The New York Hall of Fame candidates, from Piazza to (Rondell) White

Mike Piazza. (MLB.com)
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This week, the Baseball Writers Association of America released the 37 former major leaguers, retired for at least five seasons, who roughly 600 writers can vote into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Twenty-four of these are newcomers.

Much of the debate about who will or won't be inducted to the Hall will revolve around things like who took steroids, who someone suspects took steroids on dubious evidence, and who has never done anything to suggest having taken steroids, but hey, you never know.

I'll concern myself here with the locals, defined very broadly.

Here's a alphabetical guide to the New York players who've been added to the ballot:

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Sandy Alomar, Jr.

New York's claim on him: 22 at-bats with the 2007 Mets.

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 1%

Alomar was one of the best catching prospects in recent memory, and had a very useful 20-year career, complete with a Gold Glove, a Rookie of the Year, and six All-Star appearances. But he seldom stayed healthy, cracking 100 games played only four times. And really, who wants to claim at-bats from the 2007 Mets, anyway?

Roger Clemens

New York's claim on him: Drafted, but did not sign, with 1981 Mets, six solid seasons with the Yankees

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 20%

Clemens will be the subject of the biggest argument over steroids, even though he has a decent argument for being the best starting pitcher, ever.  If the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham's decision to start voting purely based on merit represents the start of a trend, Clemens could make it, eventually. Interestingly, his six seasons with the Yankees are fine, but easily the worst on his resume. His E.R.A.+ in New York was 114, 144 in Boston, 180 in Houston and 196 in Toronto.

Jeff Conine

New York's claim on him: 50 at-bats with the 2007 Mets

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 0.5%

Gee, a bunch of 2007 Mets who didn't make the postseason aren't going to make the Hall of Fame, either. Conine was a solid player, posting surplus offensive value while playing corners, infiend and out, mostly with the Marlins and Orioles. But a career O.P.S.+ of 107 isn't going to get you to Cooperstown without a ticket.

Steve Finley

New York's claim on him: Tangential

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 8%

A very good defensive center fielder with surprisingly good offensive totals (2,548 career hits!), Finley falls short. But just the same, he'll always be in the Hall of Fame of my heart for failing to catch this.

Julio Franco

New York's claim on him: Pinch-hitter for the 2006-07 Mets

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 2%

Late in his career, Franco was a curiosity due to longevity. But early on, he was a good, and at times, great player, playing almost every game, posting high batting averages, some power and good speed while playing both middle infield positions.

Shawn Green

New York's claim on him: Some league-average offense in right field for the 2006-07 Mets

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 3%

Through age 32, Shawn Green had 303 home runs and an O.P.S.+ of 123. Through age 32, recent inductee Andre Dawson had 274 home runs and an O.P.S.+ of 123. But injuries curtained Green, and fast. From age 33 on, Dawson put up another 164 home runs and a 114 O.P.S.+; Green, 25 more home runs and a 99 O.P.S.+.

Roberto Hernandez

New York's claim on him: a sparkling 2.79 E.R.A. in parts of two seasons with the 2005-06 Mets, was once part of a trade that brought Oliver Perez to the Mets.

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 2%

Before coming to the Mets, Hernandez spent seven years as a top-tier closer for the White Sox, then bounced around for a while. He was bad enough in 2007 that even those Mets didn't miss him out of the bullpen, but in fairness to Hernandez, he was 42 by then.

Kenny Lofton

New York's claim on him: A forgettable 2004 season.

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 3%

If only there were a Hall of Reasonably Good Center Fielders, Lofton and Finley would be unanimous picks. Lofton was a dominant base stealer early in his career, with enough pop and defense in center field to stick around until he was 40, still stealing bases at a reasonable clip. He's Tim Raines, if you don't look too hard. Oh, and he agreed with Gary Sheffield that Joe Torre was a racist, then backtracked and pretended not to know what racism even was.

Mike Piazza

New York's claim on him: Best catcher in Mets history.

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 80%

Writing that last line made me physically ill, because Mike Piazza is arguably the greatest catcher in the history of baseball, and the percentage he makes the Hall of Fame ought to be at least twice that. Sure, he struggled to throw out runners. But do you realize how much better, offensively, he was than the other all-time greats? Mike Piazza's career O.P.S.+ was 143. Yogi Berra's was 125. Johnny Bench's was 126. Roy Campanella's was 123. How much does Piazza need to give back on defense--which he reportedly excelled at in areas that aren't throwing runners out--to fall to just even with the best catchers, ever?

But yes, there's that Murray Chass fatwa out there. So who knows?

Aaron Sele

New York's claim on him: a season as long man for the 2007 Mets

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 0.2%

Another 2007 Met who played through the collapse, then not for anyone, ever again. Would be funnier if I hadn't lived through it.

Mike Stanton

New York's claim on him: seven good years setting up for the Yankees, two reasonably good years doing the same for the Mets

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 0.1%

No shame in Stanton's longshot chances here: the next setup man to make the Hall of Fame will be the first, and Stanton did his job well for well over a decade. Better yet, the young slugger with the Marlins, who came up as Mike Stanton and threatened to relegate the elder Stanton to baseball's other Mike Stanton forever, changed his name to Giancarlo, keeping Mike Stanton's legacy among Mike Stanton's safe, for now.

David Wells

New York's claim on him: Four good years in 1997-98, 2002-03 with the Yankees

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 8%

Wells had his moments, that's for sure. He pitched a perfect game, later claiming in a book he'd done so half-drunk. He once wore a signed hat by Babe Ruth while pitching for the Yankees, something that sounds like a Seinfeld sideplot. And if you like wins, he had 239 of them, so there's a Hall case to be made there, I suppose. But he's basically Mickey Lolich with a more colorful personality.

Rondell White

New York's claim on him: The worst season of White's career, for the 2002 Yankees

Chances of making the Hall of Fame: 0.03%

For Rondell White, it really was only a question of staying healthy. And he didn't.