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My imaginary Hall of Fame ballot

Nov 27, 2013, 10:56 AM EDT

Tom Glavine

I don’t have a Hall of Fame ballot, of course, but most people don’t and they pick their hypothetical ballot, so I’ll pick mine.

Note: this is not my assessment of who I think will get in. I’ll get to that later. These are just my thoughts on the guys and my selections. And, in case you’re new around here, I (a) do not disqualify guys who have been linked to or accused of performance-enhancing drug use for a host of reasons I’ve expained numerous times before, though I may discount their accomplishments somewhat as a result of drug use; and (b) I don’t limit myself to ten choices because the ten-vote rule real Hall of Fame voters have to abide by is dumb.

So, without further ado, here is my take on everyone on this year’s ballot, with my choices bolded:

  • Moises Alou: Very good for a long time, never great, though. I usually prefer to see a Hall of Fame peak and a long valuable career. Not seeing the peak here.
  • Jeff Bagwell: Yep.Been making this case for two years. For about a decade he was the third best hitter in baseball, behind only Barry Bonds and Frank Thomas.
  • Armando Benitez: Hahaha, no. Though he did once have a Hall of Fame-level quote, telling reporters “I did MY job” after he blew a save because of a defensive miscue behind him. Armando always had your back.
  • Craig Biggio: Crazy underrated. Was not just some guy who limped to 3,000 hits. Plus defense, did everything well, played in bad hitting ballparks for many years. No argument for Ryne Sandberg excludes Biggio and Sandberg is in the Hall.
  • Barry Bonds: If you have to ask.
  • Sean Casey: Great guy. Aesthetically speaking, I love first basemen like him. More fun than the fat guys who hit 50 homers. But my aesthetic preferences don’t a Hall of Famer make.
  • Roger Clemens: If you have to ask.
  • Ray Durham: Looking back, he’s better than I remembered him. Enjoy your one year on the ballot, though, Ray.
  • Eric Gagne: Really looking forward to someone saying “hey, he may have been ‘roided up to his eyeballs, but the ninth inning IS THAT TOUGH. Closers have an excuse because they have the most difficult job this side of hostage negotiators and powder monkeys!” OK, maybe they won’t, but it is fun to think of PED-hysteria clashing head-on with Closer Fixation Syndrome.
  • Tom Glavine: He’s what Jack Morris supporters like to pretend Jack Morris was, even though he wasn’t. A workhorse who just knew how to win and all of that. Except Glavine was, actually, among the best pitchers in baseball for most of his prime and has contemporary awards and accolades to back up the retrospective praise.
  • Luis Gonzalez: He hit 26 more homers in 2001 than he ever did in any other year. But he didn’t break any records doing it, so no one gives him any crap about it. I guess the key to a 90s-2000s player securing his legacy was to be just short of truly great.
  • Jacque Jones: The anti-Ray Durham. I feel like people talked about him as way better than he was, mostly because he hit 27 homers a couple of times and 27 is sort of a magic homer number in a lot of people’s minds. If you hit 27 homers, you’re a “power hitter.” If you hit 26, you’re a “20 homer guy.” And those things aren’t the same.
  • Todd Jones: Points for a mustache and closing down old Tiger Stadium I guess.
  • Jeff Kent:  .290/.356/.500 while playing a pretty darn solid second base for 17 years? Yes, please. If you’re going with Biggio and went with Sandberg as I did, I’m not sure how you go against Kent. I suppose if he gets less support it’s because he didn’t really fit the mold and expectations of a second baseman as a pesky little guy with gap power and because he switched teams several times. For those reasons I feel like he’s going to be a good example of how crazy and subjective Hall of Fame voting can be.
  • Paul Lo Duca: Guy should get a sympathy vote for paying for his PEDs with a personal check, as described in the Mitchell Report.
  • Greg Maddux: I tend not to get too wound up about the actual vote totals guys get, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the explanation of the folks who leave Maddux off the ballot and keep him from being unanimous. As someone surely will. Maybe because he got LASIK surgery that time? A character objection based on that story about him peeing on guys’ feet in the shower? Can’t wait.
  • Edgar Martinez: I think he belongs. I also wonder if I’d include him if I was limited to ten slots like real Hall of Fame voters are. He’s not a slam dunk, but as the best or, by the time Ortiz is done, maybe second base full-time DH ever, I think he’s deserving.
  • Don Mattingly: Close but no cigar. He had the peak, but not the staying power. “But … injuries!” is no excuse. They kept him from providing value to his teams. Not fair, not his fault, but no one said fair or fault had anything to do with it.
  • Fred McGriff: I’ve wavered on him for years. I used to say no, then I started saying yes once I looked at just how different the pre-1993 era and post-1993 eras were for offense. McGriff’s pre-1993 numbers were really damn good for the time and he, unfortunately, straddled both eras in a way that made his overall stats look less impressive than they were. A yes for these purposes, but if I only had ten he falls off.
  • Mark McGwire: Yes. He hit for power and walked like crazy and was simply fantastic.
  • Jack Morris: He’s a no for me — just not good enough — but I’ve put down my pitchfork.
  • Mike Mussina: 270 wins, 123 ERA+, durability, a lot of good postseason work. Yeah, I think he makes it, even if there wasn’t a peak where he was clearly the best pitcher in baseball. He’s like Jeff Kent in a lot of ways. People didn’t routinely talk about him as a Hall of Famer during his career, but when you look at the value he provided he was way better than a lot of guys people do tout as shoe-ins. He was better than Pettitte. Better than Catfish Hunter. Better than Jim Bunning, Early Wynn and, depending on how you measure things, Whitey Ford.
  • Hideo Nomo: He is a first-ballot crazy windup Hall of Famer.
  • Rafael Palmeiro: A closer call than his raw numbers would suggest — 500 homers and 3000 hits still turns heads —but he looks less impressive when you adjust for the parks he played in and the era in which he played. I’d lean yes, however, if I had room on the ballot.
  • Mike Piazza: Best hitting catcher ever. A travesty that he wasn’t in last year.
  • Tim Raines: Was baseball’s best player for several years in the mid-80s. Suffers because his most similar player was Rickey Henderson and they were contemporaries. He was way closer to Rickey than, say, Omar Vizquel was to Ozzie Smith, so let’s watch how those kind of comps work one day. He shoulda been in long ago.
  • Kenny Rogers: Can’t wait for the re-hashed “he couldn’t handle New York” columns from some bored New York columnist this holiday season.
  • Curt Schilling: Better than Morris. Similar to Mussina. Dominant in peak seasons, but strangely had peak years more scattered over his career than many. Killer in the playoffs. I think he’s a Hall of Famer.
  • Richie Sexson: The phrase “tall drink of water” always pops into my head when I think of him.
  • Lee Smith: He gets a lot of support, but nah. I’m a tougher grader on closers than a lot of people are. Too much hoodoo and mythology surrounds the concept if you ask me.
  • J.T. Snow: Really loving the “guys I watched play minor league ball when I was in college make the Hall of Fame ballot” era. Really not making me feel old or anything.
  • Sammy Sosa:  Crazy peak. I know people like to discount the steroids guys, but people discount him too much. One cannot be a mere PED-creation and still dominate like Sosa did. There was real baseball talent there. More than folks want to admit now, probably because Sosa was weird and has seemed to have gotten weirder since he retired.
  • Frank Thomas: No-brainer. He was a beast. One of the rare guys everyone will admit was among the best hitters ever yet still winds up underrated.
  • Mike Timlin: Four World Series rings. That’s four more than Barry Bonds has, suckers.
  • Alan Trammell: Criminally underrated. The guy who makes me still want to argue about MVP awards, because if he won it like he deserved to in 1987, I feel like the perception of him would be totally different among a certain class of Hall of Fame voter. He did everything well at a premium defensive position on a championship-caliber team for a decade.
  • Larry Walker: I’ve always leaned no, mostly because of Coors. A lot of people tell me I’m wrong to do that. I may be. He was good on the road too. A five-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner in right, an MVP and three batting titles? Power and speed? You know, I think I may have been wrong about him. Changing my mind.

