Stan McNeal, numbers crunching HOF voter! (drops thick Burt Standish brick on toe)
By hitting his 600th career home run, Jim Thome has entered one of baseball’s most exclusive neighborhoods. By my count, he joins Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to reach that milestone without artificial aid.
If Thome wasn’t already a certain Hall of Famer, he is now. Even in this era, 600 homers remains a magic number. He will have my vote on the first ballot.
But as worthy as such slugging is, something seems a bit amiss about Thome joining such baseball royalty.
...When Thome hit 49 homers in 2001, for example, 11 others also topped 40. While we have come to find out that at least five of those sluggers were fueled by performance-enhancers, Thome’s exploits still seem a bit watered down.
Maybe it’s because I’ve only been voting for two years and still am figuring out who truly is deserving. It isn’t as easy as you think. For example, I voted for Edgar Martinez in his first year on the ballot but not his second—and he didn’t do anything between those years to make him any less worthy. In hindsight, I believe I was caught up too much in numbers my first year.