Tuesday, January 6, 2015
My Hall of Fame Ballot (Updated)
Well, I hit on three of my picks -- the Big Unit, Pedro, and Smoltz -- and missed on Biggio. Bonds and Clemens remain at less than half the ballots they need to get in. Meanwhile, every MLB broadcast has ads for Viagra and Cialis. I guess performance-enhancement is OK everywhere else in society. Sheesh!
Tim Raines is at 55% and needs a lot of help in the next two years to get in. Not sure what the voters are seeing that I'm not seeing. To me Raines was a great player, just a hair behind Rickey Henderson. Biggio, meanwhile, is Jeff Kent with less power and slightly more longevity.
Today the players who will enter the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown next summer will be announced. There has been a lot of chatter about how the balloting unfairly restricts the electors to voting for only ten candidates. In my view, that's already too many... there are a lot of names on the list that are nice players, good players, some who had great seasons, some who even had transcendent moments, but who aren't quite up to the standard of getting a plaque next to Babe or Stan or the Yankee Clipper or the Splendid Splinter or Sandy Koufax or Christy Mathewson or the Big Train. If I had a ballot, there would be six names on it. Here they are:
1. Barry Bonds.
2. Roger Clemens
Enough said. If you have a Baseball Hall of Fame and these guys aren't in it, who were the greatest players in the game over a period of twenty years, then it's a sham. PEDs? Everyone with eyes knows that Bonds and Clemens are Hall of Famers without the PEDs. And, in an era where a lot (a lot!) of players were using PEDs, these guys were still better than anyone else. It's not because they used more... it's because they were just better to begin with.
Anyway, that's my view.
3. Pedro Martinez
The closest thing to Sandy Koufax since, well, Sandy Koufax. (Also one reason why I'm so excited for the 2015 season to see "Baby Pedro," Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals.)
4. Randy Johnson
The biggest and baddest lefty since Steve Carlton, which means he's in the discussion for biggest and baddest ever. There are only so many pitchers who you think might throw a no-hitter anytime out. Randy Johnson was one of them. Also, a great nickname... the Big Unit.
5. Tim Raines
Best leadoff hitter not named Rickey Henderson. And, in my view, Rickey Henderson is one of the Top 10 players of all time.
6. John Smoltz
This one is probably the only one I had to think about. His numbers as a starting pitcher are very similar to Curt Schilling's (who I leave out as not quite good enough), and, like Schilling, he was a legendary playoff pitcher. But Smoltz then added four plus years of being arguably the best closer in baseball, amassing more than 150 saves. That puts him in, since it's such a unique achievement. (Dennis Eckersley is the only player similar and he's in.)
So, who do I leave out? Schilling to start with. A record of 216-146 as a starter just isn't good enough. Sorry. Same with Mike Mussina.... 270-153 is a very good career, but did anyone really ever say to themselves that Mussina was the best pitcher in baseball? Or even in the top 5 starters ever in his career? I never sense that. So he's not in the Hall.
Then... Craig Biggio. Sure, he has 3,000 hits. But, then, he played a long time, and he primarily played at second base, which is not a premium fielding position. He had some pop and some speed and got on base pretty well and did a lot of things that made him a very good player, and one you'd want to have on your team. But, again, no one ever said to themselves that Biggio was the best player in the game. Usually he wasn't the best player on his team. (And, really, if Biggio gets in, why wouldn't you vote for Jeff Kent... also a second baseman, also wasn't usually the best player on his team, and had more power.)
Finally, I have to leave off Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Gary Sheffield. All of them have the numbers (500+ HRs), but it's my judgment that none of them would have reached that threshold without PEDs, and none of them were great players apart from their power (unlike Bonds, who early in his career was a great outfielder). For similar reasons, I also leave off Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker and Mike Piazza. In the PED era, their numbers are very good, but not good enough. For Piazza, although he was a catcher, it's also my judgment that the fact that he was a terrible catcher factors in. His power numbers look like Johnny Bench, but Bench was Yadi Molina before Yadi Molina was born.