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Could successful comeback solidify Johan Santana’s Hall of Fame bid?

Johan Santana

Johan Santana

By Mark Townsend

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will include some interesting new names and cases, such as Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. Former Minnesota Twins and New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana is also currently slated to be among that group. However, that will ultimately hinge on the outcome of his most recent comeback bid.

As we first learned in November and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reminded us, Santana is working out again in hopes of making a comeback in 2017. If he successfully reaches the big leagues, his Hall of Fame clock would then start over.

The question we ask now is this: Would a Johan Santana comeback be more likely to help or hurt his Hall of Fame chances?

To answer honestly, one would first have to determine whether or not Santana already has Hall of Famer credentials. If you say no, then a comeback couldn’t hurt. If you say yes, then a comeback would likely do nothing but hurt. But who’s going to try talking a competitor like Santana out of attempting to continue doing what he loves?

The interesting thing is just how interesting Santana’s case is. It doesn’t feel like he has a great deal of support, but some have been quick to point out how favorably he compares to a Hall of Fame left-hander whose career was cutoff by injuries.

Koufax was forced to walk away at age 30 with three Cy Young awards. Santana’s last full season was his age 29 season in 2009, after he’d won two Cy Young awards.

If you asked me right now, I’d still say he’s a little short. He enjoyed a remarkable prime, winning two ERA titles and three strikeout crowns with the Minnesota Twins, to go along with the Cy Youngs. He was arguably baseball’s best hurler when he signed with the Mets, but the injuries that followed cut his prime short and robbed him of taking that one last necessary step.

Could he take that step now? It’s possible. A return with even decent production would be quite a story, but it all seems very unlikely.

It’s been four full seasons since Santana last pitched in the big leagues. His final appearance came for the Mets on Aug. 17, 2012, less than three months after his much discussed 134-pitch no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals.

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