If I Had a Ballot: My Picks for the Hall of Fame

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We are almost a year removed from the infamous 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting when nobody was elected to the Hall of fame as a result of steroid suspicions. Because of that infamous year, the 2014 ballot looks to be one of the strongest in years, with plenty of candidates looking like prime candidates for election, whether it’s for the first time, the second time, or even the last time.

In order to have the power to vote a baseball player into the Hall of Fame, one has to be a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America for at least ten years. In order to do that, the individual in question has to have written for a newspaper, or a website for at least ten years. Certain BBWAA members are well known, like Woody Paige, J.A Adande, Murray Chass, etc. others are from lesser known newspapers.

I obviously am not a member of the BBWAA, but I decided to pull a Deadspin (Although I didn’t actually buy a ballot) and make my own decisions as to who goes to the Hall of Fame. You know the procedure, you have ten votes, you can vote for as many people as you like, up to ten, even none if you wish. So, without further delay, and with 29 hours before the announcement, here are my ten picks for the Hall.

The Obvious Selections:

1. Greg Maddux

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HOF Credentials: 355 Wins, 3371 Strikeouts, 4 Cy Youngs, 8 All-Star selections, 18 Gold Gloves. 4 time wins and ERA champion

Why: Greg Maddux is a once in a generation talent. A very deceptive pitcher, Maddux carved out a dominating career in the National League, and helped the Braves capture nine out of their ten straight division titles. Maddux also was a workhorse, as his delivery allowed him to pitch for more than 20 years. As much as I despise him for what he did in the NL East, I can’t deny that he was a legend.

Why not: I can’t see any reason not to vote him in, but there are some nitpicks on his career, for one, his time pitching for the Dodgers and Padres was pretty forgettable, for another, any writer who is a homer for a team that Maddux absolutely owned will be stupid enough to strike him off their list. The most logical reason not to vote him in, and this is a very stupid reason in and of itself, is that a writer believes that no player should be elected on their first try.

Verdict: Almost unanimous election, Braves logo on cap.

2. Craig Biggio 

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HOF Credentials: 3060 hits, 5 Silver Sluggers, 4 Gold Gloves, 7 All Star Selections

Why: Craig Biggio should have been voted into the Hall last year, but some people decided to punish him for being on the same ballot as Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens. That being said, Biggio, while he was never a power guy, was a great hitter, glorifying small ball in an era where power numbers were king. Biggio also was a slick defender and was positionally versatile, playing catcher to start his career, then moving to second base, then the outfield, then back to second base. Biggio also was a very polite guy, while he holds the record for most times hit by a pitch, he never charged the mound. Lastly, Biggio played his entire career with the Houston Astros. Sometimes loyalty gives you brownie points from Hall voters.

Why not: Frankly, I can’t see any reason why Biggio would not be elected now that his rookie period is up.

Verdict: 80-95% election. Houston Astro logo on cap.

3. Frank Thomas:

MLB FILE: Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox.

 HOF Credentials: 521 Home Runs, .301 Career Batting Average, 2 Time MVP, 4 Time Silver Slugger, 5 Time All Star

Why: Frank Thomas really could hit, as evidenced by his career numbers. He really defined himself as one of the 90’s best stars as well, winning all his awards in that decade, save for his 2000 Comeback Player of the Year. Thomas also was known for his natural training, working without steroids, and his stance on drug testing, which is likely to give him points among the voters who hate users. He was a two time MVP as well, winning the award in 1993 and 1994.

Why not: Thomas did spend the majority of his career as a designated hitter, and there is a stigma among voters against DH’s, as evidenced by Edgar Martinez still being on the ballot. He also experienced a career decline post 2000, and did have those bad years in Toronto and Oakland. Voters may also give him a hard time over his 1994 MVP, which was won during a strike shortened season.

Verdict: 75-90% election, White Sox Cap.

The Not As Obvious, but still Strong Case Selections:

4. Mike Piazza

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HOF Credentials: Most Home Runs by a Catcher, .308 Career Average, 10 Silver Sluggers, 12 All-Star nods 1993 Rookie of the Year.

Why: Give Piazza credit for playing all but two years of his 15 year career as a catcher. That’s dedication. Couple that with the fact that he was one of the greatest offensive catchers of all time, and hit more home runs than Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, and Gary Carter, and you start to think that maybe he should have gotten more consideration than he did last year. Piazza also deserves some emotional recognition, as he went from being a 62nd round draft pick to a Major League star, and he was one of the heroes of a post-9/11 New York, when he hit that home run against the Atlanta Braves in the Mets return to Shea Stadium for the first time since the terrorist attacks.

Why not: Many sportswriters allege that Piazza was a user, a statement which he evasively denied throughout his career, and explained that he used legal drugs in his autobiography. Piazza also was known for his atrocious defense behind the plate. In addition, Piazza did have those two bad years in San Diego and Oakland.

Verdict: Borderline 60-76% this year. If not elected this year, will be elected next year. Mets logo on cap.

