The Hall of Fame vote comes out tonight. If you’re anything like me, you gobble this kind of thing up. I follow the Hall of Fame tracker by @NotMrTibbs that has received a bunch of attention. I try to read a couple of books a year about HOF inductees. I went to Griffey’s induction last year!
This year’s ballot is again facing a logjam. The average ballot last year contained just under 8 players per submission. This year it will almost certainly end up above 8, even with a blank ballot or 2. Griffey and Piazza are off the ballot after being inducted last year. Alan Trammel and Mark McGwire are off after reaching their respective year limit. That’s about 300% of votes received, which did free some votes up.
But Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez are 2 newcomers who have a real shot at getting the 75% required vote. And Manny Ramirez is tracking toward a decent percentage (20-25%). Add the increases of all other holdovers from last year – and the logjam is actually bigger. Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines look like locks to get in. Voters seem more inclined to check the box for Clemens and Bonds, and a Trevor Hoffman will be very close as well.
I’m guessing only Bagwell and Raines get in, with Vlad, Pudge and Hoffman barely short. I hope I’m wrong – it would be nice if one of the other 3 get in. But if it’s just 2 – the logjam will be even worse next year with only elected and Lee Smith coming off! I do think it will peak there (or this year if more than 2 get elected).
The 10-player ballot maximum is an unnecessary constraint (problem). It splits the vote. As you can see below, there are over 15 players I’d vote for, but if I was a voter, I’d have to pick 10. I’ve read at least one writer each who put Hoffman or Vlad 11th. If those guys are one vote short, that just makes the problem worse next year.
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.
I’ve repeated the above 3 paragraphs for at least 3 years now, however I have one addition. I’m not going to vote for Manny Ramirez. Despite the fact he’s the probably best historical player on here not named Bonds or Clemens. But he cheated when it really was cheating, and that’s just where the line gets drawn for me right now.
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.
- Tim Raines (69.8%)
- Jeff Bagwell (71.6%)
- Ivan Rodriguez (1st)
- Vladimir Guerrero (1st)
- Curt Schilling (52.3%)
- Mike Mussina (43.0%)
- Edgar Martinez (27.0%)
- Barry Bonds (44.3%)
- Roger Clemens (45.2%)
- Larry Walker (11.8%)
That’s the limit of 10. My personal backlog was cut to less because I only added 2 guys – whereas Griffey, Piazza and Trammell were “above the line” for me last year. Edgar Martinez, congratulations! I actually moved him above Walker, Jeff Kent and the steroid guys after further review! Reading a book about the ’95 Mariners really opened my eyes to how feared he was by other players. He’s looking like he could get in, probably the year after next if I had to guess.
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 (16.6%)
- Fred McGriff (20.9%)
- Trevor Hoffman (67.3%)
- Billy Wagner (10.5%)
- Gary Sheffield (11.6%)
- Sammy Sosa (7.0%)
That’s a list of 16. And I would have put a number of guys who are no longer BBWAA-eligible. 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, Kenny Lofton, Jim Edmonds, Trammell and McGwire in. All have fallen off the ballot in previous years.