Great post to read first by my colleage Giuseppe about who he would vote into baseball’s Hall of Fame, the greatest hall of them all.
In my opinion, I think the Hall of Fame is getting just a little bit bloated…I believe that the Hall of Fame should be reserved for the absolute best of the best. Those that dominated the game for a good length of time on multiple levels and brought change to the game.
Recently – the Hall elected Jack Morris – who I do not feel meets these standards. He becomes the highest career ERA and lowest WAR (Wins Above Replacement) player in the entire Hall of Fame. He never finished higher than third in Cy Young Award voting and in fact in 18 of his 22 seasons wasn’t a top candidate even.
The Hall of Fame has a waiting period of 5 years to help avoid recency bias when voting in candidates for the Hall of Fame. This is good – but sometimes it can go against players as their image looks worse with time. Some of the recent alleged and admitted steroids users are an example.
The voters of the Hall of Fame have certainly put their foot down in several cases, most notably Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens.
It truly is amazing that baseball’s all-time home run king (Bonds), hit king (Pete Rose) and of the 9 humans with over 600 home runs, a third of them will likely not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame(Bonds, Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez when he is eligible). My overall take is that enough players HAVE been caught that those on the bubble unless players have gone to lengths not to testify…like Mr. Bonds.
The tricky part with the steroid is how to rate those who starred in the era that were not suspected/implicated steroid users. The Hall voters answered that question last year when they elected Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell – two bulky players who were linked in allegation only, but no substantial evidence connecting them to steroids.
So, on to the ballot this year. I’ll just run through the full ballet with quick decisions:
- Barry Bonds: All but confirmed steroid user: OUT
- Chris Carpenter: Not sustained greatness for long enough
- Roger Clemens: Won his case against the government when they tried to indict on perjury charges. Let him in. VOTE 1
- Johnny Damon: Nope, never that elite.
- Vladimir Guerrero:This one is true borderline for me…I give him the green light. VOTE 2
- Livan Hernandez: The Cuban refugee dazzled the world when he debuted in 1997 and helped the Marlins win the World Series, but a career ERA of 4.44 and never Top 5 in the Cy Young.
- Trevor Hoffman: I’m a Padres fan, so of course the Hoffman one is a tricky one to eliminate my own bias. That said: though the save statistic can be debated, Trevor Hoffman stood the test of time and dominated for many years. He had a career 2.87 ERA, and as even newer “career closers” quickly fall off (Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez) Hoffman looks that much better. VOTE 3.
- Orlando Hudson/Aubrey Huff/Jason Isringhausen/Carlos Lee/Brad Lidge/Carlos Zambrano: No Chance.
- Andruw Jones: Andruw is another tough one for me as a lifelong Braves fan. His defense should be counted for something, as he was/is/will be the greatest center fielder I have ever seen. I’m comparing him with Griffey Jr and Mike Trout too. He did come up at 19 years old – my problem is that after great home run years in 2005 and 2006 – he fell off of a cliff. I think three more “solid” seasons instead of the clunkers he gave us would put him in, but not now for me.
- Chipper Jones: The other half of the Jones boys is a deserved first-ballot Hall of Fame player. There are few third baseman as Giuseppe pointed out, and fewer switch hitters, which Chipper was. He led his team and his league in consistency until the very end, even winning a hitting title in 2008 closer to the end of his career. VOTE 4
- Jeff Kent: Cheater, cheater. No.
- Edgar Martinez: Lots of debate here for all the talk we gave to Andruw and others like Ozzie Smith for their defensive merits, why don’t we give Edgar more hitting credit? He is simply a Hall of Fame hitter and should get in. VOTE 5.
- Hideki Matsui/Mike Mussina: Both very good players at their positions and eras: but not dominant.
- Fred McGriff: McGriff is another borderline candidate and one of those especially who looks to get more credit for not being a steroid user in an era of users. Doesn’t cut it for me. He just doesn’t quite make the “Hall of Fame” standard for me. Remember – I wouldn’t have voted for Jeff Bagwell either.
- Kevin Millwood: One of my personal all-time favorite pitchers to watch, but not a Hall of Fame one.
- Jamie Moyer: Congratulations to Jamie Moyer for being the oldest pitcher to win a game and pitch in 25 seasons.
- Manny Ramirez: Hall of Fame for entertainment value, but if he tried to play again he would have to serve a one-year suspension for his second PED conviction.
- Scott Rolen: Really good third baseman…but I think he failed to live up to the literal Mike Schmidt sized expectations.
- Johan Santana: Really tough one here from a guy who completely dominated when healthy. That is the problem: When healthy. Doesn’t quite make it for me.
- Curt Schilling: A perfect example of what happens when the Hall starts lowering its excellence standards with guys like Blyleven. Schilling is not a Hall of Fame pitcher though he had some amazing postseason heroics including pitching in a bloody sock. Unfortunately, he didn’t start dominating until about 10 years in his career, so he doesn’t pass my longevity test.
- Gary Sheffield: While admitting to his PED use is admirable, it’s admitting you don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.
- Jim Thome: Over 600 home runs, team leader and dominated his lineups he was in. My 6th Vote!
- Omar Vizquel: Great defense and leadership – but not Hall of Fame alone worthy.
- Billy Wagner: In many ways kind of helps Hoffman because he was really good – but Hoffman was easily better.
- Larry Walker: Great player, but never completely dominated the way I would want a Hall of Fame player to do for long enough. Is he hurt because he played in Colorado? Maybe.
- Kerry Wood: Certainly early showed that he could be…but injuries derailed his career.
So in the end, here is who I have: