The Hall of Fame is set to announce its Expansion Era results Dec. 9. Most certainly, one of Joe Torre, Bobby Cox or Tony La Russa, if not all three, have an excellent chance of getting elected. If so, they would have to wait until Jan. 8 to see who would join them in the Class of 2014.
I don’t have a vote as to who gets elected, but it’s always fun to make one anyway. In prior years when I examined the ballot, it was easy as to whom I would vote for and who I left off. However, in this ballot, it was very tough. There are definitely many Hall of Fame worthy names on this year’s ballot. With that being said, someone who votes may only pick up to 10 players, and I shall limit myself here. Some players I am leaving off I would otherwise vote for in other years.
My Honorable Mentions:
Fred McGriff: This one was tough to leave off. I would vote McGriff in, but with the buzz saw list of names, he sadly misses the cut here. If he had the same numbers in a previous era, he’d have his plaque in Cooperstown by now. He fell just seven home runs short of 500. With a ballot loaded with steroid connections and speculation, McGriff is free of any. He had a mammoth peak from 1989-1993, finishing in the top 10 in MVP voting every year, and placed 4th in 1993. McGriff showed himself to be a terrific player in both the National League and American League. With the nickname of “Crime Dog,” crime is a most appropriate word to describe his snub from the Hall.
Alan Trammell: The 1984 Detroit Tigers showed dominance. They started 35-5 and finished at 104-58. This team was 100-0 when leading after 8 innings. Yet as of this post, the only Hall of Famer from that team is the late great skipper Sparky Anderson, who is wearing a Cincinnati Reds cap on his plaque, by the way.
When looking at career WAR, Trammell ranks ahead of Hall of Fame shortstops Barry Larkin, Joe Cronin and Lou Boudreau, and there is very little dispute about the Cooperstown credentials of those three men. Trammell was a model of consistency who could do it with his bat and with his glove. Hopefully if the Baseball Writers Association of America doesn’t vote him in, the Veterans Committee will correct this egregious mistake.
Larry Walker: There’s an old saying that if one has to think about a player being a Hall of Famer, they’re probably not one. I disagree with that. Some people quietly put up good careers. Critics may be eager to point out his numbers at Coors Field, but I respond with the fact that this three time batting champion was a career .278 hitter on the road. Having the boxes checked of a .313 batting average, .400 on base percentage and .565 slugging percentage, Walker, at the very least, deserves more recognition than he gets.
#1 Jeff Bagwell: Some people suspect Bagwell took steroids, but suspicion is the only thing they have. One of the greatest first basemen ever should be in, no doubt. He was a monster home run hitter at the Astrodome, no less. In terms of the top 100 players when it comes to WAR, Bagwell, like Trammell, cracks the list. He had speed as well, with 202 swiped bases in his career and a .408 on base percentage.
#2 Craig Biggio: Add him to the list of casualties from the Steroid Era. However, there’s even less suspicion of Biggio than there is of Bagwell. Some people left him off the 2013 ballot because they don’t think his numbers sufficed to being a first ballot Hall of Famer. Somebody is either worthy or they’re not. Biggio and his 3,060 hits are worthy and he should’ve been inducted this past July. He has a case for the best NL second baseman of the 1990s and his 668 doubles rank 5th all time.
#3 Tom Glavine: Not every 300 game winner has made it to the Hall on their ballot. Early Wynn, Phil Niekro and Don Sutton come to mind. However, for Glavine, it’s different: 305 wins alone puts him in. Add two Cy Youngs and four more top 3 finishes, plus a World Series MVP and his fate is as a Hall of Famer is sealed.
#4 Jeff Kent: This may be a controversial pick to some, but for a second baseman, Kent had a really good peak from 1998-2002. He won an MVP in 2000 and holds the record for most career home runs by a second baseman. If he were a first baseman or corner outfielder, critics may have more of an argument for his exclusion, but based on position, and that nearly his entire career was at second, he’s in for me.
