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The massive Hall of Fame post

Jan 7, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

Part I: A short history

First, just a little bit of history. The Baseball Hall of Fame, more or less, was the brainchild of two people. The first knew nothing whatsoever about baseball. The second romanticized the game beyond all reason.

You can think about whose spirit still lingers over Cooperstown, N.Y.

The first was a man named Alexander Cleland, a businessman who had come from Scotland when he was 27 years old. To say he knew nothing about baseball probably undersells the truth. But according to James Vlasich’s book “A Legend for the Legendary,” one day in 1934, on other business, Cleland was walking around Cooperstown and he saw workers expanding Doubleday Field. He struck up a conversation with one of the guys, who happened to mention that everyone in Cooperstown was very excited because the 100th anniversary of baseball’s invention in Cooperstown was coming up in just five years.

Of course, baseball was not really invented in Cooperstown. It was certainly not invented in Cooperstown in 1839 by a future Civil War hero named Abner Doubleday, who was not even there. But this was a time when that myth was powerful, and Cleland was struck by a brilliant business idea: Cooperstown ought to have a baseball museum. “Fathers,” he would write in his proposal to his boss Stephen Clark, “would be interested to stop at Cooperstown and show the building to their sons and perhaps throw a baseball or two on the field.”

He estimated that “Hundreds of visitors would be attracted to the shopping district right in the heart of Cooperstown.”

More on HardballTalk: Analyst Jaffe projects four Hall of Famers

Cleland did not dream up this project as a Hall of Fame. He thought of it as a museum with “funny old uniforms” and “baseballs thrown out and autographed by presidents,” and the “bats of baseball’s greatest players.” In other words, he saw it as a fun place that celebrated the game. He did not know baseball. But he understood there was business in nostalgia.

The Hall of Fame part was thought up by a man named Ford Frick, who is probably best known today for trying to slap an asterisk on Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. Frick was a sportswriter (he was ghost-writer for Babe Ruth’s autobiography), then a baseball executive and finally the commissioner of baseball. His love for baseball was deep and rosy and idealized.

Here’s a a representative paragraph from his essay, “Why Baseball Is National Pastime:”

“I think baseball is our National Pastime because the qualities it develops in its contests — the team play, cooperation of all the members toward one purpose, with stardom achievable only through and with such cooperation — come closer to representing the fundamental principles that make up the spirit of the American people than is true in the case of any other sport on the calendar.”

Frick came up with the idea of a Baseball Hall of Fame after he visited the Hall of Fame for Great Americans — then on the campus of New York University — and saw the busts of people like George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant and Phillips Brooks and Maria Mitchell. Frick thought such an idea would work perfectly for baseball. The Hall of Great Americans is still around on the grounds of what is now Bronx Community College. There are a few questionable choices in there too.

source: Getty Images

Ford Frick served as commissioner from 1951-65.

Frick’s dream for a Hall of Fame to honor the greatest players, combined with Cleland’s business vision for a baseball museum, proved to be a powerful combination. Frick was a strict believer in the Doubleday myth, so Cooperstown was the only place it could be built. The Baseball Hall of Fame — which would have Cleland’s museum with memorabilia AND Frick’s Hall of Fame lionizing the game’s greatest players — would open in 1939.

You will notice that up to this point, nobody had worked out how to actually PICK the greatest players. This is because nobody even thought about it. The Hall of Fame election process wasn’t even discussed enough to be fairly called an afterthought. The Hall of Fame founders simply dumped that part on the most obvious group of the 1930s, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The BBWAA was really the only option at the time — this was years before television, and owners were still reluctant to have their baseball games on the radio. The Hall gave the BBWAA almost no instruction. Best I can tell, there were only two directives:

1. Pick the best players — and there should be 75 percent agreement.
2. Players should be considered based on their record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to their various teams.

The second of these directives has come to be called the “character clause” because, as you can see, it includes integrity AND sportsmanship AND character, as if you didn’t get the point. Nobody seems too sure who put the clause in. Writer Bill James thinks it might have been Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who, of course, was charged with cleaning up the game after the Black Sox Scandal. More and more, though, I think it was Ford Frick. It sounds like him. Through the years the clause has been, like a smoke alarm, mostly ignored until it goes off in the middle of the night because of a worn-down battery.

The character clause is beeping like crazy now.

So what’s the point of all this? It’s good to know history. The Hall of Fame, in my view, has never really married its two founding visions. Some people still view it as Cleland’s place for parents and children to enjoy the history of baseball and maybe go to the field for a catch. Some view it the way Frick did, as baseball’s “Hall of Great Americans,” to honor players who represent the fundamental principles that make up the spirit of the American people. This divide has never been wider than it is right now, and on the subject of performance enhancing drugs.

One final point on the history: The Hall of Great Americans had one rule of election that Frick did not bring to the Baseball Hall of Fame. To get into the Hall of Great Americans, a person had to be dead. For 25 years. That certainly simplified things.

Part II: Players who fall just short

This year’s Hall of Fame ballot — the results of which will be released Wednesday — was the most challenging in my decade-plus of voting, because I believe there are at least 15 players on it who belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The limit is 10, so I had to leave out five people I believe are fully qualified Hall of Famers, as well as a few more I think have strong cases. There is a temptation to play games with the Hall of Fame voting. For instance, I’m a big supporter of Alan Trammell’s Hall of Fame case. So I reasonably could have left off a worthy player I know will get elected — someone like Tom Glavine — to give support to Trammell, who needs it more.

I didn’t do that. I decided that was not voting in the spirit of the Hall. I don’t believe I bring much expertise to the table here, but whatever expertise I do bring would be because I have spent a lot of time learning about baseball. I chose the 10 baseball players who I think are most worthy and and regretfully did not check the boxes of five others who I hope will stay on the ballot. No, it’s not ideal. But, realistically, the entire process seems broken to me. That’s a topic for another time.

