Former Mets closer John Franco believes he has a case to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Franco, who retired in 2005 after a 21-year career, was first eligible for the Hall in 2011 but fell three votes shy to gain the necessary 5% of votes to remain on the ballot – something he told WFAN’s Danielle McCartan this weekend that he is still trying wrap his head around.
“I’m still trying to figure it out myself, too,” Franco said. “It is what it is. Writers at the time … guess they felt the save statistic wasn’t that important.”
Franco finished his career with 424 career saves – which ranks fifth on the all-time leaderboard and ahead of notable Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter. He led the NL in the category three times in his career and also finished with a 2.79 career ERA – a better mark than Lee Smith, who was inducted in 2019 by the Veteran’s Committee.
“The game has changed from early 90s to present where relief pitchers more important and part of that strategy of the game,” Franco said. “It is what it is. My numbers are just as good as anybody in the Hall of Fame. Mariano’s off the chart, obviously, and Trevor Hoffman, but [my numbers] are comparable to everyone else in there.
“The Hall of Fame is supposed to be about numbers…relief pitchers in there have 400-600 saves. The other ones who have been in there a while have 300 saves, obviously that’s a different era. I have 424. In my mind, I think I deserve to be in there, but it’s up to the voters.”
Franco, 60, was inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame in 2012 but a chance at Cooperstown is not lost. The closer will be eligible to appear on the ballot for the Today’s Game Committee in 2022 for the 2023 Hall of Fame class.
The Today’s Game Committee votes on players in the era from 1988 to present who are no longer eligible by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. It is comprised of current Hall of Fame members, executives and veteran media members.
Franco, while hoping the committee acknowledges the value of saves, believes he has a well-rounded case.
“Longevity, number of games I pitched in, games I finished – I think it was over 1,100 games I played in – my ERA has been really good…these are things that they consider and we’ll just have to see who is on that committee,” he said. “The thing I like about that is that there are players voting on that, too. That’s probably how the Hall of Fame should be…we’ll have to wait and see what happens but I’m hoping vote goes my way next time.”
Listen to Franco's full interview with McCartan here, which also includes his outlook on Mets free agency, Steve Cohen and the prospect of Mets Old Timers' Day.