My Hall of Fame Ballot, or How I Learned to Stop Complaining and Love the Process

I’ve written enough about the ridiculously overcrowded Hall of Fame ballot and the problems that led us here. This year, I’ll try to keep to a minimum the complaints about the absurdity of the 10-man cap and the Hall of Fame’s failure to establish criteria by which the writers should cast their votes in these times of polarizing heroes and villains. Instead, I’ll just play along, raking through the 36 candidates on the writers’ ballot and determining which ten I’d vote for if I had the crisitunity***.

***did you know the Japanese have the same word for crisis and opportunity?

I’ll list these players in ascending order according to Adam Darowski’s Hall Rating. Hall Rating uses baseball-reference’s Wins Above Replacement and Wins Above Average to determine how valuable a player was throughout his career and at his peak. No stat is perfect, and Hall Rating is no exception, placing Fred Clarke ahead of Jackie Robinson and Chuck Finley ahead of Sandy Koufax, so rather than choosing the top ten by Hall Rating, I’ll try to evaluate what attributes make each player worthy or unworthy of baseball’s greatest honor that are not encapsulated in his rating.

J.T. Snow
Hall Rating: 17 (174th among first basemen)
Other Considerations: This is a great time to remember Snow’s 1500+ hits, his reputation as a great defensive first baseman (which is not borne out in advanced stats), and the heads-up play he made to save Darren Baker from a home-plate trampling in the 2002 World Series.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Jacque Jones
Hall Rating: 17 (196th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: In this case, “100 is a Hall of Famer, 17 is Jacque Jones” says everything I need to say.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Todd Jones
Hall Rating: 24
Other Considerations: My dad met Todd Jones in the late ’90s, probably at least 100 saves into his career. I’d never heard of him at that point. He’d go on to bigger things with the Tigers, leading the AL in saves in 2000, but he was never a great pitcher.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Sean Casey
Hall Rating: 26 (132nd among first basemen)
Other Considerations: The “Mayor” sobriquet that followed Casey from team to team would be worth something in Hall of Fame voting if he were a better player. Maybe a Veterans Committee full of former teammates and competitors would sneak him in with eight or nine votes if he were a Dale Murphy or Fred McGriff type. But a first baseman with 130 career homers doesn’t get close even with those bonus points.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Eric Gagne
Hall Rating: 27
Other Considerations: I don’t think we’ve established what a “Hall of Fame peak” is for a closer, but Gagne’s 2002 through 2004 seasons would be a good place to start. 247 innings pitched (exactly 82 1/3 each year), 365 K, 58 walks, 54 runs allowed, 152 saves in 158 chances. Closers don’t get much better. Then again, releivers don’t get much worse than the Gagne who pitched for the 2007 Red Sox, giving up 26 hits and nine walks in 18 2/3 innings. He was never a good pitcher after 2005.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Richie Sexson
Hall Rating: 28 (127th among first basemen)
Other Considerations: Big Sexy hit 30 homers in seven different seasons, peaking at 45 in 2001 and 2003. He hit more career homers than Rogers Hornsby or Roger Maris. He also retired with 1,286 hits and no defensive value.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Paul lo Duca
Hall Rating: 37 (89th among catchers)
Other Considerations: Lo Duca was named in the Mitchell report as an HGH user. I bring this up less as a slight to lo Duca, a good-but-not-great player who wouldn’t have made the Hall of Fame with Barry Bonds’s pharmacist on the payroll, but to show that PEDs were a part of baseball’s culture in the late ’90s and early ’00s, used by minor league lifers, major league journeymen, borderline stars like lo Duca, and superstars like Bonds. I’m sure they made players better, but they didn’t make average lo Ducas look like Piazzas (even if they wore the same uniform). A Hall of Famer is a Hall of Famer, wheteher or not he ever met Kirk Radomski or Brian McNamee.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Armando Benitez
Hall Rating: 41 (462nd among pitchers)
Other Considerations: 289 saves, 26th of all time. Say what you will about managers’ and reward voters’ over-reliance on saves, but at least no one is arguing that a guy who retired in the top 25 in a major statistic is a Hall of Famer.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Hideo Nomo
Hall Rating: 41 (458th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: Nomo was a good pitcher in Japan before his “early retirement” forced him to the US in 1995. In that rookie season with the Dodgers, Nomo was brilliant, hurling three shutouts, striking out 234 in 191 1/3 innings, and finishing with a 2.54 ERA. He threw his first of two no-hitters in 1996, and probably looked like a future Hall of Famer at that point. After muddling through what should have been his prime, he pitched well again in his early thirties, throwing his second no-no with Boston in 2001 and winning 16 games each in ’02 and ’03 with the Dodgers. That’s the sum of his accomplishments, though, as he won just 123 games with a 97 ERA+ in the majors.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Mike Timlin
Hall Rating: 42 (439th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: Timlin is eighth all time with 1,058 games pitched. Two of the seven men ahead of him (Eckersley and Wilhelm) are Hall of Famers. A third (Rivera) will be someday. Timlin, despite pitching for two of my favorite championship teams (’93 Blue Jays, ’04 Red Sox) is not.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Ray Durham
Hall Rating: 53 (56th among second basemen)
Other Considerations: 2,054 hits, 192 home runs, and 173 stolen bases, all while playing a key defensive position. Durham probably wouldn’t be the worst player in the Hall of Fame.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Lee Smith
Hall Rating: 63 (224th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: Retired as the career leader in saves with 478, leading the league in four different seasons. It seems at though there’s some justification for bronzing the guy who was the best ever at something, but when that something is as esoteric as pitching the last inning of a game with a lead of one-to-three runs without relinquishing the lead, and nobody really tried to do that thing consistently before Smith’s career started, such praise seems misdirected. Smith making the Hall wouldn’t be a travesty, but it’s time for his name to leave the ballot in deference to the 20+ better players.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Moises Alou
