It's that time of year again to look at the Hall of Fame ballot. The vote is revealed today, and while there is at least one clear cut induction forthcoming, we may see a few others joining in on the festivities. Goodness knows we need it given the crowded ballot situation we have seen over the last few years. You can look back at some of my previous posts to see more thoughts on such so we won't consider it in much detail on this day. Instead, let us just consider the names we have, which you can find here (courtesy of Baseball Reference.)
At this point I should mention some honorable mentions as none of these men should be in the Hall, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. Thank you Nomar Garciaparra, Mike Hampton (worst contract ever?), Jason Kendall and especially Brad Ausmus. These were all special players even if their careers never reached Hall levels. I should also list two others that had their day but by the time they got to the Braves their talents had tailed off so much that it may bring me some pleasure to leave them out - Garrett Anderson and Troy Glaus. Neither were Hall of Famers, but were there a Hall of Horrors could be considered first ballot members. Now on to the real reason we are here...
As usual, the 10 player vote is limiting but as it is the current rule, I will continue to follow those guidelines when selecting my mock ballot. By my count, I could vote for exactly 20 players this year. Thus I must cut that in half. The easiest part is that I can find my first five with these clear first ballot men (even though four of them are holdover candidates):
- Jeff Bagwell
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
- Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Mike Piazza
When looking at that list, you may see why some are still lingering on the ballot for right reasons or wrong. There is only one that is assured of making the Hall in this year or perhaps any other. I need not even repeat his name. You know it already and congrats to him and the Mariners.
This leaves me with 5 more votes out of 15 potential players. I can quickly choose two more to get me to 7:
- Tim Raines
- Alan Trammell
The first is a case I have been championing for a number of years as I see little drop off from Ricky Henderson with Raines. Blessed or cursed to play in the same era with the greatest lead off hitter of all time, Raines is a clear cut Hall of Famer. And frankly, so is Trammell. In fact, I should have an eighth choice here but Lou Whitaker was cut after only one year. As it is, I would vote for Trammell now due to it being his last year of eligibility after fifteen years of consideration. The Veterans Committee beckons, methinks. Either way, they both belong. Trammell and Whitaker are the "Stockton to Malone" of MLB. And with that thought in mind, I am lead to use my eighth pick on:
- Mark McGwire
They changed the rules in part, I think, to heartlessly remove these kind of guys from the ballot. But even without the rule change, I am not sure McGwire ever had a chance. Many may disagree (as they obviously do), but I believe he is a solid Hall choice. He hit 70 home runs in one season (only one man has hit more), was a brilliant power hitter even if some of his other game was not as solid, and for at least one summer was as famous as any athlete in the world. I'm not sure what a Hall of Fame should be without him (apologies to the Maris family, to be sure.)
So now I have two left that I can choose from among twelve. It makes it hard so from here on I will look at categories and decide among them the best possible choice.
I begin with these guys as this is probably the most controversial pick among all potential Hall men. I am not sold on their Hall arguments even if I think some of them may belong. Even when Mariano Rivera becomes eligible, I will still struggle with this type of choice. It has yet to become clear to me that being a closer in this game makes a player such a stalwart of the game that it would not be the same without them. That they rack up numbers in this age of specialization does not make them the equal of Walter Johnson or Greg Maddux. But an argument has been made that closers cannot hide during their declining years and the special ones continue to shine despite their age. We can see what separates one from another, but their full worth is still undetermined. Thus I would note vote this year for Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner, nor Lee Smith (even if he is near his eligibility as well.)
There are two of them and honestly I believe both men belong. Given current Hall standards, and considering Smoltz sailed in last year with somewhat similar numbers, I might be tempted to use those last 2 votes on Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. But I will not. Not this year, at least. They have time left.
So now I have seven guys to choose from with my last two votes. In my mind, those seven are Jim Edmonds, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa and Larry Walker. Of those, I strike Edmonds first as I still think he is borderline. But as I look at the numbers, he is not that far off from Kent, Sheffield or Walker. So they get cut as well. And Sosa...what to say? One dimensional? Cheater? Liar? I'm not sure any of those truly apply. But he would never be a first ballot guy in my mind, regardless of those possible factors. I think he belongs, and certainly would not be the worst choice to enter the hall, but I'm not going to use these last votes for him. In fact, of the 20 potential players, he would be the last and hardest vote. So that leaves my final votes for:
- Edgar Martinez
- Fred McGriff
I am aware that McGriff especially might beg a question when I have already counted out similar numbers above, but you may call it a home town favoritism or a love of home runs. Either way, I think he belongs without those last 7 home runs and this year especially I am thinking about those lingering ballot members. Dale Murphy belongs and he has to wait on the Vets. Likely so too will McGriff. And Martinez...I did not vote for him last year due to a particularly stacked ballot, but have before and remain impressed with his lifetime batting line above .300/.400/.500. So he was primarily a DH. I hate it, but the man could hit.
So those are my picks this year. As I stated, 20 are worthy. But I only had 10 to pick. Argue with them if you wish. I certainly do not mind. Above all else, congrats to the Griffey family! It is so very much deserved. That is all.