More Posnanski on HardballTalk: Time for a Hall of Fame stand

I ranked 24 players who I think have at least a mild Hall of Fame case, based on their worthiness. Here’s the list I came up with, in reverse order:

24. Kenny Rogers. He’s an easy player to dismiss because of his career 4.27 ERA and the fact he only once received ANY Cy Young votes and because you just don’t think of Kenny Rogers and Hall of Fame together. Kenny Rogers and chicken: Yes. But Rogers is probably better than you remember. He threw 3,000 innings with a 107 ERA+ (100 ERA+ is average — Rogers’ career ERA was roughly 7 percent better than league average). He also threw a perfect game and pitched a dominant game in the 2006 World Series. He’s probably as good as two or three pitchers in the Hall, and his case might be, for some, uncomfortably similar to Jack Morris’. Rogers falls well short for me, but he was a very good pitcher.

source: Getty Images

Luis Gonzalez is in a club with Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski and Barry Bonds. That’s pretty good, right?

23. Luis Gonzalez. I pulled this little trick earlier on my blog: Name the only player in baseball history who hit 575 doubles and 350 homers, drove in 1,400 RBIs, stole 100 bases and was hit by pitch more than 100 times.

The answer is Luis Gonzalez. He’s the only one. That’s looks pretty impressive. But the real trick is to get someone to say, “Come on, who cares about how many times he was hit by pitch?” Because then you can say, fine, forget that, who are the only players to hit 575 doubles, 350 homers, drive in 1,400 RBIs and steal 100 bases? They say: Who?

You say: Hank Aaron. Carl Yastrzemski. Barry Bonds. And Luis Gonzalez.

This is just playing with numbers, though. Gonzalez had one ridiculously great year, 2001, when he hit .325 with 57 homers, scored 128 runs, drove in 142. But it’s worth mentioning that those 57 home runs were only good enough for THIRD in the National League that year, to give you an idea about the insane offense of the time. Gonzalez had two or three other excellent years and several good ones. It was a fine career.

22. Lee Smith. I don’t know what to do with relievers. Should they be treated like punters and kickers are treated by the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Right now there is just one full-time kicker in the Hall of Fame (Jan Stenerud) and no punters (though Ray Guy might get in this year). The football thinking is that these positions are so specialized that unless you were the very best who ever lived, literally the very best, you cannot be considered one of the greatest football players ever.

Lee Smith was a superb closer for many, many years. His consistency still amazes. He led the league in saves four times and, when he retired, held the all-time saves record of 478. But the save record has since been smashed by Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, and anyway saves are a pretty flawed statistic. Smith was a specialist (he pitched fewer than 1,300 innings), and a first-class one. I just don’t see him as a Hall of Famer.

21. Don Mattingly. Donnie Baseball had a stretch, from 1984-87, or so, where he was pretty widely viewed as the best player in the American League and maybe in baseball. In retrospect, he probably wasn’t quite THAT good — Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken were all probably better – but he was damned good and, more, he was the kind of player you admired. The eyeblack. The mustache. The cool crouched stance. The slick way he would scoop bad throws out of the dirt.

More on HardballTalk: Dodgers, Mattingly reportedly close to extension

If Mattingly’s back had not gone out on him, sapping his power and consistency, I feel sure he would be a Hall of Famer. That’s not an uncommon story, though. As it was, Mattingly’s career descended too quickly and ended too young. But he remains an icon of the 1980s.

20 Jack Morris. Speaking of 1980s icons. I have written way, way too much about Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame case through the years. There’s no point in rehashing it all. Morris was a remarkably durable pitcher and he pitched one of the greatest World Series games ever. He was a conspicuous pitcher because of his mustache and competitiveness and unwillingness to come out of games. He is, I think, remembered by his fans as being better than he was.

If I had to guess, Morris will probably not be elected this year (a victim, I think, of the overloaded ballot). But the good news for him is that means he finally will be off the BBWAA ballot and can put his fate with the veteran’s committee. I suspect they will be more sympathetic to his case. I think within five years Jack Morris will be in the Hall of Fame.

19. Jeff Kent. Other people like his case more than I do. He was an excellent hitter — his .500 slugging percentage ranks him third among second basemen, after Hornsby and Robbie Cano — and his 377 home runs are the most ever for the position. But, in my mind, much of this was time and place. He was a very good hitter hitting behind Barry Bonds in a time when home runs were flying like crazy. He was a subpar fielder, he couldn’t really run, and he only had three of four seasons you would qualify as outstanding. He does have a compelling Hall of Fame case, but in my view it’s not as good as the cases of Lou Whitaker or Bobby Grich.

source: Getty Images

This backfired on Raffy.

18. Rafael Palmeiro. Is there any difference between someone who used steroids before testing began and someone who tested positive after? This might be nitpicking, but I say yes. I say that, while it was certainly wrong to use steroids before testing, performance-enhancing drugs were baseball’s happy little secret. The game needed several jolts of good feeling after the 1994 strike left everybody embittered, and the home run helped bring the game back. People came back to the ballpark. Baseball players became national figures again. Chicks, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine assured us, dig the longball.

How do you get more longballs? It’s really not that complicated. You lighten the baseballs and harden the bats and give players body armor and and bring in the fences and shrink the strike zone and build more weight rooms and cover your ears when whispers of steroid abuse make their way around. I will always believe that the extensive steroid use in baseball was a league-wide effort, which is why I find it disingenuous to throw all the blame on the players.

But after home runs grew tiresome, after it became clear that steroids and human growth hormone and other PEDs were powerfully tainting the game, after it became so blatant that everyone agreed to drug testing … yes, I think using at that point is different. It feels a bit like the difference between making a racist statement in 1918 and making the same one in 2008. Rafael Palmeiro’s positive test for anabolic steroids — shortly after pointing during a congressional hearing and saying “I have never used steroids” — is different to me. So is Ryan Braun’s shenanigans and Alex Rodriguez’s nonsense and so on.

Anyway, that’s not why I’m passing on Palmeiro (he has always continued to deny using steroids, by the way). His 500 homers and 3,000 hits are obviously Hall of Fame-worthy — at least before the 1990s — but I think those numbers are a reflection of durability and the time when he played. Was Palmeiro a truly great player at his peak? That’s a tough question. He never topped 7.0 Wins Above Replacement in a season. Not one. Here are the first basemen/DHs just of Palmeiro’s time who had at least one season of 7.0 WAR.

