January 7, 2013
I don’t have a baseball Hall of Fame ballot, but who knows, since there appears to be several Baseball Writers Association of America members who are simply overwhelmed by the by the tremendous obligation to be the moral guardians of baseball, perhaps somebody would be willing to trade with me. I know that trying to keep track of municipal budgets simply can’t compare to speculating on whether or not Jeff Bagwell may have done steroids, but I figure it was worth a shot.
The BBWAA restricts its members to 10 names on the ballot. There are 37 players eligible this year. Here we go.
1) Barry Bonds. Is he rotten human being? Yes. Has major league baseball said he is ineligible for the Hall of Fame? No. Until that time I see no way to keep the major league home run king and one of the top players of all time. You can make the argument he was a hall of famer even without the steroid use. In terms of wins above replacement for a career, Bonds ranks second all time, sandwiched between Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. I’m separating my personal feelings for the man from what he accomplished. And what he accomplished says he’s in.
2) Roger Clemens. Take everything I just said about Bonds and apply it to Clemens as well. Lousy human being, great baseball player. Third all time for pitching WAR, 354 career wins, 3.12 career era, ERA+ of 143 and appeared in six world series teams.
3) Mike Piazza. The easiest choice on my ballot. Best offensive catcher ever. Good enough for me.
4) Craig Biggio. Did he stick around to long in attempting to get 3,000 hits? Yes. But he should get in even without the magic hits number. A solid second baseman who was a fixture in the Houston lineup for nearly two decades. A career .281/.363./.433 slash and a .796 OPS. Take away the last three years of his career, largely spent chasing 3,000 hits, and he has nearly identical numbers to Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar.
5) Tim Raines. 808 Career stolen bases, a steal success rate of 85% -- better than even all time stolen base leader Rickey Henderson. A 300 career batting average and a .413 OBP over 23 seasons , the man knew how to get on base and do damage once he got there.
6) Edgar Martinez. If you are going to put in a specialist the bar is going to be pretty high. For instance, any closers wanting into the Hall should go ahead and line up behind Mariona Rivera. And if you are a DH, the line starts behind Edgar. A .312 batting average, .418 OBP and an OPS of .933. All the man did was hit like crazy over 18 years in the league. You could not ask for much more from a player who has never even had a whiff of steroid suspicion.
7) Larry Walker. A tough call considering the peak of his career was in Coors Field. But a .313 career BA and .400 OBP is hard to overlook. Played multiple positions and was good for a long period.
8) Alan Trammell. His only crime is being the third best shortstop of his generation – behind Cal Ripken and Ozzie Smith. That’s not bad company. He has better WAR and JAWS numbers than Barry Larkin who was just inducted last year. Put the man in already. It's just a shame that Lou Whitaker, his double play partner for ages, won't be able to join him.
9) Jeff Bagwell. Stands heads and shoulders stats wise above every other first baseman on the ballot. His JAWS numbers, which combines career wins above replacement and seven year peak for the same stat, ranks him sixth all time, behind Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, surefire hall of famer Albert Pujols, Cap Ansen and Roger Connor. Everyone in front of him is either in Cooperstown or heading there and numerous folks on the list behind him are as well.
10) Curt Schilling. Another lousy guy but a great ballplayer. Take all the arguments that many writers are attempting to apply to Jack Morris, and slap them on a pitcher who was actually, well, good. Career ERA+ of 127, 3,116 career strikeouts, 3.46 career ERA 1.137 career WHIP (better than Morris and even Clemens, and then there is that whole bloody sock thing. Add it all up and it's enough to get the final spot on my hypothetical ballot.