Thursday, November 29, 2012

The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot

Barry Bonds: In or out? I say in. The voters will
probably say otherwise.
If I actually had a vote for the Hall of Fame -- I don't -- I would probably be one who identifies a handful of legitimate candidates and perhaps casts a waste vote for a personal favorite with no real HOF case. (Or maybe, if I were a working member of the BBWAA, I would have discovered that I don't really LIKE any of them.) A voter can vote for as many as 10 candidates; most don't go nearly that deep.

This winter's ballot is probably too loaded for waste votes.

Loaded with talent, loaded with controversy. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are mightily overqualified by the stat lines, and with the steroid connections, it's quite likely none will get in.

I can argue PEDs in both directions, and at times have. My take in terms of the Hall: 1) I want some evidence, not just rumors; 2) I wouldn't set up PED use as a litmus test; 3) if there's legitimate reason to doubt that a player would have reached Hall of Fame levels without steroids, that's a heavy mark against him.

If I had a vote, I'd probably spend more time agonizing over it than I have. But off the top of my head, here's how I'd go this year:

Jeff Bagwell. How many first basemen in history were better than Bagwell? Gehrig, Foxx ... I'd take Eddie Murray over Bagwell too. The list isn't long. Bagwell's been hurt in the voting by PED rumors, but real evidence is lacking. Give me something more substantial than "he was buds with Ken Caminiti."
Craig Biggio. Maybe he and Bagwell can go in together, which would be fitting.
Bonds. Three MVPs before allegations of steroid use.
Clemens. What he did in Boston alone is sufficient.
Mike Piazza. The numbers say he was the best hitting catcher ever. Even while active, though, there was chatter that he was a chemical construct. Again, I want more than chatter.
Tim Raines. That Rock's out and Jim Rice is in is a data point for the idea that the writers are addicted to the idea that RBI is the be-all, end-all stat. Sorta like Miguel Cabrera winning the MVP over Mike Trout. Or George Bell over Alan Trammell in '87. Raines was better than Rice; Trout was better than Cabrera; Trammell was better than Bell.
Curt Schilling. An odd, up-and-down career, but utterly dominating at his best and a major figure in two of the most compelling postseasons of the past 20 years.
Alan Trammell. Best shortstop not now in the Hall, and better than more than half the shortstops in.

That's eight. That list excludes Kenny Lofton, Jack Morris, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Sosa, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Rafael Palmeiro and Edgar Martinez, all of whom have some sort of plausible argument in their favor -- and equally plausible arguments against.

But I'm not counting to 10 just because I can. Those eight are enough. Those eight are a very loaded ballot.


  1. If I had a vote it would not include anyone who had their best years when many of us at an age when we are already grandparents.

    Satchel Paige would be the only guy in baseball history who did not age without enhancers.

    Because you have no objective way of measuring cheaters performance with/without enhancers they forfeit the opportunity.

  2. Well, Ed, I don't have a vote either, so I guess it doesn't matter what we think, so we can be for or against anyone we want.

    Being an AL fan, I never paid a whole lot of attention to Biggio and Bagwell, or Piazza. I don't really know if they are "worthy" of enshrinement. Raines? He never impressed me that much, but I don't really know if Rice deserves it either. Bonds, yes. Clemens, yes. No question on either. McGwire and Sosa? Both are maybes. They were monsters at their peaks.Your argument for Schilling is pretty convincing. Trammell was certainly a great one, but toiled in anonymity somewhat. He always seemed to be overshadowed by other Tigers during his career.

    From the group of non-winners you mentioned, the only other one I would definitely add would be Jack Morris. His 1991 WS game 7 performance was the frosting on top of the cupcake. He was a major, major dominating pitcher at his peak through the 80s. The fans who only point to Game 7 are idiots. Morris was a great one for a long time before he ever put on the Twins cap. He should be elected, and go in with the cap with the big, fancy "D" on the front.

    But I don't have a vote, just like you.

  3. I would put Jack Morris in too. And of course Tony O!