Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My 2015 Hall of Fame Ballot

I'm not eligible to vote, of course, but if I were, I would vote for:

The three first-time no-brainers:

1. Pedro Martinez (highest peak-value pitcher of my, or any, generation; best two consecutive seasons ever; unbelievable when considering that MLB was at its offensive peak his entire career; best ERA+ ever; one year he and Clemens finished 1-2 in ERA--and Clemens' ERA was about two runs per nine innings higher that year; Red Sox personnel who saw both Martinez and Clemens pitch say unanimously that Pedro was a greater, more dominant pitcher)
2. Randy Johnson (won over 300 games; #2 Ks lifetime--and famously gave John Kruk nightmares)
3. John Smoltz (though I wish he'd remained a starter; his greatness is hard to statistically prove, but I saw his whole career, and it's there nonetheless)

A few who MLB and the Commissioner have never excluded from HOF voting because they have never, ever, not once, been proven by MLB to have used performance-enhancing drugs.  And, the media is not of a higher moral caliber, AND it's the Commissioner's job to discipline or banish ballplayers (see: Pete Rose and ARod), not the HOF voters / print media.  Therefore:

4.  Roger Clemens (statistically one of the top-3 pitchers of all-time, with Walter Johnson and Cy Young; struck out 20 batters, in one game, twice--ten years apart)
5.  Barry Bonds (statistically the best ballplayer ever, if you forget Babe Ruth would've also been in the Hall as a pitcher; the only player I've ever seen consistently intentionally walked with the bases loaded; the only player to come close to walking over 150+ times a year, every year, and who actually walked over 200 times a year--and more than once.  Bonds and Clemens are amongst the few players ever to rate amongst the top-5 all-time in peak value and career value.  We have never seen any one player effect a single game as much, as frequently, as Bonds did)
6.  Craig Biggio (quietly kept from the Hall so far because of very quiet PED whispers; see above, and 3,000 hits and GGs at three different positions don't lie)
7.  Mike Piazza (mentioned in the same breath as Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella and Johnny Bench as the best offensive catcher of all-time--though I think I could steal second off him, even now.  The stats show that Piazza is the best hitting catcher of all-time; why he wasn't made a first baseman or left fielder much earlier in his career, thereby saving him from at least three career-ending concussions, is a mystery)
8.  Jeff Bagwell (with hesitation, but a .297 career average, with 449 career homers, 1500+ career RBIs, 1401 career BBs, and a career .400+ OBP and a career .500+ Slugging % all mean he had one of the all-time best slugging careers--and he was a GG first baseman, too; one of the highest career-value players of all-time)

And two who are vastly underrated, if you look at their career stats versus the average HOF starting pitcher.  In short, these two are slightly--or better than slightly--greater than the average HOF starting pitcher.  In other words, they're Hall of Famers:

9.  Curt Schilling (and not just for the bloody-sock game; one of the few pitchers to be one of the all-time best for three different teams: Phillies, Diamondbacks and Red Sox.  And he was considered borderline or slightly better than borderline great while still active.  #1 all-time, Ks per walk, amongst starters.  He won't get too many votes in RI, or from people he pissed off with his mouth, but...)
10. Mike Mussina (career stats are better than 40 of the 59 starting pitchers in the Hall.  These two are the two bulldogs of their generation--though Mussina was much quieter about it, possibly to his detriment--but are also vastly underrated considering the offensively-explosive American League East that they spent much of their careers in.  Not to mention the entire offensive juggernaut all of MLB was during their whole careers, where ballparks were like pinball machines)

A few other comments:

Trammel / Morris

Many writers have put Alan Trammel on their ballots.  This cannot, of course, be taken seriously, especially with Jack Morris still knocking on the door.  To include his name and not Morris's is a travesty, though I am not a fan of Morris as a person.  But when I think of a HOF player from the early-to-mid 80s Tigers, I think Jack Morris, not Alan Trammel.  Plus, his Game 7 shutout...Jack Morris fits definition-B of a HOFer, to a T--Amongst the greatest at his position for any 10-year stretch.  (Like Jim Rice, 1975-1986; Rice fits that to a T as well, and is not in--and should not be in--for any other reason.)  I'll put it to you like this: Who won the most games in the 1980s?  Jack Morris.  The Tigers and the Twins do not win the World Series without him.  I would've put Morris on my list, but you can only have 10, and the above 10 are more deserving.  Maybe next year.

Tim Raines

His name has also been mentioned on many ballots.  This is a surprise, yet not.  Had he not played his career alongside Rickey Henderson, he'd already be in the Hall.  Well, and if he hadn't slid across home plate and shattered the vial of crack cocaine in his back pocket.  So, if I have it right, voters would keep Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall because of their never-proven (Did they use?  Of course.  But in what court was that proven, besides the Court of Public Opinion?) use of steroids, but Raines should slide in despite his very obvious use of crack cocaine?  Wasn't crack cocaine on the list of banned substances as well?  Having said that, he's arguably a worthy HOFer.  But not this year.

Fred McGriff

Has essentially the same qualifications as I mentioned for Bagwell, but less so.  But still: 2,490 hits, with 493 HRs and 1550 RBIs, with a .284 career average, a .377 career OBP, and a .500+ Slugging %.  The line I draw here is a) Bagwell has to get in before McGriff; b) Bagwell was a GGer at 1B and McGriff wasn't; and c) Bagwell was considered borderline-to-better great while still playing, and McGriff wasn't.  He was never even considered to be great at all during his career, nor even the best on his team.  Having said that, if McGriff had gotten 10 more hits and 7 more Homers, you could say he was a .285 hitter with 500 homers and 1,500 RBIs, which would get him in, sooner or later.  I'm not keeping him out because of 10 singles and 7 homers.  But not this year.

Carlos Delgado

See: Fred McGriff.  I'd take the Crime Dawg over Delgado in a pinch.

Lee Smith

Here's where a long career can vex lesser voters.  His overall career numbers have piled up, but a pile-up of Yugos doesn't mean you have a lot of value.  You just have a big pile-up.  To be blunt: I saw Lee Smith's entire career, and he wasn't great.  He wasn't lights-out, as a voter said today.  Rivera and The Eck were lights-out closers, year in and year out, and for their careers.  Trevor Hoffman, Uehara, and maybe Lee Smith had one or two or three great years (Uehara had half of a great year and turned it into a World Series ring), but that doesn't make them great.  I turned away from games (though not Sox games, as Boston hit Rivera well) when Big Mo came in.  But I never turned away when Lee Smith came in, especially when he pitched with the Sox.  I felt teams always had a decent chance against him.  A good pitcher will save the vast majority (80% to 85%) of games he pitches in, especially for just three to five batters.  And that's what Smith did.  Makes him good, maybe even very good, and maybe he had a couple of great seasons, but that's not the Hall of Fame to me.  Rivera and The Eck didn't walk too many (they're amongst the best all-time, for relievers, at Ks per walk) and they didn't give up too many hits per nine.  Lee Smith did both.  With a very high 1.25 WHIP.

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