Johan Santana will be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2018 alongside Mets rivals Chipper Jones, Jamie Moyer, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, and Kevin Millwood, among others...
According to the Associated Press, roughly 430 ballots are being sent to eligible voters from the BBWAA. To be elected to the Hall of Fame, a player must appear on 75 percent of the ballots which are due by Dec. 31. The results will be announced Jan. 24.
September 18, 2008; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana (57) delivers in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
The Twins acquired Santana from the Astros as a Rule 5 Draft pick in 1999. He made his debut for Minnesota in early April, 2000. He went on to pitch 12 seasons, won 139 games, made 284 starts, tossed 2025.2 innings, struck out 1,988 batters, won two Cy Young Awards and pitched in five postseason series.
In the six-year stretch between 2003 and 2008, he was 98-42 with a 2.85 ERA (3.12 FIP) in 213 games, during which he walked just 308 batters and struck out 1,358.
The Twins traded Santana to the Mets in February 2008 for OF prospect Carlos Gomez and pitching prospects Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra. Santana, who was eligible to be a free agent the following season, required a six-year, $137.5 million contract from the Mets in return for waiving his no-trade clause.
In four seasons on the mound for the Mets (he missed the entire 2011 season recovering from shoulder surgery.), Santana had a 3.18 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, while striking out 607 batters in 717 innings . He also pitched the organization's first and only no-hitter on June 1, 2012.
Santana last pitched in the majors in 2012, after which he had anterior capsule shoulder surgery and tore his Achilles tendon. He attempted comebacks with the Blue Jays and Orioles during 2014 and 2015, but suffered setbacks that prevented his return. He had reportedly been considering another attempted return in 2017.
In total, Johan took the mound just over 100 times for the Mets. That's it. Yet, I loved watching him work in every single start.
Despite missing half of his potential outings, and despite never getting to the playoffs, I'm still thankful for his hard work and the fight he showed on the mound. And, I'm thankful I got to root for him on the Mets.
Aug 11, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana (57) pitches during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Personally, I don't put a lot of stock in to who does or doesn't get in to the Hall of Fame. I don't get a vote and -- for me -- baseball will always be about stories more than stats. In the career statistical department, Santana likely comes up short, though he was possibly the most dominant left-handed starting pitcher during any six-year stretch since Sandy Koufax. In terms of story, speaking as Mets fans, Johan is a legend...
In the end, all we're ever left with is what we remember, and I'll always remember Johan for three things: 1) The experience of finally getting to see a no hitter, 2) his incredible one-man show on September 27, 2008 against the Marlins, and 3) the day he taught me how to throw his circle change, which you can read all about here.
The 2008 offseason was dramatic, if you recall. The Mets were a mess, coming off a terrible 'collapse,' blowing a seven-game lead to the Phillies with 17 games left in the season and missing the playoffs. The winter started with rumblings that Santana would be available in trade, since he had one year left on his deal.
Johan Santana throws in the outfield during the New York Mets spring training workout at Tradition Field. Port St Lucie, FL 2/15/13 (John Munson/USA Today Images)
The Yankees and Red Sox were considered the favorites to land him. However, I kept hearing and kept writing that the Mets were confident they would eventually have a legit shot to trade for him.
Nevertheless, report after report kept indicating Omar Minaya didn't have the prospects to compete with what the Yankees and Red Sox could offer. This was true. The thing was, Santana wanted to switch to the National League and was very intrigued by joining Minaya's Mets. What's more, Johan held all of the cards because of his no-trade clause.
Minaya may have had lesser prospects, but he had the money to offer Santana, enough talent to attract the Twins, a team in a pitcher-friendly ballpark and a top-tier team in the National League. And, the rest was history...
By the way, Jason Isringhausen, who was a 44th-round draft pick by the Mets in 1991, is also eligible for the Hall of Fame. Isringhausen was 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA during his debut with the Mets in 1995. He struggled the following two seasons, underwent elbow surgery, failed to reestablish himself as a starting pitcher and was traded to the A's in 1999.
Mar 30, 2011; Isringhausen (45) throws a pitch at Digital Domain Park. Credit: Barr-USA TODAY Sports
In Oakland, Isringhausen found immediate success as a closer and eventually racked up 300 career saves after also spending time with the Cardinals, Rays, Angels, and a second stint with the Mets.
Isringhausen is not likely to ever get in to the Hall of Fame. However, given the amount of flack he and his former Mets teammates Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher suffered after being labeled Generation K in the mid 1990s, it's nice to see one of them on the ballot.