Hall Rating: 71 (47th among left fielders)
Other Considerations: A very good hitter for a long time, and the best player in one of baseball’s great families, but again, I think his 71 Hall Rating captures his greatness well. Not embarrassingly short of the Hall of Fame, but with all the huge numbers hitters put up during his tenure, he’s not worthy of a bronze bust.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Jack Morris
Hall Rating: 76 (158th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: As his advocates will tell you, Morris’s seven postseason wins, including two big ones in the ’84 World Series and a legendary turn in ’91, matter for something. He probably has a better Hall case than anyone with a Hall Rating between 76 and 85, aside from Roy Campanella and maybe Hack Wilson. He also has a career regular season ERA five percent better than league average. He compares favorably with Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers, who also rode postseason success to Cooperstown. He’ll probably make the Hall someday, and it won’t be the voters’ biggest mistake, but it’s a shame he’ll steal any votes from the better players struggling to earn the writers’ attention on this ballot.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Don Mattingly
Hall Rating: 78 (36th among first basemen)
Other Considerations: Like Morris, Mattingly was considerably more famous than his Hall Rating. He was among the game’s best players in the mid-1980s, and under the bright lights of New York, probably had more fans than any other player in that stretch. But back injuries ended his career early, and he accomplished less than just about any Hall of Fame first baseman. If a Veterans Committee elects him someday, no harm will be done, but on this ballot, Donnie Baseball is not really a viable option.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Luis Gonzalez
Hall Rating: 90 (30th among left fielders)
Other Considerations: The Diamondbacks’ career leader in basically every offensive category. In 2001, he hit 57 homers and the bloop single that ended one of the most sinister dynasties in sports history. If there’s room in the Hall for Gonzalez, it’s not the same Hall that’s kept Jeff Bagwell and Edgar Martinez out the last few years.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Fred McGriff
Hall Rating: 95 (27th among first basemen)
Other Considerations: The narrative surrounding McGriff’s Hall case is that he’s the player most hurt by others’ steroid use. His 208 homers from ’88 to ’93 won him two league homer titles. His 191 from ’94 to ’01, when everyone was raking, made him an average first baseman. Like Mattingly and Gonzalez, he wouldn’t make the Hall appreciably worse, but as long as Frank Thomas and Mark McGwire are on the ballot, there’s no sense debating his case.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Kenny Rogers
Hall Rating: 96 (96th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: Last year, Kenny Lofton was the biggest casualty of the overstuffed ballot. This year, another Kenny whose value was similar to that of Hall of Famers like Burleigh Grimes and Waite Hoyt won’t get more than a handful of votes. We won’t cry for “Ball Four”, who never really felt like a Hall of Famer, but we won’t give his case the consideration it probably deserves either, since voters can’t make up their minds about Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens.
Hall of Famer: No
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Jeff Kent
Hall Rating: 103 (16th among second basemen)
Other Considerations: 295 career batting runs, substantially all as a second baseman. Among second baseman, only Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie, Joe Morgan, and Charlie Gehringer have more (Rod Carew played more games at first than second). Personality aside, Kent is a Hall of Fame-caliber player. He might get the Kenny Lofton treatment this year, leaving him in purgatory with other great second basemen like Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Sammy Sosa
Hall Rating: 116 (16th among right fielders)
Other Considerations: Three seasons with 60 or more home runs, a legendary smile, and some of the same historical significance for which I give McGwire bonus points below. He should get in. It might take decades.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Mark McGwire
Hall Rating: 124 (14th among first basemen)
Other Considerations: The 16th-best player on this ballot, per Hall Rating, and some will argue that his legacy is further diminished by steroid use. To me, there’s no more important player in the Selig era. McGwire’s quest to break Roger Maris’s single-season home run record four years after the strike damaged baseball was as important a factor as anything else in bringing me and so many other fans back to the game. I fear McGwire may drop off the ballot this year, as voters will have a hard time finding room for him with both cleaner and more qualified players on the ballot. 583 homers, 1,317 walks, 62 WAR. He’s not just a borderline guy.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Rafael Palmeiro
Hall Rating: 125 (13th among first basemen)
Other Considerations: 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, and an infamous finger wag before Congress. I choose to evaluate players’ Hall cases on merit, rather than speculating as to who used what, but I have a hard time believing Palmeiro might have been one of the ten most valuable players on this ballot without the steroids he was caught taking.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Craig Biggio
Hall Rating: 126 (10th among second basemen)
Other Considerations: Biggio made his case with the SABR crowd in the ’90s by taking lots of walks, getting hit by pitches, avoiding the double play, and stealing bases at a high success rate. He hung on well into the ’00s to reach 3,000 hits, endearing himself to the more traditional voter. Still, he shows up 14th from the bottom of this list. The only value he brought that WAR doesn’t pick up was probably positional flexibility, and he wasn’t a particularly great defensive catcher, second baseman, or outfielder, so it’s hard to say Hall Rating sells him short.

