Baseball season has long since been over and the hot stove has come to a low simmer as of late, but the baseball world is still hopping. Why? It’s the time of year when the annual landslide of seemingly every baseball writer delivering their opinions on who should and shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame is in full force. And with the official announcement coming on Wednesday, January 6th, I don’t have a whole lot of time more to jump in on the discussion. So, since I know you’re all interested, I’m about to give you a glimpse at what my theoretical ballot would look like.
Before we get started, I just wanted to vent a few thoughts on the process of election.
I think too many writers get caught up in comparing the players on the ballot to the players that are already in the hall. For example, one of the main arguments that I hear coming against Tim Raines is that he’s not Rickey Henderson. While this is true, why should he be punished for it? We didn’t punish Frank Thomas for not being Babe Ruth. It just makes no sense to me. Too many writers get caught up in nostalgia and end up with the mindset of, “well, he’s not better than Tom Seaver so I’m not voting him into the Hall. It’s just wrong.
And secondly, I’m not going to be a troll here like some writers enjoy being. Some writers just enjoy being the only guy who doesn’t vote for someone; like you get some sort of award for it. I’m also not going to shoo in all of the steroid guys just because I don’t know concretely whether or not they did anything. I feel very strongly about steroids, having played the game, and will not permit anyone to achieve baseball’s highest honor if their name was prevalently mentioned in rumors regarding PED’s. That being said, here we go.
- Ken Griffey Jr. – Griffey shouldn’t even have to knock on the Hall door. The best center fielder of a generation, and possibly the greatest player of all time. A career .907 OPS, 83.6 career WAR, and 630 homers, one of the sweetest swings you will ever see, and one of the nicest guys to ever play the game. Don’t be that guy who didn’t vote for Griffey.
- Tim Raines – I don’t understand what’s taken so long on Tim Raines. Clearly overshadowed by Rickey Henderson during his days, Raines was an elite leadoff hitter, owning a career .385 OBP to go along with 1571 runs scored and 808 stolen bases. Like I said earlier, writers get too caught up in comparing him to Rickey Henderson that they lose sight of just how great Raines was. Put him where he belongs and stop the madness of keeping him out of the Hall.
- Edgar Martinez – The fact that Edgar Martinez is not in the Hall already bothers me, nonetheless he deserves his due. DH is a much harder job than people give it credit for, but regardless of the fact that Martinez hardly ever played in the field he is still, as I said above, the greatest pure hitter of his generation, and possibly all time. A career .933 (good lord) OPS to go along with 147 WRC+ and no more than 100 strikeouts in any given single season, Martinez is the personification of an elite hitter. For context, I took a season during which Martinez was in his age-28, prime, season. Kirby Puckett finished 2nd in 1992 AL MVP voting with a WRC+ of 136. Martinez had a 147 WRC+ for his career. It’s a joke that he’s been kept out this long.
- Alan Trammell – Much like Tim Raines, Trammell has been unfortunately overshadowed by and compared to Cal Ripken Jr. And again, much like Raines, it’s totally unfair. Let’s compare the two of them real quick, because it’s closer than you think.
- Ripken (21 seasons) – OPB: 340/SLG: 447/OPS: 788/WRC+: 112
- Trammell (20 seasons) – OBP: 352/SLG: 415/OPS: 767/WRC+: 111
Ripken was a total shoo in to the Hall, while Trammell is in his final year of eligibility and will likely not get in. Really makes no sense when you break it down.
- Trevor Hoffman – A bit of a surprise to me, I haven’t seen Hoffman on as many public ballots as I would have previously thought. But I can’t leave him off mine. I don’t care how many people say the save is pointless and that closers shouldn’t exist, Hoffman was as lockdown as they come and recently we’ve seen how important that can be. 601 saves, 3.08 FIP, 141 ERA+ and the filthiest change-piece this side of Tom Glavine. Quite frankly, one of the most dominant relievers in the history of the game.
Some of the notable admissions from my ballot include every guy tied to steroids in any way, shape or form. Cheating is cheating, I don’t care when it happened. The fact that the numbers of Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds were ‘HOF-worthy’ before they were accused of doing steroids does not matter to me at all. They made their choice, and they chose to cheat, doesn’t matter when it happened.
Piazza and Bagwell were tough ones for me and I’m sure that if I had greater resources I would be able to accurately weed out whether or not they truly did dope. But for now I just can’t theoretically vote for them. I remain firm in my stance on steroids and the fact that no cheater of any kind belongs in the HOF. They traded money, fame, and numbers for a spot in the Hall.
So there you go, the 5 men that would get my vote to enter into the Hall of Cooperstown. As I mentioned earlier, the HOF voting process has become more about personal writer egos and nostalgia rather than actually basing votes on merit. It shouldn’t be as difficult as it is now, and hopefully things will change. That being said, we are clearly in a really tough period for the baseball Hall of Fame, as all of the ‘steroid era’ players are starting to trickle onto the ballot, and voters are having to decipher which ones did or didn’t partake in PED’s. We’ll see what happens tomorrow afternoon.
Thanks for reading…