Designated hitters raising controversy

Those who performed in a manner becoming a Hall of Famer should be so rewarded.

Updated: February 2, 2004, 11:05 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
On the morning after that rarest of Super Bowls -- one in which the game itself was infinitely better than the commercials -- there is precious little room for baseball news in America's sports pages. Because of that, today would be a good day to discuss a topic that is not tied to the moment. I recently received the following letter which brings up some points about the Hall of Fame that are well worth addressing:

Fred McGriff
Fred McGriff is unlikely to get a crack at 500 home runs.
    Jim: Even though I am a young guy, I have a great deal of concern about the large number of pending Designated Hitters that could be headed for the Hall of Fame. I believe that baseball is a vibrant sport that changes with the times, but the DH is another matter. I believe that the DH corrupts batting numbers and has allowed a number of players to be HOF viable that would not otherwise be close. The criteria for the HOF has to remain those who were the most dominant of the era; therefore more closers need to be admitted. Goose Gossage's absence is a crying shame. One only has to see the vast number of power hitters who bailed out of the box when facing the Goose to justify his position. However, the election of Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor (and the talk around Jim Rice) underscore this problem. Without the DH, they would not have 3,000 hits and should not make the HOF. The 500 HR club has also been bastardized. Are Rafael Palmeiro and Fred McGriff real HOFers? It is time to discount DH numbers from certain candidates and re-weigh NL players to correct for those who would have retired due their inability to play the field. Your thoughts on whether these considerations are valid and if your peers consider these discrepancies would be enlightening.

    Peter Kezirian
    Los Angeles, California

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at