My HOF ballot for 2011 — why I voted them in

I voted for Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Rafael Palmeiro, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.

With the steroid era now beginning to fully infect the election process for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this was one of the toughest ballots I’ve had to deal with since my first vote in 1992.

I’ve often thought that you have to take the players from that era on a case-by-case basis, but I’ve changed my opinion. The Mitchell Report revealed that great pitchers (Roger Clemens and Eric Gagne) were perhaps as guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs as great hitters (McGwire and Barry Bonds). It named utility players, bit players, lower level players and the top players. Thus, the playing field must be considered level. Otherwise, except for rare cases, no one really knows who did what.

Under those circumstances I believe as a voter that everyone should be painted with the same brush. Either you vote all the qualified candidates in or you don’t vote for anyone who is remotely suspected.

As a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America I take this vote very seriously. I have no desire to be judge, juror or soothsayer. So I’ve decided to judge those players within the context of the era during which they played, and if they’re deserving, vote them in.

Thus, my ballot includes a player who failed a drug test (Palmeiro), a player who recently admitted that he used steroids (McGwire), and another who was tainted by the cocaine era of the 1980s (Raines). I believe all of them statistically belong in a Hall of Fame that already includes the likes of Gaylord Perry, who brashly admitted to throwing the spitter when he was active from 1962-83. That pitch was outlawed by Major League Baseball in 1920.

Palmeiro — on the ballot for the first time — may be statistically on the bubble to some, but not to me. His 569 homers and 3, 020 hits places him in rarified company as only the fourth player in Major League history to amass more than 500 homers and 3,000 base hits. The other three? Their names are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray.

I’ve been among the 25 percent to vote for McGwire every year he’s been on the ballot. His 583 homers — 70 of them in 1998 and 65 in ’99 — are good enough. The home run race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa in ’98 put baseball back on the map after the strike that devastated the sport only a few years earlier. Since the steroid precusor Andro was found in McGwire’s locker  — like many — I’ve long suspected him of using PEDs. His public apology doesn’t change anything.

I’ve never voted for Raines, but listening to Andre Dawson talk about him during his induction speech in Cooperstown this year made me take another look at Tim’s record. Certainly, he was the National League’s version of Rickey Henderson before his personal problems affected his career. He played 24 seasons, had 808 stolen bases, 2,605 hits and batted .294. Tony Perez was elected to the Hall with 2,732 hits and a .279 batting average.

Raines was an easy decision. Rafi and Big Mac weren’t. A voter can select as many as 10 players on the ballot. I checked off the first eight and left two spots open.

Alomar and Blyleven were slam dunks. I always vote for Smith and Trammell and won’t give Barry Larkin a nod until the former Detroit shortstop receives his due. Their career stats are too similar. McGriff, like Dawson and Jim Rice before him, deserves a strong look. He should not be held accountable because he finished seven short of 500 homers. Neither Rice nor Dawson even came close to 500. Both are in the Hall.  Edgar deserves strong consideration even though he spent most of his career as a designated hitter. And like Rice who had a great decade as a hitter, Morris should be elected because no one touched him for 10 years as a pitcher, either.

After that, I went out and spoke to a number of writers and editors I respect about using the blank spots for McGwire and Palmeiro. With that input in mind, and in the end, I determined that voting for them was the right thing to do.

Note on Jeff Bagwell: His numbers are very similar to Steve Garvey — Bags .297 batting average to
.294 for the Garv, 2,314 hits to 2,599, 449 homers to 272, 1,529 RBIs to 1,308 . But
Garvey had two NL Championship Series MVPs, an NL MVP, an All-Star MVP, the longest
consecutive game playing streak in NL history (1,207), one of the
highest fielding percentages as a first baseman (.996) and an errorless
season (1984). Garvey also played on five NL pennant winners and a World
Series winner in ’81 with the Dodgers. Bagwell did almost none of this with
the Astros. And Garvey didn’t get a sniff from the writers for the HOF.
That’s why I didn’t vote for Bagwell.
 

 
 

12 Comments

Your right on so many levels thanks for your objective view of History and for recognizing the contributions of these players to the game. The asterisk fans out there might also want to consider the PES (Performance enhancing surgery) that seems to be rampant in the sport Tommy John before the injury occurs , Laser eye surgery, as well as the advances in shoulder and knee repair surgery that have prolonged many careers. PED?s are still not out of the game and may never be so if your feeling cheated out of your hard earned money watching Mark McGwire hit a ball 500 feet or Roger Clemens strike out 20 write your owner and see if he?ll give you a refund. GOOD LUCK!

I do like your ballot because it includes McGwire, Trammell, and Raines. I personally would, if I was a ten year member of the BBWAA, vote for Raines, Trammell, Larkin, Blyleven, Alomar, McGwire, Walker, Brown, Edgar, and Bagwell. I disagree with your votes for Morris and Smith, straight up. I support Palmeiro and McGriff, but unfortunately there weren’t enough spots on my ballot. I’d also love to vote for Juan Gone, Parker, Murphy, Franco, and Olerud to help prevent deserving candidates (maybes at least) from falling off the ballot, but previous omissions who should have been in (Alomar, Larkin, Edgar in 2010, Raines in 2008, Trammell in 2002 or at least before now, and Blyleven in 1998). That leaves McGwire, Bagwell, Walker, and Brown, and I’d be able to fill the other six spots with Parker, Murphy, Gonzalez, Franco, Olerud, and leave the last spot vacant.

