There isn’t much doubt that some people will be upset by this, whether you hate steroids, hate sabermetrics, hate traditional numbers, hate people who discount a whole era that happened in baseball, Hall of Fame voting is something that will always be imperfect. But regardless, baseball is a sport of superheroes. Throwing something that fits in your hand 95 miles per hour with such precision that could smash a bobble head into tiny pieces past human beings is impressive. Equally mind blowing, is the fact that major league hitters can put a piece of wood in front of this small spherical item smaller than a human’s fist and hit it 400 feet from where they’re standing. All of this goes on in an “average” MLB game. The hall of fame is a place where the “all-timers”, the best who have ever lived can be honored with proper recognition for their accolades.
This hall of fame ballot is quite simply put, stacked. It has some of the best players in the history of the game on it (I dare you to find baseball’s home run leader, the home run leader in terms of catchers, the most Cy Youngs ever won by a pitcher, etc etc). In order to prevent you from reading most of these who don’t have much of a chance at all, I’ll give you the 10 people I would have voted for if I actually had a vote. Of course, the 10 voting limit is ludicrous, but here goes.
Just a disclaimer, I have no problem supporting players linked to PED usage, my explanation will come later, commence the hating.
I despise Barry Bonds. I hated him as a Giant, he would come up to the plate and would simply mash against anyone, really. But alas, I need new superlatives to describe how prolific Bonds’s career was. We could focus on how he was the career home run champion, or finished with 1996 RBI, or how his CAREER OBP was 100 points greater that Luis Cruz’s 2013 OPS with the Dodgers. But unfortunately this isn’t what we focus on, we focus on his alleged steroid usage. Barry Bonds failed a drug test, yes this is acknowledgeable, he failed a drug test for amphetamines. You know who else used amphetamines? The beloved Willie Mays, not only did he use, but he “kept a liquid bottle with him at all times” . Also, everyone’s favorite slugger, Hank Aaron has openly said in his biography that he used amphetamines. Possibly the greatest Third Baseman who ever played, Mike Schmidt used amphetamines. Oh, and lets not forget that Willie Stargell used amphetamines. Bonds never failed a drug test for anabolic steroids (I use that wordage because I do believe that amphetamines are performance enhancing). In May of 2012 he said “I went through the system. I’m in an appeal process right now. I was never convicted of steroids.” With all that said, lets focus on Bonds, even with the alleged usage, he was by far the best hitter in an era where hitters thrived. From 1990-1993 he hit an astounding .310/.433/.595, led the major leagues in OPS+ each season and compiled an OPS+ of 185. This isn’t it though, Bonds had a 5 year stretch from 2000-2004 where his OPS+ was a sickening 241. OPS+ is adjusted to the park and league, for example Ty Cobb led baseball in 1907 with an OPS+ of 167, and an OPS of .848. Edgar Martinez compiled the same OPS+ in 1996 with an OPS of 1.059. Bonds during that 4 year stretch was 141% above league average. I took an arbitrary date of opening day, 1990 and looked at his stats from then till 2004, when MLB implemented some more advanced testing policies and even when the data is diluted with the steroid users, Bonds was still 99% above the mean player of the league according to OPS+. You may say “LET ONE JUICER IN AND THEY’LL ALL HAVE TO COME IN”, not particularly, take the dead ball era for example. Just because Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, Mordecai Brown, Grover Alexander, Eddie Plank and Chief Bender got in doesn’t mean all of the half decent pitchers from that era have to get in. A HoF without baseball’s career home run leader is just the hall of pretty good. Barry Bonds is a hall of famer. It’s okay to be against PED’s, but keeping what probably was the greatest hitter of all time is not okay.
Barry Bonds became a no-doubt HOFer in 1996. The rest was just gravy, even if you think whatever about him. pic.twitter.com/aKGmhJwmbx
— Neil Weinberg (@NeilWeinberg44) January 3, 2014
You may have your own personal vendettas against people who are alleged of usage, but don’t lump someone who went to a federal court and was cleared of this with everyone else. While this thinking is a bit dicey, I believe in his stats, Clemens was incredible, he pitched 4916.2 innings, won 354 games, had an ERA+ of 143, and a bWAR of 140.3. Not to mention the 7 Cy Youngs, and an MVP. I’m not sure what else you want in a hall of famer.
Of course Maddux has to get in. He deserves to be a first ballot hall of famer. 355 games won, a miniscule 3.16 ERA. Maddux will always be known for his control. Just to give you an image of how incredible his control was, he walked 999 batters in 5008.1 IP, it’s a very impressive feat to accomplish this. He didn’t give up home runs, he didn’t walk anyone, he isn’t just a hall of fame pitcher, he was a top 10 pitcher of all time. You’ll notice later on I support Maddux and not Glavine mostly for the same thinking Mike Petriello had in not voting for Maddux.
