Fixing The Baseball Hall Of Fame, Via The Vote


Back in 2010 before I landed at TSFJ, I had the good fortune of joining up with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, a national pool of freelance beisbol writers that has since fed some rather reputable outlets the last few years. As part of this affiliation, I’ve cast an internal Baseball Hall of Fame ballot the last two years, following the official voting procedures.  And ever since that began, I’ve dreaded what 2013 was to bring: a decision that makes LeBron’s look like the call between soup and salad.

The Steroid Era needs no introduction, and neither does the ethical war on Hall affiliation it’s spawned. So let’s get this out here in a hurry: I don’t care. With a few very clear exceptions, I am largely unaffected by steroid users … especially ones that were great before this was even an issue. So with the exception of one ex-Cub right fielder, whose assent was far too quick and overpowering to be coincidence, I’m not blocking anybody from my ballot.

But like with any vote, there’s opinion. Ten folks can get in on each ballot, which makes a ton of difference voter to voter. Will the real ballot look like mine? Absolutely not. Most likely it will be a very small class, with a ton of turnover. But I guarantee that starting this year, there will never be a more hotly debated ring of fire around baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Here’s my not-so humble opinion on who should be in the fold this year, and why.

Be sure to check out the full ballot as well to see what a tough call this is this time around.


Barry Bonds: This is a discussion about a guy that is one of the top 5 players in history and the most decorated talent of all-time. He was the best player in baseball by 1992 already, and if his career ended in 2000, he’d have still made it in on that body of work alone. Cut off the next 7 years in the fashion they occurred, and he still has 494 home runs and 471 steals. At age 35, that’s good enough for me alone, and on natural progression the next few years he still may have cleared 600 homers. I’ll punch the ballot next to his name every year until the job is done.

Roger Clemens: Same thing here as above. He’s arguably the greatest pitcher not just of his era, but of all-time. A dual Cy Young/MVP winner that had the greatest start to a career in nearly half a century. Yes, he picked it up a lot later on, and that’s where the debate on being aided comes in at. But you’ve got to throw it over the plate, and there’s a good chance it can be hit if you don’t know what you’re doing with it. Very few people have ever known what to do with it more than the Rocket.

Mike Piazza: The rumoring around him surprised me the most, because I hadn’t heard anything about him being a juicer during his career. What I had heard, and saw myself, was that he’s the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, a claim that nobody is close to matching. He’s the all-time homers leader for catchers with 427, and hit over .300 nine straight years.

Craig Biggio: One of the sneaky best players ever. During a middle-infield era that featured Ryne Sandberg, Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith and Robby Alomar, he was just as good as anybody. The only guy to ever get 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 steals and 250 home runs in baseball history.

Jack Morris: This one took me a long time to come to terms with, just like it has the majority of everybody else, but it’s time. A 250-game winner that had a few of the most dominant postseason efforts ever in 1984 and 1991, including a 10-inning shutout in '91. Winningest pitcher of the 80’s plus a strong big-game presence is good enough for me. He’s most likely to get the biggest bump of any returning candidate this year anyway after getting 67% of the vote last year.

Lee Smith: A mainstay on my ballot, Big Lee deserves it. A pioneer in what’s become the one-inning closer specialist, he was once the all-time saves leader with a legit 478. Also no-doubt All-Star presence for some bad teams. He made sure that rare wins didn’t get any scarcer in St. Louis and Chicago.

Mark McGwire: I’m not letting go on this one either, although I’m more and more certain that each year it will never happen. Mac revitalized the game, and was also one of the guys that was hitting them a mile before he even admittedly took to the juice. He’s the perfect example, along with Pete Rose, of why admitting a wrong really means nothing in baseball. You’ll be punished by others' agendas regardless.

Tim Raines: Here’s the guy I got the most ZZZ’s on regarding just how good he was, for so long. Rock Raines was never a headliner but was above-average every year. Think about how Matt Holliday or Paul Konerko are regarded right now. He was a three-time world champion, stole over 800 bases (including over 70 for six straight years), hit under .280 only four times in 23 years, and beat out a nasty drug habit (which is oddly not as scrutinized as other drug habits impacting this vote) at the same time. He belongs in Cooperstown.

Jeff Bagwell: Bags was an animal with the bat. He may have had the most unconventional, wild, aggressive swing ever, but few guys in the 90’s did more than he did. He was half the greatest duo of the decade with Biggio, and his 1994 season had the chance to be one of pure legend if not for the strike. He lost a lot of career magic numbers due to freak injuries, such as his two lost broken-hand seasons. Either way, a .297 average, 449 homer and 1,529 RBI career line is more than good enough to get in.

Larry Walker: He could flat out hit (Montreal avg./road average), so spare the “he played in Colorado” debate, because you’re clearly late to the party. Coors Field may have helped him some, but it certainly didn’t wrap him up and deliver him to the Hall on its own. Add in one of the best arms right field has ever seen, and the seven Gold Gloves, and that’s the complete package.

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