Well, it’s that time of year. College football season is just about over, and we’re a little more than six weeks away from Major League pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training. This means one important thing: time to debate who should or shouldn’t be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Since no one was elected last year, the ballot this year is pretty friggin’ loaded. The writers are only allowed to vote for 10 eligible retirees, and for whatever reason, some of those writers won’t write down 10 names. I don’t have that problem, and not just because I’m not a member of the BBWAA (if you know how I can gain membership, let me know).
When I first looked at the 2014 ballot, I wrote down a list of names. 11 names to be exact. D’oh. I did one of these posts (found here) last year and played the part of Mr. Judgey McJudgerson, leaving off anyone who was directly linked to PED use (Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Sosa). 5 of the 7 guys I’d have elected last year, get my vote again this year. Dale Murphy was dropped from the official ballot not because he isn’t deserving, but because he had been on the ballot too long without being elected. Jack Morris is down to his last chance (frankly, he should be in) and Don Mattingly has two more chances, including this year. So who would I vote for? Let’s find out!
Something Old: 5 Hold-Overs from 2013–since I’ve already gone over their qualifications, I won’t rehash their stats, awards, etc. Just take a look back at my 2013 ballot for that.
- Jeff Bagwell
- Craig Biggio
- Tim Raines
- Lee Smith
- Fred McGriff
Something New: The New Guys–One lightening rod, one guy with better stats than you remember, one slam-dunk-no-doubt-one-of-the-greatest-of-all-time pitchers, and two who will be unfairly guilty by association.
Barry Bonds–When Bonds wasn’t elected last year, I wasn’t surprised. I then went on to write a post (seen here) about why I felt he should have been elected to the Hall of Fame, comparing his pre-steroids numbers to another Hall of Famer with similar numbers (but a much better relationship with the press). Don’t feel like clicking that link? Well, here are those 1986-1998 numbers: 1918 hits, 1364 runs, 411 home runs, 1216 RBI, 445 stolen bases, 1357 walks, 3 MVPs, 8 All-Star Game appearances, 9 Gold Gloves, and 7 Silver Sluggers. If Bonds had retired after the ’98 season, he’d have been elected. But he didn’t, and with a little bit of help, he went on to finish with these numbers: 762 home runs (most all-time), 2558 walks (most all-time, and 688 of those intentional), 2935 hits, 1996 RBI, 514 stolen bases, 7 MVPs (most all-time), 9 Gold Gloves, 158.1 WAR (3rd best all-time), .444 OBP (4th best all-time), .607 SLG (6th best all-time). Love him or hate him, Barry Bonds should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Tom Glavine–One of the best pitchers of the 1990’s, Glavine won 305 games (21st all-time) in 22 seasons, starting all 682 games (12th most starts all-time) he appeared in. He’s 24th all-time in strike-outs with 2,607, 30th in innings pitched (4,413.3). His 74.0 WAR for Pitchers is good for 28th best all-time, and Glavine is a 2-time NL Cy Young Award winner (1991, 1998).
Greg Maddux–From 1988 through 2004, he won at least 15 games every year, and from ’88 to ’03, he never had an ERA over 3.96. Maddux wasn’t a power pitcher, but he still struck out 3,371 batters in his career, good for 10th all-time. He made 740 career starts (4th most all-time), with 109 complete games, and 35 shutouts. In 5,008.3 innings (13th most all-time), he only allowed 999 walks–that’s less than 2 walks per 9 innings pitched. Maddux won the NL Cy Young Award 4 straight years, from ’92 to ’95, and finished in the top 5 in ’89, ’96, ’97, ’98, and 2000. Maddux’s 355 wins are good for 8th best all-time. He was the first pitcher I was willing to pay just to see pitch. If Greg Maddux doesn’t get elected to the Hall of Fame on 100% of the ballots, then the BBWAA who don’t vote for him shouldn’t be allowed to write or watch a baseball game ever again. Just let them watch soccer for the rest of their days.
Mike Piazza–I struggled with Piazza, but the more I thought about it, the easier it became to give him a vote. The 1993 NL Rookie of the Year, Piazza is probably the greatest hitting catcher of all-time. He finished with a .308 batting average (122nd all-time), a .545 slugging percentage (30th best), .922 OBP (47th) 2,127 hits, 427 homers (47th best), 1,335 RBI (90th), 146 IBB (50th most all-time), and his 65.7 Offensive WAR is good for 72nd best all-time. Sure, he wasn’t known for his defense, but Piazza finished with 10,844 put-outs (8th most all-time), 733 assists (90th most) in 1,630 games as a catcher–only 20 guys have played more games behind the plate than Piazza. Catcher is a demanding position, and Piazza for a long time. Much like Bagwell and Frank Thomas, his name has never been associated with PEDs and frankly, he should get in to the HOF this year.
Frank Thomas–Before Albert Pujols came along, Thomas was the best right-handed hitter since…I’m not sure…probably Willie Mays. 521 homers (18th), .301 average, .974 OPS (14th), 1704 RBI (22nd), 1667 walks (1oth), 2 AL MVP awards. Thomas has as many homers and MVP’s as Ted Williams, a higher batting average than Barry Bonds and Mickey Mantle, his OPS is better than Mel Ott and Ty Cobb, more RBIs than Cal Ripken Jr, George Brett, and Mike Schmidt, and more walks than Stan Musial, Lou Gerhig, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. Just based on his offensive numbers, he’s right up there with Bonds and Griffey in the “best hitters of the 90’s” conversation.
Thanks to the BBWAA for not electing anyone in 2013, I had to leave some fairly deserving guys off of my ballot. Those names are: Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Jack Morris, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Alan Trammel, Larry Walker. Sorry, boys. Maybe next year.
Want to see the full ballot? Just head on over to the Baseball Hall of Fame website.