Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds throws to first base early during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. It was reported that Larkin was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame January 9, 2012. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
This week, Barry Larkin became the first member of the 1990 World Series champion Reds to be elected to the Hall of Fame. That continues a remarkable streak.
World Series titles, at least in part, are won because the teams that win them have players who could be considered on their way to the Hall of Fame. And most World Series champions have, in fact, had Hall of Fame players or managers, but until this week, writes Tyler Kepner in the New York Times, there was one notable exception: the 1990 Cincinnati Reds, who now have their first Hall of Famer in Barry Larkin.
The first postseason with wild cards was 1995; few stars from the champions since then have appeared on the ballot. Of the 90 teams to win the title before 1995, however, all now have at least one player or manager in the Hall of Fame — from the Boston Red Sox of Cy Young to the Toronto Blue Jays of Roberto Alomar and Paul Molitor. With Larkin, the picture is complete.
What about the wild-card era World Series winners, starting in 1995? It's probably too early to make any conjectures about winners over the last three or four years, but what about the teams from 1996 through 2007?
The Red Sox won in 2004 and 2007. Pedro Martinez is an obvious Hall choice, and Curt Schilling pitched for both of those teams, and I think he eventually gets in as well. Schilling also pitched for the 2001 Diamondbacks, and so did Randy Johnson; that team's covered. The 1995 Braves had multiple Hall-worthy players, including Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, as well as manager Bobby Cox; the 2006 Cardinals have manager Tony La Russa and, of course, Albert Pujols.
The '97 Marlins had a man who eventually hit over 500 home runs and had eight years when he hit 30 or more HR and eight with 100+ RBI. He had almost 2700 career hits, a career OPS of .907 and 63.3 career WAR, which ranks 89th all-time, below some current Hall of Famers but above others.
Whether Gary Sheffield ever makes it into the Hall is problematic; I'm not here to argue the steroids/Hall issue, but given what writers have already done, it's sure to come up, in addition to his unfriendly image.
However, I believe that 1997 Marlins manager Jim Leyland has a pretty good shot at the Hall, especially if he can win another World Series with the Tigers before he retires. This year, he'll move up to 15th on the all-time wins list; all the managers ahead of him are either in the Hall, will likely get in (Cox, La Russa, Torre) or have a similar argument (Lou Piniella). Gene Mauch is the only manager with more career wins than Leyland who isn't likely to ever be inducted, largely because he never even made it to the World Series and wound up with a losing overall record.
Similarly, Angels manager Mike Scioscia could make it if he wins another World Series or two with the Angels during the Pujols Era. In 12 seasons he already has 1,066 career wins (48th all-time, and he's likely to move up five spots on the list this year), six playoff appearances and one title. At age 53, he could have a decade and a half as a manager ahead of him. There likely won't be any players from the 2002 Angels making the Hall; the best players on the team were Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon and Troy Percival. All three were solid players, but come up short of Hall-worthiness. It's possible that K-Rod, who was a rookie on that Angels team, might have a shot, with 291 career saves at age 30, but whether he'll continue to even be a closer is an open question, considering he's staying with the Brewers as a setup man, and Hall voters have not been kind to relief pitchers.
So the streak of World Series winners with at least one Hall of Fame member could continue through at least the 2007 champion Red Sox. Will anyone from the 2008 Phillies make it? It's too early to tell, but if anyone does, that might extend the streak through 2009.