My Hall of Fame Ballot for 2014

Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Frank Thomas

I’ve always voted for the best players from their particular era and this year for me was no different. Using all 10 slots for the second time in a row, I voted for the all-time home run leader, a trio of pitchers who totaled 1,014 wins, the multi-faceted member of the Astros with 3,060 hits, the catcher and second baseman with the most homers ever at their positions, the pitcher with the most wins in the American League during the 1980s, and two first basemen whose OPS is among the best of anyone to ever play that position.

To do so, I had to revamp my ballot after last year’s astounding “no vote” from my colleagues in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Gone from last year are Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell. Guys I used to vote for like Tim Raines, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez may not be coming back on my ballot anytime soon, either. I had to also ignore quality pitchers like Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina, who had major impacts on the game.

Many good players, I fear, will now be neglected as more and more greats of the just past era will have exhausted their 5-year waiting period to join the holdovers on the ballot. John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Trevor Hoffman, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mariano Rivera are among others who by 2018 will eventually join the group. They all should be elected on the first ballot.

I had always voted for McGwire and Palmeiro, adding Sosa last year despite the shadow of PEDs hanging over their careers. But I decided this year there was no room on the ballot to waste my vote. All three came in at well under 20 percent last year and ultimately are in danger of falling off the ballot for not maintaining the requisite 5 percent to remain on it for a maximum of 15 years. Palmeiro at 8.8 percent is right there. The BBWAA is never voting any of them into the Hall, so why keep pushing against the wind?

Meanwhile, Biggio (68.2 percent), Morris (67.7) and Bagwell (59.6) obviously needed some help. They are all Hall worthy. Morris, sadly, may not be able to make up the 42 votes necessary in this, his 15th and final year, on the BBWAA ballot. Biggio and Bagwell, teammates in Houston, still have plenty time.

A player only has to garner at least 5 percent of the vote each year to remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years. This is going to create a logjam in the coming years as each voting member of the BBWAA individually determines who meets the Hall of Fame criteria.

But this year, Maddux, Glavine and Morris should all get in. Though wins are currently the bane of many analysts, you can’t discount the 355 Maddux totaled in his career. To me, he’s the only sure thing on this ballot. Glavine had 305, 244 of them for the Braves, who won 13 consecutive division titles with him anchoring the starting rotation. If that’s not the definition of Hall of Famer I don’t know what is, although some are arguing against his inclusion. Morris won 254 games and started for three World Series-winning teams: the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays.

Paraphrasing Braves manager Bobby Cox, who is going in to the Hall via a Post-Expansion Committee vote along with Joe Torre and Tony La Russa next July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y., any time any of those three took the mound their teams had a chance to win.

I know the entire definition of Hall of Fame starter is going to have to change. Because no one will accumulate close to 250 wins in this day and age, we’ll have to use other metrics. That must be determined in the future, but the current crop should be cast in the era they played the game when pitch counts were less material, starters worked deeper into games, and the staff leader pitched Games 1, 4 and 7 of the World Series like Morris did in 1991. That series ended when Morris outdueled Smoltz and pitched a 10-inning, 1-0 complete-game victory to give Minnesota the title over the Braves.

Morris is certain that will never happen again. I agree.

When voting for the Hall of Fame, I always ask myself if that player was a standout on the field during the years I saw him play. I then look at statistical comparisons to other Hall of Famers, who played the same position. Kent, for example, was a better offensive second baseman in almost every category than Ryne Sandberg, one of the players recently elected at that position, in 2005. Kent is way ahead in homers and RBIs and owns a slight edge in lifetime batting average. Lou Gehrig far and away owns the best OPS of any first baseman in history. He’s third overall, while Thomas and Bagwell finished 14th and 21st respectively. McGwire was 10th. Too bad he shoulders so much baggage. Bonds is fourth, behind Gehrig, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.

I know my decisions and rational are going to spark some conjecture among readers. They always do. For that’s the nature of the Hall of Fame voting every year. So let’s have at it my friends. I welcome the discourse and intelligent discussion.

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22 Comments

We SO disagree, Boomskie. Come back on my show, soon.

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Happy holidays,
Z

Cool !!

Here’s a link to the new venue. I’ve put a slide show with the podcast. Please subscribe, one and all.
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On Kent, if you look back at three of the second baseman most recently voted into the Hall by the BBWAA — Alomar, Sandberg and Morgan — Kent’s offensive numbers are far superior and all three have a fielding percentages ranging from .980 (Kent) to .989 (Sandberg). Morgan’s was .981 and I don’t remember him having any more outstanding range than Kent or Sandberg. Alomar was in a class by himself. But if you had to pick, you’d probably say Morgan was the best of them. I’d go with Alomar.

