As the 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot was announced earlier this week, I thought it might be worthwhile to highlight some of the former Indians on the list in terms of their careers in general and their time spent with the Tribe. None of the players on the list spent significant time with the Indians, but a couple of them did have a pretty big impact in their short stints.
Sean Casey, 1B
Sean Casey had a whopping 10 AB with the Indians as a youngster in 1997. Right before the start of the 1998 season, Casey was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, where he would spend the majority and best years of his career. The Indians received starting pitcher Dave Burba in return, who turned in 3 straight solid seasons for the Indians. Sean Casey’s career took off in 1999 when he batted .332 with 25 HR and 99 RBI. He was named to his first all-team this season as well. Casey was a 3-time all-star at the end of his career (1999, 2000, 2004) and finished up with a career AVG of .302. While his Hall of Fame chances are pretty much nonexistent, Casey will always be remembered for being one of the most genuinely nice guys in baseball and he certainly made a positive impact during his time on the field.
Jeff Kent, 2B
Jeff Kent was traded to the Indians in the middle of the 1996 season along with Jose Vizcaino for Alvaro Espinoza and Carlos Baerga. In the 1997 offseason, Kent was traded to the San Francisco Giants along with Vizcaino and Julian Tavarez for Matt Williams. Williams would go on to have a huge 1997 for the Indians earning a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove while playing an integral role in the team’s magical World Series run. However, Kent would blossom with the Giants in 1997 hitting 29 HR and driving in 121 runs. This started a string of seasons in which Kent was widely regarded as one of (if not the best) offensive second baseman in all of baseball. In 2000, Kent earned National League MVP honors with a .334 AVG, 33 HR, 125 RBI, 114 runs, an OBP of .424 and a SLG of .596. He was a 5-time all-star (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005) and 4-time Silver Slugger (2000, 2001, 2002, 2005). While most likely not a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Kent actually does have a legitimate chance of making the Hall. Offensively, he ranks right up there with recent Hall of Fame second basemen Roberto Alomar and Ryne Sandberg. However Alomar and Sandberg both earned far more All-Star selections and both have a closet full of Gold Gloves, something that Kent does not have. Kent is not a shoo-in, but he will be given a good amount of consideration by voters.
Jack Morris, SP
Jack Morris is going to be the most widely debated player going into the 2014 election as he is on the ballot for the final time. He spent his last MLB season with the Indians in 1994, posting a record of 10-6 with an ERA of 5.60. He was eventually released by the Indians in August before the strike. There can be made valid arguments made both for and against Morris being elected to the Hall. He had 175 CG over the course of his career and logged 3824.0 IP. He struck out 2478 over his career, had 254 career victories, and won 20+ games three times. Morris’s post-season credentials certainly give him a boost though. We was a 3-time World Series champion (1984, 1991, 1992), and of course the MVP of the 1991 World Series. He was a 5-time all-star as well (1981, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1991) However, he has a 3.90 ERA which would be the highest of any pitcher in the Hall if he were to be elected. He will also be hurt by the fact that surefire Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are on the ballot this year as well as pitchers like Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling who will get consideration as well.
Richie Sexson, 1B
Richie Sexson probably had the biggest impact in Cleveland out of all Hall of Fame candidates. Sexson came up through the organization an immediately made an impact for the Indians down the stretch run in 1998 by hitting .310 with 11 HR and 35 RBI in just 49 games. In his first full major league season in 1999, Sexson batted .255 with 31 HR and 116 RBI, giving the Tribe another big bat to an already potent offense. Sexson was traded to the Brewers in 2000 along with Paul Rigdon and Kane Davis for Bob Wickman, Steve Woodard, and Jason Bere. Wickman would go on to become the all-time saves leader in Indians history, while Woodard and Bere helped solidify the starting rotation down the stretch run in 2000. Sexson earned his only two all-star selections with the Brewers in 2002 and 2003. While Sexson has no chance of making the Hall, he put up some great numbers over the course of his career. He topped the 30 HR and 100 RBI plateaus 6 times in his career. He had a career high of 45 HR twice (2001, 2003) and ended his career with 306 HR.