What about Bagwell? Not enough room on this year’s ballot or is there another reason? Otherwise I like the selections. I would have a hard time voting in players who repeatedly lie about their PED use even after they’ve been caught, but if the HOF was a hall of morals there’d be a lot of guys on the outside looking in that are currently enshrined.

I am dissapointed in the people who voted for cheaters

I am disappointed that you voted for cheaters, These guys probably would have made it anyway. Big Mac’s hr total’s for that season never would have happened and It’s unfair to people like Maris who had to do it legally. Arod quickest to 600 hr’s? Would he have been if he hadn’t cheated? All Pete rose did was bet on baseball he didn’t cheat the game. Maybe Pete Rose the man doesn’t belong in HOF but Pete Rose the player certainly does

On Bagwell: Numbers are very similar to Steve Garvey — Bags.297 BA to .294, 2,314 hits to 2,599, 449 HRs to 272, 1,529 RBI to 1,308 . But Garvey had 2 NLCS MVPs, an NL MVP, an All-Star MVP, the longest consecutive game playing streak in NL history (1,207), one of the highest fielding percentages as a first baseman (.996) and an errorless season (1984). Garvey also played on five NL pennant winners and a World Series winner in ’81 with the Dodgers. Bagwell did none of this with the Astros. And Garvey didn’t get a sniff from the writers for the HOF. That’s why I didn’t vote for Bagwell.

Barry

BTW, I’ve also written in Pete’s name on my ballot on occasion and believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame as a player.

Ummmm….on Bagwell….you compared Bagwell to Garvey and said that Bagwell didn’t have any of the accomplishments Garvey did. Yes he did. The 1994 NL MVP?!? Besides that, your comparison stats favor Bagwell, not Garvey. I would think as long as your comparing stats in YOUR favor, you might was to at least factor in the number of years each played also (Bagwell 15..kinda and Garvey 19). Try comparing Bagwells numbers to HOFers Rice and Dawson. Bagwells look as good or better than theirs.
Any yes, I’m a Bagwell fan…but I grew up a Garvey fan first.

Bagwell – you argue Bagwell is similar to Garvey and since Garvey isn’t in, neither should Bagwell be.

WRONG. Bagwell’s power DWARFS Garvey. Bagwell’s lifetime OPS+ of 149 is stratospheric while Garvey’s 116 is fairly pedestrian in comparison.

Garvey was Garvey from 1974-1980, and a lesser player before and after. Bagwell was a dominant hitter from 1991-2003 – twice as many more productive years at the plate!

By all accounts he was also an excellent fielder, but with Keith Hernandez at 1B the Gold Glove was off limits to everyone else in the NL for much of Bagwell’s career.

The chief criticisms I have of Bagwell’s career is that he only made 4 All Star appearances in 15 seasons, but given his stats he clearly deserved more and I’d chalk that up to the media ignoring Houston and the rest of the heartland in favor of the coasts more than Bagwell’s record. I’ll acknowledge that he had a poor playoff run as well, but that’s such a small # of games to evaluate a career on.

Larkin – by your logic, he should be in, but you’ll withold your vote because OTHERS won’t vote for Trammel. This is NOT the vote of a serious writer as you claim to be. I can hear your mother now…”If all the other kids jumped off the bridge.”

Mr. Bloom,

I respect the fact that you take your ballot seriously. This deserves a serious response.

In comparing Steve Garvey to Jeff Bagwell, I first note that you appear to have equated 449 home runs to 272. This must be an oversight on your part, as I am fairly sure you feel that averaging 34 HR per year is not the same as averaging 19 HR per year.

Secondly, you have omitted a massive disparity in their rate statistics by focusing on counting statistics, which would obviously favor Garvey (who played four full seasons more than Bagwell.)

Bagwell had a career .408 on base percentage, compared to .329 for Garvey. Bagwell’s OBP is 40th in MLB history; Garvey’s is… not within the top 1000.

Bagwell had a career .540 slugging percentage; Garvey, .446. Bagwell’s SLG is 35th in MLB history; Garvey’s is tied for 407th.

As to your focus on Mr. Garvey’s awards; as noted, Bagwell, too, has an NL MVP trophy – as well as placing top 10 for 5 of the following 6 years, a stretch Garvey cannot match.

And as to your support of Garvey’s fielding, his .996 fielding percentage does exceed Bagwell’s .993. If the extra three errors per year are enough to outweigh all other factors… then you clearly place more emphasis on defense at first base than I do.

Hey tigerindc- you might want to check stats before posting an argument. Hernandez played his LAST game before Bagwell made his debut.

Best part of your ballot was that you explained it clearly. I differ with the more controversial picks, but I agree that if you vote for McGwire and Palmiero, Raines must get a vote, too. And your point about Gaylord Perry serves you well. Good stuff

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