Here’s where the 10-man cap starts to rear its ugly head. A voter who cares only about value will vote for Bonds, Clemens, Maddux, Schilling, Bagwell, Mussina, Walker, Glavine, Piazza, and Trammell, leaving off Thomas, Martinez, Raines, Biggio, and everyone above.

A voter who won’t touch confirmed steroid users will vote for Maddux, Schilling, Bagwell, Mussina, Walker, Glavine, Piazza, Trammell, Thomas, and Martinez, leaving off Raines, Biggio, Kent, McGriff, and others.

A voter who won’t touch suspected steroid users might vote for Maddux, Mussina, Walker, Glavine, Trammell, Thomas, Martinez, Raines, Biggio, and McGriff, still filling up a ballot without any ridiculous choices.

A voter who cares more about fame than value might vote Bonds, Clemens, Maddux, Schilling, Glavine, Piazza, Thomas, McGwire, Mattingly, and Morris, not finding room for Bagwell, Mussina, Walker, Trammell, Martinez, Raines, Biggio, or Sosa.

The “fame voter” who won’t touch steroid users might vote Maddux, Schilling, Glavine, Piazza, Thomas, McGwire, Mattingly, Morris, Bagwell, and Raines.

The traditional 300/500/3000 voter would only vote for Bonds, Clemens, Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Biggio, Sosa, Palmeiro, and McGwire. That’s not all ten spots, but it’s still rare than nine names on a single ballot reached either 300 wins, 500 homers, or 3,000 hits.

The ultimate curmudgeon- one who hates steroids, cocaine, pine tar, Coors Field, and the designated hitter- still has every reason to vote for Maddux, Schilling, Bagwell, Mussina, Glavine, Piazza, Trammell, Biggio, Kent, and McGriff.

