Dec 9, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Newly-inducted Baseball Hall of Fame managers Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox (l-r) pose for a photo during the MLB Winter Meetings at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
It’s that time of the year again. Time for the annual debate to begin. Who deserves to be in the 2014 MLB Hall of Fame class? Who has to wait at least one more year?
I’m not the kind of guy that has loose interpretations as to what makes a Hall of Famer. I don’t think it is the Hall of Really Good. But that being said, it is the Hall of FAME and not the Hall of Stats.
Here are a few disclaimers before I reveal my ballot – of which I don’t actually have one, this is all for fun.
1- The biggest issue, I would vote for players possibly/were linked to steroids and here is why. It was NOT against the rules of the game at the time, they did not test for it, they knew it was happening and largely turned a blind eye to it for two decades. It happened, it’s a part of the game’s history and the best players from that era should be recognized.
The Hall of Fame should be a way to tell the history of the game, not just the good parts. And any player considered for the Hall should be able to pass a simple test: Can you tell the history of the sport without _______?
Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
If the answer is no, then they should be in the Hall.
This notion by the writers who refuse to put steroid players in the Hall because they cheated the game is ludicrous and two-faced. These are the same people – primarily – who saw it happening and said nothing for 20 years. Can you honestly tell me that you can tell someone the history of baseball and not mention Big Mac, Sosa and the whole steroid era? It’s a hypocrisy and a sham and I won’t play that game.
2- The Designated Hitter is a recognized position in the game of baseball. The honor the best each year with a DH award (The Edgar Martinez Award) the best each year also gets a Silver Slugger. To punish a player because they played their career primarily as a DH is short-sided bull. It’s like punishing the greatest kickers in NFL history for not being a quarterback. It’s a position, there should be a place in the Hall for those that deserved it, get over it.
3- I was a huge proponent of Dale Murphy getting into the Hall. He was my idol growing up and he had a Hall-caliber career. Remember, it is the Hall of FAME, not NUMBERS. Murphy was a two-time NL MVP – the youngest ever to do so – a seven-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner and four-time Silver Slugger.
His body broke down without the benefits of steroids and he just missed the 400 HR mark (398) which may have pushed him over the edge for many voters. Last year was Murph’s 15th and final year of eligibility. Sadly, his fate now rests in the hands of the veteran’s committee.
Keep all of this in mind as you read through my ballot.
The ones who fell short
Moises Alou– Like I mentioned earlier, this is not the Hall of Very Good. Alou had a great career and he will get some votes, just not from me.
Armando Benitez– 26th in MLB history in saves. A good closer, not great.
Luis Gonzalez– Again, another good-great player. Not a Hall of Famer.
Jeff Kent– This one will create some debate. Probably one of the best offensive second-baseman of the past 25 years, possibly ever. He will get knocked for his defense which was lackluster at times.
Don Mattingly– Close, I mean close. Cool nickname? Donnie Baseball – Check. Played for historical high-profile team? New York Yankees – Check. Top-10 in fielding percentage among first baseman, all time? 9th – Check. If I could vote for 11, Donnie would get in. Let’s put it this way, if Murphy had gotten in, I think Mattingly would get in. Murph didn’t, Mattingly won’t.
Jack Morris– I agree with many other voters who have not voted for Morris because his ERA was too high. He was a workhorse and was often asked to pitch way more than most pitchers. He did pitch an absolute gem in the 1991 World Series which is easily one of the best games in WS history. He may be put in by the Veteran’s committee, but he will not get in this, his final year of eligibility.
Mike Mussina– I may or may not change my tune on Mussina. But the simple fact is that this year, there is such a crowded ballot, I can’t justify leaving anyone off to make room for Mussina. Perhaps next year.
Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa and Larry Walker all miss the cut this year because of the crowded ballot. I would like to see all of them get in at some point. Smith and Raines may be the odd men out though.
Ray Durham, Eric Gagne, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Hideo Nomo, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Mike Timlin and Alan Trammell all have accomplishments of some sort throughout their career, but not Hall-worthy. I debate Nomo only based on the “tell the story of the game” aspect. It’s hard to tell the history of MLB without mentioning the first Japanese-born player to permanently relocate to the US to play MLB.
Jeff Bagwell– Never really mentioned as a possible steroid guy, though if you look at his arms from his rookie year to the following years you may wonder. Part of one of the most lopsided trades in history when he was traded by the Red Sox- though you wouldn’t have known it at the time. His place in Cooperstown should be a lock.
Craig Biggio– Started his career as a catcher, moved to second and should move into Cooperstown. Over 3,000 hits, one of the highest doubles totals in history. Classy guy and deserving of enshrinement.
Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Barry Bonds– Refer to what I said in the disclaimers. He’s in, end of story.
Roger Clemens– Yes he was a giant pain in the….ahem, to a lot of people. He was also one of the most dominant pitchers of the last 25 years.
Tom Glavine– The 4th most wins (305) by a lefty in MLB history. Quite possibly the last lefty we see win 300+ for quite a while. The only pitchers with more wins that aren’t in the Hall of Fame are Greg Maddux (see below) and Roger Clemens (see above).
Greg Maddux– They should rename the Cy Young award the Greg Maddux award. Some may argue it should be named the Clemens but I grew up as a Braves fan (and Mariners of course) so I am gonna call it the Maddux. Eighth on the all-time win list, 13th in innings pitched, 18 Gold Gloves. The dude did it all.
Fred McGriff– The Crime Dog gets in on nickname alone. Keeping mind what I said in the Edgar story (Given the thousands upon thousands of players to have played the game throughout history, to be in the top-100 in ANY category is an accomplishment) McGriff was 98th in career hits, 42nd in career RBI, 42nd in career walks, 47th in career extra-base hits, 13th in career putouts, 10th in career assists at 1B and 26th in career home runs.
Mark McGwire– Like I mentioned in the opening, the steroid era happened. Stop ignoring it and enforcing a double-standard. You simply cannot tell the history of the game of baseball and leave out Mark McGwire (for the homer chase of 1998, the steroid scandal, his home run record his rookie year) PERIOD.
Frank Thomas– Defensively, Thomas cost teams wins. His dWAR was never above 0 in any given year. Offensively, he was a beast. Back-to-back AL MVP and top-5 finishes four other times. A .301 career average, 20th best career OBP, 22nd best career SLG%. He ranks 18th and 22nd in HR and RBI respectively. Played primarily as a DH later in his career, making him arguably one of the best ever at the position (Edgar and David Ortiz ahead of him).
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Who would you put in this year? Who would you leave out forever? Vote in our fan poll below.