Here we are again, with another group of nominees! This year’s list doesn’t have any shoo-ins like Randy Johnson or Ken Griffey, but it does have plenty of worthy players up for induction. As usual, I am choosing not to put anybody with a steroid “conviction” on the list, or anybody else with obvious (but not 100% proven) connections to the drugs (i.e. Clemens and Bonds). But you can read all about my opinions on that below. For now, here is what my ballot would look like if I had one for the 2017 election.
- Jeff Bagwell
- Curt Schilling
- Tim Raines
- Mike Mussina
- Edgar Martinez
- Ivan Rodriguez
- Larry Walker
- Jeff Kent (maybe?)
Now that the most dominant pitchers of the 1990’s and early 2000’s are all in the HOF (Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera) and popular second-tier guys like Glavine and Smoltz have joined them, I’m hoping that the remaining star pitchers will finally get their due. But the absence of multiple pitchers might open the door to several deserving hitters as well. I’m thinking that Trevor Hoffman, as good as he was, won’t be a first-ballot entry, and Billy Wagner, probably a better pitcher than Hoffman but not as long-lived or popular, may never get in. To my mind, there is only one sure-thing candidate this year, but there are quite a few great hitters left to be considered. (totalWAR score)
- Links to my explanations for Bagwell, Schilling, Raines, Piazza, Mussina and Martinez can be found in the 2015 section.
1. Ken Griffey, Jr. (80.4)
2. Jeff Bagwell (79.3)
3. Curt Schilling (78.8)
4. Tim Raines (68.6)
5. Mike Piazza (63.5)
6. Mike Mussina (81.9)
7. Edgar Martinez (65.9)
Now that the air has cleared just a touch (in that legitimate first ballot Hall of Famers are cropping up all over the place to push the Steroids players down the list), people are feeling much more positive about the Hall of Fame. I think this great, but I also think there are some glaring errors occurring because of the 10-player limit. In other words, Now that we have Pedro Martinez and company joining the party, impressive players like Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina have even less of a chance to make it than they did when the “top” players on the list were Bonds and Clemens.
The list below is listed 1-10, meaning the 10 players I would vote for if I was limited to 10 (like real voters). I won’t play the “bring players back from elimination” game, as that could go on and on (Kenny Lofton being only the most recent worthy player to be eliminated). There will be an article on the main page that goes into detail about why I chose these particular players (and somewhat about the order I put them in). For this page, it is just the “ballot” itself. [Click each name for the discussion and details]
3. Jeff Bagwell
5. Tim Raines
6. Mike Piazza
7. Mike Mussina
8. John Smoltz
9. Craig Biggio
10. Edgar Martinez
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, horned demigods of baseball, have finally arrived to muddy the waters of the Hall of Fame voting. Lesser beings like Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire now accompany them in the darker corners of the Hall ballot. And so we are presented with the first real ethical dilemma in the history of baseball’s Hall of Fame voting.
Writers, players and fans debate: Were steroids really that big a deal? Did they all use them? How can we tell who used them? Should we hold it against them? Fans and former players are angry. Angry at being deceived and angry at having sacred records demolished by cheaters. And now, after many years of considering, I know where I stand on the issue.
If I had a HOF ballot, I would not include Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Palmeiro or McGwire. Here is the way I see it:
- Erroneous Argument #1 – Allow these players into the Hall on the premise that older players also used drugs and still got in. There have always been rumors and stories about the old stars using various pills to get them through a game or a season. Therefore, some say, we would be hypocrites to punish these new players when we let it slide before. There are three big problems with this idea.
- Intentionally making a bad decision because we’ve made the same mistake in the past makes no sense. Whether it was a lack of awareness or just a different perspective, the older players that took amphetamines or greenies or whatever else were never called out on it. The average fan didn’t know or care, the average writer was expected to ignore it, and apparently nobody in the upper offices of Major League Baseball gave it a second thought. This is not an excuse. Consider that the same could be said of the fact that no black ballplayers were allowed to play in the majors until 1947. Before that, writers didn’t write about it, players didn’t think much of it, most fans didn’t consider it and most probably didn’t care. Then we learned better, and we changed. The same goes for the PED’s (Performance Enchancing Drugs).
- Given all of the physical and statistical evidence, it is safe to say that the bodybuilder-esque steroids of the 1990’s and early 2000’s influenced the games far more than any drug used in the past. This doesn’t make the old drugs more acceptable, but it does highlight another reason for a strong condemnation of what the more recent players did.
The lying. Look, I’m not ignorant of the less-than-monastic lifestyles of professional athletes. They chew tobacco, party late, have girlfriends in 20 different cities and have egos rivaling Donald Trump’s. They’ve always been that way. But Mantle, Mays, Aaron and Frank Robinson were never brought before a grand jury, or before Congress (for goodness sakes!) and therefore cannot be accused of lying to those people, or lying to the commissioner of baseball, or to us. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa each did at least a couple of those things. Maybe it isn’t a fair assessment; maybe Mantle and Mays would have lied too. But we’ll never know, and it’s also not fair to assume they would have acted in the same dishonest way.
- Erroneous Argument #2 – Throw out every player who was muscular and successful during the steroid era. If we only rule out the players who were caught, will we perhaps allow some guilty players into the Hall? Sure. But more importantly, will we induct some innocent players who deserve to get in but might have been grouped with the steroid users? Yes! Seeing as how our country’s legal system works on the premise that we are innocent until proven guilty, I cannot see how we can justify reversing this (i.e. guilty until proven innocent) when evaluating ballplayers. Jeff Bagwell was jacked, but nobody has ever mentioned his name in the steroid accusations or testing. Holding his muscle against him is unfair; he was big (particularly for a baseball player), but if we use muscle as evidence that he was on steroids, we might as well dismiss 90% of the NFL while we are at it. Speculation is not evidence, and since a line has to be drawn somewhere, I think we should use evidence as that line.
The writers that vote for the Hall of Fame get to write in ten names on their ballot. Below you will see my list. Yes, I am making a point.
2013 Speaker Spoke Hall of Fame Ballot
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
- Rafael Palmeiro
- Sammy Sosa
- Jeff Bagwell
- Curt Schilling
- Mark McGwire
- Tim Raines
- Edgar Martinez
- Mike Piazza
I will post a detailed explanation of my picks (and non-picks) soon!