My Hall Of Fame Ballot

2014-hof-ballotThis year, I was invited to vote in the IBWAA Hall Of Fame selection, thanks to IBWAA founder Howard Cole. The results were published on Monday here, where Cole noted:

In its 2014 Hall of Fame election the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) selected Greg Maddux with 98.23% of the vote, Tom Glavine with 88.50% of the vote, Frank Thomas with 84.07%, and Craig Biggio with 78.76%. A 75% threshold is required for election.

That's a handsome group of electees, but even within this Internet-savvy group, a guy like Maddux remain not a unanimous selection. Why and who did not vote for Maddux can be found here and here, for those curious, but the short answer lies within the Limit Of 10 and these two chose to vote for others on the cusp, rather than the no-brainer. Disagree with their logic if you will, but this is the box that we were put in with the Limit Of 10.

That's it for the stats that will appear in this post. No reference to WAR, ERA+, HR, RBI, any Game 7 performance, WHIP.

[It's worth noting that the IBWAA elected Mike Piazza last year, where the BBWAA did not; although the IBWAA have yet to elect Barry Larkin, where the BBWAA already have.]

I encourage you to have a read of the announcement as a select list of voters indicates that this is not just some random group of wannabe writers, rather this vote represents some of the best minds covering the game today. I also strongly recommend that you check out Howard's thoughts on the IBWAA and this election specifically here. We're all frustrated by the process and at least Howard is giving some the chance to vent and be heard, even if it's just to each other.

Before getting into my personal selections, I have spent untold hours considering the Hall of Fame, what it represents, why I/we continue to care and what do we do about these nefarious miscreants who used, or have been accused, or even been near someone who might have used, PEDs. I have debated this with friends, my fellow IIATMS writers, my father, my brother, my sons. Some will agree with me, some won't. I've read as much as I can from all walks of writers, old school grumps who swear by fear as a measure of worthiness and new school guys like Jay Jaffe who have systematically dissected the candidates far better than I would have on my own. I agree with some of each. I like most of Buster Olney's selections, kinda liked some of Jayson Stark's but definitely not all of it, but great googlymoogly did Ken Gurnick crap the bed today.

Onto my process, or at least the refinement part which comes after dismissing those you have already decided are not worthy (screw you, Kenny Rogers and especially you, Armando Benitez!).

I struggled with some pitchers, namely Mike Mussina, Jack Morris and Curt Schilling. All three have worthy claims to the Hall, but my biggest burden was the Limit of 10, which is a shame. That said, those three did not make my ballot. I think Moose and Schilling certainly deserve election and will likely be on my ballot going forward. And I am quite sure the Veteran's Committee will elect Morris before either Moose or Schilling are elected; battle lines have been drawn, folks.

I struggled mightily with Edgar Martinez. No doubting his amazing skill as a batter and I'm not going to avoid him because he was a DH. He's just on the outside and depending what the ballot looks like next year, would certainly get my vote. Writers spoke about the fear (oooh, scary word) that Jim Rice created; I can't imagine that fear any greater than when Edgar came to the plate. I'd take Edgar over Rice. Just hope you get in before David Ortiz hits the ballot.

Fred McGriff, impressive career, just not high enough given the talent and limitations I have to wade through. I promise to give him a deeper dive going forward.

Jeff Kent, Alan Trammell: Next year, guys. Ran out of room.

Larry Walker: You, sir, could hit and field. I hope you stay on the ballot so we can put you to the microscope because I'm willing to discount home/away factors. Like Pete Rose (banned!) once said about his philosophy on hitting: "See the ball, hit the ball." I won't penalize Walker just as I wouldn't penalize Babe Ruth from benefitting from the short porch.

PED stuff alert… (holds breath)… I don't like this stuff any more than you, from a purist point of view and with great fear of sounding too old or pontificating, it's hard as a father of young boys to teach that cheating is bad when it gets rewarded. That said, I did not discriminate the PED crowd from those who were seemingly "clean" because I/you/we/they will never really know the full, complete truth, so that's my decision. Not to mention, we have no real starting point of the "Steroid Era", but we do know that some were using steroids in the '60's and '70's (at least, thanks to Tom House's honesty) and we also know greenies were widely used for decades, reportedly by guys like Hank Aaron. The conclusions you draw are yours and yours alone.

Sammy Sosa, an tremendous talent and ohmygod fun to watch in the late 1990's, did not make my ballot. To me, too one-dimensional. One hell of a dimension, but in this crowded ballot, he's not getting one of my precious slots. Sorry, Sammy. Peace, tap, kiss.

Rafael Palmeiro was a tough call for me but ultimately did not make my ballot. My reason, and I will admit that I will be reconsidering this one down the road: He got caught and suspended. Everyone else here did not get caught and suspended or penalized. Maybe due to luck or timing or both, but this was the deciding factor. This will be revisited by me next year and beyond, especially once guys like Manny RamirezRyan Braun and Alex Rodriguez hit the ballot. Shoot, this ain't easy. But on a ballot this packed, something had to make the seesaw tip.

Onto my selections, in alphabetical order:

  1. Jeff Bagwell
  2. Craig Biggio
  3. Barry Bonds
  4. Roger Clemens
  5. Tom Glavine
  6. Barry Larkin (eligible for IBWAA purposes)
  7. Greg Maddux
  8. Mark McGwire
  9. Tim Raines
  10. Frank Thomas

Effectively, Larkin occupies what would have been my Mike Piazza vote (due to the differences with regard to BBWAA vs. IBWAA). I'm not going to run through my rationale on all ten of these gentlemen because so many others more capable than I have summarized their candidacies. I will make mention of McGwire, as he was my 10th place guy here. Like Sosa in his one-dimensionality, but even bigger and better. Did he use PEDs? Of course, he's admitted as much but he gets the slight nod over Raffy.

So there you have it, my HOF ballot. Get at me in the comments.


Post-script: Given that we are back at ESPN's SSN, Jim Edmonds is eligible in 2015. Here's what I wrote about him on the Network back in 2011.