My fictitious Hall of Fame Ballot – 2016

5 01 2016

The Hall of Fame vote comes out tomorrow.  Last year, there were 4 players elected to the Hall of Fame, all from the BBWAA ballot.  Craig Biggio made it on his 3rd ballot, while John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson all made it on their first ballot.  That was the most that there have been since 1955 when Joe DiMaggio led a group of 4.

Smoltz book cover

This year’s ballot is again loaded (if not quite as much as last year) and the Hall didn’t make it any easier by shortening the number of years on the ballot from 15 to 10 in 2015.  I said this last year – but it doesn’t make sense the way they did it.  Lee Smith is in his 14th year – he’s allowed to stay for 2016 and 2017.  However, Tim Raines is in his 9th year and will only be allowed for those same 2 years.  Despite retiring 5 years after Smith, Raines will be off the ballot the same time.  Raines is potentially the biggest casualty of the steroid backlog.  I hope he gets the groundswell to make it.

The 10-player ballot maximum is a huge problem.  It splits the vote.  As you can see below, there are nearly 20 players I’d vote for, but if I was a voter, I’d have to pick 10.  I probably wouldn’t pick a top 10 – I’d probably go strategic with it.  With that many viable candidates, players get less vote than they otherwise would.  Kenny Lofton in my mind is probably a Hall of Fame player – and he’s at least worthy of consideration.  However, he fell below 5% in 2014 and never got that consideration.

Below is my “if I had a vote” message.  Before I get into specific players, I want to say what I’d do about the steroid guys.  I’d generally vote for guys with a clear link to PEDs (note that Piazza and Bagwell do not even have such a link – just speculation with little to no basis).  My reasons?  First, I think PEDs were a baseball issue, not a Mark McGwire or a Barry Bonds issue.  Second, it’s a gray area, not the black and white line that many make it out to be.  I firmly believe at some point in the future, maybe 25 years or 40 years, we’re going to realize that some of those substances are safe to use and that it was silly that it got the debate it did. Finally, there is probably a PED user already in the Hall of Fame, and there are definitely guys in who have openly admitted to using amphetamines.

Steroids was part of the game just like other forms of gamesmanship have been part of the game in different eras.  I say vote the cheaters in, like we’ve done for its entire history (see Gaylord Perry).  I’d rather do that than act like the Hall of Fame is something more than it is.  It’s a shrine for the greatest players, managers and executives of the game, next to a museum that keeps the history of baseball.  No more, no less.

So if someone is linked to PEDs, at least for the time being, I will vote them in – but behind clean guys who I think clearly deserve to be in.  The guys that are, to me, unquestionable on performance and have no tie to PEDs.  The only reason for this is the ballot limit of 10.  I’d vote for Mark McGwire absent any constraints, but if I have to pick between him and Jeff Bagwell, I’d choose Bagwell.  Bagwell deserves to be in CLEARLY, so I slot him ahead of the other guys.  This matters when you’re limited to 10 votes.

So here’s my fake ballot.  This is in the order of how I’d vote them in, meaning I’d put Ken Griffey Jr. first if I was only allowed to pick 1 player.

  • Ken Griffey Jr. (1st year)
  • Mike Piazza (69.9%)
  • Tim Raines (55.0%)
  • Jeff Bagwell (55.7%)
  • Curt Schilling (39.2%)
  • Mike Mussina (24.6%)
  • Alan Trammell (20.8%)
  • Barry Bonds (36.8%)
  • Roger Clemens (37.5%)
  • Larry Walker (11.8%)

That’s the limit of 10.  I would also vote the next 7 guys in, but they’d get eliminated by the 10 player rule.  Last year I actually had to choose between Bonds and Clemens.  This year, there are 9 “no-doubters” for me that I put ahead of Bonds & Clemens.  4 of them got elected.  I also decided this year to move Mussina above that list, and while I view Trammell as a clear-cut HOF-er, but he’s definitely the least clear-cut out of those guys.

The rest of these guys are players whom I would vote for.  They aren’t as clear-cut as the 7 guys ahead of Bonds above, but I would vote for them if there were no restrictions.  Note that I put Walker in the same category, but at the top of that “not clear-cut” list – so he makes the list of 10.  To be clear, I definitely do think these guys are Hall of Famers.

  • Jeff Kent (14.0%)
  • Edgar Martinez (27.0%)
  • Fred McGriff (12.9%)
  • Jim Edmonds (1st)
  • Trevor Hoffman (1st)
  • Sammy Sosa (6.6%)
  • Mark McGwire (10.0%)
  • Gary Sheffield (11.7%)

That’s a list of 18.  I wish the Hall of Fame could read articles about this and see how the limit of 10 really restricts things for their voters.  Actual BBWAA writers have written about similar dilemmas.  I’d also put Rafael Palmeiro and Kenny Lofton in.  Both have fallen off the ballot in previous years.

Griffey Jr Gypsy

For what it’s worth – I think 2 players will get elected.  Griffey will clearly get in, and I think Piazza finally jumps up above 75%.  I think Bagwell and Raines will jump up significantly, but probably fall short around the upper 60’s.  Hopefully that’s good enough momentum for Raines to get in for his final year in 2017.

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