There always seems to be a lot of controversy around this time each year over the Hall of Fame voting process. Most of the grief stems from the two-dozen or so undeserving writers who seemingly go out of their way each year to mock the institution with their unworthy ballots. Some of them go out of their way to thwart the inclusion of those players who deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown, while others tarnish the grandeur of the Hall of Fame by their attempts to muddy it with votes for players who are blatantly unworthy of consideration.
Rather than just give you the few names I would have voted for if such an honor was ever bestowed on me, I wanted to take you through the steps I go through in making my decision. It’s not a complicated process mind you, it’s just a systematic series of phases I go through in narrowing down the 33 players on the original ballot to the three players I ultimately selected.
Before I start to consider any players, I must first sharpen my machete and remove any names that make me want to gouge my eyes out. So right off the bat, I am obliterating Carlos Baerga, Lenny Harris, Al Leiter, Bret Boone, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Tino Martinez, Raul Mondesi, Kirk Rueter, Benito Santiago and B.J. Surhoff off of the ballot.
How did these players make it past the Hall of Fame screening committee anyway? The way I see it, any member from the BBWAA who votes for any of these players should be drawn and quartered or at the very least banned from ever casting another HOF ballot in their lifetime. Lets move on.
After the the first round of my screening process, I am left to choose up to ten worthy candidates from among the following 22 players. They include: Roberto Alomar, John Franco, John Olerud, Jeff Bagwell, Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Kevin Brown, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.
I now need to swap my machete for a scalpel and do some additional precision cutting, although this wont be as easy as the first round of blood-letting.
It’s now time to get rid of John Olerud, John Franco, Kevin Brown, Marquis Grissom, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Don Mattingly, and Alan Trammell. These players all had nice careers, and it’s nice to see some of their names on the ballot, but lets face it, they are not Hall Of Famers either. I won’t have a problem if a few writers cast a wayward vote for any them, but realistically, none of these guys merit inclusion over the other 14 remaining players.
I know some of you will probably hate me for this, but I’m not voting for either Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro and you know the reason why. Here is my rule on steroids. If they were caught using and in fact publicly apologized, then they admitted guilt so off with their heads. That said, I’m not going to penalize players based on innuendo and suspicion because the last time I checked, the United States still had a Constitution. So with that in mind, Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff and Juan Gonzalez still make the cut. I’m down to 12 players now.
Sorry Larry Walker, but I’m giving you the boot. You benefited far too much from a humidor-less Coors Field, and before and after your days in Colorado, you were nothing more than a mere mortal. You certainly have put up some gaudy numbers in your career, and for that I tip my cap to you, but please pack your bats and leave.
Now that most of my purging is done, I have a list of candidates that looks like this:
- Roberto Alomar
- Jeff Bagwell
- Harold Baines
- Bert Blyleven
- Juan Gonzalez
- Fred McGriff
- Jack Morris
- Dale Murphy
- Dave Parker
- Tim Raines
- Lee Smith
Here are the final selections on my Hall of Fame ballot.
Roberto Alomar – Although I didn’t particularly like him as a Met, his Hall of Fame credentials are indisputable. With over 2,500 hits, 1,000 walks, 1,500 runs scored and a .300 batting average, Alomar was a premier top of the order hitter playing at a premium position. His ten Gold Gloves only hint at what a great defensive second baseman he was, and his 13 All Star selections say a lot too. He finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting five times. Quite frankly, shame on the BBWAA for not electing him to the Hall last year. Alomar didn’t spit on the baseball writers, but they surely spit on him. Alomar absolutely gets my vote for the Hall of Fame.
Bert Blyleven – The more I look at Blyleven, the more impressed with him I become. He has 287 career wins, 70 shutouts, 3701 strikeouts, a 1.19 WHIP and a 3.31 ERA, and yet he’s been waiting to get in since 1998. This is a real head scratcher. It would be a travesty of justice if Jack Morris got into the Hall of Fame and Blyleven didn’t. Without a second thought, Blyleven gets my vote and Jack Morris will not.
Jeff Bagwell – Bags was one of the best all around players I have ever seen. He played the game hard and he played the game right, but more importantly his performance was unparalleled at the plate, on the basepaths and in the field. With over 1,500 RBIs and 1,500 runs scored Bagwell was a pure monster at the plate. He had eight seasons of 100+ RBIs and nine seasons of 100+ runs scored. Among his 2,300+ career hits were 449 home runs and 488 doubles which gave him a staggering .540 slugging percentage. His career .297 average is not too shabby, but when you add in his 1,400 walks it gives him an eye-popping .408 on-base percentage. This guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer and I’m proud to include him on my ballot.
Near Misses – I was very close to including Dave Parker, Tim Raines and Lee Smith on my ballot, but I couldn’t pull the trigger on them. I may feel differently about them next season, and I may even re-consider a couple of others I left off, but for now I’m very confident about the three players I chose. I believe they are worthy of enshrinement and I hope all three get in this year.