The BBWAA gets ripped a lot for terrible decision-making when it comes to voting on the Baseball Hall of Fame. This yea's' ballot is particularly interesting because it pits a lot of guys who get points/votes for being gutty winners despite stats that don't clearly portray a Hall of Fame career against guys that have been tagged as selfish/cheaters while amassing some amazing stats that normally would make the player a first-ballot shoe-in. This is the first ballot in a long time where I've felt 10 votes per ballot maybe wasn't enough.
So we wanted to see how our readers would vote given the same parameters that the BBWAA gives its members. We received 80 valid ballots (a few had to be discarded for voting for more than 10 players) and if it was up to OV, here are the results of the vote:
Years on Ballot
|Sammy Sosa||1988-2005, 2007||1st||43||53.8%|
|Julio Franco||1982-1994, 96-97, 99, 2001-07||1st||3||3.8%|
|Sandy Alomar, Jr.||1988-2007||1st||2||2.5%|
|Jeff Conine||1990, 1992-2007||1st||0||0.0%|
|Jose Mesa||1987 , 1990-2007||1st||0||0.0%|
Congratulations to Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds and Tim Raines! You have received the OV Stamp of Approval and a life-time free subscription to Obstructed View with all the rights and privileges that come with it. We're sorry it isn't more classy or accredited.
Of the guys who didn't make it, Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, and Jeff Bagwell came the closest, falling only a handful of votes short. The jabronies marked in red would not appear on the ballot next year per BBWAA rules. Most of those failed to gather at least 5% of the vote, while Dale Murphy was appearing on the ballot for the 15th and last time before becoming a candidate for the Veteran's Committee.
Aisle 424's Ballot
I voted for the following on my ballot: Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Sosa, Bagwell, Biggio, Raines, Trammell, Schilling, Palmeiro.
This was tough because I honestly could have easily voted for more than 10 or less depending upon how I was feeling on any given day. As far as I'm concerned, Bonds and Clemens are no-brainers and I'm surprised one made it in our little exercise and one didn't. I figured if we were a group that has a tendency to look past the PED issues, then they'd both get in, or if there were enough people voting who felt strongly against it, they'd both be excluded. I never thought they would be split.
Piazza was also an easy choice for me as he was the best hitting catcher of all time and it isn't really very close.
After that I started getting selective and my biases start showing. I tried to utilize the Similarity Scores on B-Ref as a guide, figuring if they were similar to a lot of HOF or HOF-worthy players, then it seems like they should be a good candidate themselves. Sosa's Top 10 Similarity scores included 7 Hall of Famers plus Ken Griffey Jr., Gary Sheffield, and Jim Thome, all of whom will get serious consideration if not induction into the Hall of Fame. So I put him on.
Palmeiro had 6 HOFers on the similarity scale plus Griffey Jr., Sheffield and Manny Ramirez. He hit 569 homeruns (12th), had 3,020 hits (25th) and 1,192 extra base hits (6th). I put him on.
Biggio had 7 HOFers plus Derek Jeter on the similarity scale. I also have a hard time remembering when Biggio wasn't one of the best 2nd basemen playing at any given time inhis career, except of course, when he was catching. He switched from being a catcher to a Gold Glove second baseman. I don't think he needs the bonus points for that to put him on my ballot, but it certainly didn't hurt.
Bagwell had only 2, but also Albert Pujols, Frank Thomas, and Vladimir Guerrero, so I thought that was pretty good. He was also very consistent throughout his career until the end. You pretty much knew he'd play every day and get 30-45 HRs and an OBP around .400. He was good for more than 4 WAR every year of his career until he was 34 and then he put up three more seasons over 3 before his career ended after an extremely injury-filled 2005. That was good enough for me.
Raines had 4 HOFers as most similar. He is 5th all-time in stolen bases and I remember him just being a menace for years. When you discussed the best outfielders of the 80s, you had to include Raines in the discussion and he did it for longer than Dale Murphy, so I gave the vote to Raines instead of Murphy. He honestly should have been in before this and its a shame a vote had to be used for him this year instead of for another worthy candidate.
Trammel had three HOFers in his most similar, but also Lou Whitaker, who I think should also be in, but isn't. This is more about positional scarcity than numbers that beat you over the head, but that's where I came down in favor of Trammel over someone like Mark McGwire who was more impressive with the bat.