1. Albert Pujols, 8 seasons
2. Jeff Bagwell, 4 seasons
3. Todd Helton, 3 seasons
(tie) Jason Giambi, 3 seasons
5. John Olerud, 2 seasons
(tie) Frank Thomas, 2 seasons
(tie) Jim Thome, 2 seasons
8. Derrek Lee, 1 season
(tie) Mark Teixeira, 1 season
(tie) Carlos Delgado, 1 season
(tie) Mark McGwire, 1 season
(tie) Edgar Martinez, 1 season

For a first baseman/DH to stand out in this era, he had to be some kind of sensational. Palmeiro was very good for a very long time. But I don’t think Palmeiro was ever the best first baseman in his own league, must less the game’s overall best player, not even for a single season.

source: Getty Images

Baseball was very, very good to Sammy Sosa. The BBWAA has not been.

17. Sammy Sosa. He hit 60-plus home runs three times in his career — and did not lead the league in any of those three seasons. I love that bit of trivia. Offers a pretty good idea of what the era was like.

Sosa put up numbers — particularly the 609 home runs — that would traditionally be viewed as slam-dunk Hall of Fame numbers. And it’s easy to forget now but, for a time, he was perhaps the most beloved player in baseball, a guy who ran around the outfield, could throw like crazy and was a joy to watch.

Steroid suspicions have hurt him unquestionably but for me there are other questions. Sosa’s career on-base percentage was quite low (.344). He became an indifferent, often dreadful, outfielder as his home run numbers skyrocketed. He could really run as a young man but, again, after the home runs, he became a liability as a baserunner. The joy sapped out of him.

When looking at the Steroid Era — even beyond the questions of cheating, morality and so on — there might be a more fundamental question to ask: With all the home runs flying around during the time, are home runs (and home runs alone) enough to make someone a Hall of Famer? I don’t know. Sosa’s case is basically that: 60 homers three times, 609 homers total. Is that enough? I think maybe not. I do know Sosa could fall off the ballot this year.

16. Fred McGriff. The Crime Dog was a fantastic hitter — and a remarkably consistent one. He hit between 30 and 37 home runs 10 times in his career. He drove in between 100 and 107 runs eight times. He probably had his four best seasons before the numbers explosion that was the Steroid Era. The two times he led the league in home runs were with 36 and 35. Compare that with our previous candidate.

Was McGriff a Hall of Famer? Wow, that’s close. Like Palmeiro, his peak feels a bit short to me. No MVP awards and, in retrospect, I don’t think he quite ever deserved one. He too never had even one season with a 7.0 WAR. He was a subpar fielder and he couldn’t run, so all of his value was really in his power and his ability to walk. I guess I look at it this way: Is he the best first baseman/DH not in the Hall of Fame? Just on this ballot, I have Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire, Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas ahead of him. Many would put Palmeiro ahead too. How about off the ballot? Was he better than John Olerud? Will Clark? How about Keith Hernandez? Awfully close.

I think the Hall of Fame line is more or less right down McGriff’s back. Fantastic player. He would be better than many players already in the Hall of Fame. I will look closely again next year. This year, he’s just outside.

Part III: The five I left off

So, now, there are 15 players I believe are Hall of Famers. I could only vote for 10. Here are the five that I had to leave off.

15. Mark McGwire. I just asked the question in the Sosa section: Is hitting home runs in the steroid era enough to make someone a Hall of Famer? McGwire couldn’t run at all, and he was a defensive liability (despite the Gold Glove he won in 1990). But McGwire has two advantages over Sosa.

One, his on-base percentage was 50 points higher. That’s a pretty big deal.

And two — McGwire, by the numbers, was not just great at hitting home runs. He was better at hitting home runs than anyone who ever lived. He hit a home run for every 10.6 at-bats. Nobody in baseball history is even close to that, not Ruth, not Bonds, not anybody. I know people dismiss that entirely because of his admitted steroid use. But those home runs happened anyway.

McGwire is also, as far as I know, the only Hall of Fame candidate who (1) Has fully admitted taking steroids; (2) Has shown true contrition about it and (3) Has worked to educate young people about them. At some point, once people get beyond the anger, I think this should matter. He has no chance whatsoever of ever getting elected by the BBWAA — and he has accepted this fate — but I think he’s a Hall of Famer and would vote for him if I had enough spots.

14. Edgar Martinez. One of the great hitters in baseball history. That’s no exaggeration. Among players with 7,500 plate appearances in the big leagues, Martinez is 12th in career on-base percentage (.418), which I think is the single most most important offensive statistic. He’s just behind Stan Musial, just ahead of Frank Thomas.

He hit .312/.418/.515 in his extraordinary career. And this is true though he didn’t play a full season until he was 27 years old because the Mariners, for reasons that are still not clear, kept sending him back to Class AAA Calgary. even though he hit .329 there when he was 24, hit .363 there when he was 25 and hit .345 there when he was 26.

Martinez’s problem, then — and his Hall of Fame problem now — was that he really didn’t have a defensive position. The Mariners finally made him a full-time DH finally in 1995 when he was 32 years old. He promptly hit a league-leading .356 with a league-leading 52 doubles and 121 runs. For the next five years, he never hit less than .322, and he led the league in on-base percentage two more times.

How should a DH be viewed by Hall of Fame voters? Well, I look at it this way: There are four relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame — five if you count Dennis Eckersley — and soon Mariano Rivera will go, Trevor Hoffman will probably go and Lee Smith has a chance too. That’s eight.

There is no pure DH in the Hall of Fame. Paul Molitor is the closest — he was a DH about 45 percent of the time. I think a great DH should be viewed like a great relief pitcher. If anything, a great DH contributes more than a great reliever. Martinez is a definite Hall of Famer for me.

source: Getty Images

Larry Walker: A Rockie in your programs. An Expo in your hearts.

13. Larry Walker. I’m a bit worried that Walker might fall off the ballot this year. He’s hurt by the shortness of his carer and the fact that his people tend to discount the extraordinary heart of his career, between 1997 and 2002, because he was playing in that hitting haven that was Coors Field. In those six seasons, Walker hit and almost unbelievable .353/.441/.648 and scored 630 runs in 775 games.

