The National Baseball Hall of Fame boasts a robust 2018 induction class, with six former players being enshrined. Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, who was tapped by the Veteran’s Committee, and Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Vlad Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman, who were elected by the writer’s ballot will all have brand spanking new plaques in Cooperstown this summer. They had many ups but also had some lows. Let’s take a look at who they owned during their careers and those they faced that they would have rather just seen them go away.
Vlad Guerrero: Vlad the Impaler must have licked his lips every time he saw Joey Hamilton on the pitcher’s mound. He had eight hits in 13 career at-bats with three walks, five doubles and a home run. The right-handed Hamilton was a serviceable starter who won 74 games in a 10-year career, but probably wished he had a different career every time he had to face Guerrero.
On the other hand, left-hander Al Leiter had the slugger’s number. He permitted just five hits in 44 at-bats for a measly .114 batting average. He did give up one home run, but struck him out seven times as cruel retribution.
Chipper Jones: Being a switch hitter, Jones could go up to the plate with confidence regardless of what side the pitcher was throwing from. Right-hander Armando Reynoso might have well been throwing beach balls, as he surrendered 14 hits, including two home runs, in 24 at-bats. He never did strike him out, but did give up seven walks.
The pitcher who gave Jones fits was Saul Rivera. He mustered just two hits in 22 plate appearances against him. Although he drew two walks, he struck out five times and could never figure out this little-known reliever, who pitched primarily for the Washington Nationals.
Jim Thome: There is little doubt that the left-handed slugger struck fear in the heart in just about every pitcher he faced during his illustrious 22-year career. 612 home runs and 1,699 RBIs will do that. This included the legendary Roger Clemens, who could only hold him to a .355 batting average and eight home runs in their 73 career at bats facing each other.
Another Texas-born pitcher dominated Thome. John Lackey faced off against him 22 times, and other than four walks, he retired him every other time. This included seven strikeouts, to wrap up a complete domination of their rivalry.
Trevor Hoffman: Divisional rival Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies absolutely wore out Hoffman over the years. He had 13 hits in 25 career at-bats. This included three double and a home run, which meant that no game against the Padres was out of reach if he was batting against their closer.
Jeff Reed had a 17-year major league career as a backup catcher. However, he looked more like a little leaguer when batting against Hoffman. No doubt heavily relying on his nasty changeup, the closer permitted a lone walk in 13 plate appearances by Reed, while striking him out eight times.
Jack Morris: Wally Joyner was a fine first baseman during his career, collecting a .289 batting average over 16 seasons. He really ramped up his production against Morris, to the tune of 21 hits in 50 at bats, which was good for a .420 average. He also drew nine walks while striking out just once, meaning he reached base 64 percent of the time when facing off against this Hall-of-Famer.
When it came to Morris, the anti-Joyner was poor Ken Phelps. The left-handed batter had good pop but a career batting average of just .239. He managed a lone single in 31 at-bats, while striking out 13 times against his primary nemesis. If he had never met Morris, his career batting average would have been three points higher at .242 .
Alan Trammell: Left-hander Ed Vande Berg pitched for seven years in the majors, but must have felt he belonged elsewhere every time he faced off against the legendary shortstop. He allowed nine hits (including four home runs) in 16 at bats, which should have qualified as an assault and battery.
Vande Berg’s opposite was long reliever and spot start Sid Monge. Trammell went up to the plate to face him 15 times and each time, including three times by way of the strikeout, went back to the dugout without putting the ball in play or taking a base.
********************************You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew