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My imaginary Hall of Fame ballot

Jan 8, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

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. youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Craig, would you have voted for Juan Gonzalez (assuming he was on the ballot again and you had a vote)??

  2. cur68 - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Well hell. That’s would be my ballot, too except I’d take Lofton this year and leave McGriff off till next year. Why? Because McGriff was taller so he gets the benefit of the doubt. When it comes to two virtually equal guys the taller one nearly ALWAYS gets the benefit of the doubt over the shorter one. I consider this unfair. I refuse to bow to your size-ist agenda!

    • El Bravo - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      Crime Dog is the coolest nickname. I give the nod to Crime Dog.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        Not to mention, he’s a bona fide Major League Super Star. At least according to everyone’s favorite defensive drills video commercial.

  3. makeham98 - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    I don’t go for “but for injuries”. . . an extreme example might be Thurman Munson, a guy who might have gotten in because he was more than his stats.

    Commenting on your list, I would have added Schilling, dropped McGwire and McGriff. I have a McBias.

    Bagwell should get in simply for being traded for Larry Anderson. A worse trade than Brock-Broglio.

    • dcfan4life - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:53 PM

      Or more recently, the Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Healthcliff Slocumb trade?

      • alang3131982 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        So Schilling and Finley are in for the atrocious Finley, Schilling, Harnish for Glen Davis trade? barf.

  4. csndrew - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Maybe 75 other writers will link to this ballot and make fun of it on their blogs. What goes around…

    • alang3131982 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      And how would they make fun of it — seems reasonable and there isnt much heavy handedness there…

  5. studes - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Want the ballot expanded? Let the Hall of Fame know!

  6. ireportyoudecide - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Great ballot, all 10 are deserving and should be in the hall of fame. This really is the last year the hall of fame is relevant, with Bonds and Clemons not expected to make it in I don’t think many people are going to care much anymore.

  7. shoehole - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    That Morris guy must have been pretty good as you compare him to every picture on the ballot. I wonder what his numbers would have been if he pitched in the NL without the DH.

    • sabatimus - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      As if the NL pays attention to pitchers batting anyway.

  8. Jeremy T - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Can’t say I disagree too much with any of those. I might put Sosa ahead of McGriff, but that’s probably just because I’m too young to remember McGriff being truly great, and I think I remember having sneakers with Sosa’s three 60+ seasonal HR totals on them.

    • American of African Descent - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      I would put Sosa ahead of McGuire. McGuire — as Craig said — was one dimensional. And Sosa exceeded him there.

      • paperlions - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:58 AM

        Yes, Sosa was a far better defender than McGwire. But lets not act like they were similar hitters. McGwire was the far superior hitter with a 50 pt edge in OBP, a 54 pt edge in SLG, and a 34 pt edge in wRC+. Those are HUGE differences in offensive production…. larger than the differences in defensive value.

  9. latchbeam - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Nice work!

  10. dcfan4life - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    So removing all known and suspected steroid users from your list that the HOF writers have clearly shunned, your looking at a vote for Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell with Mcgriff, Schilling and maybe Loften filling the void. Man thats weak. I see 2 HOF inductees here, Raines for sure, maybe Biggio. Biggio deserves it but playing with known and suspected users may not get him in this year. You know how careful the HOF voters are. Almost waiting for someone to be implicated before their voted in. Thats why Piazza and Bagwell probably wont get in this year if at all. Imagine a Hall Of Famer exposed as a user after hes elected. Well the HOF committee cant, and they will wait to make sure it doesnt happen.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      Imagine a Hall Of Famer exposed as a user after hes elected. Well the HOF committee cant, and they will wait to make sure it doesnt happen.

      There are admitted users already in the HoF, both illicit and performance enhancing. No one seems to care right now.

      • dcfan4life - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        Like who? Name an admitted steroid user in the HOF? Forget the spitballs and stealing signs guys. Im talking about HGH and steroids.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Name an admitted steroid user in the HOF?

        I never said there was an admitted steroid user in the HoF. I said there was an admitted performance enhancing user. There are actual multiple ones…

      • dcfan4life - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:17 PM

        Ok, im still curious. Who?

      • American of African Descent - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        Willie Mays and Hank Aaron for starters.

      • cur68 - Jan 8, 2013 at 5:29 PM

        Babe Ruth injected himself with sheep testicle extract. There’s evidence that many of his contemporaries did the same.

  11. El Bravo - Jan 8, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    Also, I noticed, and am quite impressed with that picture, which somehow catches Mr. Clemens in between helpings of innocent babies.