The Hall of Fame has honored players who took advantage of great home ballparks. I’ve done this before but it’s always fun. Let’s take a look at a typical Larry Walker season.

Home: .361/416/690, 28 homers, 75 RBIs.
Road: .269/.325/.512, 18 homers, 64 RBIs.

That’s a huge difference but … wait, that’s not Larry Walker. That’s Jim Rice at Fenway Park in 1978. OK, here’s a real Walker season.

Home: .467/.516/.789, 20 homers, 81 RBIs, 62 runs.
Road: .280/.338/.436, 8 homers, 39 RBIs, 39 runs.

That’s just ridiculous but … yeah, you didn’t fall for it that time. That’s Chuck Klein’s triple crown season in 1933. Let’s do one more.

Home: .358/.422/.673, 28 homers, 88 RBIs, 78 runs.
Road: .286/.359/.498, 14 homers, 41 RBIs, 59 runs.

No, not Walker. That’s Billy Williams in 1970 at hitter-haven Wrigley Field.

The career was short, yes. But Walker’s case is that he did everything well in a way only a handful of players ever have. He hit for average (.313 lifetime), hit for power (.565 slugging), got on base (.400 career OBP), ran the bases, stole bases, played first-class outfield and could throw like crazy. Think how many players could do all those things. Now think about how many are not in the Hall of Fame. Not many.

12. Alan Trammell. It breaks my heart not to vote for Alan Trammell for the first time this year. I think he’s one of the most underrated players in baseball history. But this year, because of the backlog, he falls just outside my Top 10. Trammell hit, had some power, stole some bases, played terrific shortstop and was the MVP in the one World Series he played in. He was a victim of his time, a time when Cal Ripken was redefining offense for a shortstop and Ozzie Smith was redefining defense. He suffered by comparison*.

*Trammell couldn’t hit like Ripken, but I do like playing this game. From 1984-90 — seven season in both of their primes — pick which one was which:

Player A: .270/.348/.447 with 170 homers, 19 steals, 676 runs created, 121 OPS+.
Player B: .294/.359/.448 with 110 homers, 108 steals, 632 runs created, 123 OPS+.

Obviously, by the steals you should know, that Player B is Trammell. And it’s not a a fair comparison because I managed to pick the years between Ripken’s MVP seasons. But the point is that for many seasons in their careers, Trammell was actually the better hitter.

I’ve written before: Trammell absolutely should have won the 1987 MVP award. He was robbed by voters who wildly overvalued George Bell’s 47 home runs. If Tram had won that award. maybe people would better appreciate just how great he really was.

11. Mike Mussina. After Greg Maddux, I felt like there were three pitchers all pretty equally deserving of the Hall of Fame. One, Tom Glavine, will probably get elected overwhelmingly because he did things that catch the eye, like win 300 games and two Cy Young Awards. The second, Curt Schilling, will probably finish around 40 percent because he’s famous and was such a great postseason pitcher.

And Mike Mussina, I suspect, will finish not only behind those two but also behind Jack Morris* and maybe even Lee Smith because his greatness is harder to sum up in a single sentence. Mussina didn’t win 300 games (he won 270). He didn’t win a Cy Young (he finished Top 5 six times). He won 20 just once (and won 18 or 19 five other times). He didn’t have a bloody sock game. He’s not the ESPN color commentator for Sunday Night Baseball.

*By the way, I don’t understand how anyone could vote for Morris and not vote for Mussina. I literally do not get it. Even by the plainest standards, Mussina won more games, lost fewer, had a superior won-loss record, a lower ERA, struck out 300 more batters, walked 600 fewer, had a lower postseason ERA, virtually the same World Seres ERA, and even won five Gold Gloves to Morris’ zero. Hey, if you want to vote for Morris, please, vote for the guy. But vote for Mussina too. Be reasonable about this thing already.

But Mussina was basically every bit the pitcher than Glavine and Schilling were. Fangraphs WAR — which judges pitchers based on their strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed — actually ranks Mussina MUCH HIGHER than Glavine. It’s easy to see why when you compare the numbers.

Mussina struck out 7.1 per nine innings, Glavine just 5.3 per nine.
Mussina walked two per nine innings, Glavine walked 3.06 per nine.
Mussina gave up more home runs, but he also pitched in easy home run parks.

I did not have room on the ballot for all three. I very seriously considered voting Mussina over Glavine, but in the end, I took Glavine. It wasn’t a fun decision to make. I certainly hope the ballot clears up a bit so I can vote for Mussina next year.

Part IV: The 10 on my Hall of Fame ballot

10. Tim Raines. One of the best players in baseball from 1981-87, perhaps the best pure base-stealer in the history of the game. Here’s a simple argument for Raines: In a career that was almost identical in length to his contemporary Tony Gwynn, Raines reached base just 18 fewer times and he scored 200 more runs. If Gwynn is a slam-dunk Hall of Famer (and he is) then Tim Raines belongs in the Hall of Fame, as well.

9. Craig Biggio. He has the career numbers Hall of Fame voters like — more than 3,000 hits, fifth all-time with 668 career doubles, 15th all-time with 1,844 runs scored — but I think of him as a Hall of Famer because his prime is better than most people remember. In 1997, for instance, he might have been the best player in baseball. He hit .309/.415/.501, won a Gold Glove at second base, banged 22 homers, stole 47 bases, scored 146 runs and did not hit into a double play all season. He had two or three other seasons that were almost as good.

8. Roger Clemens. Let’s write one short paragraph about Clemens without mentioning you know what. One MVP. Seven Cy Youngs. Seven ERA titles. Five-time strikeout king. Six-time shutout leader. Third all-time in strikeouts. Fifth all-time in WAR. Won a Cy Young at 23. Won a Cy Young at 41. Based purely on what he did on the field, Clemens is probably the greatest pitcher who ever lived.

source: Getty Images

Posnanski’s case doesn’t even factor in “Bonds on Bonds.”

7. Barry Bonds. Let’s write one short paragraph about Bonds without mentioning you know what. Seven MVPs, including four in a row. All-time home run leader, career and single-season. Only player with 500 homers and 500 steals. Only player with 400 homers and 400 steals. All-time walk leader. Eight Gold Gloves. Here’s an absurd one: Had more intentional walks than Roberto Clemente or Andre Dawson had TOTAL walks. Based purely on what he did on the field, Bonds is one of the five greatest players who ever lived.

