Former Cleveland Indians slugger Albert Belle has a chance to be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame later this week.
Another former Cleveland Indians player is on a Hall of Fame ballot, as Albert Belle will be up for induction in the 2017 Hall of Fame class.
Belle is on the Today’s Game Era Committee ballot, which is voted on by a small committee of former players, managers and executives.
While Belle’s career did not end in the most glorious of manners, his time in Cleveland was filled with great play and constant excitement, even if it wasn’t always positive.
First let’s look at the stats. Belle finished with career with 381 home runs and was a five-time All Star. His best year came in 1995 when he hit 50 home runs and 52 doubles, finishing the year with the modest slash line of .317/.401/.690. He was a major part of why the Indians made it to the World Series, and the year was the culmination of all the success he had since his debut in 1989.
He left Cleveland to join the Chicago White Sox in 1996, where he continued to be a dominant player. His career unfortunately ended early in 2000 due to arthritis in his hip, ending what could have been an even more impressive career.
His numbers are impressive, but they don’t seem Hall of Fame worthy. And if there are any lingering questions, his actions throughout his career may doom his chances.
Belle was a notorious hot-head throughout his career, getting in fights with teammates and reporters on a regular basis. He was also caught corking his bat, which doesn’t fly well with voters who respect the integrity of the game.
As important as statistics are, Belle doesn’t have the numbers to override the distraction he was off the field. He was an important member of the mid-90s Indians, and was even recognized with an induction into the Indians Hall of Fame this past summer. He did not show up for the ceremony.
If Belle finished with 500 home runs, his candidacy may not be up for debate, although the corked bat incident could doom him no matter what. But a career cut short will leave Belle out of the Hall of Fame.
He will always be remembered in Cleveland, even if he doesn’t want to come accept praise for bringing smiles to the faces of so many during the heyday that was mid-90s Indians baseball.