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My Hall of Fame Ballot for 2017

Posted by killertwinsfan , 18 January 2017 · 994 views

2017 Hall Of Fame Ballot

During the long, cold, dark of winter it’s nice to have a mid-winter break to bring baseball back to the spotlight again.
Between the winter meetings and when pitcher and catchers report baseball news goes pretty dark. Most of the major trades and signings have taken place. There will be a few here and there most of the time our notifications are silent. And when our phones do ding with an alert we quickly grab it in anticipation only to receive a piece of minor news.
Then the Hall of Fame voting is revealed and we get a few days of baseball back in the spotlight while pushing our nostalgia buttons at the same time.
Then of course there’s the controversy. While it drives us crazy it also gives the whole spectacle some extra flavor.
Of course everyone has their opinions on who should get in and who should not. I am no exception to the rule. What frustrates me to no end is the writers who seemingly put no effort into their ballots. They have earned this privilege that thousands of fan would love to have and then refuse to do their due diligence. Or they decide to appoint themselves the guardians of baseball morality doing their best to block anyone who may have violated the sanctity of the sport. Even if the evidence is minor or speculation. Meanwhile bloggers and fans like me put all kinds of effort into our ballots that don’t even count.
That being said most of the writers do the work and put serious thought into the ballot. I have read articles of writers whose ballot I completely disagree with, but they write out and intelligent argument and I can respect their choices. Unfortunately the minority that are lazy or think it is their duty to keep the hall “pure” is large enough to block deserving candidates every year. In doing so they damage the integrity of the Hall and their fellow writers.
Now before I reveal who my ballot would contain let me explain my criteria. First I look at their total career numbers. For some players like Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Junior in the past the investigation ended right there. It was blindingly obvious they belong in the hall. For the baseball fan the names alone scream it.
Some players are borderline when it comes to career totals or maybe just had a long career when they compiled large numbers while never being truly great. The second criteria then comes in. Every player has a peek to their career. A Hall of Famer should at some point be considered among one of the best in the game. At this point I watched everyone on the ballot play at some point. A Hall of Famer should stand out. While this may sound somewhat subjective I would contest everyone’s ballot has at least a small amount of subjectivity to it. If it was all purely objective the Hall would have a list of stats and milestones built into an algorithm then feed the players career numbers to a computer and have a program determine who’s in.
Those are the main two criteria. But I’ll also take into consideration playoff performance, awards, and stat leaderboards, either career or single season. These will mostly be used if I’m on the fence on a player and if one or more of those criteria will push the player over the hump for me.
Of course when discussing criteria whether I would vote someone in or not I have to address the elephant in the room. And I don’t mean the Oakland A’s uniform patch.
Recently the Hall of Fame vote has seemed to become less about stats an achievements and more about PEDs.
This has become such a hot button topic that some writers have decided not to vote for the Hall anymore. This decision I can actually respect. If you feel you can’t in good conscience decide who’s guilty and who’s not and decide not to decide it all that’s fine. What I can’t stand is the writers who have decided to judge all players guilty by association and turn in a blank ballot. Not only is this lazy, but it also screams that you’re an idiot. While a writer may think he or she is making some grand statement what they are actually saying is they paint everyone of a certain group with the same brush and there is nothing any of them can do to change their mind. If this is how someone is going to look at baseball from now on then why even write about or even bother to watch the sport if you consider every player a cheater. They have announced that the numbers don’t matter and they won’t bother to look any further into the situation. Which is failing to do their job when you think about it. If a writer reaches this point it’s time for them to turn in their credentials and give an opportunity to someone who will put in the work. Then go get themselves another honest job.
Although please. Stay away from working in the criminal justice system.
Now how do I treat the PED issue? I go on a case by case basis. Mostly if there is proof and if it was actually illegal at the time. Keep in mind a player only has to meet two criteria to get on the ballot. Ten years of service time, and be in good standing with Major League Baseball. If Baseball didn’t want a certain player to get in the hall they should have banned them.
One other thing I should mention. I don’t differentiate between Hall of Famer and first ballot Hall of Famer. That doesn’t mean my mind might not change from one year to the next. Someone might make a good argument for or against a players election that changes my mind.

Now on to the ballot.
34 players on this year’s ballot. After an initial look over the ballot there are 19 players I would consider. No offense to the Matt Stairs and Pat Burrells of the world. If you play 10 years in the league you did something right.
Then I had to go player by player and make a yes or no decision on if they are hall worthy in my opinion.
(Note. Used the Baseball-Reference charts. Their career leaderboards have minimum qualifications that fangraphs does not use. So some current players may not be included in career rankings. So some of these leaderboard rankings may differ from lists containing active players.)
Jeff Bagwell
Because of injuries shortening his career his counting stats are a little light. Especially for a first basemen. But when you look at the peak of his career the numbers are hard to ignore. In five seasons Bagwell walked more then he struck out in five seasons and never struck out more than 135 times in a season despite being a power hitter. He produced a 6 rWAR or better in 5 seasons. He is also the only first basemen in history with 400+ HRs and 200+ SB.
There have been some PED accusations but little more than pointing to his big arms. Nothing even close to substantial.
Bagwell is one of the five best first basemen to ever play the game. I vote yes.
Plus how can you forget that batting stance?