Bagwell was impressive. He played in 2150 games over 15 years. He hit .297/.408/.540, that would be an MVP caliber year in pretty much any season, but Bagwell was able to sustain a line that good over 15 years. He stayed with the same team for his entire career, which was pretty cool, and compiled a career 73.8 oWAR. He was an incredible 1b who also won an MVP in 1994.
I really hope he doesn’t fall off the vote this year in favor of Tom Glavine. Yes Glavine was great, but the reason I didn’t “vote” for him was he’ll have his day, Mussina needs all the support he can get, 270 wins, 2813 strikeouts, 785 walks, 123 ERA+, 83.0 bWAR. This is a hall of fame pitcher who may get left off the ballot, he deserves to be in and I hope he reaches the 75% plateau some day. Jay Jaffe created a hall of fame metric, sort of like WAR to show a player’s case to be in the Hall of Fame. What’s nice about this is baseball reference compiles a side by side reference to show what is the player’s JAWS rating, and what is the average JAWS rating at the specified player’s position. Mussina actually scores better than Glavine, Moose has a JAWS of 63.8 while the average positional JAWS is 61.4 at his position. This is a quality pitcher. Oh and his 1997 and 2001 postseasons were superhuman.
For number 6, I chose one of the all time greatest hitters, Frank Thomas. I feel that when you have a nickname such as “the big hurt” and your size+hitting justifies it, you probably should be in the hall of fame. And boy does his hitting justify his HoF case. If you like nice, round numbers like me, you’ll see Thomas reaches the very exclusive club of the .300/.400/.500 club with at least 10,000 AB’s. You know who else is in that club? Chipper Jones, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker. Slam-dunk hall of famer for me.
Ken Rosenthal pointed out something very interesting regarding Biggio. “My favorite thing about Biggio is that he played more than 250 games at three different up-the-middle positions (1,989 at second, 428 at catcher and 255 in center field)”. The 3000 hit, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases, 250 home run club is exclusive, so much so that he’s the only member.
I get the argument against Martinez, he couldn’t defend. However the amount of value he added on his bat alone is HoF worthy. He is also a member of the .300/.400/.500 (just didn’t make it to 10,000 AB’s). I’m not a proponent of the DH, but if you’re going to have the position, allow for the exceptional ones into the Hall. Hitting a baseball is hard, hitting one at Martinez’s level is almost impossible, but he did, and he should be in.
One day we’re going to realize how good Tim Raines was. One day we’ll wake up and think, wow this guy was like a miniature Ricky Henderson. 1571 runs, 2605 hits, 808 SB’s. Sign me up for some of that. That guy was incredible. Oh, and he played in 4 decades which is really quite amazing.
Play a premium position in catcher while hitting an astounding .308/.377/.545 gets my vote. I feel that an arbitrary number could be a .900 OPS and ~7000 AB’s and this could get you a very strong case for the hall of fame, he had over 400 home runs and for a catcher, which is the most all time. And I have no problem voting him in because of alleged usage, there isn’t a real strong argument to show he juiced.
I have explained why I left Glavine off of the ballot, he’ll get elected, probably this season, Moose needs all the support he can get. You’ll see I left off Jack Morris, because frankly the whole charade of the traditionalists trying to use a very decent starter as a stand against sabermetrics is silly. He simply isn’t hall of fame material other than the fact that he pitched a lot of innings. But even if you use that as the primary reason as why he should get into the hall (that and wins), well Morris doesn’t crack the top 3 in terms of IP in this class of hall of fame. If you want to vote Morris, you should take a long look at yourself as to why you (the BBWAA) left out notable names such as Kevin Brown and Fernando Valenzuela. Kent is borderline, but not good enough to get in this year. No need for Curt Schilling to fret, he’s going to get in eventually, and of course I feel awful for Alan Trammell and Larry Walker, but again, they’re not HoF material in this class.
So there it is, my ballot. It isn’t perfect because the BBWAA makes it so, as it’s been stated hundreds of times, the 10 player limit is awful but I did my best. I wish I could write in Pete Rose like some BBWAA member did, but i’m comfortable with my ballot as presented. If there were no player limit, I would have included Trammell, Walker, and Schilling. But the point here is to show that I have came up with (more than) 10 players that could get voted into the hall, it’s sad that you see writers not include the maximum 10 players mainly because they want to make a stand against something silly, you could make a strong case for at least 15 different players to be inducted into baseball’s highest honor this season. I will be very happy when Maddux, Glavine, possibly Thomas and Biggio get elected to the hall of fame, but will be equally as sad when Bonds, Clemens, Raines, Mussina, along with many others get denied of the hall for a myriad of reasons.