Baseball HOF Ballot

No Perpetual Post authors will be filling out an actual Hall of Fame ballot, but here is what they think of the candidates up for enshrinement in 2010:

CHRIS PUMMER: Let me just say to start by saying I’m a big Hall kind of guy. I’ve decided there’s not really any other way to look at it. The HoF is already packed with undeserving members, and questionable guys still seem to get in all the time. So instead of upholding an imaginary standard, I’m for honoring great players.

It also seems to me that a lot of great and deserving players get held out because voters are far too stingy with their votes. I mean, Jim Rice gets in but Alan Trammell doesn’t?

You could require the writers to use all 10 votes on their ballots, and after you tally all the votes for Gary Gaetti and Tim Belcher, you’d probably still find a lot of guys who deserve enshrinement aren’t getting votes on the 75 percent of ballots necessary.

So if I had a ballot, I would pick the 10 most deserving candidates. Here’s who I’d pick this year:

Andre Dawson -- Great defender early in his career. The biggest knock on his offense was his inability to draw walks. His power and speed make up for that.
Bert Blyleven – Why hasn’t it happened yet?
Tim Raines – Voters need to stop penalizing him for not being as good as Rickey Henderson.
Roberto Alomar – He could do everything at the plate and in the field.
Barry Larkin -- For a long time it was speculated that Larkin’s career be cast in the shadows of what Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada would do. Well, now that Garciaparra and Tejada have fallen off and Rodriguez has moved to third base, maybe there can be more appreciation for what Larkin did.
Mark McGwire – It would be hubris to say we can properly sort fact from fiction among the steroids accusations. Equally so to say we know the true impact of performance enhancing drugs on the game. So I’m inclined to go strictly by the numbers here, and that means McGuire gets a vote.
Alan Trammell – Glove guy who could hit. Probably similar to Larkin in that his numbers paled for a while compared to what shortstops were doing in the late 90s and early 00s.
Edgar Martinez – I do wish people would try to stop giving him extra credit for the Mariners keeping him in the minors early in his career. He doesn’t need it.
Dale Murphy – His bat wasn’t much worse than Don Mattingly’s, but he played a tougher defensive position. That’s why he gets the nod from me first.
Robin Ventura – Long considered one of those guys people looked at before saying, “Yea, if there were a Hall of Very Good he’d belong there instead of the Hall of Fame.” And that may be true. His offensive output is more similar to middle infielders like Larkin or Alomar. But then, how many third basemen hit well and stay there their whole careers? Ventura was also a terrific fielder. With what we’ve learned about defense in the last few years, and with the increasing emphasis being placed on how it impact a player’s value, we might yet come around to thinking Ventura is a Hall of Famer. I hope he sticks around on the ballot long enough for it to be examined more thoroughly.

And now for the guys I wouldn’t vote for:

Jack Morris – Google him and there will probably be 100 articles breaking down why he doesn’t belong. I’m probably in agreement with all of them.
Don Mattingly – Numbers game. I’d have voted for him, but picked 10 guys I thought were better.
Fred McGriff – Like Mattingly. My ballot’s too crowded.
Dave Parker – Like Dawson, less glove and power. Got on base pretty well for his day.
Kevin Appier – If he had throw 500 more innings, I might have been able to pull the trigger on this one.
Lee Smith – The permanent poster boy for the save being overrated. At least guys like Joe Borowski and Brian Fuentes come along every once in a while to stand in the spotlight.
Ray Lankford -- Surprisingly good, but not for long enough.
Pat Hentgen – Would have been better than Morris if he’d thrown twice as many innings.
Andres Galarraga -- Willed himself to a second and third act in his career. Proved that Coors Field doesn’t ruin hitters.
Ellis Burks – Maybe underrated because some of his best seasons came with the Rockies, so some of the hits and homers are discounted.
Eric Karros – Part of the Dodger Rookie of the Year tradition in the early 90s. Still can’t believe they traded away Paul Konerko because this guy was already there.
David Segui -- It was probably generally accepted during his career that if your favorite team was starting Segui at first base, you most probably weren’t paying attention after July.
Shane Reynolds – One of the last great benefactors of the Astrodome.
Todd Zeile – If you needed a stopgap third baseman, Zeile was your guy. Shifted to first base with the Mets as he and Mike Bordick broke up what in the minds of some was the greatest defensive infield of all time (Robin Ventura, Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonso and John Olerud).

HOWARD MEGDAL: It has long been a dream of mine to have a faux Hall of Fame ballot, so I want to thank The Perpetual Post for making this a reality.

