If you're a baseball fan who has never been to the Cooperstown, then do yourself a favor a book a trip this summer. It's been about a decade since I was there so I'm sure things have a changed a little, but Cooperstown is a little quaint town on Otsego Lake in upstate New York. The Hall of Fame itself is right on Main Street - which cuts through downtown Cooperstown - and is full of ma and pop shops where you can buy almost anything you'd want with the Hall's emblem on it. Of course, don't forget to also check out Doubleday Field while you're there.
My theory on the Hall of Fame - for any sport - is that it should honor the best players of the sport while also telling the biggest stories of the sport. You'll see this reflected in my ballot, but I believe that the best players from the steroid era should be enshrined in Cooperstown as they had a massive impact - for better or for worse - on the game and what it has developed into today. I believe that how they impacted the game should be stated on their plaque, but leaving them out is leaving out part of baseball's history.
Another belief that I hold is that the designation of being a "first-ballot Hall of Famer" has much more meaning behind it than being elected in year two, three, etc. This will be reflected in the players who I would vote for. With that said and without further ado, here is my 2019 ballot.
Arguably, Bonds is the greatest hitter of all time. Him not being part of the Hall of Fame is a complete oversight by the voters. Edgar Martinez earned 70.4 percent of the vote last year and very well could hit the 75 percent mark this year. If that happens, then that could open the floodgate for other steroid era hitters with Bonds being the headliner.
The most recent pitcher to enter the 300 win club needs to be in the Hall. Keeping him out is almost as bad as keeping Bonds out, although Clemens isn't the greatest pitcher of all time he is one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
Say what you want about the DH position, but when you are the greatest player at your position all time you deserve to be in the Hall. As I stated before, he was only a few percentage points away from getting the call in 2018 so maybe 2019 will be his year.
In lieu of sounding like a broken record, just reread what I said about Edgar Martinez except put it in the context of the closer and saves. In my opinion, he's the first ballot hall of famer in the 2019 class.
He's one of 27 who is part of the 500 home run club. His career OPS is four points shy of 1.0000. He was the World Series MVP in 2004 which snapped the Curse of the Bambino, and for 10 years he was one of the most feared hitters in baseball. Forget about your last memory of Manny (remember, he was with the Rays??) and remember him for what he was with the Red Sox from 1998 - 2008.
Another member of the 500 home run club who could do more than just swing for the fences. He won the NL batting title in 1992 and won five silver sluggers throughout his career. He also helped the then Florida Marlins win their first world series in 1997.
If Manny and Sheffield get in, then Sammy Sosa assuredly deserves a plaque of his own. One of nine players in the 600 home run club. On top of his offensive game, he was actually a decent defender before he bulked up in the late 90's.
I'm not of the mindset that we should discredit anyone because of where they played. If we are really worried about Walker benefitting from the thin Colorado air, then are we going to start discrediting players who will play most of their career at the little league field known as New Yankee Stadium? No, we're not although I would kind of enjoy that. Due to injuries, Walkers career numbers don't look great as a whole but when he was healthy he was lethal with the bat and was actually a good outfielder and baserunner. According to Baseball Reference, his WAR7 - that is the sum of the seven best WAR seasons - is higher than Sosa, Sheffield, Rivera, and Ramirez who all made my ballot. I went back and forth on this one, but ultimately believe he deserves a spot in Cooperstown. Plus it would be cool if we could get his plaque to have a picture of him with a backward batting helmet.
Other players who I would vote for if it were not their first ballot are Todd Helton and Roy Halladay. I wouldn't be surprised to see Halladay get in the Hall on his first ballot as an empathetic vote. Don't get me wrong, I think he deserves to be there but I can't do it on his first ballot.
What do you think about my ballot? Would you vote differently if it was the players first ballot compared to the second or third ballot? What does your ballot look like?