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Albert Belle...Hall of Famer?

You all remember Albert, the tremendous baseball talent who also was a tremendous jerk. This dichotomy is not new in Hall of Famers, but given that Belle is a borderline candidate for the Hall, and those with votes are those he interacted with in the locker room, his off-the-field antics might play a large role in the voters' decision. If Belle had played until he was in his late 30s, amassed 500+ home runs, and had a couple more top-5 MVP finishes, voters might not have had a choice.

But even with a shortened career, you can make a case for Albert. Here's a list of left fielders in the Hall of Fame, along with their total WARP (adjusted for era), and their 3 most productive seasons. Just for fun, I've added Albert Belle and Jim Rice, the two left fielders on this year's ballot.

Belle certainly does not have the career totals to justify enshrinement, but he does have the type of peak which have gotten several short-career players into the Hall. In fact, his numbers compare favorably to Jim Rice, who may get in this year. Between 1993 and 2000, Belle only posted a WARP3 under 10 twice. Even for his era, those are excellent numbers. Belle finished in the top 10 in MVP voting five times from 1993 to 1998, and really should have won at least once. He was the best player on several good to great teams, including the 1995 pennant-winning Indians. He's performed well (.230/.405/.557) in the postseason.

What's working against Belle? Plenty. He doesn't have any of the career milestones that get the attention of voters. His defense will probably hurt him more than it will help him. And of course, he's alienated the vast majority of those who have HOF ballots.

The problem with Belle is that even if some voters recognize that he has a case for election, his off-the-field issues will tip the scale against him. If Albert had been able to play for 3-4 more seasons, reached the 500 home run mark (or at least gotten close to it), and put together one or two more very good (top-10 MVP) seasons, then a lot of voters would have held their noses and written Belle's name on their ballots. But I think his case is too marginal to override those who still hold a grudge against him.

What do you think?