Your Hall of Fame Ballot

Today we will hear the results of the Hall of Fame voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

What if YOU had a vote? Who would you pick for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and why?

Here is the ballot:

Jeff Bagwell
Jeromy Burnitz
Vinny Castilla
Juan Gonzalez
Brian Jordan
Barry Larkin
Javy Lopez
Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly
Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Jack Morris
Bill Mueller
Terry Mulholland
Dale Murphy
Phil Nevin
Rafael Palmeiro
Brad Radke
Tim Raines
Tim Salmon
Ruben Sierra
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell
Larry Walker
Bernie Williams
Tony Womack
Eric Young

This is a tough ballot, because to me, no one up there screams “Hall of Famer”. Though, part of that is because I completely disregard anyone who played the bulk of his career after 1985, which seems to be around the year that steroids and other PEDs started to infiltrate the game (no doubt there was some use in the 1970s, but no one is fessing up and it didn’t seem to be as widespread). But even if you don’t care whether a player used PEDs or not, there still aren’t any clear-cut HoFers here; the closest is Bagwell (OK, maybe it’s Palmeiro, but should a liar and confirmed cheater be voted into the Hall?). I’m not sure he’s a slam-dunk when you compare his numbers to others who played in his era. Compared to hitters from the 1950s through 1980s, sure, his numbers are HoF quality. But compared to his peers? I’m not 100% convinced. If Bagwell is a HoFer, then Bernie Williams, Fred McGriff, Carlos Delgado, Larry Walker, and Frank Thomas go in as well (and maybe they do). In fact, if Bagwell is a HoFer, then Jason Giambi, Andres Galarraga, Jim Edmonds, and even Ellis Burks should at least get consideration.

To me, Bagwell is to the 1990s-2000s as Steve Garvey was to the 1970s-1980s — and Joe Torre was to the 1960s-1970s: an All-Star, an excellent all-around ballplayer, and maybe a Hall of Famer but not a shoo-in.

As for the others on the ballot, again, it’s tough. Barry Larkin is right there on the cusp, much like Bagwell. But can you vote for Larkin and not vote for Alan Trammell? I’m not sure. And if you vote in both Larkin and Trammell, then what about Lou Whitaker, who’s no longer on the ballot?

I would consider Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly for the simple reason that they both, for a short time, were considered by many to be the most dominant player in the game — or at least, among the most dominant players. But, neither kept up superior performance long enough to garner HoF votes. Personally, I’d rather see short-term dominant players like Murphy, Mattingly, Dick Allen, Luis Tiant, Vida Blue, Dwight Gooden, and J.R. Richard get more consideration. Maybe that sounds crazy but to me, if a pitcher or a batter can make his opponent soil his pants, then there is a unique greatness that should be recognized in some way. But I digress … that’s not what the HoF is about. Rather, the HoF is more about sustained goodness, and sometimes greatness, over a long period of time. And considering that, maybe Tim Raines, Jack Morris, and Lee Smith deserve your vote. Or perhaps you vote for Edgar Martinez, who might fit into that sweet spot between short-term dominance and long-term sustained goodness.

Personally, I’m glad I don’t have a vote — this is tough stuff to consider.

So how about it? Who would YOU vote for, and why? Post your ballot in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. MikeT January 9, 2012 at 11:56 am
    Bagwell – consistent numbers his entire career (i.e. no sudden increase in power) shows he likely was not a heavy PED abuser. (Can we ever be certain any one player is 100% clean or dirty? No.)

    Larkin – Similar argument, and while he was hurt a lot, dominated while he was healthy.

    Martinez – Most dislike pure DHs, but he’s the best at his “position” and so if you put in a guy at 3rd or short or catcher based on his peers then why not the same for DH? Plus, again, likely no PEDs and thus bonus points.

    McGriff – I can’t believe he is not in already. Guy hit 30 homers a year before 1993, when steroid era unofficially begins. Then continued as same hitter. He got lost in his own era despite being a great player before that era.

    Murphy – He was the best player in the National League much of the 80s.

    Raines – Still can’t believe he is not in either.

    Since I have to have ten I’d fill in Mattingly, Trammel, Morris, and Larry Walker (as much as it pains me, I have to give Walker some credit).

    • argonbunnies January 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm
      10 votes is the max, not the minimum. The minimum is 0.

      As for Bagwell, his HR rate nearly tripled from ’93 to ’94.

    • argonbunnies January 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm
      Sorry, wasn’t trying to be a dick.
      • Joe Janish January 10, 2012 at 12:39 am
        Is it a coincidence that Bagwell’s teammate was Ken Caminiti? And that Luis Gonzalez went from an 8-HR guy as a 26-year-old to a 57-HR guy as a 33 year-old? And that Steve Finley resembled a fine wine, getting significantly better with age? And that known steroid user Chris Donnels was also on the same club?

        The argument that Bagwell shouldn’t be suspected because he never tested positive nor was implicated in the Mitchell Report is nonsense. EVERYONE who played in that era is under suspicion. The Mitchell Report focused only on evidence from three main sources — two of whom were located in New York. There had to be Kirk Radomskis and Brian McNamees in other parts of the USA, but they didn’t get caught.

        I’m not necessarily suggesting that Bagwell was a PEDs user. Rather, I insist that it’s laughable to use the “well he was never implicated in any report” argument as evidence of his innocence. The entire decade of the 1990s is tainted, and we’ll likely never know who used and who didn’t.

        • MikeT January 10, 2012 at 11:43 am
          Just FYI you all know that my argument was not that Bagwell is clean because he was never implicated, right? I just want to be sure and I will continue on assuming that.

