Au Revoir: Dawson, Carter Were Top Expos

Ah, those Montreal Expos. Funky red, white and blue hats. Canada’s first baseball team. Les Expos.

Although they never won a National League pennant during their 36 seasons in Montreal before morphing into the Washington Nationals, the Expos produced several Hall of Fame caliber players.

Two of those players — catcher Gary Carter and newly-inducted outfielder Andre Dawson — have gone into Cooperstown as members of the Expos.

The Hawk, below right, National League Rookie of the Year in 1977, played his first 11 seasons with the Expos. He later won the 1987 NL MVP with the Cubs.

An eight-time All Star, he finished his career with 438 homers, 314 stolen bases and a .279 batting average and won eight Gold Gloves.

Carter, aka the Kid, also played his first 11 seasons with Montreal, and won a World Series with the Mets in 1986. Carter hit 324 home runs and finished with a .262 lifetime batting average.

Two other HOF candidates, Randy Johnson and Vladimir Guerrero, also began their careers in Montreal. But if the Big Unit and Vlad go to Cooperstown as expected, they will not be wearing Montreal caps.

Montreal had some other great players including Canadian-born Larry Walker, who played his first six seasons with the Expos before moving on to greater things in Colorado; Pedro Martinez who pitched four years in Montreal and was the NL Cy Young Award winner in 1997; and Andres Galararraga, who played eight years with the Expos but failed to reach the necessary five percent of votes in 2010 to stay on the HOF ballot next year.

Finally, there’s the case of Tim “Rock” Raines, who broke in with Montreal in 1979 and played his first 12 years in Montreal before being traded to the White Sox following the 1990 season.

Raines is arguably the greatest leadoff hitter in the past quarter century outside of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. His lifetime stats compare very favorably to Lou Brock, another Hall of Famer.

The Rock should be a lock for the Hall of Fame. But strangely he hasn’t come close, garnering just over 30 percent of the vote in 2010, his third year of eligibility.

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These Active Players Headed for Cooperstown

Derek Jeter, left, and Mariano Rivera are sure bets for the Hall of Fame.

From this catbird’s seat, the SportsLifer sees nine active players heading for the Hall of Fame.

Criteria for consideration includes at least a 10-year, major league resume. Players linked to steroids, who might otherwise be Cooperstown bound, are instead banished to the Mark McGwire waiting room.

The list of nine HOFers includes three infielders, three outfielders and three pitchers, two of them relievers.  There are three other players on the cusp who will merit strong consideration by voters.

Of note, Pedro Martinez will qualify for this list once he takes the mound for the Phillies. He’s currently on the disabled list and hasn’t pitched yet this year.

Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki, each with nine years of service, will certainly be added to this list next year.

Lastly…and sadly…are five other players who would have made the list but for the needle and the damage done.

Hall of Famers

Ken Griffey, Jr, OF — Active leader, 5th all time with  621 HRs, 1798  RBIs, .286 BA, 184 SBs, 1997 AL MVP, played for Mariners and Reds, shown left

Vladimir Guerrero, OF — 396 HRs, 1289 RBIs, .322 lifetime BA, stole 175 bases, AL MVP with Angels in 2004

Trevor Hoffman, RP — All-time saves leader with 575, 2.76 ERA, played primarily for Padres, now with Brewers

Derek Jeter, SS — Captain of the Yankees, four-time World Champion, .316 lifetime BA, 216 HRs, 1039 RBIs, 292 stolen bases

Randy Johnson, P — The Big Unit, 303 lifetime wins, second all-time in strikeouts with 4867, five-time Cy Young award winner with Mariners and D’Backs

Chipper Jones, 3B — Played entire career with Braves, 417 HRs, 1416 RBIs, .310 BA, NL MVP in 1999, .364 NL batting champ in 2008

Mariano Rivera, RP — 505 saves, 2.29 lifetime ERA, post-season exploits with Yankees are unsurpassed, 34 saves, 0.80 ERA, 0.87 WHIP

John Smoltz, P — 211 victories, 154 saves, 3.27 lifetime ERA,, earned primarily with the Braves; 1996 NL Cy Young, record 15 post-season wins.

Jim Thome, 1B —  13th on the all-time home run list  with 557 dingers, he also has 1545 RBIs for Indians, White Sox, Phillies

Special Consideration

Pedro Martinez, P — Just signed with Phillies, three-time Cy Young Award winner with Expos and Red Sox, 214-99, 2.91 lifetime.

On the Cusp

 Carlos Delgado, 1B — 473 home runs, 1512 RBIs for this slugger, who played for the Blue Jays and now Mets

Jorge Posada, C — Caught for the Yankees during their late 1990s dynasty, has 231 homers and 916 RBIs…276 BA

Johan Santana, P — 119-58 lifetime, 3.11 ERA, Cy Young winner with Twins in 2004, 2006, now pitches for Mets

Omar Vizquel, SS — Known as a slick fielder with 11 Gold Gloves, he has collected nearly 2,700 hits and 400 SBs

Nine Years And Counting

Albert Pujols, 1B — 353 HRs, 1066 RBIs, .332 BA, NL MVP 2005, 2008 with Cardinals, NL batting champion in 2003

Ichiro Suzuki, OF — 1936 hits, .332 BA, 334 steals, AL MVP in 2001 with Mariners, AL batting champ in 2001, 2004

Ineligible Juicers

Jason Giambi

Manny Ramirez

Alex Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez

Gary Sheffield