The past few years of Hall of Fame inductions have been very good to Canadian baseball, what with Tim Raines and Vladimir Guerrero making it in. That trend of players with ties to Canada becoming Hall of Famers is only likely to continue in 2019 with Roy Halladay‘s induction. But what about Blue Jays who had excellent careers and yet came up short of making it to Cooperstown? There are quite a few Blue Jays that should have received far more votes than they ended up getting, maybe no one more so than John Olerud.
One of the biggest reasons why Olerud’s HOF bid garnered so little support was that he was one of the most unassuming people you’ll ever come across in Major League Baseball. He was the definition of humble. When his name was on the ballot back in 2011, voters probably scrolled right past it without blinking an eye.
How many people would have guessed that Olerud has a career WAR of 58.2?
Olerud’s WAR is higher than almost half the position players in the HOF, including such greats as Willie Stargell (57.5), Tony Perez (54.0), Kirby Puckett (51.1) and Orlando Cepeda (50.2). Even compared to two of the more recent 1st basemen inducted into the Hall, Cepeda (1999) and Perez (2000), Olerud’s numbers compare quite favourably. So why is it then, that Olerud, in his one year on the HOF ballot received less than 1% of the damn vote?
Could it be because the voting committee thought he was boring and far too dull for such a prestigious honour. There’s no denying Olerud wasn’t the most exciting player to watch. Sure he had that silky smooth swing, but he played a not-so-glamorous position, never said anything that made the headlines, and only ever played in two all-star games. One of the biggest problems with the Hall of Fame is they have this tendency to play favourites. It’s what they’ve always done and something they’re continuing to do by picking and choosing which players tied to performance enhancing drugs they allow in. What one has to admire about Olerud, is that during the peak of the steroid era, he played clean and still put up one solid season after another for 16 straight years.
Does John Olerud belong in the Hall of Fame? There’s certainly an argument for it when comparing his numbers to those of other players in the Hall. But more importantly, we have to ask ourselves why someone who could arguably be in the HOF receives a measly 0.7% of the vote and is bumped off the ballot after just one year.