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Friday, December 28, 2012

BBA Hall of Fame Ballot, 2012

My Hall of Fame ballot for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance vote is due soon, and since I just covered the 50 Best Players Not in the Hall, it seemed like a good time to continue on the topic. Heck, I even had an entire post just about the players on this year’s ballot. But that brings up an important question:

In my article, I had 14 players from this year’s ballot listed as worthy. The "real" voters only get 10 spaces to vote, though. It’s a stupid rule, but it still applies. So, if I were voting for the BBWAA instead of the BBA, who would I cut?

Well, the first thing I did was pick the players that I knew I would vote for no matter what. In the end, that came down to six players: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, and Curt Schilling. In that group, you arguably have:

The best hitter in the game
The best pitcher since World War II
The best hitting catcher ever
The best first baseman in NL history
The greatest control artist ever
A member of the 3000 hit club (okay, so maybe this one isn’t actually arguable)

I think I’ve made my stance on steroids pretty clear in the past, and with that, it’s difficult to not vote for Bonds or Clemens with that in mind. Bagwell and Piazza are both clearly among the very best to ever play their positions. Schilling was dominant in his own right.

Biggio probably has the best chance of election of anyone on the ballot (thanks to the unfair steroids whispers around Piazza and Bagwell), which almost made me drop him from the ballot-I mean, if he’s getting inducted anyway, that would be a good way to spread the votes around. But, I decided I couldn’t guarantee that, and voted for him. I may come to regret that, but we’ll see.

Also, in my 50 best piece, I mentioned that I viewed Sosa as the most borderline case. That made him the first of the fourteen to be dropped from the ballot.

Palmeiro went next; it’s hard to cut someone with 3000 hits and 500 home runs. He is a bit of a compiler, though; it’s hard to ever say he was clearly the best first baseman in the league, for even one year. It’s what happens when your competition is Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire, Todd Helton, Albert Pujols, in-their-primes Jason Giambi and Will Clark, Edgar Martinez (lumping him in here since DH really doesn’t have its own category yet), etc. I still think he’s worthy of the Hall, but if I have to cut four people, he’s next to go.

That means I’ve covered over half of the ballot, and so far, I have:

YES: Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Schilling
NO: Palmiero, Sosa
UNDECIDED: Lofton, Martinez, McGwire, Raines, Trammell, Walker

I really had no definite opinions on this group. I kind of wanted to keep Lofton, since I’m worried he’ll fall off the ballot after one year. Part of me considered throwing a vote to Trammell, since he’s got the fewest years left, but at the same time, it’ll be hard for him to build up momentum because of that. Anyway, it was hard. Maybe looking at their Fangraphs WAR would help.

Walker-73.2
Raines-70.6
McGwire-70.6
Martinez-69.9
Trammell-69.5
Kenny Lofton-66.2

That’s ridiculously close. Raines and McGwire are even tied. What about Baseball-Reference’s WAR calculations?

Walker-69.7
Trammell-67.1
Raines-66.2
Lofton-64.9
Martinez-64.4
McGwire-58.7

That’s a fairly different order. At the very least, it’s harder to just say “drop the bottom two”. What makes this even more difficult is that Walker leads most, when he probably has the biggest questions about his numbers, since he played so much time in Coors Field.

McGwire and Walker were the two with the fewest games played, with 1866 and 1970, respectively, so you could argue their injuries impeded their values (although a good counter is they were just as valuable, but in even less time...). Martinez was a designated hitter, which is sort of new territory for the Hall, I suppose (although Paul Molitor already spent a lot of time as a DH, and the BBWAA has had no problem inducting relief pitchers to date, so the part-time player argument is sort of weak).

In the end, I dropped Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez from my ballot, in part for the above arguments. However, there was one thing that made me much more comfortable leaving them off; they are the newest candidates, outside of Kenny Lofton (who I would still bet fails to pull in the 5% of the vote he needs to stay on the ballot in the real election). They have much more time for the voters to realize the error of their ways.

So, the closing verdict: my ten-person ballot would be:

Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Kenny Lofton
Mark McGwire
Mike Piazza
Tim Raines
Curt Schilling
Alan Trammell

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