Lastly, I was kind of surprised at how good some of Curt Schilling's numbers were. He was similar to 2 HOFers plus John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez, so I looked further. He's 26th all-time in pitcher WAR (76.9), he amassed 3,115 strikeouts (15th) and you can't argue with his post-season performances. What was interesting to me, and I think what ultimately got him on my ballot was that his ERA+ is 48th best all-time, which sounds good, but then you consider that it's the same as Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson and it makes it more impressive.
When it came down to it, this was exteremely difficult since I think I left off some very worthy candidates and my viewpoint is extremely subjective. I'm not shocked there wasn't a ton of consensus on most of my picks. I am surprised Biggio didn't get more love and I'm kind of surprised Sosa finished so low on a Cubs-centric site.
Bonds, Clemens and Piazza are in the first group that I'll use to explain my ballot. Bonds combined offensive and defensive performance is on par with Babe Ruth's, but Bonds wasn't a pitcher for several years so he's the 2nd best player to have played this game. I don't know if Roger Clemens was the best pitcher in history, but he's in that discussion. No catcher in the game's history has hit even close to as well as Mike Piazza. I didn't have to think for even a second with these three.
I only had to think for a brief moment when it came to Biggio, Raines, Schilling and Sosa. Biggio began his career as a catcher and then successfully moved to 2nd base, which is anything but easy. Years later he moved to CF and then to LF and then back to 2nd base. I don't care much about defense since it can't reliably be quantified. Biggio was never a great offensive player with maybe the exception for a couple of years, but from the age of 23 to 35 you could pencil him in for 4 wins or more. Enough words have been written about Tim Raines by Tangotiger that I'm sure many or most have read so I'll spare you that. Only Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez had more rWAR between 1995 and 2004 than Curt Schilling. Not even Greg Maddux or Roger Clemens did. Sosa has 3 seasons in which he hit more than 60 home runs, more than 600 combined and he helped make the game more profitable than it ever has been.
I think Bagwell is definitely a hall of famed and after discussing it with some here I think I probably underestimated just how damn good he was.
I love home runs and Palmeiro and McGwire hit them. They hit lots of them.
Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, Rafael Palmiero, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza
The first five on this list are no-brainers to me. Bonds and Clemens don't need any explanation other than that I could give a shit about PEDs, and even discounting that they were both two of the top five players to ever play the game. Biggio was one of the top five 2b of all time before he retired, and Bagwell comes in at #34 all time among position players on Rally's list, just behind Joe Dimaggo. I think people forget about how great of a hitter Bagwell was. He was hitting like gangbusters (.750 SLG in strike-shortened 94) long before the years for which Sosa and McGwire are remembered. People focus on the power, but also posted a OBP over 400 in seven seasons. The bloody sock game is what's going to get Schilling into the hall, but he earned it in his own right. He was a workhorse on a lot of crappy Phillies teams, and his years in Arizona with Randy Johnson (another first ballot guy) were incredible.
As was mentioned above, there's no shortage of documentation that Tim Raines should be in the HOF so there's no need to go further.
Trammel seems like he has a similar problem that Santo had – he was a great player who was eclipsed by even better ones not long after he retired (Jeter, Nomar, etc), not to mention always playing second fiddle to Cal Ripken in his career, much like Santo and Brooks Robinson.
The next three I'm more iffy on. Palmeiro's career WAR numbers are up there with Raines, Biggio, and the rest, but he never really separated himself from the rest of the 1b sluggers the way that Bagwell did. I only include Sosa on the list because I'm a shameless homer, both he and McGwire are fringe candidates (and McGwire probably has a better case anyway).
Piazza was the best hitting catcher in MLB history and had much better numbers than I remembered, but he was pretty terrible behind the plate. Rally's TZ doesn't have him nearly as bad as I thought he would be (only two seasons with double digit negative defence), and his career WAR ranks behind every other position player on my list, including Sosa. But since the only catchers that I can recognize that are (deservedly) ranked ahead of him are Johnny Bench, Pudge Rodriguez, and Gary Carter he should be a deserving candidate. Maybe if you're more of a peak guy it's much more of a slam dunk case. I'll also admit to some bias because I basically wasn't following baseball when he had his best years with the Dodgers, as opposed to his merely very good ones with the Mets. Catchers should probably get more credits wrt career numbers due to the fact that their careers are much shorter due to the position. Anyway, Piazza was someone I had to talk myself into, it wasn't cut and dried.
Thanks to everyone who participated and congratulations again to Bonds, Piazza and Raines. Your OV Certificates of Classiness are in the mail.