We held our own balloting a few weeks ago where we pretended that we were the BBWAA and were allowed to vote for the Hall of Fame. We elected Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Mike Piazza (the rest of the results can be found here).
Originally we planned to also publish and explain our ballots, but then we never did that and it kind of fell off the radar.
Since today is the official Hall of Fame announcement, I figured this would be a good time to share a couple of our ballots with you all.
It really is incredible how many great players I’m NOT voting for. In fact, I can make a pretty great list of 10 players that I didn’t vote for. In fact, here is that list:
Honestly, the list where I’d go from yes to no is at 17. That’s 7 people that I’d vote for that just didn’t make the cut for me.
Here’s my list.
10. Larry Walker
From 1994 to 2004, this was Larry Walker’s line: .331/.422/.614, 288 HR, 348 2B, 47 3B, 146 OPS+. I know it was the height of Coors’ power, but that’s still an incredible feat. Here’s two other things: .278/.370/.495 was his slash away from home, and his “most similar” career was the inimitable Duke Snider. Oh, also career .400 OBP, exactly. That’s good enough for me!
9. Edgar Martinez
I get it. He’s a DH (though he could play 1B as well as Prince Fielder could). On the other hand, he’s the best DH to ever play the game. If the MLB wants the DH as a position, it should be represented in the Hall of Fame. If that’s the case, you have to have Edgar Martinez in there. Oh yeah, career .418 OBP, and a career trinity line of .312/.418/.515. I consider anyone with over 7500 PA and a .300/.400/.500 line HOF worthy, and he crushes it in that respect. Just take a guess on how many people qualify using that metric. The answer: 17.
8. Tim Raines
He stole 808 bases. He was absolutely feared on the basepaths, maybe unlike anyone else ever (obvious caveat of Ricky here). If you want to nitpick and call Raines an accumulator, I’d agree with you just a bit; he was never really even close to being the best player in any given year or era. However, I think it is just as important to me that for almost 20 years, he was better than average, and many years much, much better.
7. Sammy Sosa
It’s the Hall of Fame. There aren’t a whole lot of baseball players more famous than Sammy Sosa. He and McGwire more-or-less saved baseball during the great Home Run Race, and I don’t give any shits about his corked bat or alleged steroid usage. His 1998 to 2002 is one of the great all-time 5-year peaks (.306/.397/.649, 292 HR, 705 RBI); he led the league in total bases 3 out of 4 years. He was a poor defender, and independent of history I think he’s barely on the outside looking in; however, his duel with McGwire (and the fact that he still has the most 60+ HR seasons ever) pushes him solidly into “HOF” territory for me.
6. Mark McGwire
Take everything I said about Sammy Sosa and just paste it here. He even has a more-or-less identical 5 year peak (.287/.438/.702, 284 HR, 620 RBI, in only 698 games). It’s a shame that the fans were robbed of his age-29 and age-30 seasons to injury; otherwise, you could realistically add 90 home runs to his total, which would put him in the 670 or so stratosphere. He’d be a great candidate for the Hall independent of his place in history, which makes him an inner-circle type in my eyes.
5. Mike Piazza
If we are conservative, Piazza is the best hitting catcher in the history of baseball (and it’s not even close). You can make the case that he’s the best catcher ever. This is a no-brainer. The fact that someone could axe him on the case of bacne is hilarious if it wasn’t so fucking sad. There are 9 catcher-seasons with an OPS over 1.000. Piazza has 3 of them, and is the only person with more than 1. It also wasn’t like Piazza was a slouch defensively. He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t awful, either. He led the league in offensive WAR twice. As a CATCHER. That’s fucking incredible.
4. Frank Thomas
With the exception of Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas is the best hitter I’ve ever been alive to see. It’s that simple. First things first, he has the golden trinity slash of .301/.419/.555. He has 270 more career walks than strikeouts. He has 521 HR despite never hitting more than 43 in a season. In a time where everyone was accused of steroids, Thomas was never once even mentioned as a user. He led the league in walks as a 23, 24, 26, and 27 year old. He had an OBP over .420 his first 8 years in baseball. He could have retired in 2000, after 10 years in baseball, and owned a line of .321/.440/.579, 344 HR, 1183 RBI, 169 OPS+. He would have been a no-doubt HOF had he retired then, at 32. He was never as healthy or dominant as he was after his injury in 2001 (though of course, he still had a .273/.387/.528 from that point on, good for an OPS+ of 136), but it didn’t matter. The Big Hurt is the best player in Chicago history.
He was also the worst defensive 1B probably ever.
3. Greg Maddux
I consider Maddux a better player than Thomas, but since so many of his years took place in Atlanta, it’s not fair to give Maddux the nod there. I could write pages on Greg Maddux, but I’ll instead just favorite stat of his.
Maddux retired as the only player ever to have over 3000 strikeouts and fewer than 1000 walks. He had…999 walks for his entire career. He ended his career with 3 starts as a Dodger, and walked no one in each of those starts to preserve that streak.
He’s a better pitcher than anyone I’ve ever seen in my whole life with the exception of Pedro Martinez. He won 7 Cy Youngs, a feat never before accomplished and likely never repeated. He has over 100 WARP for his career, so he’s an aggregator AND a peak guy (if you win 7 Cy Youngs, you’ve got a peak in there somewhere). When it comes down to it, the 1997 season had 2 of the best pitcher seasons of all time (Martinez and Clemens), and Clemens’ season was probably even better than Martinez’. Steroids or not, Clemens won Cy Youngs 18 years apart and an MVP for good measure. He finished second once and third twice. Jesus, how can he not be in?
1. Barry Bonds
Ser Barrold of House Bonds is the greatest player of all time. What more is there to say?
Last year I voted for Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Sosa, Bagwell, Biggio, Raines, Trammell, Schilling and Palmeiro. Since I believe that once you believe someone is a Hall of Famer, you should always believe he is a Hall of Famer, I should have voted for all 10 of those guys again, since none of them got in last year. BUT, since we can only vote for 10 and the ballot now included more names that are ALSO Hall of Fame worthy in my opinion, some cuts had to be made.
First off, of the new eligible players, I would have liked to have voted for Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, and Kent. So now I have 14 people for 10 slots.
As far as I'm concerned, Bonds, Clemens, and Piazza are locked from last year, with no-brainers Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas joining them. So that's 5.
I believe that Raines and Trammell should have been in long ago, so I'm sticking with them. That's 7.
Biggio was actually elected by us last year and he has 7 Hall of Famers in his Top Ten similarity scores on B-Ref. He stays. That's 8.
So now we're down to Sosa, Schilling, Palmeiro, Bagwell, Glavine, and Kent with 2 slots left. Of those names, Tom Glavine stands out more to me with 7 Top 3 finishes in the Cy Young, with 2 wins, 305 career victories (shut up, it's still impressive), and 4 Hall of Famers in his top similarity scores plus Randy Johnson. He's in. That's 9.
Of the guys left, I went with Sosa. I loved watching Sammy play and I don't care how he achieved what he achieved in the era in which he achieved it. It was fantastic. So I voted for Sammy more with my heart, but if you need concrete reasons, he hit 609 HRs. He hit 60+ HRs in three separate seasons. He finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting 7 times and won it once. His top similarity scores include: Jim Thome, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews, Mickey Mantle, Willie Stargell, Gary Sheffield, and Willie McCovey.
I'm not proud of leaving off the rest and I didn't even consider guys like Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, or Mark McGwire this year which is a crime. But this is what the BBWAA has left us with.