The Hall of Fame Ballot

One of the things longtime readers know about me is that I tend to tread lightly on the stories that tend to otherwise generate the most media heat. I’ll write a post about the post-season awards, and I’ll occasionally weigh in on whatever issue is monopolizing the headlines on a given day, but I’m just as likely to give it all a miss to talk about other stuff.

Case in point: last year’s rage-fest over Jim Rice’s Hall of Fame candidacy. If blogs were written on paper, we would have had no forests after everyone got done spewing both good sense and nonsense over all of that last winter. For the record, no, I don’t personally consider Jim Rice a Hall of Famer. Also for the record, no, I will not lose an ounce of sleep if and when he finally makes it in. That’s because even though he’s not up to my standards, the Hall of Fame is filled with guys who aren’t either, so there’s no sense in me getting all worked up about it now. On a day to day basis my mood is simply not impacted all that much by who is or who isn’t in the Hall of Fame, and even the day the vote totals are announced is just another day to me.

With that out of the way, I will offer a basic opinion about this year’s ballot, and then retire to a place where no one tries to quantify how “feared” a given player was:

• Harold Baines : No

• Jay Bell: No

• Bert Blyleven: Yes, and almost as much ink has been spilled about him as Rice

• David Cone: No

• Andre Dawson: No, though I liked him a lot.

• Ron Gant: No, but Hrbek still shoved him off first base.

• Mark Grace: No

• Rickey Henderson: Yes, yes, yes

• Tommy John: No

• Don Mattingly: No

• Mark McGwire: Yes, because if you blackball him, you set the precedent for a lot of highly subjective and unseemly blackballing

• Jack Morris: No, because if you take away one World Series start, he’s pretty much Dave Steib.

• Dale Murphy: No, though as a Braves fan it pains me to admit it.

• Jesse Orosco: No

• Dave Parker: No, but anyone who votes for Rice should have to explain why they wouldn’t vote for Parker.

• Dan Plesac: No

• Tim Raines: Yes, but I think he’s a much closer call than a lot of statheads think, and he could use a Rice-like political campaign on his side.

• Jim Rice: No

• Lee Smith: No

• Alan Trammell: Yes. It’s not his fault that he was Ripken’s contemporary and first came eligible when everyone was Nomar/A-Rod/Jeter crazy.

• Greg Vaughn: No

• Mo Vaughn: Not even if you combined him with Greg Vaughn

• Matt Williams: No, but he does make my Bald Guys Before 30 Hall of Fame

That’s pretty much all I have to say about that. Stories like this, however, are exactly why I asked THT to give me a comments section, so by all means, fire away.

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  1. Zach Sanders said...

    I just don’t think you can let McGwire in on the first time. Let him stew for awhile and scare the other “users” in the process.

    Can we let Tommy John in based on fame alone? I mean, come on, the guy has a surgery named after him!

    Also, anyone who doesn’t vote for Rickey is a complete idiot.

    -Zach Sanders

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Fair point, Zach, but I think McGwire has stewed long enough.

    TJ:  Let Dr. Jobe or Andrews or whoever it was in the Hall then.  All Tommy did was get hurt and then get better.  The genius of it was the doctor’s.

    Rickey:  Agreed.  Still, there will be some old farts who deny him their vote because they still think he was too much of a hot dog 20 years ago.  They’ll conveniently forget, however, that the guy did everything he could to stay in the game for as long as he could, because he loved baseball more than anything in the world.

  3. Zach Sanders said...

    Fair point with Tommy John. If anyone was to get into the HOF based on heart alone, wouldn’t it be Rickey?

  4. Andy L said...

    My ballot is the same as yours except +Smith and -Trammell.  I don’t feel strongly enough about that discrepancy to argue, though.

    But man…Rickey was awesome.

  5. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Throw in Rick, and you’ve got a power hitting/power pitching Vaughn combo I can live with in Cooperstown.

  6. KenDynamo said...

    pretty much what my ballot would look like except i would also vote for dale murphy for no other reason than he was the fake signature on my little league baseball glove.  i’d also vote for mo vaughn because he definitely wouldnt make it and as a met fan that fat turd occupies a special place in my heart.

    couldnt agree more on mcgwire.  he has to be in the hall.  well, maybe not HAS to, but id vote or him in a heartbeat and hope he gets in.

  7. mkd said...

    When it comes to Ricky, it’ll be fun to hear the excuses made by the guys who don’t vote for him so they can preserve their precious no-one-gets-voted-into-the-HOF-unanimously streak.

