite player. His HOF case boils down to 4 seasons, which were undeniably fabulous, but that's it. He always seemed like a reluctant star, somehow, which feeds into a pet theory of mine. So, so many players would have been better served by staying out of the huge markets and would have had better careers by staying out on the fringes a bit. Who knows - maybe Toronto would have served his makeup better, and he could have flogged them past the Yankees or Bosox once or twice, and he'd be a mythic player in their history. Instead, he's just another guy that played for some so-so Dodger teams. Verdict - out.
Julio Franco - Another weird case, to an absurd degree. Julio Franco was a really, really good hitter, but he was never great...he never had much power, (not even doubles power), had good but not great speed, never had a lot plate discipline so wasn't a great leadoff hitter and wasn't much of a run scorer or RBI guy. What he did was put his bat on the ball. For a really, really, long time:
- After the 1994 strike, at 36, he signed to play in Japan for a season. Seemed like he was done, but he hit like crazy, won the Japanese Gold Glove, and came back to Cleveland.
- After he hit .241 for the Brewers as a 38-year old, he again signed in Japan, and again seemed like he was done, but he hit .423 in Mexico as a 40-year-old, then played a season in South Korea and another in Mexico.
- Seemed like he was done, as in "41-year-old-done."
- But he signed with the Braves in 2001 as a 42-year-old, and played for seven more seasons - and hit in every one of them - until he "retired" at 48. I suspect he's still playing in Turkey under an assumed name. I really hope that's true.
In any case, the guy could always hit, and because he stuck around so long was able to get to almost 2600 hits (it should also be noted - counting his time in Mexico and Korea and Japan, he's well over 4000. FOUR THOUSAND), but that just isn't enough to get him in. Verdict - out.
David Wells - was also pretty good for a long time, and paradoxically, his career W-L (239-157) would probably get him in if he'd played less...but it took him 21 seasons to get there. Had a couple of certifiably great seasons - 18-4 with 5 shutouts for a World Series winner, 20-8 with 9 complete games for a good Blue Jays team. Looked like he was done at least twice but revived enough to pitch until he was 44. Didn't strike many people out, but didn't walk them, either. Durable, a real inning-eater. Had a perfect game, but was never really dominant, even at his very best. He's got the surroundings of a HOF career, but he just never had the meat. Most-comparable are Andy Pettite and Kenny Rogers, both of which seem about right. Verdict - out.