The National Baseball Hall of Fame released the 2019 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot last month. While I don’t have a ballot to cast myself, I once again took a look at all of the names on the ballot to determine who I would vote for if I did have a ballot to cast. The 2019 ballot features 35 players, and voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 players.
After reviewing all 35 players on the ballot, I determined there would have been eight players on my ballot. They are:
- Mariano Rivera, the greatest relief pitcher of all time, is a no-brainer. The all-time saves leader was consistently excellent for 19 seasons. A 13-time all-star, Rivera posted a career ERA of 2.21.
- As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t have any qualms about voting for suspected PED users. Baseball was the wild west during the Steroids Era. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure who used, who didn’t, and who just dabbled. Rather than get into that, I’d rather just vote for the best players. That’s why I would vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.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. They are undeniably the best hitter and pitcher of their generation.
- Sammy Sosa was the 1998 NL MVP 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 were ever as dominant as Sosa was for six straight seasons, 1998-2003.
- I’ve flipped on Manny Ramirez. I wrote last year that he never won an MVP award, regularly quit on his team and teammates, and actually flunked drug tests. But, if I am being consistent and just look at the numbers, he’s a Hall of Famer. 555 home runs. 1831 runs batted in. A career .312 hitter with a .996 OPS. The guy made 11-straight all-star teams from 1998-2008.And while it is commonly accepted that he would quit on his team at times, he was never an impediment to winning. His teams won two World Series, four pennants, and Ramirez played in 111 playoff games from 1995-2009. He was the best right-handed hitter in the game in the early 2000s and one of the biggest and best free agent signings in the history of the game. For that reason, I’m in on Manny.
- Curt Schilling was the best big-game pitcher in the game for more than a decade. He went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason appearances and won a ring in Arizona before winning two in Boston. You can’t tell the story of baseball in the 2000s without him. I wouldn’t retweet him, but I would check the box for him.
- I’d still vote for Billy Wagner this year out of principle. Trevor Hoffman got in last year but I believe Wagner was the better reliever. 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.
- Roy Halladay only won 203 games, but he was a beast for a solid decade. He won Cy Young Awards in 2003 and 2010, and made eight all-star teams during his 16-year career. He threw 67 complete games and 20 shutouts in a time when not many other guys regularly went the distance. On October 6, 2010, in his first postseason appearance, he threw just the second postseason no-hitter in baseball history. When the Doc was on, he was exceptional, and that’s why he’d get my vote.
Regarding some notable candidates who I wouldn’t have voted for…
Edgar Martinez was a very good player for a long period of time but was never the best player on his own team (Griffey, A-Rod, Ichiro). I do not care that he was primarily a DH. If you contribute more to your team as a DH than a first baseman or third baseman, then you should DH. But while Martinez was a professional hitter for a long period of time, he was never the most feared bat in the league (or lineup).
Mike Mussina was perennial 1A starter in the AL East for 18 years. Mussina pitched for some very good teams, but never won a ring and he was never the most feared pitcher in the game. Mussina only pitched one full season with a sub-3.00 ERA.
Andy Pettitte was a perennial #2 starter for very good teams. He logged more than a full season’s worth of playoff starts (44) and innings (276.2), and has five rings to show for it. Still, he was never one of the best pitchers in the game.
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