Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Hall of Fame Ballot

With the voting results being announced later today, I felt it was a good time to provide my ballot. It's a tough, tough year to limit this ballot to only ten players as those left out for PEDs are causing a bloated amount of deserving players to choose from. Plus, ridiculous arbitrary personal rules like "I won't vote for too many people" and "he's not a first ballot guy" and "he pitched during the steroid era" are giving us just way too many great players to choose from. Also, let's be honest, during the 90's and first decade of the 21st century, we witnessed a golden era of baseball. So, with that in mind, my first ballot had 12 players on it. It was difficult, but I was able to slide two off the ballot. There's always next year, I guess.

The guys that were considered, but didn't make the 12

  • Alan Trammell ...I see the impressive numbers, but nothing really stands out to me.
  • Larry Walker ...Truly amazing hitter, but the Coors effect plus health issues keep him off my list.
  • Nomar Garciaparra ...A really great hitter (.313/.361/.521) during an amazing era for shortstops, but didn't do it long enough.
  • Gary Sheffield ...One of a kind hitter with that bat waggle, but his career only makes him a borderline HOF candidate and that's in a lean year, not one like this.
Two that just missed the cut
  • Edgar Martinez ...Is it fair to penalize him because he didn't play defense when he spent his career in the American League? In five years on the ballot, Martinez has yet to pass 40% and actually slumped to only appearing on a quarter of the ballots last year. This puts his ability to be enshrined in Cooperstown at considerable risk. Again, is that fair? He has the marks and did play a quarter of his games in the field. Also hurting Martinez is that he lacks the wow factor. In an era of unrivaled offense, very few of his numbers stand out. They're just consistently great. In a leaner year, he makes my ballot.
  • Mike Mussina ...I don't know if anyone did it more quietly, especially playing so many years in New York, but Mussina deserves a lot more credit than he got. He would be on this ballot of it wasn't so bloated and truly, I have both had him on and off it during writing this article, but Mussina's issue is that while he was consistently great throughout his career, he never stood out. 
My Ballot
  • Pitcher Roger Clemens ...You lose your moral superiority when you glorify Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle. Clemens was a selfish, ego-driven, douchebag. But he was probably the best pitcher of the last 75 years (Fangraphs has him #1 in WAR). Holding him out to prove a point is worthless. He's third in strikeouts all-time and to take that a next step, of the top 16 in strikeouts, all but five are in Cooperstown. All five should go in ASAP. 
  • Pitcher Randy Johnson ...#2 in strikeouts, Johnson was a freak of nature. No starter qualifies for Fangraphs' leader-boards in K/9 and has a better rate than The Big Unit. He was imposing, tenacious, and most of all - damn good. He struck out over 300 in four consecutive years in an era of pitch counts and five-man rotations. The perfect game he threw against the Braves was one of the few Atlanta loses that you can't even get mad at. We were just lucky to watch him at his best. Plus, with the help of a big catch, he retired Lou Collins in Billy Heywood's last game as a manager.
  • Pitcher Pedro Martinez ...In a word - domination. That is what Pedro's 1999 season should simply be called. The guy posted a 1.39 FIP in 213.1 innings. Since 1911, that FIP is first and you have to go to Dwight Gooden's 1985 to get to second place, 30 points higher. He struck out 13.2 per nine that season. Only the Big Unit's 2001 was higher. And the 11.9 fWAR? Second to Steve Charlton's 1972 season when he posted a 12.1 fWAR. That season alone would have me thinking of giving Pedro a vote, but fortunately, he was dominant in other years. Over a seven year run that began with his final season in Montreal, Pedro posted a 2.20 ERA while offense over the game was seeing record highs. Only three other pitchers had an ERA under 3.00 for that same run. While Kevin Brown's career wasn't Hall-worthy, Greg Maddux is enshrined and the Big Unit will join him. Pretty damn good company.
  • Pitcher Curt Schilling ...He's a dingbat and probably shouldn't use twitter, but on the mound, when he was on, it was a long night for your team. Too often, that seemed to be the Braves. Schilling showed in the playoffs that he was comfortable wrecking havoc on other teams, though. True, we all remember the Bloody Sock, but a 2.23 ERA in 19 starts in the postseason? Jesus, Curt. His in-season numbers aren't as gaudy as others, but they are more than respectable. We often ignore how good he was because he was overshadowed in some degree by pitchers like Johnson in Arizona and Pedro in Boston, but the hitters didn't ignore how good he was. 
  • Pitcher John Smoltz ...It's been a back-and-forth battle with Smoltze and Mussina on my ballot, but I'll give Smoltzie a little extra credit in that at his best, he was as good as they come. Plus, the uniqueness of Smoltz's career gives him a bit more of an edge. As a starter, his 1996 season stands out not only because of the Cy Young he earned, but the amazing 2.64 FIP that led the league, including his two more refined teammates and 2014 inductees into the Hall. As a closer, he finished 8th in the MVP voting and retired as the team leader in saves. And in the postseason...he was a horse. A beast. An absolute joy to watch. 
  • Catcher Mike Piazza ...It amazes me that Piazza still is sitting on the outside of the Hall. He's at least one of the top ten catchers of all time. You can argue that he should be one of the top five, though I'd probably rank him just outside that. If your Hall of Fame is worth anything, the top ten at any given position should be in the Hall if they are eligible. Piazza is entering his third season of eligibility. Just elect the top homerun hitter as a catcher in the history of the game. Sure, he was no Johnny Bench or Carlton Fisk with the glove, but they were no Piazza with the bat either.
  • First Baseman Jeff Bagwell ...Yet another guy hurt by simply playing in the era he did, but the facts are simple. Put his numbers next to just about any 1B to ever play the game, save Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx, and Bags comes up looking pretty good. But because he played during the steroid era, he is entering his fifth year of voting with no certainty that a HOF induction will be in the cards for him. Just do it already.
  • Second Baseman Craig Biggio ...And get this other Killer B in, too. Biggio has been hurt because he was never great enough and seemed to keep playing to get to 3,000 hits. But the numbers are comparable to Roberto Alomar, especially the slash numbers which probably would have been even better had he retired a couple of years before. Alomar's induction was pushed back a year because he spit on an ump. However, if his career was deserving of an induction (even if it had to stupidly wait a year), so is Biggio's
  • Outfielder Barry Bonds ...I get it. We all get it. We all hate it. We hated him when he played. Still, keeping him out is ridiculous at this point. Right this wrong.
  • Outfielder Tim Raines ...And while we are writing wrongs, let's get Raines in. Of the top eleven in fWAR during the 80's as position players, eight have been voted into the Hall. Raines, who ranked ninth and would play 23 years total, should make it nine. His most impressive weapon, his speed, allowed him to steal 808 career bases, joining just three other players with 800 steals. All three are in the Hall. Make it 4-and-4 and elect Raines. 

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