5. Tom Glavine

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HOF Credentials: 305 Wins, 2 NL Cy Young Awards, Ten All Star Selections

Why: Tom Glavine was part of the Braves pitching nucleus that led the team to ten straight division titles, of which Glavine was a part of 8. He does have the 300 wins to get the high consideration, and he does have the hardware to get in as well. Glavine also was a real athlete, not just as a baseball player, but a hockey player as well. Glavine, like his teammate Greg Maddux, was also a guy who relied on control rather than power to win games, something which voters do give consideration to.

Why not: If Glavine and Maddux weren’t on the same ballot, you could imagine that he’d get more consideration, still, this is Maddux’s year and Glavine will likely have to wait another before he can be elected. That and the fact that he did have those meh years in New York, playing for the rival Mets. Braves writers are probably still smarting over the fact that Glavine did win his 300th game as a Met, rather than as a Brave.

Verdict: 60-74%, will be elected in 2015, Braves logo on cap.

The Wait a Whiles

6. Jeff Bagwell

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HOF Credentials: Astros Home Run and RBI Leader, 1 NL MVP, 4 All Star Selections,  3 Silver Sluggers, 1991 NL Rookie of the Year

Why: Jeff Bagwell should be considered because of his offensive prowess. Although he didn’t hit 500 Home Runs nor did he have 3000 hits, he was still a star for the Houston Astros when they were good. Bagwell, like Craig Biggio, played his entire career for the Houston Astros as well.

Why not: There are voters who think that Bagwell took steroids, in addition his NL MVP was won in 1994, the strike year. Bagwell also is on a very crowded ballot.

Verdict: 50-65%, Will be voted in eventually. Astros logo on cap.

7. Curt Schilling

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HOF Credentials: 3116 Strikeouts, 3 World Series titles, 6 All Star Selections

Why: Curt Schilling may be one of the best postseason pitchers of all-time. Three World Series titles and one MVP, an NLCS MVP, and arguably one of the gutsiest performances in baseball history in the Bloody Sock Game should warrant him consideration. He also does have more than 200 wins and 3000 strikeouts.

Why not: Schilling never did win a Cy Young award, or for that matter, win a major award. Couple that with the fact that he never really did anything with the team that he primarily played with, the Phillies, but rather with star studded teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox, voters will knock him for that. His political leanings and failed business dealings might also lose him some votes.

Verdict: 30-50%, likely will be voted in within five years. Phillies or Red Sox logo on cap.

The Slim Chance

8. Edgar Martinez

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HOF Credentials: .312 Career Batting Average, 2 Batting Titles, 7 All Star Selections, 5 Silver Sluggers.

Why: Edgar Martinez is to Designated Hitter as Seinfeld is to Sitcom. The two are synonymous with their success. Martinez completely redefined the position, and in doing so, wrote his place in Seattle Mariner lore. In addition, he is the only designated hitter to win a batting title. He does have hardware in the form of five silver sluggers, heck the top DH award is even named after him. He also spent his entire career in Seattle.

Why not: A lot of voters feel that Martinez, beyond DHing, was a one dimensional player. In addition, while he does have over 2000 hits, he never won a major award or broke a major milestone. And of course, there are steroid and PED allegations.

Verdict: 30-40%, Wait about 7 years and maybe he’ll be elected. Mariners logo on cap.

The Controversial Candidates

9. Barry Bonds

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HOF Credentials: All Time Home Run King (Career and Season),  7 NL MVPs, 14 All Star Selections, 12 Silver Sluggers, 8 Gold Gloves

Why? Steroids or no steroids, Barry Bonds was one of the greatest athletes of all time. Even before he allegedly juiced, he could have just as easily hit 500 home runs. Bonds also had plenty of hardware and accolades, pre-and-post alleged steroid usage. Let’s also not forget the fact that he owns both the season and career home run record.

Why not: Even though there is no actual evidence, other than the fact that he has a giant head and the body of a weightlifter, and the fact that his stats jumped after he reached his mid 30’s, there are a lot of people who believe that Bonds did in fact juice. Bonds also was very hostile to the media during his player career, something that the media rarely, if ever forgives. Did I mention the alleged juicing?

Verdict: May or may not be elected, but will likely take some time. Giants logo on cap if elected.

10: Sammy Sosa

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HOF Credentials: 609 Home Runs, 1 NL MVP, 7 All Star selections, 6 Silver Sluggers

Why: Sosa was an offensive machine for the Chicago Cubs. The NL’s answer to Frank Thomas during the 1990’s, Sosa did hit 609 home runs. To this date, only eight players have 600 home runs. He also has the accolades that befit a Hall of Famer, with 7 All-star selections and 6 silver sluggers.

Why not: Steroid rumors are definitely the biggie here, although it was never confirmed if he did or didn’t take them. Sosa also did have health issues that knocked him in his later career. His infamous testimony on Capitol Hill is another example. Oh, and who can forget the corked bat?

Verdict: May or may not be elected, but will take a lot of time. If elected, will be as a Cub.

So that’s my hypothetical ballot. As you can see, I went based on accomplishments and accolades, did put into account steroids, (although you all know my stance on the matter) and gave good thought as to who I thought really should be in. With 26 hours until the results are released, we’ll see how things turn out.

 

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