6. Tom Glavine. Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs called him a left-handed Jim Palmer, and I think that’s a perfect description. Glavine, like Palmer, was extremely smart, overwhelmingly competitive, and he knew how to work the umpires. He never struck out 200 in a season, and he was often among the league leaders in walks and home runs allowed. But, like Palmer, he’d battle and claw and hang in there and keep finding ways to survive and advance.

Palmer, you probably know, never gave up a grand slam in his career — that’s in 213 chances. In a way Glavine’s record is even more impressive. Glavine faced the bases loaded 428 times in his career — only Nolan Ryan faced more. He allowed only two home runs.*

*Ryan, who was one of the hardest guys to hit a home run off of in baseball history, gave up 10 grand slams.

5. Curt Schilling. Bloody sock. The 2001 postseason. The best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history.*

*Not counting Tommy Bond who retired in 1884 and pitched when it took eight balls to draw a walk. It actually annoys me that he’s listed in the record books.

4. Mike Piazza. He’s probably the best hitting catcher in baseball history. His 427 homers are 38 more than second-place Johnny Bench. His .545 slugging percentage is 45 points higher than second-place Roy Campanella. Ivan Rodriguez did have 20 more runs created than Piazza, but it took him 2,500 more plate appearances. Piazza was a suspect catcher — well, he couldn’t throw — but he had some strengths defensively as well. Will he get in this year? It’s going to be close … he might need one more year.

3. Jeff Bagwell. He’s probably the wrong guy to use for this point, but I have to make it at some point: Every year, when I make my votes, I think hard about the steroid issue. My feeling now is that I will mark down a player a bit for acknowledged or demonstrated PED abuse during the era before testing — this is why I have Bonds and Clemens a little bit down the list — but it is not a disqualifier for me. My feeling is that players who used steroids before testing, well, I’m not happy about it, but it was woven into the fabric of the game. When the Hall of Fame puts together a committee that unanimously elects Tony La Russa into the Hall of Fame — a man who for years managed the most infamous steroid-infused team of the time — I realize that there are different rules at play, and there should not be. Steroids were a part of the game. A sad part. But a part just the same.

I’m not opposed to changing my viewpoint if there’s a compelling enough reason to do so. As I’ve written before, I’d love for the Hall of Fame to take the lead and offer guidance. I think they should. In the meantime, though, I figure the only reason I have a vote is because I supposedly know something about baseball. I’ll vote based on baseball.

Jeff Bagwell is as good a reason as any to do so. I don’t know if Jeff Bagwell used. He says he didn’t. There’s nothing more than some weak circumstantial evidence that he did. And Bagwell was a fantastic baseball player. He hit, he slugged, he got on base, he ran well, he won a Gold Glove, and he was mesmerizing to watch. These kinds of players come along so rarely. If Bagwell gets into the Hall of Fame and then we find out he used steroids, I won’t feel cheated. I feel sure there are players — multiple players — already in the Hall of Fame who used steroids. They were wrong for doing it. They were also great baseball players.

2. Frank Thomas. The Big Hurt is a great nickname, no? From 1991-97, Frank Thomas hit .330/.452/.604 and averaged 36 homers, 118 RBIs, 107 runs scored, he won two MVP awards, led the league in on-base percentage four times, OPS four times, walks four times. He was on pace then to battle Hornsby or Foxx or Mays or Aaron or DiMaggio as the greatest right-handed hitter ever. He wasn’t quite as good after that, though he still had a couple great years. He’s one of the 10 best right-handed hitters ever, I think.

1. Greg Maddux. One of my all-time favorite players. I could write another 6,000 words just on him right now, but I won’t. There’s no way to sum up Maddux, anyway. You could go with the four Cy Young Awards, the 355 wins, the 2.15 ERA from 1992-98 — much of it during the heart of the Steroid Era. But, no, it was more poetic than that. Maddux wasn’t a pitcher as much as he was a zen master. He bent batters (and umpires) to his will. He pitched the corners, just off the corners, just off the off-corners, he moved the ball high, dropped it low, never walked anybody, made every defensive play (best fielding pitcher I ever saw), hit enough batters to keep them honest, pitched around home runs, and left everybody thinking, “Damn, I just missed!” Remember the line the kid says in “The Matrix” about how there is no spoon? With Maddux, there was no spoon.

  1. skids003 - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Maddux used bat repellant on the ball. Best I’ve ever seen.

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Great analogy.

    • DJ MC - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Careful. That’s probably enough hearsay about a performance-enhancing substance to get many voters to demand a re-vote.

  2. hpt150 - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    The stat I’ve always heard was that Raines was on base more times than Tony Gwynn, not (18) fewer. *scurries off to check the interwebz*

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      If you don’t include IBB it’s true.

  3. APBA Guy - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Joe P is the opposite of Gurnick.

    This is a fabulous piece. Again.

  4. jonrox - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    In a non-sarcastic way, I’d love to hear more about why Joe and so many voters pick Glavine over Mussina.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      The best (i.e., non Cy Young-award based) arguments for Glavine that I’ve heard have to deal with his ranking among left-handed pitchers all-time. I guess it’s fair to rank righties and lefties different to some degree, since, for example, Glavine was at a platoon disadvantage vs 79.4% of the batters he faced, whereas Mussina was basically 50/50 (apparently even when teams stack lefties in the lineup, it only evens things out). Generally speaking, Mussina probably had the better career numbers, but Glavine is one of the very best lefties who ever took the field, while Mussina is just one of many excellent righties.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        For his career, Curt Schilling’s ERA was 20% lower than the park-adjusted league average. He effectively has the best K/BB in MLB history. One could argue that his career was a tad on the short side, but Curt Schilling was fantastic when he pitched, not just “above-average.”

      • Kevin S. - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:00 PM

        Grr, this was supposed to be a reply to shyts.