    Why do I get the feeling it’ll remind me of the scene in Fight Club where they’re making up excuses why new recruits can’t join Project Mayhem: Sorry, I just couldn’t vote for Ricky, he was, um, too short, yeah, that’s the ticket. You’re too short Ricky! Now get off my porch!


  8. MooseinOhio said...

    Cool and old-school throwback the Babe could be proud of, especially if you factor in Charlie Sheen’s drinking and womanizing.

  9. Justin Zeth said...

    Jay Bell was about as good as Dave Concepcion or Omar Vizquel, both of whom will eventually be in the Hall. One of the more underrated players of the past 25 years.

    You badly insulted Dave Stieb by comparing him to Jack Morris. Frank Tanana was a better pitcher than Jack Morris – better overall career, better peak. I’m not kidding; look it up.

    I plan to attend the induction ceremony this year (July 26), because I certainly don’t want to miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like Rickey Henderson’s induction speech. Hopefully Rickey will go first, so I can enjoy his speech, and then also enjoy getting forcibly removed from the ceremony for heckling Jim Rice.

  10. Bryan McGouran said...

    I agree with your ballot, but I’m curious about the comment you made about Jack Morris.  Are you trying to imply that Morris was better than Stieb, or simply that they have comparable Hall of Fame cases?  Because if you meant the former, I would like to see your argument. 

    To me, it seems quite clear that Stieb was a far superior pitcher to Morris (career ERA+ of 122 to 105), only for a shorter period of time.  This is primarily due to the fact that his peak was MUCH higher that Morris’ (5 seasons with an ERA+ greater than Morris’ career high of 133, including a 172 in 265 IP in 1985), and his career was ended early due to various arm injuries.

    I do think it is at least defensible to say that they have similar Hall of Fame cases, if only because of the large innings edge that Morris had.  I would value Stieb’s career above Morris’ because even though the innings gap is large (about 1000 IP), Stieb was truly great for a handful of years, while outside of one memorable game Morris never really was.

  11. Craig Calcaterra said...

    The Morris/Steib thing was a quick, ill-considered line.  The point I was trying to make was that but for that World Series game, Morris would get no more Hall consideration than Steib does (i.e. none).  If you asked me a moment ago I would have said that Steib was better, but I probably have underestimated the difference between the two.

  12. Alex K said...

    I’d vote for MoGreg…or would GregMo work better?  And just for very homerish reasons I would put Dawson in too. 

    Do they televise HOF speeches?  If so Rickey’s will be saved on my DVR till the end of time.

  13. Craig Calcaterra said...

    You guys are all gonna feel guilty when Rickey rips off a moving, humble, three minute speech in which he thanks his mama, his Creator, and all of the wise and helpful men he played for and with over the course of his career.  He’ll end with a sonnett in which he expresses in verse those feelings about baseball which he can’t express in prose, and when he’s done there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

    Or maybe he’ll just snatch his plaque, hold it over his head and do “the butt dance” without even attempting to remove his Oakley sunglasses.

    It could go either way.

  14. AMusingFool said...

    > Rickey: yes, yes, yes

    This is your way of saying that if we cut Rickey into three players, you’d have three hall of famers?

    Raines & Dawson:  I’m surprised you’d rank it that way.  I don’t see either of them as a slam-dunk, but I also don’t see a whole lot to separate them.  Certainly, it’s evident that Dawson was better liked (see discrepancy in AS & MVP votes) and a better fielder, and that Rock was a bit better with the bat and a lot better on the bases.

    Blyleven:  Is allowing 50HR in one season really reason enough to disqualify him?  (sorry, that’s the MOST substantive argument I’ve heard for not putting him in.  I’m just sayin’…smile

    the Vaughns: well put!

  15. Rob said...

    I don’t know if you’ve seen Mo Vaughn recently, but he very well might have eaten Greg Vaughn.  Would that count?

  16. Justin Zeth said...

    I have to disagree about Tim Raines. As I’m sure Craig knows, the toughest of the 15 questions on the Keltner List is, “Is this the very best eligible player in baseball history that is not in the Hall of Fame?”

    For Tim Raines the answer quite probably is yes. (Assuming Rickey’s a slam dunk, of course.)

    Craig, I’m curious: Who do you consider the best eligible player not in the Hall of Fame?

  17. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Not counting Rickey, I’d say it could very well be Raines, though Dick Allen, Alan Trammell, and Ron Santo are all defensible choices.

