The week after Christmas and New Year’s. It’s that beautiful time of the year where people put aside their differences and appreciate the greatest baseball players of all time by voting for the Hall of Fame. That lasts up until we find out that actual people voted for Aaron Boone, Darin Erstad, Tom Gordon, and Troy Percival.
Everyone knows the system isn’t perfect. Thankfully, in 2015 the Hall of Fame and BBWA took a small step to fix it. Effective immediately, any writer that hasn’t covered baseball in 10 years loses their vote for the Hall. That should instantly shrink the pool of voters by around 100, according to projections. We won’t know for sure until all ballots are released on Wednesday. It’s also worth noting that a player is only eligible for a maximum of 10 years now, instead of the previous 15. For an updated list of ballots that have been made public already and where players currently stand, check out this awesome resource from Ryan Thibodaux. And here’s the official ballot of players to choose from.
Because everyone shares their opinion on the Hall of Fame, Paul and I thought we should too. So, if we had a vote, these would be our ballots.
Ken Griffey Jr.
If you would have asked me a year or two ago, I think I would have agreed with Peter in keeping steroid users out of the Hall of Fame. However, similar to respected writers (and HOF voters) Ken Rosenthal and Jerry Crasnick, I've simply changed my mind. Don't get me wrong: I'll still struggle watching Bonds and Clemens give their induction speech (if they ever get elected). But I'm no longer content keeping the two greatest players of our generation out of the Hall of Fame because they used performance enhancing drugs. Rosenthal gets to the heart of my argument:
"The core problem in judging players from the so-called Steroid Era is that we don't know who did what and to what extent, the effect that the substances had on players, whether some benefited more than others from the drugs."
Beyond Bonds and Clemens, Griffey is a slam dunk. Schilling ranks right up with some of the best (24th best WAR amongst pitchers) and is the best postseason pitcher of his generation (in 5 postseason starts with his team facing elimination, Schilling had a 1.37 ERA — his teams won all five games). According to WAR, Raines was the best player in the NL for a five-year stretch from 1983 to 1987. Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher to ever play and Hoffman's longevity (16 years) and success (all-time saves leader) make them Hall of Famers in my book.
Ken Griffey Jr.
Let’s start by all agreeing that Griffey should be a unanimous selection. He probably won’t be because no one ever has (Tom Seaver is closest with 98.8% in 1992), but he certainly deserves it. Next, Piazza is another slam dunk. 427 homers and a .377 OBP from a catcher is ridiculous. I also believe his reputation as a terrible defensive catcher is slightly exaggerated.
I’m going to group Schilling and Mussina together. Both were great pitchers during an era of unprecedented offense. Schilling, whose career WHIP is lower than Clemens’, doesn’t have a high number of wins (216). But he makes up for that with a great track record in the playoffs, as Paul mentioned. And wins don’t mean a whole lot. Mussina earns my vote because of his longevity and consistency. Over 18 seasons, Mussina compiled a WAR of 83, just 0.6 behind Griffey. In his final season in 2008, at the age of 39, Mussina pitched 200 innings with a 3.37 ERA and earned his 7th Gold Glove.
Lastly, I voted for Raines. The new 10 year maximum affects guys like this the most. With just one year left on the ballot after 2016, it's crunch time for his candidacy. Whether it's this year or next, I think he'll end up getting in. That's good because I think he's deserving. As Paul pointed out, WAR is on Tim's side; his career mark of 69.1 is higher than Tony Gwynn's. Yes, Gwynn was a great hitter. But, I think Raines did more to help his team win. Raines' career OBP of .385 also helps his case, along with 808 steals (84.6% success rate).
My ballot does not include Bonds and Clemens, two players that would obviously be deserving if not for their use of PEDs. To me, one of the consequences of cheating the game (and your fellow players) is not getting elected into the Hall of Fame. They should be (and are) documented in the museum part of the Hall, but having your plaque on the wall is a special honor that belongs to a group of players that earned their stats and accomplishments fairly. I will admit that my stance on this issue has started to waiver as I have seen respected journalists like Rosenthal change their minds. But, at this point, I would still not vote for Bonds and Clemens. I do not believe suspected PED-users Sosa, Sheffield, and McGwire are deserving of the Hall, even if they are clean. Their impressive offensive statistics are diminished by the era they played in and they didn't provide much value elsewhere, much like Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez.
Feel free to let us know what you think on Twitter or in the comments below!