    • raysfan1 - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      It’s the “magic numbers”–300+ pitcher wins, 2 Cy Youngs, and the 1995 WS MVP. Moose was just as good a pitcher but doesn’t have those eye-catchers. Both should be in the Hall, but I can’t complain about choosing Glavine over Moose when the ballot is so crowded. Hopefully Moose gets his due and ultimately gets in.

  5. shyts7 - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    I agree with everyone in your top 6 except Schilling. Schilling was pretty darn good in the playoffs,but, when you factor in his regular season, he was just a tad above an average pitcher. Maddux and Glavine need to go in with Bobby Cox. Thomas is another one that will probably go in this year and deserves to. Biggio, Bagwell, & Piazza are 3 that deserve to go in now. It’s a tragedy that they are being knocked some because they might of used, even though there is no evidence.

    Of all the numbers you gave for Bonds and Clemens, do you honestly think they reach those numbers without the roids? They don’t and don’t deserve to be celebrated for cheating.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      For his career, Curt Schilling’s ERA was 20% lower than the park-adjusted league average. He effectively has the best K/BB in MLB history. One could argue that his career was a tad on the short side, but Curt Schilling was fantastic when he pitched, not just “above-average.”

      • American of African Descent - Jan 7, 2014 at 6:42 PM

        Schilling’s peak wasn’t long enough. And the “bloody sock” game just isn’t a good enough reason to vote for someone — might as well vote for Morris for his 10 inning game 7 win.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 7, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        Funny, I never mentioned the Heinz 57 game, and I agree you can argue he didn’t pitch long enough, but I was responding to someone who claimed Schill was a tad above average and demonstrating how full of bunk that was.

      • shyts7 - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        I’ll still stick with Schilling was an above average pitcher. The guy was up and down his entire career, but, there is no denying that he was great when it counted.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Schilling was pretty darn good in the playoffs

      Schilling might have an argument as the best pitcher in playoff history. 133.1 IP of 2.23 ERA ball, with 120 Ks vs 20 BBs, against the best of the best?

    • Marty McKee - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      I don’t know why Joe and others keep missing this point. “Based purely on what he did on the field…” Well, sure. Suppose Maddux used flubber on the baseball to make it miss bats, and he rang up 6000 strikeouts and a career ERA of 1.45. Well, hell, based purely on what he did on the field, he’s a surefire HOFer. But I don’t think anyone would argue that using a magic substance created in Ned Brainard’s lab is cheating. So what’s the difference between that and Bonds, etc. using PEDs to hit baseballs harder and farther?

      • Kevin S. - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:41 PM

        One, we don’t know what affect PED usage had on player performance. Two, we *do* know that writers had no problem voting for pitchers who doctored balls to make them miss bats, so your analogy, if anything, works in the exact opposite way you intended.

      • mca99 - Jan 7, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        In addition to Kevin’s points, your analogy would work a lot better if you weren’t comparing a situation where only one isolated pitcher is using flubber to a situation where PED usage was fairly rampant throughout the league by both hitters and pitchers.

        Bonds is a perfect example. He was 10-15% better during his steroid usage than any other player in the league, including McGwire, Palmeiro, and Rodriguez, not just those without any taint surrounding their careers. If you believe those who claim half the league was using PEDs (and that PEDs were the sole or major determinant of exploding offensive production during the era), including pitchers, then Bonds looks even better in retrospect.

      • offseasonblues - Jan 7, 2014 at 8:16 PM

        First of all, thanks to Joe P for this informative piece.

        Next, Marty’s reaction was my reaction. But perhaps it’s just a semantic problem, not a reasoning problem.

        “Based on the stats, Clemens was the best pitcher / Bonds was one of the five best players” works better for me.

        I too believe that “the extensive steroid use in baseball was a league-wide effort”, and I understand the *ignore it because we can’t know who did and didn’t do what* approach to voting.

        But I don’t have to like “what was done on the field” by those guys, and I think baseball is a great enough game that it would have recovered from “the strike” just fine without all the ridiculous home run numbers.

    • crackersnap - Jan 7, 2014 at 7:41 PM

      I cannot speak for the case on behalf of Clemens, as I have not looked deeply into his career arc.

      But, in the other case, Barry Bonds was well on his way to being one of the top 5 power hitters in the history of baseball BEFORE he began using steroids. If he had simply retired after the 1999 season, when he was still only 34, he would have finished about 15th in the all-time career HR list. Even with a normal athletic tail off at the back end of his career, absent any steroid-induced injuries as well as steroid induced home runs, would have parked Bonds somewhere above 670.

      Go ahead and make the case that PEDs keeps Bonds off the throne, but he belongs in the Hall.

    • madhatternalice - Jan 7, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      Did you read the article, or just the list? He talked about how he views the Hall of Fame, which I’m betting is very different from how you do.

  6. cur68 - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Damn. I loved reading that. I know those names. Each one has a specific memory for me of days spent in front of a TV, loving the hell out of a ballgame. Fed McGriff especially. I wanted to BE Fred McGriff. Only guy I ever heard of named “Fred” that wasn’t white and had the last name of “Flintstone”. I have no serious issue with that ballot, Mr. Posnanski. I’d maybe switch Mussina for Glavine, find some room for Edgar and McGriff (at the expense of whom, I have no effin idea), but that’s it. Great ballot.

  7. jamesefallen - Jan 7, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    You cannot talk about Clemens & Bonds w/out talking about steroids. Character and integrity, remember?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Ty Cobb and Tom Yawkey did far more egregious things than take PEDs, and that didn’t stop them from being enshrined. Multiple players admitted cheating and yet still were enshrined, never mind those like Mays, Mantle and Aaron who admitted taking PEDs and were enshrined with no issue either.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      And he already told you he’s docking points.

    • paperlions - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      Bobby Cox beat his wife. Character and Integrity!

      Tony LaRussa was a drunk driver (probably quite often considering that after his DUI he said he only had wine with dinner like ALWAYS). Character and Integrity.

      The HOF is chock full of racists, bigots, philanderers, liars, cheaters, drunks, and criminals. Where is the Character and Integrity of which you speak?

      • chinahand11 - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        Um … Babe Ruth was quite a character I heard … well … I’ll get back to you.