Cripes, that’s 19 dudes. Oh well, blame the voters who haven’t voted in the multiple guys who should have been elected years ago for allowing the ballot to get all clogged up like this.

If I had to drop it to ten, I’d cut off Walker, Sosa, Palmeiro, McGriff, Martinez, McGwire, Schilling, Mussina and Kent. But I wouldn’t be happy about most of those guys. As for who I think makes it? If I had to guess I’d say Maddux, Glavine, Biggio, Thomas and Jack Morris. That’s it. And I may be wrong about Morris.

Anyway, that’s mine. What’s yours?

  1. chiadam - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    McGriff, Bagwell AND Biggio? Come on.

    Bonds, Clemens, Thomas, Maddux and Glavine. That’s it. It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Accumulated Numbers.

    • spc7ray - Dec 4, 2013 at 6:44 PM


  2. patrickcody - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Did you hear that deadspin got their HOF vote (link to article)

    • srirachahhhhhhhh - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      the hall of shame doesnt matter anymore

      let all the cheaters in.. except pete rose of course

  3. Jason @ IIATMS - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    “Armando always had your back” -Craig C.

    “Screw you, Armando… and you too, Craig” -Tino Martinez

  4. wpjohnson - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    I hope you are wrong about Morris. He has no business in the Hall of Fame. His supporters like to explain away his excessively high ERA by saying that he only pitched to win and didn’t worry about runs. On the other hand, couldn’t it be argued that Morris was covered by high run support to offset the fact he gave up a lot of runs? Ir certainly makes as much sense as the other line.

    Adding Morris to the Hall does not increase the prestige of the Hall. Instead, it diminishes it.

  5. westpalmlion - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    thanks Craig for the Alan Trammell love. My all time favorite player growing up. Completely criminal how George Bell won the mvp in 87. I look forward to going to Cooperstown to watch Tram get what he deserves one day.

    • Glenn - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:28 PM

      Trammel and Whitaker should both be in. I don’t get it. When they were playing they were talked about as HOF duo but then were forgotten right after retirement.

  6. tgthree - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Craig, I am sick and tired of PED apologists like you. How can you possibly justify voting for a cheating schlub like Greg Maddux? For years, he (and Tom Glavine) pitched to Javy Lopez, who was a surefire steroid user. Do you not think that the concoctions he was using were rubbing off on the baseball every single pitch and then being transferred into Maddux’s body throughout the games? They probably used the same showers and might have even shared a quesadilla once or twice. PEDS EVERYWHERE. EVEN WHERE THEY’RE NOT.

    This is a joke, and so is the Hall of Fame.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Nov 27, 2013 at 8:40 PM

      You mad, bro?

  7. ezwriter69 - Nov 27, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Mussina = Morris = Bert Blyleven: never a moment in their career when any of them would have been picked among the top five starting pitchers. Just not exceptional enough; it’s not the Hall of Very Good for a long, long time, it’s for the truly great, dominant, exceptional few. That’s what separates the Baseball hall from football and basketball. With a few notable popularity skewed exceptions, you have to be truly great to get in.
    Same criteria excludes Martinez, McGriff, Trammel, Kent, Palmeiro, and Trammel.
    I’ll assume Durham’s name being bolded was simply an error, even Calcaterra couldn’t twist numbers and illogical close-minded passion into an argument for his inclusion.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      Trammel was so not exceptional you can exclude him twice!

  8. blynch67 - Nov 27, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    “My imaginary Hall of Fame ballot” includes Bonds and Clemens.

    Methinks you are an “imaginary Journalist”.

    You just can’t be serious, IMHO. There would be so many (allegedly) ‘clean’ choices to make, if you were allowed to vote.

