Gord Muckvichuk - Cobb Times Herald
In our continuing series, HoF or Not?, the Cobb Times Herald is looking at who could possibly make the Hall of Fame at each position. Today the focus is on 2B, where defense is as important as what you produce at the plate. 2B in Cobb World is wide open when trying to determine the greats, but we have narrowed it down a bit in an attempt to let the cream rise to the top. By and large the crop of prospects is dominated by two veterans and a bunch of rising stars. Here's who has potential for the Hall.
Fred McConnell - Charlotte Dogs
Qualifications: 5 All Star appearances, 5 Silver Sluggers (3 2B, 2 CF), 1 Gold Glove (RF), .338 BA, 1132 hits, 917 runs, 730 BB, .461 OBP
Detriments: Spent some of his career in the OF
HoF or Not: HoF - McConnell has been one of the great pure hitters in Cobb World since season 1, and has probably the best batting eye in the history of the game. Add his solid work in the field and you have what might be the best 2B in Cobb history.
Scooter Stevenson - Free Agent
Qualifications: 3 All Star appearances, 1 Silver Slugger, 3 Gold Gloves, 1145 hits, .311 BA
Detriments: Faded badly with age
HoF or Not: HoF - Stevenson may not be the hitter McConnell is, but his glove is much better. The man of the infamous 327K contract in season 1 hopefully has enough saved up for a trip to Cooperstown.
Kenny Blair - Syracuse Beagles
Qualifications: 2 All Star appearances, 1 Silver Slugger, 240 HR, 916 hits, .978 Fielding %
Detriments: Still time left for him to get hurt or something else unforeseen.
HoF or Not: HoF - If Blair keeps producing at his current level there is no reason why he shouldn't make the Hall. He is just entering his prime, which means more 50+ HR seasons with solid glove-work should be expected.
Rabbit Lara - St. Louis HoundDogs
Qualifications: 2 All Star appearances, 1 Silver Slugger, 1 Gold Glove (RF), .316 BA, 1206 hits
Detriments: 124 Errors
HoF or Not: NOT - Lara has been very good with the stick, but his .976 fielding percentage is deceptive as he is second all time in errors at the 2B position. The bottom line is that Lara is a borderline candidate, and with a few more good seasons could see his status change, but right now he is on the wrong side of the fence.
Bill Norton - Omaha Sluggers
Qualifications: 2 All Star appearances, 1 All Star MVP, .309 BA, .983 Fielding %
Detriments: 5:1 negative to positive play ratio, few years of service
HoF or Not: NOT - Not yet anyways, but with a few more seasons like Norton has been producing that is sure to change. It's just too early to call him a Hall of Famer at this point.
Tomas Diaz - Omaha Sluggers
Qualifications: 2 All Star appearances, 2 Silver Sluggers, .981 Fielding %
Detriments: Bad management kept him shut in AAA for alternating seasons
HoF or Not: NOT - Diaz has had the misfortune of having his career mismanaged to the point where he was spending his prime in AAA after an All Star season. Why we will never know, but having escaped the dungeons of the NY Brokers to greener pastures in Omaha, he should experience a career renaissance, but not at 2B where Norton is entrenched.
Dennis Ashby - Charlotte Dogs
Qualifications: 2 All Star appearances, 1 Silver Slugger, .991 Fielding %
Detriments: Hasn't been on the scene long enough
HoF or Not: NOT - Another case of too young to call a Hall of Famer. Ashby is a brilliant young player, and if he keeps up what he is achieving currently then there is no reason why he won't have HoF credentials when he retires. But at the moment he is merely a gifted young star with potential for great things.
Pat Barber - Louisville Tysons
Qualifications: 1 All Star appearance, 5 Silver Sluggers, 299 HR's, 1.024 OPS
Detriments: 30:1 negative to positive play ratio
HoF or Not: HoF - Barber may not be the most gifted 2B with the glove, but he is adequate enough defensively to allow his thunderous bat into the lineup at a position that doesn't generally offer much power. Barber is the best slugging 2B in Cobb World, and is worthy of a spot in the Hall.
On the radar but not yet ready for the discussion: Russell Stark - Chicago Sabercats, Jose Santos - Free Agent, Benny Pineda - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats, Steven Grilli - St. Louis HoundDogs, Tom Pettitte - Pawtucket G-Maniacs, and Hee Martin - Helena Hellraisers.