For those I’d include on my ballot:
Andre Dawson – Eight Gold Gloves an a career 119 OPS in CF? Yes.
Bert Blyleven – So 300 is automatic, but 287 for bad teams is a no? I don’t think so.
Tim Raines – A tremendous player, with nine Hall of Fame seasons by my count, along with many others that were very good.
Roberto Alomar – Despite his tenure with the Mets, one of the very best second basemen ever.
Barry Larkin -- A terrific defensive shortstop with a long career at a 116 OPS+ is a Hall of Famer.
Mark McGwire – Too good not to get in, steroids or no steroids.
Alan Trammell – I’ve covered this previously- the idea that his offensive contributions and Gold Gloves aren’t HOF-worthy strikes me as odd.
Edgar Martinez – From 1992-2001, he ranked sixth or better in OPS+, league-wide, eight times. That’s dominance. And it kills me to validate the DH by voting for one, but he’s too good to keep out.
Fred McGriff – 493 home runs, excellence for a long, long time. This man is a Hall of Famer.

As for those who miss the cut:

Dale Murphy – Wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me at age 31 that he doesn’t make it. But his decline phase was a collapse- .234/.307/.396, and even that was Denver-aided.

Robin Ventura – How I would love to vote for him. He was one of my favorite Mets ever. But after age 31, he was an average player offensively and defensively, and didn’t have the peak through age-31 to make up for it. Put it this way- if Murphy doesn’t make it, Ventura certainly doesn’t.

Jack Morris – Because Most Wins in the 80s doesn’t mean much.
Don Mattingly – Only injuries kept him out.

Dave Parker – Not enough hitting to justify the glove in the Hall of Fame.
Kevin Appier – More deserving than Mark Gubicza.
Lee Smith – I don’t think Bruce Sutter belongs- and Smith has a lesser case than Sutter.
Ray Lankford -- More deserving than Bernard Gilkey.
Pat Hentgen – Surprised his career ERA, 4.32, wasn’t lower.
Andres Galarraga -- THE BIG CAT! Five clear HOF-worthy seasons- and only three of them in Colorado. He’s second all-time among first basemen nicknamed The Big Cat, trailing Johnny Mize, but has a clear lead among All-Time Galarragas, handily beating Armando.
Ellis Burks – A surprisingly good HOF case- 352 HR, career 126 OPS+ playing mostly center field- but just short for me on Hall of Fame seasons.
Eric Karros – Five 30-home run seasons! Who knew?
David Segui -- My favorite David Segui memory- the Mets put him in left field to accomodate Rico Brogna at first base. On Opening Day, a Rockie hit a ball into the corner, and as I watched Segui lumber after it, I knew the Mets wouldn’t make the playoffs.
Shane Reynolds – FWIW, Chris, he wasn’t an Astrodome creation- 4.10 ERA at home, 4.08 ERA away. He was mediocre everywhere.
Todd Zeile – No worries- I’m sure that film career will lead to winning the Irving Thalberg Award.

DAVE TOMAR: I’ve had the benefit of reading the ballots prepared by Chris and Howard and I largely agree with them.  And since they have determined to play the part of the election committee, I will play the part of prognosticator.  My ten votes would not be unlike theirs.  But the committee will of course only admit two or three players a year.  This year, they will be Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson and Roberto Alomar.  More on that later though.  Here are the guys that won’t get in this year.

Guys on the Fringe:

Edgar Martinez is one of the greatest Designated Hitters to play the game.  Therefore, his offensive numbers are Hall-worthy and his defensive stats are about the same as Stephen Hawking’s.  Should a DH be considered a Hall of Famer?  Edgar Martinez is the man around whom the Hall will attempt to answer the question, but it won’t be this year.

Guys like Eckersley and Smoltz, who succeeded both as brilliant starters and as brilliant closers, have raised the stakes for relievers.  Thus, Lee Smith is doomed only to return to the ballot every year until his fifteen years are up.  He may never crack the 50% mark.

Damn!  So close for Fred McGriff. 493 homeruns and a .283 career average.  Tons of respect but no enshrinement for the Crime Dog.

Shortstop Barry Larkin’s biggest problem on this ballot is Roberto Alomar.  As the other stellar middle infielder on the ballot, his career was two years longer and just a shade more modest in all categories.  A .295 hitter, .975 fielder vs. Alomar’s .300, .984.  Larkin’s numbers are similar to those of the oft-overlooked Alan Trammall, so if he does head for the Hall eventually, it should only be with serious consideration of the Detroit Tigers’ great.  To Larkin’s credit, as opposed to Robbie, he has never been accused of lying about being HIV positive in order to have unprotected sex . . . that we know of.