  12. paperlions - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    In fairness, McGwire wasn’t one dimensional. His career OBP of .394 is 54th all-time among players that had at least 6000 PAs (roughly ten full seasons).

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      Plus, he was a gold glove winner, so clearly Craig is omitting his defense wizardry,

      Want an insane McGwire factoid? So, he had 583 home runs in 7660 plate appearances.

      -Of the other members of the 500 home run club, Jimmie Foxx has the fewest plate appearances: 9676, *2000 more than McGwire*

  13. Paul Zummo - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    I might switch Walker or Schilling for McGriff, but that ballot just about completely echoes my (non-existent) ballot.

  14. number42is1 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    I know it’s wrong i do but after what schilling did to all those families in RI i cannot stand the site of him so he would be a No from me. I know that its no better than the assholes that actually DO have a vote and use their own logic to dictate who makes and who doesn’t rather than the actual guidelines but he is a real piece of shit.

  15. beearl - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Not bad. I understand the McGriff vote is a thing for you. But Lofton has an argument as one of the 10 best CF of all-time. McGriff? An argument as one of the best 30 1B of all-time? And I’d probably take Schilling over McGwire this year as well. But not bad.

  16. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Larry Walker: Hard choice. I lean no, just as I do on Lofton. I could be persuaded to change my mind at some point.

    I don’t understand the Larry Walker hate. Some information:

    Career .313/.400/.565 hitters, .965 OPS for a 141 OPS+ across 17 seasons (69.7 rWAR)
    Hit .284/.359/.489 in Montreal for a 130 OPS+ (20.3 rWAR)
    Hit .334/.425/.618 in COL for a 147 OPS+ (47.4 rWAR)
    Hit .279/.382/.608 in away games during his stay in COL for a .890 OPS* with an average 129 OPS+ vs the league at that time.

    It’s one thing to knock him for playing in Coors pre-humidor days, but if you look at what he did away from Coors, it’s not like he turned into David Eckstein.

    • cur68 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:13 PM

      It’s one thing to knock him for playing in Coors pre-humidor days, but if you look at what he did away from Coors, it’s not like he turned into David Eckstein.

      Or Dante Bichette.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      damnit that should be .279/.382/.508 away from Coors, EDIT FUNCTION!

  17. jdd428 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Craig, in your comment on Lee Smith, I think you left off one post-La Russa era closer who should be an automatic with Eck and Rivera: Trevor Hoffman.

    • Reflex - Jan 8, 2013 at 8:36 PM

      Hoffman immediatly popped into my head as well.

  18. Jack Marshall - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    If Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro and McGwire are elected, there will be a mass walk-out of current living members (I’d agree with them) and maybe some especially indignant dead ones, The Hall will never recover. How hard is THAT?

    I respect and admire you, Craig, but you’ve never been more wrong about anything in your life.

    • number42is1 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      He prefers Pie to cake.

    • nategearhart - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      Living hall of famers don’t pay admission to go to the HOF. If players stop getting elected to the hall, tourists will stop showing up and paying money to the hall. THAT is something the hall won’t recover from.
      Mike Schmidt no longer showing up to induction ceremonies? Something tells me the hall would live.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      I respect and admire you, Craig, but you’ve never been more wrong about anything in your life.

      Jack, as an ethics scholar, how do you justify having performance enhancing drug users already in the hall with your idea that Craig is wrong?

  19. nukeladouche - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:20 PM


    Me (in case anybody asked), I’m in the “First Ballot only for the True Greats” Camp, and while I don’t think we can keep out all steroid-era users (and suspected/rumored users) forever, I wouldn’t vote for the “known” users during their first year of eligibility, either. So my ballot would be:

    Biggio (3K+ hits, run and SB totals get him there on the 1st ballot, though it’s close)
    Raines (the NL version of Rickey; not quite as good, but HOF material nonetheless)
    Bagwell (likely juiced, but he’s been kept out a couple years and the stats make him HOF-worthy)
    McGriff (overlooked, IMO, b/c (1) he just missed 500 HRs at 493; (2) he played for many small-market teams (incl. SD during his peak years); and (3) never had a huge “peak” season with 40-50 HRs, but instead had consistent (at one point, 8 in a row) seasons of 30+ HRs. His high OPS, solid BA (.284)and cumulative totals in HRs & RBIs make him a HOFer).

    Borderline: Palmeiro. I could be convinced to vote for him along with Bags, steroids notwithstanding. I don’t think Morris is a HOFer, ditto for Schilling. And I’m not sold on McGwire & Sosa belonging either.

