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My imaginary Hall of Fame ballot

Jan 8, 2013, 2:30 PM EST

Roger Clemens

I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote, obviously, but I’ve written enough about it and criticized enough people who do have a vote that I may as well say what I’d do if I had the franchise.

Here’s my whole ballot. I include everyone on it because, unlike so many of the voters, I really don’t think this is some monumentally impossible task that requires long hours examining the dark recesses of my soul.  I write about baseball, I read about baseball and I love baseball and I’ve had a pretty good handle on what has gone on with it in both my lifetime and historically. And, contrary to popular opinion, this is fun.

Here’s my take on all of these guys. Since I’m going with the ten-slot limit, I’ll tally the whole ballot at the end, as some of these guys are “if I have room” choices:

  • Sandy Alomar Jr.: A tough call for the Hall of Alomars.
  • Jeff Bagwell: Passes my eyeball test even if he fails others’.
  • Craig Biggio: He was good at everything, great at many things and maintained his excellence for a long time. Once upon a time that was an easy Hall of Famer. I’d like to think it still is.
  • Barry Bonds: Duh. Yes.
  • Jeff Cirillo: Once held the record for the most regular season games played without playing in the postseason at 1,617. But, sorry, no.
  • Royce Clayton: Best Royce to ever play the game. But no.
  • Roger Clemens: Duh. Yes again.
  • Jeff Conine: How many guys can call themselves “Mr. [team name]?” Not many. As Mr. Marlin he’s one. But no.
  • Steve Finley: Was drafted by the Braves in 1986 but didn’t sign. So we were stuck with the Dion James/Albert Hall platoon. Sigh. No.
  • Julio Franco: I’m sure he’s in his Lazarus Pit right now preparing for a comeback so we’ll deal with him when he’s eligible once again. But no.
  • Shawn Green: Nice player. No.
  • Roberto Hernandez: Thanks to Fausto Carmona’s stuff, he’s the only guy in the Hall of Fame ballot who is automatically hyperlinked as an active player by the HBT blogging platform. Pretty cool! But no.
  • Ryan Klesko: If I were tipsy I’d go on about how he was better than you remember and how Bobby Cox treated him kinda poorly, but I’m not tipsy so let’s just say no.
  • Kenny Lofton: He’s a popular choice among the statheads and I think he’s way better than the exceedingly low Hall of Fame vote totals he’ll get, but I’d have a hard time pulling the lever. He was always good but didn’t have the sort of peak I like to see in a Hall of Famer. I’d give a no, but it’d be one that I’d think hard about. And even if I wavered more, having so many qualified guys on the ballot would probably push him off mine.
  • Edgar Martinez: Down with anti-DH prejudice! Vote for Edgar! Yes.
  • Don Mattingly: Nope. People say “but for the injuries …” I say “he had a lot of injuries.” The Hall should be about the career a guy had, not the one he would have had if x, y, z didn’t happen.
  • Fred McGriff: Really, really hard choice. I’ve gone back and forth over the years (if you check the archives I think I have posts supporting him and not supporting him in the past). As I sit here today I’m inclined to give him a bigger era adjustment than I used to, realizing that his pre-1993 numbers were really damn good for the time and he, unfortunately, straddled the eras in a way that made his overall stats look less impressive. If I have ten others I like better he falls off, but a provisional yes.
  • Mark McGwire: I think yes. I know he was one dimensional, but it was a hell of a dimension.
  • Jose Mesa: No, obviously. But when everyone goes Hall-crazy about Omar Vizquel in a few years, I may talk Mesa up just to be a contrary S.O.B.
  • Jack Morris: I believe he was a very good pitcher. Call me back when they build a Hall of Very Good.
  • Dale Murphy: Nice peak, but fell off a cliff. He and Don Mattingly are in the same boat for me, even if we don’t know why Murphy lost his footing.
  • Rafael Palmeiro: A close call as his numbers — 500 homers and 3000 hits — look less impressive when you adjust for the parks he played in and the era in which he walked the Earth. I’d lean yes, however, if I have room.
  • Mike Piazza: Best hitting catcher ever. Anyone not voting for him this year is deranged.
  • Tim Raines: One of the best leadoff hitters ever and did everything well. Anyone not voting for him this year is equally deranged.
  • Reggie Sanders: No, but I always liked him, even though he laid a major egg when he played for Atlanta. That above-average journeyman thing is pretty fun. Wish we’d see more of it, both for the players’ sake and the teams’.
  • Curt Schilling: Close call. More deserving than Morris. I’d be inclined to say yes, pending the availability of ten slots.
  • Aaron Sele: Heh, no.
  • Lee Smith: Lots of people like him, but my post-La Russa Era closer standards are probably way higher than most people’s. I’m, like, Eckersley Mariano Rivera and … call me later.
  • Sammy Sosa: He’s like Palmiero for me, but that peak was really something to behold. A maybe, slot-pending kind of guy.
  • Mike Stanton: I loved him as a Brave and he annoyed me as a Yankee, which means he was good, because I’m only annoyed by good players who give my team a hard time. But, of course, no.
  • Alan Trammell: Yes. And I would say this even if he wasn’t my favorite childhood player. See Biggio: he did it all and did it well and was arguably the best player on an always good and often excellent team for, like, a decade.
  • Larry Walker: Hard choice. I lean no, just as I do on Lofton. I could be persuaded to change my mind at some point.
  • Todd Walker: Man, guy will be a one-and-done and he’s not even the best Walker on the ballot. Sad.
  • David Wells: Better than people give him credit for. Maybe because he didn’t hit is groove for a bit and maybe because the personality often took center stage as opposed to the pitching. I’d vote for him before I’d vote for Morris too, but ultimately I wouldn’t vote for him either.
  • Rondell White: Lots of Expos on this year’s ballot, huh? No.
  • Bernie Williams: No. Very good, but never had a Hall of Fame peak. His playoff numbers are nice, but he was obviously a huge beneficiary of the playoff expansion of the mid-90s and of being on the New York Yankees of that era.
  • Woody Williams: Always loved his name. If you had a friend named Woody Williams, you’d know you had a reliable friend. Old Woody would never leave you stranded at the airport and would always be around to help you move a couch. But no.

