The 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot is out. Let's look at who is on it and who should be elected.
FIRST TIME ON THE BALLOT:
The only requirement for a player to be on the Hall of Fame ballot is to have appeared in ten major league seasons. So first, let's get rid of the people who did only that and have no business really being mentioned in the company of the deserving and nearly-deserving.
Todd Jones, Armando Benitez, Kenny Rogers, Ray Durham, Mike Timlin, Richie Sexson, Eric Gagne, Sean Casey, Hideo Nomo, Paul Lo Duca, J.T. Snow, Jacque Jones
I could see Nomo getting in on the veteran's ballot as a pioneer for Japanese players coming to MLB... nah, not gonna happen. None of these guys are going to make it and none deserve a vote.
DEBUTS WORTH CONSIDERING:
Greg Maddux - YES - First Ballot Hall of Famer, totally deserving.
Frank Thomas - YES - Ditto
Jeff Kent - YES - an asshole, but the numbers speak for themselves. An MVP 2B with 55 Wins Above Replacement, and .855 career OPS and a 123 OPS+ ...2,461 hits, 377 HR. A player's position must be considered in his HOF candidacy - these numbers by an outfielder would be borderline hall of fame, but at 2B this player brought so much more to the teams he played for by bringing this production out of a much more defensively-demanding position.
Mike Mussina - YES - A boring east coast bias pitcher but deserving. 270 Wins, a 123 ERA+, 83 WAR and a 1.19 career WHIP over 3500+ Career IP... that is pretty good
Tom Glavine - YES - Surprised to see that overall he was a tick under Mussina - a 118 ERA+, 1.31 WHIP, 81 WAR, and pitched 900 more innings to get that many Wins Above Replacement than Mussina. 200 fewer strikeouts than Mussina and 600+ more BB... Not slagging Glavine but there will probably be a reflexive assumption he deserves the honor and more scrutiny will end up being paid to Mussina's candidacy.
Luis Gonzalez - NO - Oh hell no, the stench of 'roids is strong with this one.
Moises Alou - NO - I thought his career numbers would be more stellar. A 128 ERA+ is his best claim to fame in 1,942 games but only 39.7 WAR and 2,134 hits playing outfield positions where power is expected.
RETURNING TO THE BALLOT:
A player gets elected when he received over 75% of the votes. A player who receives less than 5% of the votes is off the ballot. A player who gets somewhere in between these numbers returns to the ballot until one of three things happens: He gets less than 5% on a subsequent election (meaning he is booted) he gets more than 75% (meaning he gets in) or he does not get elected after 15 years on the ballot. Here are the returning players...
SECOND YEAR ON THE BALLOT:
Craig Biggio - YES - 3,000 hit, 'nuff said.
Mike Piazza - NO - Here is an interesting thought - for all of Piazza's numbers - and they are impressive, one thing stands out - he only had 6,900 ABs, the second fewest ABs of any non-pitching contender on the ballot (Mark McGwire had less than 6,200 career ABs). There are plenty of people who don't deserve to be in the hall because of character flaws and roids, and Piazza isn't one of them; but to me he remains a borderline candidate - sure he was a monster with the bat, but he was a powerhouse in the powerhouse era, and a lousy defensive catcher. A borderline Hall of Famer who I will be neither disappointed nor elated if/when he gets in. The kind of guy who if he lingers around the ballot for ten years will get elected in a year where there are not many deserving candidates.
Curt Schilling - YES - A player I loathe personally, and who I had the great pleasure of seeing Maicer Izturis hit a grand slam against in person at Angel stadium. Schilling has a better career ERA + and WHIP (127 and 1.13 respectively) than Mussina and Glavine, more strikeouts than either (3,116) and fewer walks (711) than either and all this in fewer innings pitched.
Roger Clemens - NO - a classless jackass, shameful liar and a roid-raging cheat. If he had retired after 1999 he would be in the HOF right now but he messed with the baseball gods and now he shall be denied.
Barry Bonds - YES - The lyrics for Instant Karma are not an exact match here but let's hope the voters continue to shine on this monstrous ego.
Sammy Sosa - NO - A caricature in bleached-face these days, he was a flyout machine before the roids and remained a one-dimensional player with them. Plus Sammy was a worse chemistry teammate than Bonds, so the pushing of the "loveable image" thing by the media when he was a domineering asshole - of all things, this docks him even more points than Barry Big-Head in my book.
THIRD TO EIGHTH YEAR ON THE BALLOT:
Rafael Palmeiro - NO - He is down to less than 9% of the vote, so let's hope this year's crop pushes him off for good and he is forgotten.
Larry Walker - YES - Great career numbers but the anonymity of some regional markets really gets highlighted here.
Jeff Bagwell - YES - Same as Larry Walker, if he had played for Boston or New York they would have a street named after him and he would have been a first ballot HOFer.
Fred McGriff - NO - A borderline case... make your case for Crime Dog...
Edgar Martinez - BORDERLINE - One dimensional player... but when David Ortiz gets into Cooperstown - then there should be hell to pay that Edgar is not in.
Tim Raines - YES - If there hadn't been a Rickey Henderson he would have so many more records and recognition. 808 Stolen Bases with an .810 OPS and a 123 OPS+
Mark McGwire - NO - The ultimate one-dimensional player. His treatment of the sportswriter who discovered his andro alone should be a reason to keep him out of the hall but the andro itself seals the deal.
CLOCK IS TICKING ON THESE CANDIDATES:
•12th year: LEE SMITH - NO - Even though he pitched for the Angels, other than his gaudy Saves totals he was a one-dimensional closer who couldn't hold a candle to Mariano Rivera.
•13th year: Alan Trammel - YES - If Ozzie Smith is in, he should be in, based on what he brought to the table defensively and contributed offensively - the ultimate multi-dimensional player in a field of one-offs.
•14th year: Don Mattingly - NO - He wouldn't have lasted on the ballot this long if he had played for any other team in baseball.
•15th year: Jack Morris - NO - So many of his contemporaries who are no longer on the ballot were better than him in every category, save for being loved by the sportswriters. Our own Chuck Finley played a comparable amount of time and was statistically far superior to Morris. Sickening that he is still on the ballot and close to being the sentimental choice to enter the Hall this year. Yuck.
Voters can choose any ten of these players. In order of time on the ballot, my votes would be:
Trammel, Raines, Bagwell, Biggio, Schilling, Maddux, Thomas, Glavine, Kent, Mussina
(with sincere apologies to Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez)
List your Ten (or fewer) Choices and state why...