I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote, obviously, but I’ve written enough about it and criticized enough people who do have a vote that I may as well say what I’d do if I had the franchise.
Here’s my whole ballot. I include everyone on it because, unlike so many of the voters, I really don’t think this is some monumentally impossible task that requires long hours examining the dark recesses of my soul. I write about baseball, I read about baseball and I love baseball and I’ve had a pretty good handle on what has gone on with it in both my lifetime and historically. And, contrary to popular opinion, this is fun.
Here’s my take on all of these guys. Since I’m going with the ten-slot limit, I’ll tally the whole ballot at the end, as some of these guys are “if I have room” choices:
- Sandy Alomar Jr.: A tough call for the Hall of Alomars.
- Jeff Bagwell: Passes my eyeball test even if he fails others’.
- Craig Biggio: He was good at everything, great at many things and maintained his excellence for a long time. Once upon a time that was an easy Hall of Famer. I’d like to think it still is.
- Barry Bonds: Duh. Yes.
- Jeff Cirillo: Once held the record for the most regular season games played without playing in the postseason at 1,617. But, sorry, no.
- Royce Clayton: Best Royce to ever play the game. But no.
- Roger Clemens: Duh. Yes again.
- Jeff Conine: How many guys can call themselves “Mr. [team name]?” Not many. As Mr. Marlin he’s one. But no.
- Steve Finley: Was drafted by the Braves in 1986 but didn’t sign. So we were stuck with the Dion James/Albert Hall platoon. Sigh. No.
- Julio Franco: I’m sure he’s in his Lazarus Pit right now preparing for a comeback so we’ll deal with him when he’s eligible once again. But no.
- Shawn Green: Nice player. No.
- Roberto Hernandez: Thanks to Fausto Carmona’s stuff, he’s the only guy in the Hall of Fame ballot who is automatically hyperlinked as an active player by the HBT blogging platform. Pretty cool! But no.
- Ryan Klesko: If I were tipsy I’d go on about how he was better than you remember and how Bobby Cox treated him kinda poorly, but I’m not tipsy so let’s just say no.
- Kenny Lofton: He’s a popular choice among the statheads and I think he’s way better than the exceedingly low Hall of Fame vote totals he’ll get, but I’d have a hard time pulling the lever. He was always good but didn’t have the sort of peak I like to see in a Hall of Famer. I’d give a no, but it’d be one that I’d think hard about. And even if I wavered more, having so many qualified guys on the ballot would probably push him off mine.
- Edgar Martinez: Down with anti-DH prejudice! Vote for Edgar! Yes.
- Don Mattingly: Nope. People say “but for the injuries …” I say “he had a lot of injuries.” The Hall should be about the career a guy had, not the one he would have had if x, y, z didn’t happen.
- Fred McGriff: Really, really hard choice. I’ve gone back and forth over the years (if you check the archives I think I have posts supporting him and not supporting him in the past). As I sit here today I’m inclined to give him a bigger era adjustment than I used to, realizing that his pre-1993 numbers were really damn good for the time and he, unfortunately, straddled the eras in a way that made his overall stats look less impressive. If I have ten others I like better he falls off, but a provisional yes.
- Mark McGwire: I think yes. I know he was one dimensional, but it was a hell of a dimension.
- Jose Mesa: No, obviously. But when everyone goes Hall-crazy about Omar Vizquel in a few years, I may talk Mesa up just to be a contrary S.O.B.
- Jack Morris: I believe he was a very good pitcher. Call me back when they build a Hall of Very Good.
- Dale Murphy: Nice peak, but fell off a cliff. He and Don Mattingly are in the same boat for me, even if we don’t know why Murphy lost his footing.
- Rafael Palmeiro: A close call as his numbers — 500 homers and 3000 hits — look less impressive when you adjust for the parks he played in and the era in which he walked the Earth. I’d lean yes, however, if I have room.
- Mike Piazza: Best hitting catcher ever. Anyone not voting for him this year is deranged.
- Tim Raines: One of the best leadoff hitters ever and did everything well. Anyone not voting for him this year is equally deranged.
- Reggie Sanders: No, but I always liked him, even though he laid a major egg when he played for Atlanta. That above-average journeyman thing is pretty fun. Wish we’d see more of it, both for the players’ sake and the teams’.
- Curt Schilling: Close call. More deserving than Morris. I’d be inclined to say yes, pending the availability of ten slots.
- Aaron Sele: Heh, no.
- Lee Smith: Lots of people like him, but my post-La Russa Era closer standards are probably way higher than most people’s. I’m, like, Eckersley Mariano Rivera and … call me later.
- Sammy Sosa: He’s like Palmiero for me, but that peak was really something to behold. A maybe, slot-pending kind of guy.
- Mike Stanton: I loved him as a Brave and he annoyed me as a Yankee, which means he was good, because I’m only annoyed by good players who give my team a hard time. But, of course, no.
- Alan Trammell: Yes. And I would say this even if he wasn’t my favorite childhood player. See Biggio: he did it all and did it well and was arguably the best player on an always good and often excellent team for, like, a decade.
- Larry Walker: Hard choice. I lean no, just as I do on Lofton. I could be persuaded to change my mind at some point.
- Todd Walker: Man, guy will be a one-and-done and he’s not even the best Walker on the ballot. Sad.
- David Wells: Better than people give him credit for. Maybe because he didn’t hit is groove for a bit and maybe because the personality often took center stage as opposed to the pitching. I’d vote for him before I’d vote for Morris too, but ultimately I wouldn’t vote for him either.
- Rondell White: Lots of Expos on this year’s ballot, huh? No.
- Bernie Williams: No. Very good, but never had a Hall of Fame peak. His playoff numbers are nice, but he was obviously a huge beneficiary of the playoff expansion of the mid-90s and of being on the New York Yankees of that era.
- Woody Williams: Always loved his name. If you had a friend named Woody Williams, you’d know you had a reliable friend. Old Woody would never leave you stranded at the airport and would always be around to help you move a couch. But no.
So, where does that leave us? My ballot: Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Martinez, McGwire, Piazza, Raines, Trammell and … one least spot for all of my maybes. Let’s suck it up and say — Fred McGriff. There. McGriff gets the tenth slot.
Sorry to Palmeiro, Schilling, Sosa and the others. If you’re around next year I’ll consider you again. Or if they do the right thing and expand the ballot.
How hard was that?