So, where does that leave us? My ballot:  Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Martinez, McGwire, Piazza, Raines, Trammell and … one least spot for all of my maybes.  Let’s suck it up and say — Fred McGriff.  There. McGriff gets the tenth slot.

Sorry to Palmeiro, Schilling, Sosa and the others. If you’re around next year I’ll consider you again. Or if they do the right thing and expand the ballot.

How hard was that?

  1. sportsland33 - Jan 8, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    A lotta hard hitting analysis there. thanks for taking the 15 minutes to throw that together Craig. I suppose it’s an improvement on the zero original content we usually get daily

    • mattraw - Jan 8, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      Still better than the 5 minutes most actual BBWAA voters spent on their actual ballots.

      • ramrene - Jan 8, 2013 at 8:13 PM

        So basically, your ballot is…

        “I don’t care if anyone took steroids, lied, or cheated. If their numbers were good enough I’ll look the other way.”

        Your whole piece could have been reduced to 21-words. Far more efficient and would have arrived at the same conclusions.

        Glad you don’t have a ballot because you lack a conscious.

    • Michael - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:40 AM

      Well, we apparently can’t depend on commenters for intelligent statements, so Craig’s pretty much it…

      Anyhoo – YES on Edgar Martinez. Pitchers are “one dimensional.” Ozzie Smith was “one dimensional.” Edgar only held the most hitting-dependent position on an AL roster and set the standard. Total hitter (power, average, patience). Loyal to club and fans, even while being criminally underpaid relative to market value. If he hadn’t suffered a career-crippling injury in the little-league infield dirt in Vancouver in 1993, his batting stats would make him the 9th-best offensive 3B of all time (plus he’d have an extra season of “counting stats”).

      DH, smee-H. If he went on the free agent market in 1996 and earned eight figures a year winning World Series in New York with the exact same numbers, he’d have been a first-ballot HOF’er.

  2. temporarilyexiled - Jan 8, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    I’d go with eight out of your ten – leaving out McGwire and Martinez – adding Palmeiro and Schilling.

  3. lazlosother - Jan 8, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Good ballot. My one change would be Schilling for McGriff. I hate Schilling beyond any reasonable measure, and that type of hatred is reserved for the great.

    • rmcd13 - Jan 8, 2013 at 7:07 PM

      I agree with you. Schilling is a way better pitcher than Craig is giving him credit for. I only remember him from his Diamondback/Red Sox late career, but the numbers show he was an excellent starter with the Phillies for many years as well. Schilling is an easy Hall of Famer before you even consider his post-season numbers. Give him a post-season bonus and he becomes an inner circle Hall of Fame starting pitcher.

  4. Jonny 5 - Jan 8, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    I get the whole “DH exists so you can’t penalize the player for not playing any defense” side of the coin. But doesn’t that mean you have to also turn a blind eye to the horrid defense of many other players who did play defense and hit well even though they only possess the defensive abilities of a DH? Not saying its a bad way to look at the voting, or wrong. I’m just saying the DH inclusion may be an unfair advantage over chunky OF’S and 1ST basemen.

  5. jeffa43 - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Bagwell and Biggio need to go in together. Man those two were beyond great for 15 years.

    They played hard, right, respectful and so fun to watch.

  6. mazblast - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Bagwell, Biggio, Lofton, Martinez, McGriff, Piazza, Raines, Trammell. I just can’t bring myself to vote for the obvious juicers (Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa).

    • joegolfer - Jan 9, 2013 at 1:27 AM

      I agree about those obvious juicers.
      I think the fact that Craig put the word “Duh” in his comments on Bonds and Clemens says it all, even if I’m taking it out of context on purpose. I don’t care how talented they were prior to their steroid peak years, their careers are so massively tainted. It’s not like a guy took steroids for one year. Bonds may have been terrific as a Pirate, but all those latter years where he turned into the Hulk take him completely out of the running for me, forever. The man still won’t even admit anything, much less have any remorse. Yeah, Barry, we believe you when you say you hit 73 homers without juicing. Duh!

  7. nygdriveforfive - Jan 8, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    This is the Crime Dogs year. Thanks for being on board Craig.

  8. bbk1000 - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    Makes me thankful you don’t vote for the HOF….Craig, there is a book out there that might be of some help, I believe it’s called Baseball for Dummies…..

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