Ok, the real ultimate curmudgeon, Murray Chass, will probably only vote for Jack Morris.

Let’s say the eight votes above represent eight different voters, and they are a representative sample of the entire voter population. It would take six of eight votes to get a player elected. Six of those eight players agreed that there were at least ten players worthy of enshrinement, with a seventh voting for nine guys, but they elected just two- Maddux and Glavine. I’m only voting for one of those guys.

While the Murray Chass example may seem extreme, it’s clear from recent elections that many, if not most, voters will not use all ten spaces they’re allotted. Schilling shows up more above than he will in real life, and Mussina is not likely to get any more support than Schilling’s been getting. I don’t see how Biggio could possibly get in this year.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Tim Raines
Hall Rating: 128 (12th among left fielders)
Other Considerations: Raines has certain narratives working for and against him. I’m not a fan of the “second best leadoff man ever” narrative, as Kenny Lofton has a case and players like Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, and Barry Bonds would have made fine leadoff men had their managers chosen to employ them in that capacity. Conversely, I’m not keen on punishing Raines for recreational drug use that had little, if any, impact on his playing career. As his Hall Rating shows, Raines was a great player- about as valuable as the median Hall of Famer, in fact. He was also an average fielder at an unimportant position who missed a lot of time due to injury. So…
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Edgar Martinez
Hall Rating: 135 (3rd among designated hitters)
Other Considerations: WAR appropriately deducts for the value a player doesn’t provide when he doesn’t play the field. Edgar probably never deserved an MVP Award, despite being the best hitter in the league several times, most obviously in 1995.

In Hall of Fame discussions, defensive value and defensive acumen are both important, but I prefer the latter to the former in terms of defining greatness. Could Edgar have stood near first or third base without making a fool of himself for the last ten years of his career? Based on his middling defensive results early in his career, I think he could have.

Let’s look at Edgar’s 1995 vs. Miguel Cabrera’s 2013. Edgar hit .356/.479/.628, good for 68 batting runs. Miggy hit .348/.442/.636, good for 65 batting runs in a lower-scoring environment. Pretty similar so far. Both were bad baserunners, costing their teams 18 and 14 runs, respectively. Edgar only played seven games in the field, but picked up a negative 13 run adjustment for designated hitting so often. Cabrera was a butcher at third base, costing his team 18 runs, but getting two back for the positional adjustment. Cabrera was worth 7.2 WAR and won the MVP over a far-more-valuable Mike Trout. Martinez was worth 7.0 WAR and finished third in MVP voting, behind Mo Vaughn and Albert Belle- two sluggers with little-to-no defensive value, each of whom provided less value than Edgar with the bat, but got extra points for standing in the field for a thousand innings or so.

I bring this up not to bash MVP voters, but but to examine the way designated hitters are viewed in Hall of Fame discussions. Had Edgar Martinez played first or third base throughout his thirties, even if he played them poorly and cost his team runs, I have little doubt he’d be bronzed in Cooperstown right now. As a DH, he provided similar value, but falls victim to the “part-time player” narrative. Martinez’s 529 career batting runs dwarf those of bat-first Hall of Famers Willie McCovey (484), Reggie Jackson (477), Eddie Murray (389), and Paul Molitor (349; Hall of Stats actually ranks Molitor as the top designated hitter ever, but his defensive value is included in that calculation, which kind of misses the point). Was Edgar really a lesser player because his manager didn’t want him on the field?
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Frank Thomas
Hall Rating: 140 (2nd among designated hitters)
I’ve tried to construct a cogent argument for including Martinez on my ballot and excluding Thomas, but I can’t do so with statistics. Thomas had a better OPS+ (156 to 147), more hits (2,468 to 2,247) and homers (521 to 309), and earned more WAR (73.6 to 68.3). Martinez played in tougher parks for hitters, which helps close the WAR gap despite more playing time for Thomas, but he wasn’t quite the hitter Thomas was.