Tim Raines
It Raines last chance. He has been climbing at a steady pace since he first appeared on the ballot. But needs one final push to get him in.
The holdouts might point to the fact he didn’t reach 3000 hits despite being a leadoff hitter. Never had 200 hits in a season. Didn’t hit for any power.
Setting all that aside Raines was the second best leadoff hitter besides Ricky Henderson. He is 5th all-time in SB. Top 10 in NL in OBP in 7 seasons. Top 10 in Offensive WAR in the NL in 6 seasons. Top 5 in the NL in runs created in 5 seasons. Lead the NL in times on Base in 3 seasons and is 48th all-time in reaching base.
Those numbers are enough for me to cast my vote for Tim Raines. Hopefully the voters put him in the hall where he belongs this year.

Trevor Hoffman
The closer is a tough position to judge. As far as stats go the only one they can compile career numbers in is one of the most over rated stats in sports.
So when evaluating Hoffman I needed to look at the numbers differently.
While I don’t like the save stat 601 of them are hard to ignore. While total strikeouts can’t compare to starters Hoffman is 9th all-time in Ks/9. He is also 8th in WHIP and 7th in H/9.
While closers will always have a hard time getting in the hall Hoffman is one of the true elites at the position. He has my vote.

Curt Schilling
This name requires some separation. Lately Schilling has taken a lot of flak for his twitter account. Despite how anyone feels about that the voters should stick to on field performance. If they didn’t and decided to take off field actions into account well there would be many vacancies in all the sports hall of fames.
Now moving on to those on field numbers the first thing that will stand out is the 3000 strikeout mark that many voters want to see. Going even deeper he was top 5 in his league in pitcher WAR 8 times. Top 10 in ERA in his league 9 times. 1st in Ks and WHIP twice and 2nd in the same categories twice. Plus lead his league in K/BB ratio 5 times.
Then besides that his postseason numbers are among the best off all time.
The only reason he isn’t in yet is probably because he was called to testify before congress about PEDs in baseball.
My vote. Yes.

Roger Clemons
If it was just the numbers Clemons would be in hands down. All that would be left is where he ranks all time.
PED accusations have ruined his vote totals though. Despite any failed test the amount of accusations has made him a long shot to get in.
While I can’t say he is innocent of all accusations, I can’t say I buy them either.
My vote. Yes

Barry Bonds.
In 2004 I went to a Braves game in Atlanta. The Giants were in town. In that game I got to see future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones hit a home run and future Hall of Famer John Smoltz close the game out. I also got to see Barry Bonds hit a home run and strike out. In 2004 the strikeout was actually less likely to happen for Bonds then the home run.
As with Clemons the numbers speak for themselves. But also like Clemons PED suspensions have derailed his Hall chances.
That being said he never failed a test. Do I think he did it? Probably, but I can’t prove it. Also his raw hitting ability goes way beyond what any drug could possibly do.
So Yes Bonds has my vote.

Edgar Martinez
The first true DH eligible for the hall Martinez makes a difficult case. His counting numbers are light for a DH with less than 2500 hits and 350 HRs. His main redeeming quality was being an on base machine. Looking over his yearly totals he constantly was a great bat to have in the lineup.
While the power numbers are light he consistently got on base thus creating runs. In the top 10 in OBP 11 times and leading 3 times. While also in the top 10 in hitting 7 times while leading he league twice.
While the counting numbers may seem a little low especially for a DH Martinez was consistently productive and that gets my vote.

Mike Mussina.
If you look up “workhorse” in the dictionary Mike Mussina’s picture should be there. When he first showed up on the ballot I thought no way he was a Hall of Famer. Good solid pitcher, but not a Hall of Famer. But wanting to do my due diligence I decided to give his career a closer look.
Upon further inspection his numbers were more impressive then I remember. 7 times he pitched 200+ innings. And in many seasons he was in the top 10 in the AL in most categories. As an added bonus he was the best defensive pitcher of his era.
The downside is outside of the 2001 season he was never really a dominant pitcher. But he was consistently among one of the better pitchers in the AL. After looking at the numbers and all he managed to accomplish Mussina has won me over.
A switch to yes.

Lee Smith
Smith has been on the ballot long enough to see two pitches break his save record while he waits. Frankly that has hurt his vote totals. An excellent closer. But Hoffman and Rivera have raised the bar while he’s been sitting on the ballot.
My vote. No.

