Every baseball fan knows every January that baseball’s elite head to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. This year, there are a number of fan-favorite players from across the league in their first year of eligibility on the ballot including Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano, Johan Santana and Andruw Jones. This year, however, there are two former Cleveland Indians making their debut on the ballot. Both Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel are up for induction to Cooperstown for the first time this year.

Thome, who played for the Tribe from 1991-2002 and part of the 2011 season, is a career .276 hitter who blasted 612 home runs throughout his career and drove in 1699 runs as well. As a member of the elite 600 home run club, Thome joins only eight other players including all-time time greats such as Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Hank Aaron. It should be noted that all three of the aforementioned players are already in the Hall of Fame.

Jim Thome’s 1699 runs batted in places him at 26th on the all-time RBI list four RBI ahead of Iron man Cal Ripken Jr, another Hall of Famer.

The other Cleveland Indian who is up for Hall of Fame induction this year is longtime Tribe shortstop Omar Vizquel. Known for his flashy defense, Vizquel won 11 gold gloves in his career and is the all-time leader in double plays as a shortstop. He also tied the lowest number of errors in a season by a shortstop with three in the 2000 season. Omar also amassed over 2,500 hits in his career totaling 2,877 hits.

Both Thome and Vizquel were key players in the Indians’ playoff runs in the mid 1990’s including in 1995 when the Tribe won its first American League pennant since 1954 and went on to lose to the Atlanta Braves in the World Series that same year. They would continue to win back-to-back American League titles in 1996 and 1997. Playing alongside other famous Indians players such as Charles Nagy, Dennis Martinez and Albert Belle, the Indians teams of this era are considered one of the most potent offenses of all time.

Vizquel in his 11 seasons with the Indians played in nearly 1500 games and dazzled fans with his sparkling defense nearly every night. Compared to players who are in their second year of eligibility such as Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero, both Thome and Vizquel’s stats are worthy of being in the Hall of Fame.

While there is a lot of controversy surrounding other potential Hall of Famers such as Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, there should be very little controversy over whether or not these two players should be voted into Hall of Famers. While Thome is not necessarily a first ballot Hall of Famer, Vizquel should get in this year. If both players do not end up in the Hall of Fame at some point, then the voters clearly do not know what it takes to be an all-time great player. One thing is for sure,  both players will live on in Indians fame and will have a special place in any fan’s heart for years to come.

Follow the author: @Kauftheman

Photo: ESPN

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