Before I reveal who I would vote for if I had a Hall of Fame vote, I must make a couple things clear. First off: I do NOT hold accusations or confirmations of PED use against candidates. The Hall of Fame is a museum, not a fantasy park. Baseball sure didn’t have a problem raking in the dough when the astronomical home run numbers were bringing fans back in the late 90s. So as far as I’m concerned, it should reap what it has sown. Secondly: Thanks in part to no one getting in last season, there is a big time ballot crunch this season with several first ballot locks arriving this year. So I did max out my ballot at ten. But I also listed nearly as many guys who just missed the cut.
So without further ado…
Welcome to Cooperstown
Greg Maddux: First year on ballot. Career record 355-227 3.16 ERA 1.143 WHIP 3,371 strikeouts, four Cy Young Awards, 18 Gold Gloves, eight All Star Games, 17 consecutive seasons of 15 or more wins. Eighth winningest pitcher in major league history (fifth in NL history). Bottom line: Whoever doesn’t vote for the “Mad Dog” should seek psychological examination.
Tom Glavine:First year on ballot. Career record 305-203 3.54 ERA 1.314 WHIP 2,607 strikeouts two Cy Young Awards, 10 All Star Games. Some will sight the WHIP as being a tad too high and having the benefit of playing on good teams the vast majority of his career. But unlike Andy Pettitte (who was never on a losing team and averaged 31 starts a season to boot), Glavine at least got to the 300 win plateau and won two Cy Youngs. He also had four other Cy Young finishes in the top three, two of them being as the runner up. And for what it’s worth, Glavine also won four Silver Sluggers as a pitcher. The odds are in favor of Glavine joining his longtime Braves teammate in next summer’s HOF induction.
Frank Thomas: First year on ballot. Career line .301/.419/.555/.974, 521 home runs, 1494 runs scored, 1704 RBI, 2,468 hits, two MVPs, five time All Star, four Silver Sluggers. The man would’ve put up even better numbers had it not been for the injuries. Thomas was actually very good at making consistent contact, only eclipsing 100 strikeouts just three times in a 19 year career and walking 270 more times than he struck out (1667/1397). In the 113 year history of the Chicago White Sox, he’s the greatest player in franchise history. The South Siders should go ahead and book their flights to Cooperstown now because Thomas is getting in.
Mike Piazza: Second year on ballot. Career line .308/.377/.545/.922, 427 home runs, 1,335 RBI, 1,048 runs scored, 2,127 hits, 12 time All Star, 10 Silver Sluggers, 1993 Rookie of the Year. Piazza never won an MVP, but came close many times with six top ten finishes (four times in the top four, twice as the runner up). He was never regarded as a good defensive catcher, but his bat more than made up for it. His 427 home runs and .922 OPS are the highest total for any player who ever played primarily at backstop (granted some of those homers came as a first baseman and DH). He received 57.8% of the votes last season. At the very least he should build on that total if he doesn’t get the call.
Craig Biggio. Second year on ballot. Career line .281/.363/.433/.796, 3,060 hits, 291 home runs, 1,175 RBI, 1,844 runs scored, 414 stolen bases, seven time All Star, four Gold Gloves, five silver sluggers. The man’s bat and athleticism proved to valuable to keep him at catcher. Biggio would spend most of his career at second base (where he won all of his Gold Gloves) as well as a couple of seasons in the outfield. He’s also the all time leader in hit by pitch (285). But it’s the membership in the exclusive 3,000 hits club that will get him in the Hall of Fame someday, if not this season. Having received 68.2% of the necessary votes last season (the highest total for any candidate last year), the chances are very good that Biggio will be enshrined in Cooperstown next summer.
Jeff Bagwell: Fourth year on ballot. Career line .297/.408/.540/.948, 449 home runs, 1,529 RBI, 1,517 runs scored, 2,314 hits, one MVP, four time All Star, one Gold Glove, three Silver Sluggers, 1991 Rookie of the Year. The Red Sox gave THIS GUY to the Astros for a half season of Larry Andersen. What’s even more impressive about Bagwell is the fact that he put up most of these numbers while playing most of his home games in the spacious Astro Dome. Aside from his lone MVP, he would finish in the top ten five more times (twice in the top three). After receive a 14.3% percent boost in 2012 (41.7% to 56%), Bagwell only received a 3 percent boost last year. Of course that could very well be due to the significant total of blank ballots submitted by voters in protest. He should continue to receive more support this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he misses out again. Which is too bad because it’d be a cool thing for Astros fans to see their two greatest players get inducted together.