I look at Kent and say he’s probably among the top five at his position (I just gave you three of them) in the late 20th century into the 21st century. In the game today, Robinson Cano has the only shot of any 2B to make it the Hall of Fame. And he needs at least another five years playing at the same level.

If only there was some actual discussion of why Morris landed on the ballot over Mussina or Schilling, two clearly superior pitchers.

Don’t believe that. Morris had an intangible, like Schilling, of rising to the occasion in big games. But primarily this was my last shot at voting for him. Moose and Schilling have plenty of time for consideration. If it was a one time only vote I might have gone differently. Thanks for the response.

I have to kindly disagree. There are so many people on the ballot that Mussina might come close to falling off.

No going to happen. Mussina will get more than enough votes to remain on the ballot. If he doesn’t he certainly doesn’t deserve to be on the ballot let alone in the Hall.

Why did that intangible come out in 1991 but disappear in 1992? He had a 3.80 ERA in the playoffs. That’s pretty mediocre.

Agree with you almost across the board, Barry, and especially in your above comment re Mussina and Schilling. Mussina was never a Hall of Famer in the era I watched him (Hall of Famers don’t need others to campaign for them, Steve), and for me there wasn’t room for Schilling on my ballot. Elite of the Elite. My votes will be revealed on MLB.com as the announcement happens.

Mark
http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com

I have to disagree with you here as well. What does that mean that Mussina never had a Hall of Famer? What does Glavine have that Mussina doesn’t? What does Morris have that Mussina doesn’t?

Morris was on teams that won three World Series. Glavine, as I said, won 244 games for Braves teams that won the division 13 years in a row, five NL pennants and a World Series. Mussina never won a World Series and had a 7-8 record and 3.42 ERA in 23 playoff appearances. Oh, and both Glavine and Morris started and won the clinching games of the 1991 and 1995 World Series, respectively. Final scores, 1-0. That’s the big difference.

So what you’re saying is that Mussina (3.42 ERA in the playoffs) was a *better* postseason pitcher than Morris (3.80 ERA in the playoffs). That on top of being a much better pitcher in the regular season.

@Mark: You’re right. Mussina shouldn’t need anyone to campaign for him. The numbers make his case pretty clearly by themselves if you only look at them. Across the board, he’s better than Morris. There is nothing Morris did that Mussina didn’t do better except pitch in Game 7 in 1991.

That is a little unfair to Morris, who’s totals are devalued by his struggles in 1992 (at age 37). He was great before that posting a 2.60 ERA in the postseason. And I as you can see from my other comment, I’m a big supporter of Mussina’s, despite being an Astros fan, and not an Orioles or Yankees fan.

I come this evening not to bury Barry M. Bloom, but to PRAISE HIM. After two years of riding him but good for a strange Steve Garvey fixation that kept getting in the way of his casting a much-deserved vote for Jeff Bagwell, he has, as promised, challenged his own perceptions and conclusions about Bagwell and voted for him this year. Hallelujah! So I offer a sincere doff of the (virtual) cap, dear sir; it demonstrates both fortitude as well as humility to constantly evaluate and reevaluate one’s own opinion, especially amongst a brethren that has demonstrated a monstrously contagious case of close-mindedness.

One down, far too many to go, unfortunately – but hopefully more writers will follow your lead this year, Barry, dropping the endless (and fruitless) steroid witch hunt (which you have always, admirably, been above) and doing right by the greatest NL first baseman in baseball history (BP: Before Pujols).

Agreed! Hear, hear on the Bagwell vote, in fairness, and the rest of the ballot, Morris excepted.

Certainly, our lengthy discussion had a lot to do with re-evaluating my position.

It’s not the first time. I began voting for other guys like Blyleven, Gossage, Sutter and Morris the longer they were eligible. It’s the beauty of the 15-year term of the ballot. You review everything every year depending on the strength of that year ‘s ballot and how players size up against it. I couldn’t vote for Thomas and not vote for Bagwell. And vice versa.

And as I said, though I think Sosa, McGwire and Palmeiro should all be in, I’m not going beat my head on the wall when they are trending off the ballot.

I hope that Bagwell eventually gets in. Love to see Bags and Biggio get in at the same time.

Pingback: Breaking down the Hall of Fame vote as we know it « hall of fame debate

Thanks for finally including Bagwell, despite a very crowded ballot. Astros fans everywhere look forward to the day when Bagwell & Biggio are both enshrined, after 50 years with no Astros cap.

I can’t blame you for leaving off Moose, given the crowded ballot, but I definitely think he is very underrated. He had a great career in an offensive era (82.7 rWar is just ahead of Nolan Ryan all-time, though I would never rank him ahead of Ryan). Postseason he got even better: 3.42 ERA, 1.103 WHIP, 145K in 139.2IP is sensational (and well ahead of Jack Morris). Mussina just didn’t have the signature win, which he might have if the offense or bullpen hadn’t let him down so much in the 1997 ALCS.

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