One of the most debated guys on the ballot is Jack Morris. With Morris, it comes down to two things: his post-season record and his status as winningest pitcher of the ‘80s.  This latter accomplishment makes him the baseball equivalent of Def Leppard.  A 4 time World Series champ, Morris should have at least this glory to live on.  He may get in with another couple years on the ballot, but this would open the door up to a lot of other fringe pitchers like Curt Schilling and Jamie Moyer.

Guys Who Should Make it But Won’t:

Tim Raines is one of the greatest leadoff hitters to play the game.  I can see how the Writers might overlook one of the best players in Montreal Expos history.  This is a team that spent most of its history overshadowed in its home market by Rush.  Despite the fact that only Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Ty Cobb stole more bases than Raines over a major league career, Neil Peart has a better chance of getting voted in by the numerically-fixated Baseball Writers.

The McGwire case is a whole other hornet’s nest.  Mark McGwire is a shoe-in who has been denied three years in the running.  All indications are that he will not get in, though with no pronounced justification based on a steroid policy.  The voters just don’t want to touch him even if it’s tough to make a convincing argument against his numbers.  Though he had a middle-of-the-road batting average and less than 2000 hits, he is the first guy to hit more than 500 homeruns (583) and fail to enter the Hall in his first year of eligibility.  Justifications for this are hazy, reflecting an unspoken steroid-bias in voting that becomes difficult to gloss over with Bonds and Clemens on the immediate horizon.  These guys are numerically the best of their time on either side of the ball and, without debate, easily ranked among the best of all time.  It’s impossible to argue against their credentials so the HOF has an obligation to make an official statement before that time.  Otherwise, the door is opened to wild inconsistency.

We have spoken on this subject at the Perpetual Post before and with another class induction upon us, the issue of McGwire looms large in my mind.  I personally side with Hank Aaron.  Let them in, explain what they did and explain why the era was this way.  I would start the story with the words ‘Bud Selig.’  On the other hand, if McGwire is a precedent, it should be set in stone.  Otherwise, it isn’t particularly fair to him.  I’d be pissed if I was silently blackballed so that, years from now, we could forget all about it and induct A-Rod and Manny.  And furthermore, what of those who have done it but have avoided detection.  It has become increasingly hard to presume innocence for anybody, but selective induction will do just that.  Frank Thomas was pretty huge.  Ken Griffey hit 600 homeruns.  Jim Thome has remained productive at an advanced age.  Are they great ballplayers or guys that were just smarter about shredding receipts?  These questions are all couched in the continued ambiguity on the Hall of Fame ballot.  Look to 2013, when the true Steroid Class stands to be judged.

Guys Getting the Ballot Boot:

In order to return to the ballot next year, a candidate must garner at least 5% of the vote.  Among those garnering the lowest qualifying number of votes last year were Don Mattingly (11.9), Dale Murphy (11.5) and Harold Baines (5.9).  With some deserving newcomers on the ballot this year, Mattingly will probably be the only one among these to return, though Baines managed to amass some awesome numbers in his 22 year career.  Baines’ seven years with the Orioles earned him enshrinement in their HOF and three separate stints with the Chisox earned him a bronze statue outside of U.S. Cellular Field.  That will have to be good enough.  His career .289 BA, .356 OBP and his 2,866 amount to excellence but no entry.

Guys Who are Todd Zeile:

Possibly the slowest man ever to play the game. Is there an HOF category for guys who had to stop and sit for a spell on the way to first base?

Guys Who Are Getting In:

Bert Blyleven had a 287-250 win/loss record, a 3.31 ERA and 3,701 career strikeouts.He is  5th all-time in the latter category.  After 12 years of eligibility, that Blyleven is not yet in is what they call in Yiddish a Shonda.

Andre Dawson is right where he belongs.  On the ballot since 2005 and steadily climbing in vote percentage, this should mark the year that the Hawk is granted admission.  Barry Bonds and Willie Mays are the only other guys in history to hit for 400+ homeruns and to steal 300+ bases, suggesting a rare combination of speed and power that made him one of the best all-around players in Cubs history and probably the greatest player ever to put on an Expos uniform.

Roberto Alomar was simply the best 2nd basemen of his era.  He was also a total asshole.  In addition to compiling 2724 hits, 1134 RBIs and 210 homeruns, he won 10 gold gloves, more than any other 2nd baseman in history.  He will be this year’s first-ballot entrant.

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