Fred McGriff
Known for big power his biggest case is the HRs. Just short of 500. After that his case starts to degrade. He doesn’t show up in the top offensive contributors often season by season. Only 3 times in the top 10 offensive WAR. For a first basemen I need to see more.
My vote. No.

Jeff Kent
Opposite of Mike Mussina When Kent showed up on the ballot I thought for sure he was a hall of famer. When I took another look though the numbers weren’t as impressive as I remember.
Being mainly a second basemen Kent can get away with lighter offensive numbers. That being said the .356 OBP is somewhat low for a Hall of Famer. The counting numbers don’t do anything to offset that. His single season highs are lacking as well. Most of the time showing up in his MVP season of 2000.
While the numbers are very good for a second basemen I can’t see them as Hall of Fame worthy.
My vote. No

Larry Walker
The counting numbers are good. But where he really shines are the big numbers he put up during the peak of his career.
But then you notice he played those games for Colorado a hitter’s paradise. Not wanting to ding him solely for that I checked out his home and road splits. Impressively during his MVP season he hit better on the road rather than Coors field. The other season though the home road splits are rather slanted towards home.
Considering this I have to vote No on Larry Walker.

Garry Sheffield
Looking at Sheffield’s stat line his counting numbers look pretty good. Over 2600 hits and 500 HRs plus over 200 SB. Throw in a good batting average and on base and he starts with a strong argument.
One thing I always remember about Sheffield was that incredible bat speed. Balls would leave the yard off his bat in a hurry.
Throughout his career he was a potent offensive force in the top 10 in his league in on base 10 times. Top 10 in WAR 4 times and offensive WAR 5 times. H also was among the top 10 in HR 7 times. Impressively he never struck out 100 times in a season.
The problems come with an admission to PED usage but he said he didn’t know it at the time. He also never tested positive. He was also a bad defensive player.
The offensive numbers are solid. Few power hitters could control the plate like he could. Bu the defense reduces his overall value. The admission is hard to decide what to do with as well.
Given everything I’ll give Sheffield my very tentative yes vote.

Sammy Sosa
This is another difficult one. His entire case is built on the home run. He has some nice stolen base totals to go with the power but the OBP and average are pretty low. He lacked the good defense to help his case anymore as well.
Then there is a failed drug test which is hard to measure considering the circumstances it was revealed. But at the same time the corked bat incident does him no favors for gaining votes.
In the end Sammy was fun to watch but too much of a one trick pony for me. I can’t give him my vote.

Ivan Rodriguez
The numbers are impressive. Then you remember he put those numbers up as a catcher. Nearly 3000 hits and over 300 home runs…as a catcher. Top 10 in hits in his league 4 times…as a catcher. 7 times top 10 in defensive WAR, did I mention he was a catcher? Possibly the greatest defensive catcher ever.
Hands Down Pudge belongs in the hall.

Manny Ramirez
The offensive stats on their own are a case and a half for Manny getting in. Even with his poor defense.
The problem is the PEDs. Not even accusations. Failed a test…twice. The second failure ended his career. This is where I have to draw a line. When you get caught and then cheat and get caught again and decide to quit instead of serving your suspension you lose my vote.

Vladimir Guerrero
It’s funny. Player like Vlad aren’t supposed to work. You’re not supposed to swing at pitches that bounce and get base hits.
While I wouldn’t recommend modeling your game after Vlad he was fun to watch. He was also an offensive force at the plate. 6 times in the top 5 in hits. 4 times getting 200 hits. That along with the power had him top 10 in runs created 6 times. And despite defensive shortcomings had an absolute cannon for an arm.
The biggest negative was a shortened career that stopped before he hit he big milestones. He also never performed well in the postseason.
That aside he still deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

Jorge Posada
Has it been 5 years already since Posada retired?
His numbers are lower than I expected. Less than 2000 hits and less than 300 home runs. He had some good seasons but not hall worthy.

Jason Varitek
Despite catching four no hitters Varitek lacks the numbers to put him in the hall.

Now I have a problem. I have 11 guys I want to vote for the hall. The stupid rule of 10 though prevents this. Thus the log jam will continue for another year.
So one player on my list will have to be cut.
This is actually a pretty easy decision compared to years past. Gary Sheffield will have to be the odd man out on my ballot this year. I feel the other 10 have better qualifications.
Maybe next year he can get on my ballot but with Chipper Jones and Jim Thome being added there will have to be at least 3 cleared from the ballot this year.
So my Final ballot is
Jeff Bagwell
Tim Raines
Trevor Hoffman
Curt Schilling
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemons
Edgar Martinez
Mike Mussina
Ivan Rodriguez
Vladimir Guerrero

Anyway let me know what you think. I know I could have gone into more detail but didn’t have time. (Yet I still put in more work than the two writers who submitted blank ballots and they get paid to write about sports.)

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