Since we’ll soon be telling the Hall electors what a lousy job they did in the Hall of Fame voting, we should put our necks on the line too. This week we are by publishing our would-be ballots. They are welcome to hector us for our provisional selections. Hey, if you don’t like any of the following, you won’t like my ballot:
- advanced analytical stats
- steroids-tainted players
- steroids-whispered players
- players who played with steroid-tainted players
- first-year eligibles
- the DH
- players who aren’t as good as RuthDiMaggioMays
- leadoff hitters who aren’t as good as Rickey Henderson
- well-reasoned thinking.
I approach this vote much as I would a ballot for the Hall of Miller and Eric. I use all the same stats, adjusted all the same ways. I even look for opportunities to support candidates at positions where the Hall of Fame lacks honorees. So let’s see what I’d do in the BBWAA’s shoes. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
The Mock Envelope Please
- JEFF BAGWELL
All-time rank at first base according to Eric: 9th
We have repeatedly argued Bagwell’s merits, and so have many other people who actually can vote for him. Being a top-tenner at any position (except reliever) is a punched ticket as far as I’m concerned. It’s time to end his wait.
- BARRY BONDS
All-time rank at left field according to Eric: 1st
As you’ve no doubt read from these parts, I don’t especially care about steroids viz the Hall of Fame. Once that’s out of the way, Bonds is in the running for the best non-Ruth player of all time.
- ROGER CLEMENS
All-time rank at pitcher according to Eric: 3rd
Roger Clemens is the best pitcher whose career began after 1907. Nuf sed for me.
- EDGAR MARTINEZ
All-time rank at DH according to Eric: 3rd
All-time rank at third base according to Eric: 10th
Unlike most DHes, Edgar played that position despite being an above-average fielder. It was his legs that forced him to DH, including tearing his hamstring off the bone in a freak baserunning incident during a spring training game. Anyway, dude could rake either way. DH is a position the BBWAA elects for, as Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor have proven. So Edgar deserves his turn.
- MIKE MUSSINA
All-time rank at pitcher according to Eric: 20th
Ranking 20th among all pitchers is equivalent to being about 6th at a fielding position. I’m surprised that 270 wins hasn’t bought Moose more love, but, you know, he didn’t have a great moustache. Anyway, he’s overdue.
- TIM RAINES
All-time rank at left field according to Eric: 12th
Raines is strongly qualified for the Hall in both a traditional and analytical sense. He was the prototypical leadoff man with strong on-base skills, enough average and pop to keep pitchers honest, and not only a ton of steals but fantastic percentages. He was good enough with the stick to hit second or third and drive runners home as well. He was also the best player in the NL in the mid 1980s, only obscured by playing in one of baseball’s less press-happy cities.
- MANNY RAMIREZ
All-time rank at left field according to Eric: 13th
I’m not sure whether anyone has a true fix on who Manny Ramirez is or was. There’s a great deal of sturm and drang around him.
- He was a colossal goofball. And among the best students of hitting from his generation.
- He was incredibly selfish. And he produced and produced.
- He was an awful defender. And the Green Monster at Fenway Park is known to create massive distortions to the defensive record of left fielders, estimated by Michael Humphreys in Wizardy at negative ten runs per 1450 innings. Yes, ten runs, or a negative win’s worth of value just for standing in front of that wonderful hand-operated scoreboard all year.
- He was a known, punished steroid user. And he did his prescribed time, per the joint agreement.
I look at the on-the-field performance. He’s got it.
- IVAN RODRIGUEZ
All-time rank at catcher according to Eric: 6th
No one’s quite sure what I-Rod’s chances are this year. He’s a catcher, and nary a one of them has ever been elected on his first ballot. On the other hand, this is the same bunch that showered him with an iffy MVP award. He’s got some steroid taint due to Jose Canseco’s book. On the other hand, he won a skillion Gold Gloves and made the All-Star team all the time. Regardless of what the BBWAA does, he’s a no-brainer for me.
- CURT SCHILLING
All-time rank at pitcher according to Eric: 19th
Like Mike Mussina, he’s equivalent to a top-6 player at a fielding position. At a personal level, Schilling’s right-wing nuttery and insensitive tweeting make me throw up in my mouth, but if I’m voting for steroid users, I’m sure as hell not allowed to not vote for a loutish loudmouth. It’s not like we’re voting for the Senate here.
- LARRY WALKER
All-time rank at right field according to Eric: 9th
Walker’s greatness is strangely obscured by his home park. There’s a tendency to mentally overcorrect for Coors Field. No one wants to make the mile-high mistake, I guess. But Walker’s combination of batting prowess with outstanding flycatching and one of the best outfield arms since ever is what boosts him up my rankings. Of course, Walker has another illusion, the brittleness. I admit he’s not exactly Mr. Hale And Hardy, but the 1994–1995 strike-shortened seasons play some havoc with our perceptions. We see 103 and 131 games in those years and say But in reality, those are equivalent to 146 and 147 games due to the shortened schedules.
If I’d had more room
- Gary Sheffield
All-time rank at right field according to Eric: 18th
Players like Sheffield with mild steroid taint and a jerky attitude are simply going to get killed in this ballot-clogging, ten-years-and-done Hall of Fame world of this century. Despite his absolutely awful defense and his frequent injuries, Sheff deserves a plaque.
- Jeff Kent
All-time rank at second base according to Eric: 21st
We voted Kent into the HoME as a nod to positional balance and his era. We could have added any of a dozen similarly qualified players who didn’t help us at any particular position or in any particular era. The Hall, however, has elected enough second basemen. I have the feeling that Kent will end up as a Veteran’s Committee selection. There’s too many players in his way now and for years to come, but he would be a fine addition to the Hall.
- Sammy Sosa
All-time rank at right field according to Eric: 22nd
Another HoMEr, but the Hall is a little lopsided with right fielders, and this right fielder isn’t as good as Sheffield. So I’m fine leaving him off this ballot, though I’d advocate for his eventual election.
- Vlad Guerrero
All-time rank at right field according to Eric: 23rd
Right on the borderline. If he makes it, fine. If he waits a while, fine. One of the more interesting players to watch during his time. He could look absolutely awful on one swing then amazing on another. He could gun down a runner from right field one inning, then throw to the wrong base in another. He was also an adventure on the bases. An intimidating hitter and a colorful on-field act. But not enough to crack my ballot. Yet.
Overall, I’m a full-ballot guy. There’s so many worthy would-be players on the docket that I’m left feeling bad for the guys I’d like to vote for. But, you know, that’s life. There’s a lot of voting needs doing to break up this crazy logjam. And the next several years offer little if any relief for it because many upcoming players fall into the in-between zone occupied by many of the men we’ve discussed above. To me they are simple decisions. I’d vote for Roy Halladay every day of the week and twice on Sunday. But fewer wins than Curt Schilling might not get him a second ballot. Who knows with this bunch!?!?!? But I know what I know, so I vote what I vote. Just like every BBWAA elector probably feels like they do.