          Bagwell’s numbers do double from 1993 to 1994, but then they do plateau for the most part. Yeah there is a jump there but he went back down the following year in an identical number of games to about half that. So maybe he did juice in 1994, but if you plotted his SLG his entire career it would not look like many of the obvious steroid guys’ lines. I think it will be hard to leave out every great hitter and pitcher of the 90s simply due to suspected cheating, not when there are guys who cheated loudly like Gaylord Perry.

  2. SiddFinch January 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm
    Bagwell-in his prime a rare combination of power,
    average and speed, outstandind defensely
    Larkin-top SS in baseball for over a decade
    Raines-every bit as deserving as Rickey Henderson
    Trammel-see larkin
  3. argonbunnies January 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm
    The easy ones:

    Tim Raines – For 7 years, he was arguably the best player in the game, and inarguably the 2nd best leadoff hitter of all time. For the next 11 years, he was injury-prone, but still an on-base machine, scoring over 100 runs per 162 games.

    Barry Larkin – Way better than any other SS during most of his career. Only looks less stellar now thanks to the A-Rod/Jeter/Tejada/Nomar years.

    The pretty easy one:

    Larry Walker – If you take away all his Coors Field ABs, take what remains and multiply it over his actual number of career plate appearances, what do you get? Hall of Famer Duke Snider. But with 130 more steals and a better arm. (To be fair, Snider did play CF, and drove in nearly 200 more runs than Walker would have without Coors.)

    The Roids:

    Mark McGwire – He gave us possibly the best show in baseball history. Without roids, he was a historically great homerun hitter who couldn’t stay on the field. With roids, he was the best homerun hitter ever. He’s part of the game’s history, and the good outweighs the bad. I’ll never forget how this relatively shy dude diplomatically faced reporters every day in ’98, then let his team off the hook for his contract when he got hurt in his final year. The attention that turned Sosa from a nice kid into an egomaniac never changed McGwire. He’s a cheater I can forgive.

    And that’s it. Here are the guys I’m not voting in, and why:

    Rafael Palmeiro – I don’t think it’s possible or desirable to keep all juicers out, but I do think it’s appropriate to hold steroids-era slugging first basemen to a uniquely high standard. By historical Hall of Fame standards, Palmeiro’s a slam dunk, but the standards are being re-written all the time, so I don’t feel compelled to vote for a guy whose only edge on Bagwell, Thomas, McGwire, and Giambi was health and longevity. Heck, in their primes, Mo Vaughn and Todd Helton were better too. McGriff was better at the beginning of Palmeiro’s career, and Pujols was better at the end. All that said, I wouldn’t be upset if he gets in.

    Jeff Bagwell – He’s a Hall of Famer, I just want him to share the stage with Biggio. Next year, man. I’m actually kinda hoping Biggio goes on a crusade for Bagwell. It’d be a nice story for one of the longest-tenured teammate pairs ever.

    Edgar Martinez – Easily a Hall of Fame hitting talent. Also a great guy. Nothing else going for him — no speed, no D, no durability, no rings. I guess I only feel up to one crusade per ballot, and this year it’s Walker. If I had an actual vote, I’d think harder about Edgar.

    Alan Trammell – Never saw him play, not blown away by the numbers. Reports on his D seem good but unspectacular. Again, with a real vote, I’d give this more thought.

    Fred McGriff – I’m just not excited by any old slugging first baseman. Although he was possibly the best in the game from ’88-’92. Gah. I dunno. He probably deserves to get in, but let’s put the better guys in first and then see how he stacks up.

    Jack Morris – Two great postseasons (’84 and ’91) would look better if he hadn’t also had two awful ones (’87 and ’92). Beyond that, he spent the first half of his career being solidly above average and incredibly durable, and the second half being average and fairly durable. If you’re jonesing to elect a starting pitcher, just a wait a few more years for Maddux, Randy and Pedro.

    Honorable mention:

    Terry Mulholland did one thing better than anyone in baseball history.

    1992: in 229 innings, 2 SB allowed, 5 CS, 15 pickoffs.

    I can’t imagine that 20 outs to 2 bases ratio will ever be broken.

    Pet peeve:

    Dick Allen should be in the Hall of Fame. Unpopular, injury-prone, and playing during a pitcher’s era, he still hit 351 HRs. The rela point, though, is that he occupies this spot on the all-time OPS+ list: Musial, Greenberg, Mize, Speaker, Allen, Thomas, Aaron, DiMaggio, Mays, Ott, Ramirez, Robinson. Come on.

  4. argonbunnies January 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm
    Joe said:

    If Bagwell is a HoFer, then Bernie Williams, Fred McGriff, Carlos Delgado, Larry Walker, and Frank Thomas go in as well

    I disagree. Those others should be considered, sure, but Thomas is the only one who hit as well as Bagwell. And yes, I think the Big Hurt is a Hall of Famer.

    In fact, if Bagwell is a HoFer, then Jason Giambi, Andres Galarraga, Jim Edmonds, and even Ellis Burks should at least get consideration.

    I think they should. I might vote for Edmonds. Can you think of another guy who hit like a slugging first baseman and played an elite CF? I can’t find another player who won a Gold Glove in center with 40 HRs and 100 BBs. Edmonds did it twice.

  5. JoeJP January 9, 2012 at 9:13 pm
    A short term greatness should be honored in some way, but the Hall of Fame is a questionable way to do it. Too late in the day, perhaps, to change the rules there.
  6. Harry January 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm
    Are you kidding me?? Not a single one of them are HoF material. ITS THE HALL OF FAME!!! When did you ever watch a game to see Alan Trammell? Please. We have really lowered our standards when we start putting people like this in. Barry Larkin?? Good player yes Hall of Famer?? No freakin way! I have been watching this great game since 1970, No one should have gone in this year, They are just not worthy