Sammy Sosa: Second year on the ballot. Career line .273/.344/.534/.878, 609 home runs, 1,667 RBI, 1,475 runs scored, 2,408 hits, seven time All Star, one MVP, six Silver Sluggers. For all the talk of how Sosa allegedly brought shame upon the game, they sure weren’t saying that back in 1998 when he and Mark McGwire were chasing the then single season home run record. He only received 12.5% of the votes last season. There’s a really good chance Sosa (and McGwire for that matter) actually fall off the ballot with such a deep list of candidates this year. If that happens, the so-called “Protectors of the Game’s Integrity” will have achieved their goal. They should then proceed with making Mike Lupica give back his profits for “Summer of ’98″ since it was supposedly such a dark period for the game.
Curt Schilling: Second year on ballot. Career line 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 3,116 strikeouts, six time All Star. Postseason line 11-2 in 19 games (all starts), 2.23 ERA, .968 WHIP, 120 strikeouts in 133.1 IP, 4-1 in World Series, three World Series rings. Schill was a late bloomer. He didn’t become a full time starter until his sixth season (his age 26 season). On his 30th birthday, his career record was sitting at 52-52. He would go 164-94 after that. Injuries and having played on some bad Phillies teams also hurt his win total. Schill never did win a Cy Young, but he did finish in the top four of the voting four times, three times as the runner-up. But his greatest accolade is his postseason resume. He pitched well in a losing effort in the 1993 World Series vs the Toronto Blue Jays. He and Randy Johnson would be co-MVPs for the Arizona Diamondbacks club that ended the Yankees dynasty. His most famous postseason effort was actually in the 2004 ALCS. In game six, Schill would pitch with his ankle sutured together and shut down the Yankees lineup. He would also win his lone World Series start vs the Cardinals as the Sox would win their first World Series in 86 years. Fittingly so, Schilling’s last career start was actually in a postseason game. It was Game 2 of the 2007 World Series, and he would go on to be the winning pitcher. Schill got 38.8% of the votes last year. I do believe he’ll get in someday, but I’m not betting on it happening this season.
Barry Bonds: Second year on ballot. Career line .298/.444/.607/1.051, 762 home runs, 1,996 RBI, 2,227 runs scored, 514 stolen bases, seven MVPs, 14 time All Star, eight Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers. We all know
why he’s not already enshrined and why it could also keep him out yet again (his reputation as an unlikeable person doesn’t help either). The sad thing is Bonds was already one of the greatest players ever when he allegedly starting doing what he allegedly did. He was one of the best complete players ever. Even more mind boggling: He walked 1,019 more times than he struck out (he’s also the all time leader in walks at 2,258). I’m personally not expecting Bonds to get in this year. But I do expect him to receive more votes than last year’s 36.2% and if I had a vote, he’s on my ballot.
Roger Clemens: Second year on ballot. Career line 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 1.173 WHIP, 4,672 strikeouts, seven Cy Young Awards, one MVP. Had to save this one for last. With all the bad blood from the moment he had his press conference in Toronto to his final half season mercenary act with the Yankees, it’s sometimes hard to remember that at one time he was our beloved “Rocket”. Like Bonds, he has an uphill climb going forward (On a side note: For any writer who actually has a HOF vote, especially the 1.4% who voted for just Clemens but not Bonds, you either vote for BOTH Clemens and Bonds or neither. There’s no justification to vote for one but not the other. BOTH allegedly took shortcuts, BOTH have HOF worthy stats, BOTH are unlikeable guys with huge egos. The only differences are irrelevant: one was a hitter and one was a pitcher, one was black and the other was white.) Clemens got 37.6% of the votes last year. I also expect him to receive a boost, but he’ll still probably fall short. But if he does get in, I wonder what kind of reaction he’ll receive at the ceremony at Fenway where his number 21 would likely be retired…
On The Bubble
Each of the following have decent cases to make it in the hall, but missed the cut for me this year: Larry Walker, Jeff Kent, Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Fred McGriff, Luis Gonzalez, Moises Alou, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire
Just Not Hall Worthy
Jack Morris: He was definitely a terrific postseason pitcher and a fierce competitor. But I can’t convince myself to disregard that 3.90 ERA. If Morris can get in with a 3.90 ERA, that means a career middle of the rotation pitcher like Andy Pettitte now has a strong HOF case. Sorry Jack, but it’s 15 and done (and Clay Buchholz sends his regards as well).
Alan Trammell: He was an outstanding defensive shortstop and a big part of the 1984 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers. But he failed to reach 1,500 runs scored in a 20 year career. Of course one can make the argument that Trammell was probably the best overall shortstop in the AL in that era after Cal Ripken. But with that in mind: If Dale Murphy couldn’t get in with two MVPs and being the best center fielder in the NL for ten years, why should Trammell?
Lee Smith: This is evidence that the save statistic is so flawed in determining how good a pitcher really is. Smith retired with 478 saves, a then record. But his career WHIP was 1.256 and his ERA was 3.03. Those are decent numbers for a starting pitcher. But for a guy who’s supposed to shut the door in the ninth and secure the win?
That concludes my long HOF ballot/rant. I hope you enjoyed it!
Tags: Baseball Hall Of Fame