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Astros: Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt to leave the Hall of Fame ballot

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HOUSTON - JULY 24: First baseman Lance Berkman #17 tosses the ball to pitcher Roy Oswalt at first base against the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park on July 24, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - JULY 24: First baseman Lance Berkman #17 tosses the ball to pitcher Roy Oswalt at first base against the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park on July 24, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Unfortunately for a pair of former Astros greats, their respective Hall of Fame aspirations were a one-and-done campaign.

Whenever I’d reflect back on the mid-2000’s Astros, lots of brick red pops into mind. Also, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt. Then more brick red followed by a creepy jackrabbit by the name of Junction Jack.

Unfortunately for Berkman and Oswalt, their baseball immortality won’t carry over as plaques in Cooperstown. Both players failed to appear on at least 5 percent — which is the mandatory threshold to remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for the next year — of this year’s results. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Lance Berkman – 5 out of 425 ballots (1.2 percent)
  • Roy Oswalt – 4 out of 425 ballots (0.9 percent)

As you can see, both players failed to garner much traction among the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Only nine combined votes across the ballots, which will continue to leave Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio as the only players to wear an Astros’ cap in the Hall of Fame. Another former Astro, Miguel Tejada (1.2 percent), also failed to reach at least 5 percent, and will no longer appear on the ballot. If Billy Wagner (16.7 percent), another former Astro, is ever voted into Cooperstown, it’ll be a fascinating debate as to the cap he’ll go in wearing on his plaque. And, no, Andy Pettitte nor Roger Clemens enter Cooperstown wearing an Astros’ cap, if they eventually reach the mandatory 75 percent threshold.

All in all, I am not terribly surprised by the results of the vote. Berkman and Oswalt were facing an uphill battle, although their respective numbers are hard to ignore. As noted by Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs, Berkman’s case for Cooperstown was derailed by a short career, thanks in part to knee injuries during the latter half. But Jaffe does contend that Berkman’s rate stats was his best “claim” to the Hall of Fame. Alas, the lack of overall numbers and his decline starting in 2009 made it a difficult battle for Berkman’s Hall of Fame chances.

As for Oswalt, Jaffe notes that the former Astros’ ace is haunted by the lack of longevity, especially past his age-33 season. If lower back issues hadn’t become a derailing factor, Oswalt may have lasted into his late-thirties, but it wasn’t meant to be. But there is no denying the former ace starter was one of the best in the game during his heyday.

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That said, I was hopeful both players would last more than one year on the ballot. Berkman and Oswalt helped push the Astros to new heights during the early-to-mid 2000’s, although the teams ultimately fell short in their World Series aspirations. Both had impressive careers, and I am glad we got to revisit those special seasons when they donned the red brick-and-black.

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