Instead, I’ll chalk up my exclusion of Thomas to the somewhat pathetic excuse that my ballot is already full before we get to these new guys. If we consider Thomas a first baseman (he played 971 games there, vs. 1,351 as a DH), Martinez is the best designated hitter ever. Let’s get the best DH ever in before we start looking at the rest of the field. Granted, if we consider Thomas a DH, he’s the best ever, but I’m not ready to stop voting for Edgar because voters were foolish enough to leave him out until a slightly better DH came along.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot:

Alan Trammell
Hall Rating: 143 (12th among shortstops)
Other Considerations: It hurts to leave Trammell off here. If I really had a vote, I might leave off someone whose fate is sealed (Maddux, who will get in, or Clemens, who won’t) to make room for Trammell in his 13th year on the ballot. But I’m more interested in the ten most qualified players here (with a few minor exceptions), and astonishingly, Trammell may not be one of those.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot:

Mike Piazza
Hall Rating: 147 (5th among catchers)
Other Considerations: After players who missed significant time due to war or segregation, catchers need the biggest adjustments from WAR. Hall Rating does make adjustments for catchers due to reduced playing time, but Piazza surely deserves bonus points for being by far the best hitting catcher in baseball history. Of course, with a 147 Hall Rating, he doesn’t need many bonus points.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Tom Glavine
Hall Rating: 149 (23rd among pitchers)
Other Considerations: Glavine is eighth on the ballot in Hall Rating. He’s probably higher than that in greatness in the mind of the average fan, since he won 305 regular season games and 14 more in the playoffs. With extracurricular considerations weighing so prominently, he’ll probably finish second in the voting.

I’m not convinced he was one of the ten greatest players on this ballot. Glavine certainly deserves credit for those postseason wins, including a legendary one-hit turn in the clinching game in the 1996 World Series. But he also lost 16 playoff games. This isn’t as much a strike against him as an acknowledgement of the fact that much of Glavine’s success was about opportunity. He won 20 games five times both because he was a great pitcher and because he pitched for ridiculously good Braves teams for the majority of his career.

Tom Glavine is a Hall of Famer. He’s not a borderline Hall of Famer or even an average Hall of Famer. But he’s also the fifth best pitcher on this ballot, and he’s not particularly close to the number four guy (more on that later). I’d rather see McGwire and Edgar get in this year.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: No

Larry Walker
Hall Rating: 151 (7th among right fielders)
Other Considerations: None. I hear a lot about Walker’s numbers being inflated by Coors Field, and it’s certainly true that his raw numbers were. But everything that goes into Hall Rating is adjusted for park and era effects. If you don’t believe, me, give this a read. Walker was a great hitter for three different teams, played a great defensive right field, and ran the bases well.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Mike Mussina
Hall Rating: 163 (20th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: It seems certain that Glavine will enter the Hall before Mussina. If we put aside Glavine’s 35 extra wins and his postseason record, two context-dependent advantages, I don’t understand a vote for Glavine over Mussina.

Glavine pitched 850 more innings. This is important. He was in the league a year younger and held on three years longer. In those four seasons Glavine pitched but Mussina didn’t, Glavine had a 4.45 ERA and 4.5 WAR. Let’s take those innings away and compare the two in their extended primes (22-39).

Glavine- 3,901 IP, 1,630 R, 1,481 ER, 2,330 K, 1,304 BB, 3.76 RA9, 3.42 ERA, 121 ERA+, 69.5 WAR
Mussina- 3,563 IP, 1,559 R, 1,458 ER, 2,813 K, 785 BB, 3.94 RA9, 3.68 ERA, 123 ERA+, 82.7 WAR

Pitching in the more offense-oriented league, always in the tough AL East, Mussina’s ERA was close enough to Glavine’s that park and league adjustments give Mussina the better ERA+. Mussina also gave up 48 fewer unearned runs, bringing the gap between their RA9s closer than the gap between their ERAs. Mussina struck out an extra 1.7 batters per nine while walking about 1.1 fewer batters. Fangraphs WAR, which focuses on outcomes within a pitcher’s control, shows Mussina with an even greater edge, 82.5 to 61.3, with Glavine picking up 3 more WAR in his 40s.

I think we can all agree that Glavine is a Hall of Famer. Mussina was a better pitcher.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Jeff Bagwell
Hall Rating: 164 (seventh among first basemen)
Other Considerations: 449 home runs, 202 stolen bases, 17,545 putouts. 587 batting runs, 31 baserunning runs, 54 fielding runs. It’s all in the Hall Rating, which trails only Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx among 20th-century first basemen.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Curt Schilling
Hall Rating: 172 (16th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: How is it possible that a pitcher who earned more regular season value than all but 15 pitchers in the game’s history, and owns perhaps the best postseason resume on record can’t get 50% of Hall of Fame voters to like him? His personality certainly doesn’t help, but there are worse people in the Hall than Schilling.

