The ballot for the 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame is out and you can look here for the names listed. By my count, there are at least 20 names I would or could vote for had I a ballot, plus perhaps 6 others I might be tempted to vote for though all likely fall short on the merits.
For those that fall short, two are former Braves and in no way had a hall of fame career, Jermaine Dye and Jason Schmidt. I always enjoyed Troy Percival as well as he was one the of the best at the closer position for a number of years but also lacks the numbers for inclusion. I had great ideas that Nomar Garciaparra would become one of the best back in the day, but it did not materialize, and much like Peter Gammons, I was a big fan of "Everyday" Eddie Guardado. Neither measures up once you look at their entire career. Finally, Carlos Delgado is one I am willing to take another look at as perhaps he might jump to a potential number 21 that I might consider for this ballot. But as it is so large, I know he won't be making the cut.
Pretty much every year I like to post what my ballot might look like and in that endeavor, I have always tried to adhere to the real voting rules meaning I only get to pick ten players. You can look back at previous posts on this blog explaining why I think that limit is short-sighted, especially given the current environment and voting habits, but for now let us simply stick to the rules and see if I can come up with just ten.
First, there are the no-brainers:
- Jeff Bagwell
- Craig Biggio
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
- Randy Johnson
- Pedro Martinez
So now I am already at 6 players with only 4 left to pick. But there are 14 left to choose from, in my mind. Immediatey I look at who is left and choose one more,
- Mike Piazza
Now I have 7. Then I have to look at three pitchers of arguably equal importance. Mike Mussina has the obvious win total advantage and Curt Schilling has his bloody sock and perhaps a better post-season resume by a slight tick, but the combination of starting success and closing success like Eckersley before him and the Cy Young award in 1996 makes my next vote go to:
- John Smoltz
I now have 2 more positions to fill out of 12 to choose from. I start to look at those long holdover candidates that may not have much time left on the ballot, especially after the recent change to only 10 years on the ballot. While I think Alan Trammell is a worthy player for induction, I have to give my next vote to:
- Tim Raines
And I still have 11 players that need to be cut to just 1. I can cut Lee Smith first, especially as there are better closers coming in soon. It saddens me, but I can cut Fred McGriff next. Get those last 7 home runs. Now I have six really great hitters to choose from. Next cut is Larry Walker since as I look at him, his numbers don't quite match the others. After that comes Sammy Sosa as he was so one dimensional as I see it. Jeff Kent is the next cut as he was a great 2nd baseman but that is where you stack him and compared to the rest he doesn't quite match their numbers. Gary Sheffield is next on the chopping block, as he was truly great but also not quite as good as the two left. Quick swing, though.
So I am left with the greatest DH in the history of the game and one of the greatest home run hitters in the history of the game. Many would choose Edgar Martinez because he was presumably clean (and an all around nice guy, as far as I have heard) but I don't really care that much about steroids as a qualifier and am no great fan of the DH. So I go with:
- Mark McGwire
So those are my ten. One can easily argue with those picks since there are so many qualified for induction, and I would be hard pressed to argue against them. But these are mine. Apologies to those I did not name as I enjoyed each as they played in a certain way. But this experiment just shows not just how hard this is to do each year, but so too a need to change the limit for which to vote.
I am sure I will have something to say after the results come in, especially if it turns out to be a slim year of inductees. You can check out how they are doing over at BTT with their ballot collecting. It suggests a really good year, but anyone in the 80% range right now is already in danger of fallling below 75%. Just ask Craig Biggio.
I'd love to hear your picks if you have them. Until then, let us look forward to another Hall of Fame ceremony and hope it is a plentiful one. The backlog needs it. That is all.