While I don’t have a ballot to cast, for the second straight year I have taken a look at all of the players on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame Ballot. I figured if I’m going to gripe about the Hall of Fame selection process I might as well fill out a mock ballot myself to get a better handle on the process.
It’s not rocket science but there are some tough decision to be made. Voters may vote for up to 10 of the 33 players on the ballot. I selected eight on my mock ballot. They are:
Obviously I’m not opposed to voting for suspected steroids users. I voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens because, whether or not they used steroids, Bonds was indisputably the best hitter in the game for much of his career and Clemens was indisputably the best pitcher in the game for much of his career. The same cannot be said for Manny Ramirez.
Bonds won seven MVP awards, including FOUR in a row 2001-2004. Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards and won the award back-to-back on two occasions, a decade apart. Ramirez never won an MVP award and quit on his team more times than I care to remember. He was also popped for PEDs twice. While strong cases could be made against Bonds and Clemens, those guys never failed drug tests. Testing didn’t start until 2003, but I have a hard time giving guys grief for doing business as business was being done at the time.
Maybe numbers were inflated, and careers extended, but Bonds and Clemens were far and away better than the rest of their contemporaries. Again, the same cannot be said of Ramirez.
Regarding Sammy Sosa, he won the 1998 NL MVP award and is the only man in history with three 60+ home run seasons. Sosa played in the same era as Bonds so he is not the best player of his era, but few players ever were as dominant as Sosa was for six straight seasons, 1998-2003.
Vladimir Guerrero made nine all-star games in 12 seasons between 1999 and 2010. He was a great offensive player and had one hell of an arm in the outfield. He didn’t compile huge numbers over a lengthy career, but he was one of the best players of the 2000s and he gets my vote for that reason.
Jim Thome was never the best player at his position, never mind the best player in the game. But he did compile huge numbers over a lengthy career. Mammoth numbers. He’s not in the 500 Home Run Club. He’s in the 600 Home Run Club. He’s eighth on the all-time home run list with 612. He also drove in nearly 1700 runs. He never won an MVP award, but it’s hard to not vote for a guy with those numbers on his resume. Guy just went to work and mashed for 22 years.
Chipper Jones was consistently very good for more than 15 years and was a big part of Atlanta’s run of division titles. The 1995 NL MVP made eight all-star teams, and I was pleasantly surprised by his 468 home runs and 1623 RBI.
As I said last year, Curt Schilling gets my vote because he was the best big-game pitcher of his era. He was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason appearances and won a ring in Arizona before winning two with the Sox. Now a noted meme curator, it’s been sad to see him self destruct in recent years but he’s a Hall of Famer nonetheless.
And in a flip from last year, I voted for Billy Wagner this year instead of Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman appeared on 74% of ballots last year and Wagner only appeared on 10% of ballots but Wagner was the better relief pitcher. The only number Hoffman has on Wagner is saves. Hoffman saved 601 games in 18 years and Wagner saved 422 in 16 years. But Wagner had a better win-loss percentage, a substantially lower ERA, he struck out more batters in almost 200 fewer innings, had a lower WHIP and a better strikeout-to-walk ratio. I know that Hoffman is getting in and Wagner probably won’t sniff even 20% but I’m taking a principled stand here. Wagner was better than Hoffman.
Regarding some notable candidates left off my ballot…
Edgar Martinez was a very good player for a long period of time but he wasn’t even the best player on his own team for most of his career (Griffey, A-Rod, Ichiro). There’s just not enough offensive production on his resume to separate him from the rest of the pack for me. It has nothing to do with being a DH, though.
Mike Mussina pitched very well in an era of inflated offense but he was never the most feared pitcher in the game, and he never won a Cy Young award.
Gary Sheffield posted very good offensive numbers for a long period of time, but it’s hard to think he would’ve bounced around as much as he did if he were truly one of the all-time greats. (Editor’s note: Dougie did his capstone project in a college Baseball Stats class arguing Sheffield should make the HOF. The most comparable HOFer? Jim Rice)
Larry Walker posted very good offensive numbers, but a lot of that production came in Colorado in the late 1990s. To give you an idea of what was going on in that era, he hit .379 with 37 HRs and 115 RBI in 127 games in 1999 and finished 10th in the MVP voting that season. He was a very good player in his era, but not head and shoulders above everybody else.
That’s all I got. Hit me up with your thoughts on Twitter @The300sBigZ