My theory is this: through age 33, Schilling had 110 career wins, never more than 17 in a season, and had pitched only two full seasons with an ERA better than 3.19. He was certainly a star, having been an All-Star three times and led his league twice each in strikeouts and complete games, but he wasn’t Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez. At this point, people might have made up their minds that Schilling, while a great pitcher, was not a Hall of Famer.

From age 34 on, Schilling won 22, 23, and 21 games in three of the next four seasons, twice with ERAs under 3 in baseball’s most extreme offensive era. He struck out 1,377 batters and walked just 213 in 1,359 innings, finishing his career with the best strikeout/walk ratio since the turn of the previous century. He was central to three World Series championships, including two of the most legendary champs ever- the ’01 Diamondbacks and ’04 Red Sox. He was a World Series co-MVP and pitched two famous bloody sock games. Still, Johnson and Martinez, whose late ’90s and early ’00s were two of the most dominant stretches for any pitcher in history, were Schilling’s teammates at the time, and may have overshadowed him, if it’s possible for a spolight to elude Schilling .

Had he played his career backwards, Schilling would be in the Hall. Perhaps if he were a better person, Schilling would be in the Hall. Someday, Schilling will be in the Hall. For now, he’s scraping and clawing for every vote he can steal from a less-qualified player.
Hall of Famer: Yes
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Greg Maddux
Hall Rating: 220 (8th among pitchers)
Other Considerations: 11 postseason wins, four consecutive Cy Young Awards, led the NL in basically everything throughout the ’90s.
Hall of Famer: Of Course
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Roger Clemens
Hall Rating: 293 (3rd among pitchers)
Other Considerations: Was nothing special in the playoffs, though he did win 12 games there. Possibly the greatest pitcher ever, if we focus on longevity over peak value and adjust for quality of competition.
Hall of Famer: Of Course
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

Barry Bonds
Hall Rating: 363 (1st among left fielders)
Other Considerations: Yup. 363. He was Don Mattingly four times. He was Richie Sexson 13 times. I don’t care if he played with two bionic arms or roofied opposing pitchers prior to games. There’s no point of a baseball Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds.
Hall of Famer: Of Course
On My 10-Man Ballot: Yes

___________________________________________________________________

So, there it is. Bonds, Clemens, Maddux, Schilling, Bagwell, Mussina, Walker, Piazza, Martinez, and McGwire. That leaves certain Hall-of-Famers Glavine, Thomas, Trammell, Raines, and Biggio off, along with reasonable candidates Palmeiro, Sosa, Kent, McGriff, Mattingly, Morris, and Smith.

Did I name the ten best players? Probably not. With injuries plaguing his would-be prime, McGwire didn’t accumulate as much value as Thomas or Trammell. Martinez wasn’t as good as Thomas or as versatile as Trammell. Glavine may have a better case than McGwire, and perhaps even Walker. But there were nine candidates I would have voted for last year that I just couldn’t bear to leave off this year, even if it meant leaving Thomas and Glavine on the shelf.

The real voters will be faced with similar dilemmas, forced to skip qualified candidates to make room for other qualified candidates. Maddux will survive. Glavine may as well, and Thomas has a shot. The rest of these guys will have to stew on the ballot for another year while scores of less-accomplished players are commemorated in bronze in a decreasingly relevant building in upstate New York.

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2 Responses to My Hall of Fame Ballot, or How I Learned to Stop Complaining and Love the Process

  1. Good analysis overall, but can’t agree on Big Mac, after taking what I call a “steroid tax.” And Walker’s borderline, or borderline of borderline, in my book. (Note: I’m a Cards fan, but definitely not a “homer.”) No on Gar … he strikes me as borderline. Among other things, if you’re a career DH, you should have better counting stats, by avoiding injury, etc.

    Oh, and you didn’t touch it here, but the Vets Comm should have put a steroid eyeball on three managers, IMO.

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