I thought it might be worth discussing some of the Cubs we formerly adored, especially in this winter of our discontent. Eight of the thirty-six players on this year's ballot are former Cubs (I will not forgive the BBWA for dropping Lofton after only 1 ballot). I encourage people to check out Jay Jaffe's excellent series on the serious candidates for the 2014 ballot on SI (Links to the former Cubs will be in each section).
You can see the full ballot with stats here: Link
By order of years on the ballot:
Years on Ballot: 12
Highest Vote: 47.8%
As a Cub: 8 yrs, 681.1 IP, 180 SV, 2.92 ERA, 134 ERA+
Career: 18 yrs, 1022 IP, 478 SV, 3.03 ERA, 132 ERA+
Smith's strongest case was that he was one of the most dominate relievers in baseball in the late 80's and early 90's and is third all-time on the career saves list - a list he topped at his retirement. He was remarkably durable, posting 8 seasons in which he both topped 80 innings pitched while posting a 130 ERA+. I have a hard time supporting relief-only pitchers for the hall of fame unless they have cases like Mariano Rivera but Smith was one of the first good Cubs players who I ever followed and he closed out the first game I ever saw at Wrigley. He will always have a special place in my heart.
Jay Jaffe on Lee Smith: http://mlb.si.com/2013/12/06/jaws-an...lot-lee-smith/
Highest Vote: 20.7%
Cubs: 1 1/2 seasons, 195 G, .276/.361/.518, 42 HR, 144 RBI, 130 OPS+, 3.3 WAR
Career: 19 Seasons, 2460 G, .284/.377/.509, 441 HR, 1550 RBI, 134 OPS+, 52.6 WAR
The Crime Dog's best case is his consistency, posting 7 straight 30+ HR seasons in the late 80's/early 90's. He also finished with the same number of HR as Lou Gehrig (who was a much much better all-around hitter). Unfortunately, McGriff never really stood out among his peers, achieving only two 6+ WAR seasons and no MVP seasons. He did win 4 silver sluggers and made 5 all-star appearances. With the Cubs, McGriff provided much-needed punch to pair with Sammy Sosa but the duo couldn't lift the Cubs into the playoffs.
Jaffe on McGriff's case: Link
Highest Vote: 8.8%
Cubs: 4 yrs, 258 G, .294/.341/.462, 25 HR, 95 RBI, 120 OPS+, 15/5 SB/CS, 2.9 WAR
Career: 20 yrs, 2831 G, .288/.371/.515, 569 HR, 1039 RBI, 137 OPS+, 71.8 WAR
Drafted in the first round of the '85 amateur draft by the Cubs, Palmeiro made his debut only a year later. It took a while for his power to develop but Palmeiro met some fairly important milestones with over 550 career HR, 3,000 hits and over 1,000 RBI. His 71.8 career WAR places him 11th on the all-time list at first base, beating the average HoF inductee but he had a relatively low peak value compared to hall of fame first basemen. He never eclipsed 7 WAR in a season but put up a WAR of 4 or better in 9 out of 10 seasons from '90-'99. His career OPS+ ties him with Will Clark. Even if you ignore the PED scandal, which voters almost certainly won't, Palmeiro may be one of the few 3,000/500/1,000 hitters who does not belong in the hall. I guess there's something to be said for longevity, though?
Jaffe on Palmeiro: Link
Slammin' Sammy Sosa
Highest Vote: 12.5%
Cub: 13 yrs, 1811 G, .284/.358/.569, 545 HR, 1414 RBI, 139 OPS+, 181/79 SB/CS, 58.6 WAR
Career: 18 yrs, 2354 G, .273/.344/.534 609 HR, 1667 RBI, 128 OPS+, 58.4 WAR
Speaking of players with milestone numbers who might night have a great HoF case, even if you set aside the PED allegations, Sammy Sosa put up numbers that would have almost guaranteed him a HoF bid in earlier eras. Unfortunately, Sammy had a relatively low career OBP to go with an uninspiring OPS+ for a hall of fame candidate. What he did have was absurd value over a short span, accumulating over 20 WAR in 3 seasons from 2000-2002. Sosa had 1 MVP to go with 6 silver slugger awards and 7 all-star appearances. He led the Cubs to the 1998 playoffs and was part of the 2003 ALCS team.
Jaffe on Sosa: Link
Cubs: 10 yrs, 302 G, 133-112, 3.61 ERA, 1828 Ks, 163 ERA+
Career: 23 yrs, 744 G, 355-227, 3.16 ERA, 3371 Ks, 132 ERA+
Maddux is probably a first ballot hall of famer. He has received votes on all publicly available ballots to date. Maddux ranks 8th all-time in wins, 10th in K's and 25th in ERA+. The wins and ERA+ numbers are pretty incredible for a pitcher from his era of baseball. He won 4 Cy Youngs, including 3 in a row, made 8 all-star appearances with 3 starts, and won the Gold Glove in 18 of 19 seasons from 1990-2008.
Jaffe on Maddux: Link
Cubs: 2 yrs, 223 G, .278/.365/.454, 22 HR, 113 RBI, 115 OPS+, 4.6 WAR
Career: 19 Yrs, 2591 G, .283/.367/.479, 354 HR, 1439 RBI, 119 OPS+, 51.5 WAR
Luis had a nice long carer. He posted his best season in 2001 with 7.9 WAR, winning his only silver slugger along the way. He was a big part of the 2001 Diamondbacks championship season in which they heroically slew the New York Yankees. Other than that, he doesn't stand much of a chance for the hall of fame.
Jaffe on Gonzalez: Due out Dec. 23rd
Cubs: 3 yrs, 438 G, .283/.353/.484, 76 HR, 258 RBI, 116 OPS+, 5.2 WAR
Career: 17 yrs, 1942 G, .303/.369/.516, 84 HR, 1287 RBI, 128 OPS+, 39.7 WAR
Alou is another former Cub who had a nice career. Hitting .300 over the course of 17 seasons is no small feat. He'll never be in the hall of fame but I have a feeling Cubs fans won't soon forget him.
YoB: 1st (and probably last)
Cubs: 2 yrs, 284 G, . 279/.327/.455, 32 HR, 147 RBI, 98 OPS+, 15/4 SB/CS, 1.6 WAR
Career: 10 yrs, 1302 G, .277/.326/.448, 165 HR, 630 RBI, 98 OPS+, 82/45 SB/CS, 11.5 WAR
Jones was signed to play right field for the Cubs in '06 and took over centerfield in '07. The most notable part of his career for the Cubs may be that he was traded for Omar Infante in the winter of 2007 who was flipped for Jose Ascanio. He put up numbers for the Cubs that were nearly identical for his career marks. I didn't realize how efficient he was at stealing bases for the Cubs. Maybe they should have sent him a little more often...
It looks like Maddux is on his way to join the HoF on the first ballot while Smith may pick up a few votes this year and possibly get some serious consideration from the veteran's committee? It looks like there are also some writers who are very serious about their McGriff votes so that's a story potentially worth watching in the future.