    • Reflex - Jan 8, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      Ok, I can’t let this slide. Where do you get evidence for Bagwell being a likely juicer? Seriously, where? There is absolutely zero credible evidence of this that I am aware of. I would love to see how you would take it if someone accused you of cheating in your profession with no actual evidence.

      Its disgusting to me. I work very hard at my job and take pride in my work. If someone accuses me of cheating they damn well better have some actual concrete evidence.

  20. someguyinva - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    I’ll always remember Reggie Sanders as the guy who charged the mound after Pedro plunked him in the 8th inning of an up till then perfect game.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      That was unfortunate, but apparently he was generally regarded as one of the nicest guys in the game. Not sure what the hell he was thinking…

      What I mostly remember was that he was the Bret Saberhagen of hitting. Not that he was as good of a hitter as Saberhagen was a pitcher…but that he was awesome every *other* year. From 1995 til the end of his career:
      OPS+ in ODD numbered seasons: 132
      OPS+ in EVEN numbered seasons: 98

      • someguyinva - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:07 PM

        IIRC, he was a rookie when it happened, and I don’t remember him doing anything else unfortunate during his career. I had occasion to look up the game in question recently, and according to Sanders (in the account I read) Pedro had been pitching him inside all night, and by the time of Reggie’s third at bat, he’d had enough of that.

  21. kirkvanhouten - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    My Hall of Fame Ballot:

    1. Ray Lankford- Write-In. My childhood hero and he lead the league in paternity suits in the month of April 2004 with two. Maybe some others…I’m not sure yet. They’ve only been on the ballot for five years, it obviously takes longer than that to figure out if someone should be in the hall of fame or not.

    I do that Edgar Martinez is a definite NO. Not because of his statistics mind you, but based on the character clause. I have nothing solid, but can infer since the Mariners wouldn’t let him into the majors until he was 27…despite being a really awful team, that Martinez must have murdered some children and the Mariners wanted to keep their distance. What other explanation can their possibly be?

    • Michael - Jan 9, 2013 at 12:43 AM

      Jim Presley actually kidnapped some children. Club had to play him until the SWAT team could find the kids.

  22. butchhuskey - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    While we’re playing this game, my Hall of Fame ballot would be as follows:

    Jeff Bagwell – without a doubt one of greatest hitters of the 90s, Bill James has him as one of the best first baseman of all time

    Craig Biggio – displayed tremendous defensive versatility and offensive consistency, was a phenomenal doubles hitter with great on-base skills in prime

    Mike Piazza- best hitting catcher of all time, don’t care about Murray Chass seeing his bacne

    Barry Bonds- obvious yes

    Roger Clemens – obvious yes

    Edgar Martinez – mostly being kept out because he was a designated hitter, but .312/.418/.515 career line is exceptional

    Tim Raines- overshadowed by Rickey Henderson but still second best leadoff hitter ever

    Sammy Sosa- although ‘roids and corked bats might be the main reason for his success, it’s hard to argue with just how amazing his peak was

    McGwire – Roid user, yes but if you look over his stats he’s much better than you may have remembered and definitely a hall of famer, will probably never get in though

    My “almost” guys:

    Schilling – strikeout to walk ratio and postseason resume is impressive, but I’m not sure he was quite dominant enough over a long enough stretch, was also inconsistent – he’s pretty damn close and I’d be willing to reconsider his case

    Palmeiro – Palmeiro had some exceptional numbers that are less impressive in context, I’d probably have more sympathy for him if it weren’t for his finger wagging escapades in front of Congress

    McGriff – I love the crime dog and his appearance in Tom Emanski videos, but I can’t quite say he was a hall of famer, overall good stats but nothing that is truly amazing or exceptional (especially in era he played in)

    Trammell – I’ve heard a lot of good arguments for him but I have a hard time saying “definite yes” – he’s comparable to Barry Larkin so by that standard he measures up

  23. charlutes - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Craig ur the best, perfect ballot. You should run the hall of fame. what a joke.

  24. weaselpuppy - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Trammel WAR 67.1 Larkin WAR 67.1. What is the problem here? Don’t even get me started on Lou Whtaker’s WAR being higher than Rynos. 1 is a first ballot HOF, one is a dropped from ballot first year, Ridiculous.

  25. Lukehart80 - Jan 8, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Craig, you that Sosa’s peak was “really something to behold,” but that Lofton “didn’t have the kind of peak I like to see in a Hall of Famer.”

    By the peak component of JAWS, Sosa scores 42.2 WAR, Lofton 42.0.

    Of course that’s the only way measure of peak, but this seems like another case of Lofton being sorely underrated.

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