      • halfthemoney - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        I agree with your comments, especially the last paragraph. The only way I can explain the emotions involved today is our instant news reporting capabilities as well as the joy and willingness people take in exposing public figures/celebrities. I just don’t think that was the case until recently, both the ability to find things out and the delight people take in seeing others suffer.

        Can you imagine, for instance, if Mickey Mantle’s bad “flu shot” in 1961 had occurred today? If we had a “way back” machine those we call racists/bigots now were often not just tolerated but accepted. I guess my point also is today we can dissect someone instantly and pass judgment. Is Puig the first celebrity to drive to fast? No, but in previous generations it might have been thought cool as opposed to so many commenters condemning his selfish, unsafe acts.

  8. butchhuskey - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    This is definitely one of the best ballots I’ve seen. Nice job, Joe.

  9. sportsdrenched - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    There should be a Joe Posnnanksi App. Anytime something written by Joe gets posted on the the internet. Your phone goes off with a screaching alarm, and provides a link to said material. You would have no choice but to stop what you were doing and read it.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:43 PM

      Heh. Follow him on Facebook/Twitter, he usually posts links to his stuff there. In fact, I read this article quite a while ago, when he posted it to his personal blog.

      • sportsdrenched - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:51 AM

        I get all that, but I’m not on Twitter and Facebook all the time.

  10. xdj511 - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    After reading this post I can see how some lazy people would just say they’re voting for Jack Morris and screw everybody else.

  11. xdj511 - Jan 7, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Also, I remember the Matrix line as “it’s not the spoon that’s bending, it’s you”

    • American of African Descent - Jan 7, 2014 at 6:35 PM

      You remember incorrectly.

      The quote is “Do not try to bend the spoon — that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no spoon.”

      • umrguy42 - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:54 AM

        Actually, you’re both part right – the kid goes on to say “Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

  12. sophiethegreatdane - Jan 7, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    “Palmeiro was very good for a very long time. But I don’t think Palmeiro was ever the best first baseman in his own league, must less the game’s overall best player, not even for a single season.”

    This same logic should, in my opinion, be applied to Mussina. I never saw Moose as the best pitcher in his league, much less the best pitcher in the league. The MVP and Cy Young voting results reflect this. I am a huge Moose fan. Loved his work ethic, his focused-like-a-laser intensity on the mound, and loved watching him pitch. But I just can’t see him as a Hall of Fame player.

    Very good? Absolutely. All-time great? No.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 7, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      This logic shouldn’t be applied at all. Best, second-best, etc. is relative to the presence of other outliers playing at the same time. Comparison to the average is much more robust, and it’s that comparison that gets Moose in and keeps Palmeiro out.

      • sophiethegreatdane - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:59 PM

        Context is everything. I can’t compare Mussina or Rafael to another generation of player, or some contrived ideal of what is “average” with any real meaning. Whether they were the best at their position or in their league — while they played — has very real meaning. To me, using your logic, it would indicate Palmeiro is indeed a hall of fame caliber player. Rafael was clearly better — for longer — than either the “average” 1B of his day, or the average 1B of all time, which seems to be your advocated comparison point.

        Yet the common argument against Raffy — indeed, the one used in this very article — is that, in comparison to the 1b of his day, what he did was not historically great enough to warrant HoF consideration.

        I would ask, how does Mussina differ? When viewed in context of his day, he was only the “best pitcher on the team” when he was an Oriole. After that, he was never the best on the team, nor was he the “best in the division” and he was NEVER the “best in the league”.

        Their careers are quite similar, when viewed in context. Neither was particularly dominant to the point where they were considered “the best”. Yet, both performed at a very high level for a considerable amount of time.

        Why anyone would use this argument against Raffy, but not against Moose speaks more to personal bias than anything. If someone doesn’t think Raffy is deserving because he tested positive for PEDs, then, fine. No argument. But don’t tell me he wasn’t great enough in comparison to his peers, then in the next sentence say that Moose was. He wasn’t. By most measures it would appear that Moose was about as dominant a pitcher as Raffy was a first baseman. And part of that measurement is what they did in comparison to their contemporaries.

        Both were very good, for a long time. I’m not sure either is a valid HoF-er. But if the roles were reversed, and it was Moose who had tested positive, and Raffy was clean, I’d wager substantial money that Raffy would ALREADY have been voted in.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        Context is everything. I can’t compare Mussina or Rafael to another generation of player, or some contrived ideal of what is “average” with any real meaning.

        Why not? That’s why we have stats like WAR, FIP, OPS+, wRC+, etc. There’s also non-neutralized stats if you want to use those as well (like for instance, did you know that Ted Williams has a better unadjusted SLG% than Bonds? He’s also got a better OBP than Bonds).

        Yet the common argument against Raffy — indeed, the one used in this very article — is that, in comparison to the 1b of his day, what he did was not historically great enough to warrant HoF consideration.

        I would ask, how does Mussina differ? When viewed in context of his day, he was only the “best pitcher on the team” when he was an Oriole. After that, he was never the best on the team, nor was he the “best in the division” and he was NEVER the “best in the league”.

        Because the difference between the two is that Mussina’s contemporaries have claims as some of the best pitchers ever (Clemens, Maddux, Johnson and Pedro) while Raffy’s peers aren’t except Bagwell (Thomas spent too much time at DH). Are we going ot argue that Pujols isn’t HoF worthy because he was never the best hitter while Bonds was around?

  13. apkyletexas - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    Posnanski almost convinced me on Maddux and Biggio.

    But, the fact is, they both melted repeatedly under the playoff lights, they both piled up stats against their weakest competitors while failing in the clutch, and they both continued to play long past their prime in order to pad their wallets and pad their HOF resumes.

    Not that they won’t get in. They both did exactly what they knew would impress the voters.

    • cur68 - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:46 PM

      Meh. Your comment? Trolling troll trolls. And that’s all.

      • stex52 - Jan 7, 2014 at 9:00 PM

        Nah, this is alternate universe stuff, Cur. This guy clearly is an alien from backwards-world, where everything is the opposite of what he says. In point of fact, Biggio’s case is much more compelling at age 38 than by staying to 41.

    • Reflex - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:55 PM

      Wow. I really thought you were at least smart enough not to repeat this garbage. Maddux, btw, had a postseason ERA of 3.27, almost identical to his career ERA of 3.16. Apparently he was damn good against the best of the best.

