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Friday, November 30, 2012

If I Could Vote on the Hall of Fame

I like voting. It's still kind of fun to me to take surveys and express my opinion, and I find it interesting to see how I compare with everybody else. And now that the 2013 BBWAA Hall of Fame official ballot has been released, I can pick out the ten names I would choose if I had a choice (and used all 10 of my votes)! Here they are, in alphabetical order.
Jeff Bagwell was the face of the Astros in the 1990s, and while he didn't join the 500 home run club, he was a consistently strong player and holds several team records. He is considered one of the best first basemen of all time, and his batting stance is still visible in many baseball fans' memories today. That says Fame to me.
While he may have been (okay, was) a jerk, and might have used steroids at some point in his career, he is one of the best pitchers of all time. His domination on the mound didn't just come from power, but also presence and pitching smarts. And while I'm not condoning it, having a cocky attitude may be what Roger Clemens needed to be a dominating pitcher.
Julio Franco may not hold many MLB statistical records, but he's Hall of Fame material in my mind for other reasons. He set several records for "oldest" player to do several things, and he was an all-around good guy to have on any ballclub - several of which he played for. Between eight MLB teams, at least nine minor league teams, Mexican League ball, the Dominican Winter League, a South Korean team, and twice playing for the Marines here in Japan, he might have the record for most teams played with total. I'm not sure. Over his 26-year career, he compiled over 4200 hits in major, minor, and international league play - only Ty Cobb and Pete Rose have done that too. He had an outstanding 1991 season, and holds an MLB career batting average of .298 with 2586 hits. While I think he doesn't have a chance to make it on the BBWAA ballot, I hope he eventually gets in.
Could there be anyone who looks more miserable to be riding the bench? Edgar Martinez made a career of spending most of his time on the pine while still being on the starting lineup, and might be the best designated hitter of all time. He has a career batting average of .312 with 2247 hits and 309 home runs. The award for the best DH is named after him. He is one of Seattle's fan favorites, and raised the bar for players who take the field.
Don Mattingly might be one that gets elected many, many years from now. He had a high batting average and was a great player, though he was on the worst Yankees run in the past century. Mattingly has won multiple awards and has had his number retired by the Yankees. I would like to see him elected after his managerial career comes to an end, because the Dodgers are looking pretty good and could put it all together for a while.
What do you do with a man who is a member of one of the most prestigious clubs in baseball, brought interest back to the game after the horrible 1994 strike, and recently admitted to using steroids during his career? Maybe you put an asterisk on his plaque. I'm not sure. But McGwire was an important part of baseball both during the A's dynasty of 1988-1990 and the 1998 home run chase, and he has 583 home runs in his career.
Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez and Don Mattingly are all faces of their franchises. So is Dale Murphy. He didn't put up great career numbers but was a perennial All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and Silver Slugger winner. He has twice been the NL MVP. His number is retired by the Braves and his legend in Atlanta is on par with Chipper Jones. Plus, the Braves were America's Team for a long time and thus his fame reaches out beyond the southeast.
What do you do with one of the best hitting catchers of all-time? Piazza was known for his bat (.308, 427 HR) but was a pretty good behind the plate as well. He was a twelve-time All Star, ten-time Silver Slugger winner, and the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year. He should be in the Hall next year.
A member of the 3000-Strikeout Club, Curt Schilling has frequently come through in the postseason and has been a member of a World Series-winning team three times.
Another local fan favorite, Trammell ended up on several All Star teams and has won multiple awards. Between his bat and glove, he proved to be a valuable part of the Tigers organization and was half of the longest-running double play combination in history with Lou Whitaker. Statistically, he's one of the top ten shortstops of all time and ranks better than many Hall of Fame shortstops.
I put that card of Barry Bonds at the top of this post. Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame. Whether you like him or not, he was a presence on the field both with the Pirates and the Giants. He holds a ton of records - he was the Babe Ruth of the 1990s and 2000s. I believe he did steroids, but at this point I believe that nearly everyone else did as well. He was driven to be the best, and even before he probably started doing steroids he was one of the best on the field. But I think there are plenty of other deserving players not getting enough attention. And, Bonds doesn't deserve unanimous selection. He will have to settle for less than the best.

Honestly, I really think Bonds suffered from a need to be the best. He had to be better than everyone - season home runs, career home runs - he is very close to being the all-time leader in several other categories. Even just a couple years ago, he had dreams of returning to the field, and I bet he would have played for the league minimum.

I'm going to continue my thoughts on the Hall of Fame in my next post...


  1. I'd like to keep the roid boys out, but where do you draw the line? Some say Bagwell, Schilling and Piazza have the taint. It's all a mess for me and it has totally lost the allure it once had.

  2. It seems everybody from the era is suspected, and how can you know for sure? Actually I touched on that on the next post. Of the 10 I picked above, only McGwire has admitted using steroids, and Clemens the only other seriously accused. If the Hall is going to keep the steroids users out, McGwire would be the only one I would keep out for sure. But as hiflew pointed out in the linked post, every HOFer had flaws, and many of them cheated in some way or another.