Once again, time for me to think about the baseball players, who will be voted on by the baseball writers to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The results will be announced on January 6. “To be enshrined, players must be named on at least 75% of the Committee members’ ballots.”
Here are the players on the ballot. Last year, four players were inducted: pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez, and John Smoltz, all in their first year of eligibility, and catcher/second baseman Craig Biggio. Still, there are a lot of quality picks available. The sportswriters who vote can select up to 10 players, though, clearly, most do not.
These are my picks if I had a ballot:
1. Lee Smith, who had more saves than anyone when he retired in an era when relievers often pitched more than one inning. 14th year on the ballot. He got 30.2% of the vote last year, only marginally better than the year before, and much worse than before then. I’ve supported his selection for years.
2. Mark McGwire, one of those PED (performance-enhancing drugs) guys. But Major League Baseball really hadn’t addressed the issue until 2004, well after his record-breaking 1998 season. Moreover, because of a change in the rules a couple of years ago, he is not in the 10th of 15 years of eligibility, but the 10th of 10 years, which seems like an unfortunate bait-and-switch. With 10% of the vote, it’s incredibly unlikely he’ll make it this year.
3. Alan Trammel, solid Tigers shortstop in his last (15th) year of eligibility. With only 25.1% of the vote last year, if he’s ever to make it into Cooperstown, it’ll be by some Veterans Committee down the road.
4. Barry Bonds remains the best position player on the ballot, and in fact, one of the best players ever, even factoring out the theoretical benefits of PEDs. From the start of his career in 1986 until the end of 1998 season, after which he bulked up and had the astronomical numbers, Bonds accumulated a .289 BA, 411 HR, 445 SB, 4 MVPs, 8 Gold Gloves, and only a 15% strikeout rate. Last year, he got 36.8% of the vote, and in his fourth year, he may do incrementally better.
5. Pretty much ditto for pitcher Roger Clemens, a dominant player, with 37.5% of the vote last year.
6. Ken Griffey, Jr. (pictured). Clearly the best of the first-time nominees, with 630 home runs, a fine fielder, and a decent fellow to boot.
7. Mike Piazza. A good hitting catcher, who was never specifically accused of taking PED, but everyone who bulked up in that period was suspected by some. There’s no reason to believe it so. Last year, in his second year of eligibility, he got 69.9% of the vote, and I’m guardedly hopeful he’ll get in this year.
8. Curt Shilling, a stellar pitcher in a couple of World Series. For some reason, don’t much like him much, but I’d support him. He got 39.2% of the vote last year, up 10 percentage points in year three.
9. Trevor Hoffman. With 601 saves, the relief pitcher is almost a certain first-year lock.
10. Tim Raines, in his ninth year of eligibility. He had 55% of the votes last year. Hope he gets in.
The number of qualified choices meant I passed on: Mike Mussina, Jeff Bagwell, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Edgar Martinez, and Larry Walker. The logjam in the ballot is in large part a result of the 2013 balloting when NO one got into the Hall through the traditional balloting.
“In addition, BBWAA members who were otherwise eligible to cast ballots were required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct before receiving their ballots, and the Hall will make public the names of all members who cast ballots (but not their individual votes) when it announces the election results.” This is to try to get people who can vote to actually cast a ballot.
Someone’s list of 9 Biggest MLB Hall of Fame Snubs.