#5 Greg Maddux: While I cannot say for sure, somebody’s going to be “that person.” What I mean is, one or more voters are going to assume the hipster role and leave Maddux off their ballot, simply because no one has ever gotten 100% in the Hall of Fame voting. I really don’t think career accolades are necessary here. The only two things that one should ponder when it comes to Greg Maddux is how close he’ll be to a unanimous vote and where he ranks on the list of the greatest pitchers of all time.
#6 Edgar Martinez: Six men in baseball history have 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a batting average greater than .300, an on base percentage greater than .400 and a slugging percentage greater than .500. The first five men are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby and Stan Musial.
The other is Edgar Martinez. Yet because he was a designated hitter, he’s on the outside looking in. Edgar should’ve won the AL MVP in 1995: his 145 games played and 185 OPS+ both led all of baseball. The Seattle Mariners had never made the playoffs in franchise history. That all changed when the M’s overcame an 11 1/2 game deficit in the AL West to the then California Angels. Seattle won the one game tiebreaker 9-1 and Edgar’s double in the 11th inning of game 5 sent the Mariners to the ALCS.
Martinez is most likely going to be on the backburner with how jammed the ballot is going to be in the coming years. That is truly sad because he should’ve been in already.
#7 Mike Mussina: If his name is ever called, one may make an argument for Mike Mussina as the most underrated Hall of Fame pitcher. One may say what they wish about wins and losses, but they still matter in 2013. He was 117 games over .500 in his career at 270-153. Winning 20 games in his final season in 2008 at 39 was a great way to leave. The New York Yankees saw a lead in the bottom of the 9th slip away in game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was Mussina’s only Fall Classic appearance and had to exit game one during the third inning and took the loss. Still, he had a solid career 123 ERA+ and 7 gold gloves. He finished top 10 in the Cy Young voting nine times and in the top 5 six times. It may take Mussina a while, but hopefully he’ll get there. If it were up to me, he’d be in.
#8 Tim Raines: He should’ve been in already but thankfully is slowly gaining more support in recent years. The 7-time All Star stole 808 bases in his career. He is seen as perhaps the second greatest leadoff man in the history of the game. WAR favors him very nicely at 69.1. He was a remarkable difference maker who found ways to get on base and score. The fact he got the 5th highest votes in 2013 ahead of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa tells me there is hope for humanity.
#9 Curt Schilling: One may be able to play this game all day, but seriously, the only, and I mean only reason Curt Schilling never won a Cy Young in his career is because Randy Johnson was not human. He finished runner-up in 2001 and 2002 in the NL. In 2001 he won 22 games and in 2002 won 23. In the latter year, he led the NL in WHIP with 0.968.
He finished with 3,116 career strikeouts and fanned 300 batters on three separate occasions in his career. He shared the World Series MVP with Johnson in 2001. Perhaps an argument could be made Schilling was to the Philadelphia Phillies of the 1990s what Felix Hernandez is to the Seattle Mariners today. That is, both men were outstanding pitchers on last place teams.
With the Boston Red Sox, Schilling finished second to Johan Santana for the AL Cy Young in 2004. In that year, he collected a second World Series ring and added a third in 2007. He deserves to be enshrined.
#10 Frank Thomas: I would put Thomas as second only to Bonds as the best hitter from 1991 to 1997. When one discards the 1994 season in which he won his second straight AL MVP, the fewest games he played in during that time was 141 in 1996 and the lowest OPS+ he had was 174 in 1992. Never, ever, have I seen Frank Thomas’ name come up as a suspect for using steroids. 500 home runs have not helped Sosa, Bonds, McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro because of their connection and suspicion to performance enhancing drugs. Thomas hit 521 of them in his career, and in his case, I think it matters.
This was not an easy ballot to fill out because of how many candidates deserve serious consideration. I think all ten of my names are eventually going to get in, though for some it may take longer than others. For me, personally, I am very intrigued to see who gets in and how many votes someone gets once the results are revealed Jan. 8.