  9. demonopie - Nov 27, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Ummm…..that’s 20 “dudes” unless you’re saying one of them isn’t a dude. I assume you did not mean to have Durham in BOLD.

  10. mjmarch47 - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:59 PM


  11. mbankston - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    As usual Craig, your an idiot. The great part about it is that now matter how much you support the drug users, guess what? They are never getting in .HA HA

    • largebill - Nov 28, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      If you are going to call someone an idiot, you may want to figure out the difference between “your” and “you’re” so you don’t end up being the one considered an idiot.

  12. anythingbutyanks - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    I use a fairly straightforward method to judge HOF candidacies. Two factors are important to most voters- peak and longevity. For peak, I look at the fifth best WAR of a player’s career, and for longevity I use the tenth best WAR. Occasionally I’ll use the 8th or 9th best WAR for longevity if a career was shortened by injury or if I think some other circumstance merits it. I usually feel like a peak (fifth best) WAR should be at or above 4.5, while the longevity (tenth best) WAR should be at least close to 3. A player that meets both thresholds is an HOFer.

  13. redsghost - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Well, if you voted for Clements and Ginormous Head Bonds, then let’s be happy you DON’T have a ballot vote.

  14. provguard - Nov 28, 2013 at 2:31 AM

    Clemens and Bonds both deserve to be in the HOF, but it is nice that their arrogance is being shot right back at them!!!! Great players, but no social skills…

  15. provguard - Nov 28, 2013 at 2:32 AM

    Clemens and Bonds both deserve to be in the HOF, but it is nice that their arrogance is being shot right back at them!!!! Now they begging for the crumbs. Great players, but no social skills…

    You don’t need a ballot if you want to vote them without them spending sometime in purgatory…

    Make them wait for a good while…

  16. provguard - Nov 28, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    Clemens and Bonds both deserve to be in the HOF, but it is nice that their arrogance is being shot right back at them!!!! Now they are begging for the crumbs. Great players, but no social skills…

    You don’t need a ballot if you want to vote them without them spending sometime in purgatory…

    Make them wait for a good while…

  17. mqcarpenter - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    You should proofread your articles. Typos are very unprofessional.

    I never understand to baseball hall of fame. It isn’t a true hall of fame. It’s a baseball card collection. The hall of pretty good. The hall of yeah let’s throw him in too. It’s partly because there are so many good players that this happens and no clear lines are drawn. Still I can’t help but think that if basketball was handled this way we would see players like Vernon maxwell in the hall. I think it’s absurd. It should mean something. Being in the hall doesn’t even guarantee a player a $10 price ok their autograph. Why? Because we all know it is meaningless. Just the fact that some of these guys are on the same ballot as Maddux as an example make me want to vomit. It’s asinine.

    • largebill - Nov 28, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      You criticize Craig as needing to proofread and then make a typo in your next sentence. Pot meet my friend kettle, hope you all get along well.

  18. mianfr - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Good call on subjectivity being an issue for Jeff Kent.

    As terrific of a player as he was, he really just didn’t like baseball and made no friends in the media (and certainly had no “ultra-leader” clubhouse presence).

    He’s much better than a lot of people who will get in through years, but his relationship with the people in charge of this means he’d have had to hit like Ty Cobb to get in.

  19. airedale1950 - Nov 28, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Calcaterra, I have always maintained you were somewhat of an ass…Surprisingly, I never realized how BIG until now.
    I believe it is now time to add another descriptive word to my opinion of you. ___hole.

  20. upperdecker30 - Nov 28, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    I’m still bitter that Robin Ventura is already off of the ballot. Also, Piazza and Bagwell should be in already.

  21. sportsjunkie76 - Nov 28, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Some people amaze me. You say Jeff Kent is a HOFer but Barry Bonds isn’t because of PEDs. If it wasn’t for hitting behind Bonds, Jeff Kent would have never had those numbers. Kent is the one player that benefited from the steroid era as much as those players that supposedly used them.

  22. calicokiller49 - Nov 29, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Greg Maddox was the nastiest ,ever. Period.

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