      You are a moron. Go back to mocking Griffey. As hard as it is to believe, it actually comes across smarter than this tripe.

  14. detectivejimmymcnulty - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    I have always believed those who pretty much overwhelmingly are known to use roids should not be in, but I think you changed my mind. It really shouldn’t be on the writers to decide who was clean and who wasn’t, and there are definitely players in already who used.

    Take, for example, Ricky Henderson

    At age 39 Ricky stole 66 bases, at 40 he stole 37, and at 41 he stole 36. I get that Ricky was fast and all, but to still run like that at such an age really is suspicious considering the time frame it was done in. In our day and age there would no doubt be plenty of questions of how Ricky was still running like that at his age, hell, Chris Davis can’t hit 53 homeruns during his prime without people wondering.

  15. ray1950 - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    I’ll save you the trouble of taking another look at McGriff next year, Joe. His numbers won’t change, so if he’s good enough in the future, he’s good enough this year. Other than that, it was a nice column but Thomas Boswell’s column absolutely nailed why the Hall is becoming a joke.

    • halfthemoney - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:54 PM

      You’re correct, his numbers won’t change. What will change is the numbers of players eligible. What won’t change is the fact that voters can only put 10 on their ballot. There is a reason a player gets fifteen years to account for the number of eligible players.

      Based on your logic, Cy Young and Joe DiMaggio should never have gone in since they didn’t make it first ballot.

  16. ray1950 - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    I’ll save you the trouble of taking another look at McGriff next year, Joe. His numbers won’t change, so if he’s good enough in the future, he’s good enough this year. Other than that, it was a nice column but Thomas Boswell’s column absolutely nailed why the Hall has become a joke.

  17. tominma - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    When Roger Clemens left the Red Sox, he was and overweight, out of shape pitcher who went 41-41 the previous 4 years!! Then he goes to Toronto and wins a Cy Young. Then to the Yanks and won 2 more. Boston’s GM said at the time that Clemens was washed up. Only one thing could have turned him around and it’s especially helpful to a pitcher! STEROIDS!! HGH! etc

    This year, I hope to see Frank Thomas lead the voting. I cant remember the other worthy nominees. ( HEY, give it up, Im 66! I cant remember breakfast!) If I remember, there should only be about 2-3 more if that!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      When Roger Clemens left the Red Sox, he was and overweight, out of shape pitcher who went 41-41 the previous 4 years!!

      He went 40-39, and did that with a 3.77 ERA (130 ERA+) and a 8/7 K/9 ratio. Let’s not act like he put up a mid 5’s ERA striking out 5/9. But good use on W/L to try and make a point.

      • halfthemoney - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:00 PM

        I think the basic point is still valid. He was starting the normal downward swing of the older pitcher then had an amazing late in life resurrection.

  18. Chipmaker - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Poz, the way you evaluate and vote, makes me proud and misty-eyed. Well done, sir, well done indeed.

  19. jonal11 - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Thank you for putting Bonds on your list. Their is one name I would like to add though. Pete Rose. If you are really going to have a list of players that were the best ever and deserve to be in the HoF it has to include Bonds and Rose. Otherwise it’s not a true list of the greatest players in baseball. Sure, don’t make them a first rounder like bonds, but also, you have eventually let them in, like they should Pete Rose.

    • jonal11 - Jan 7, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      EDIT: I am talking in general of the HoF lists people make, not this specific one so much.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 7, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        How is Pete Rose one of the best players ever?

    • Kevin S. - Jan 7, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      While I disagree with his ineligibility, Pete Rose cannot be voted into the HoF based on the current rules. He and Barry Bonds are in different boats.

  20. NatsLady - Jan 7, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Very much appreciated the history lesson.

  21. yazmon - Jan 7, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    I have been fascinated through the years by two players, both born on May 27, 1968 and how their statistics mirrored each other through the years. Finally, after 2005, Frank Thomas pulled ahead of Jeff Bagwell in some of the counting stats when Bags had to retire with the injury. The three years Frank got to tack on at the end seem to have made him a slam dunk for the hall while Bags doesn’t have such an easy time of it but until 2006, they were pretty much the same player except for the stolen bases and gold gloves for Bagwell and the much fewer strikeouts for Thomas.

    • stex52 - Jan 7, 2014 at 9:02 PM

      Excellent assessment. I agree 100%.

    • halfthemoney - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:04 PM

      I like your comment but I guess the old school guy in me still lends some credence to longevity and totals and not just percentages.

  22. jerseyjeff - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    Maddux is definitely a HOF player. There’s a story that I vaguely remember where he told one of the bench players on his team exactly how he was going to get an opposing hitter out, including saying that it would be a foul pop-up to the first baseman, and he then went out and did it exactly as described. He just had total command of his pitches and a great understanding of how to pitch to hitters.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the story was that Maddux called out how a pitcher was going to get a hitter out, aka he pre-emptively called the pitches and knew how the hitter would swing to said pitches?

  23. braxtonrob - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    Mattingly and Puckett are practically identical, except Mattingly had more GG’s and practically never struck out. If not for a bad back, Mattingly would be a HOF’r by now.
    Here’s hoping the VC fixes this oversight one day.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      And the fact that Puckett was a CF while Mattingly was a 1B. Position matters, and even with that advantage, Puckett was marginal.

      • braxtonrob - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        So, GG’s at 1B don’t count. (Good to know.)

    • halfthemoney - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      I agree and I also feel that 1B is underrated. Too often I think we forget what a 1B brings to the game, such as how many errors in the scorebook they prevent when picking bad throws. CF gets the glory cause it looks really cool when they run a long way but a 1B has to make the catch and get to the bag. IDK, maybe it’s just me.

  24. foreverchipper10 - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    After comparing Joe’s ballot which is highly respected, to my own that nobody cares about, it is good to know that we matched nine of ten nominees. The only difference being I had McGwire in place of Raines.

  25. gostlcards5 - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    Joe – Simply put, stellar article. People do play games with the HoF voting, and frankly, it’s tiresome. You’ve got the spirit of the thing right, which is the best I’ve heard/read. Well done.

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