  18. Jeremy said...

    Heck, Rick Reuschel was roughly as good as Morris (114 ERA+ to Morris’ 105), and he received a total of two votes in his one year of eligibility.

    (Not that I’m promoting Big Daddy for the Hall, of course.)

  19. Tom Leach said...

    Yes on Trammel, the VC someday needs to give serious thought to his DP partner, “Sweet” Lou. Big Mac, yes, he has simmered enough, Tim Raines yes, and i would go yes on Dick Allen and Santo if I has VC input. After that, the best player not in would be Joe Torre

  20. Dave said...

    making players “wait” a few years is the most contrived nonsense I’ve ever heard. if a player is good enough to get in, vote yes. if not, vote no. i don’t understand how waiting until the 4th or 5th eligible year to change a vote to yes is somehow showing respect to the HOF or the voting process.

  21. Sean Monahan said...

    I think it’s gonna take another eligible “juicer” on the ballot for McGwire to get in.  Right now he monopolizes the ire of those who want him out and those on the fence but looking to ‘make a statement’ with their exclusion of him.

    It gets far harder to do that when more people get on the ballot and folks realize, for example, that if they’re going to vote for Clemens, they can’t rightly exclude McGwire.

    I think Palmeiro is too villified to have a substantial impact, but perhaps when Bonds, Clemens & Sosa hit the ballot in 2012?

  22. glenn said...

    If you feel that Trammell belongs, how about his DP partner Whitaker?  I haven’t looked in a long time, but IIRC their stat lines are eerily similar.

  23. Craig Calcaterra said...

    I’d give Lou a hard look.  He never had an MVP type season like Trammell did (shoulda won in 1987), though, and that does matter in my mind.

    That said, I did join the Facebook group “Lou Whitaker was a badass” the other day, and that has to count for something.

  24. glenn said...

    Agreed, but if they are statistically similar,then it would stand to reason that they should both be inducted.  Not that I’m advocating either one’s enshrinement.  I never really decided whether I thought either one of them were deserving.

    I do know that AT was somewhat of a media darling in Detroit and elsewhere, while LW was much more reclusive, and I think that, and a few other things have a lot to do with why we hear only about Trammell and not about both of them.  Personally, I thought Whitaker was the more talented one, but that’s just my opinion.

  25. Douglas Peterson said...

    I have the same ballot as you plus Lee Smith (for what it’s worth… which is nothing). As a Cardinals fan, I can’t help but remember how awesome Lee Smith was growing up. That said, he probably only merits inclusion for being the first of his kind: a guy they threw in the 9th inning role because he had done it so many times before (see saves stat).

  26. Adrenalynn said...

    I’ve been saying the same thing about Rice and Parker for the past few years.  If you think Rice is a Hall of Famer, then you should also be championing the cause of Dave Parker.  Furthermore, if Rice goes in, the Parker should also.  During Rice’s so-called peak years of 1975-1986, the two compare very similarly offensively and on impact (MVP voting, All-Star selections, Silver Slugger awards), but Parker was also a Gold Glover with one of the more memorable throwing arms in MLB history.  His throw during the 1979 All Star game to nail ironically enough Jim Rice at the plate still makes the highlight reels.  Personally, I don’t think either one should be enshrined so they get no’s from me, but I wouldn’t be upset if either was honored.

    As for the rest of the ballot, I differ from you on Tommy John, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell, but I don’t feel strongly about any of them except John.  In John’s case, I’d like to see Jim Kaat enshrined first but I think John belongs and not just because of the ligament replacement surgery that bears his name.

    The only thing I’ll say about McGwire is this… he still had to hit the ball.  He gets my vote.

    PS. Yes, Rickey was a blowhard, but I loved watching him play.

  27. Justin Zeth said...

    Screw Dave Parker; I want to hear each and every one of the Jim Rice voters explain in writing why they voted for Jim Rice but are not going to vote for Juan Gonzalez.

  28. MikeD said...

    Justin Zeth, thanks for the Frank Tanana mention. I’m old enough to have seen him when he was nasty, and he was a bad-ass pitcher until he blew his arm out by at 24.  (Correction:  The Angels blew his arm out. He pitched nearly 250 innings as a 19-year-old from minors to majors, and that abuse continued for the next four seasons.) He went from throwing 98 to 88 in just about one season. It would be as if Randy Johnson transformed into Jamie Moyer when he was 25.  I can’t think of any comparable pitcher to Tanana.

  29. pete said...

    I completely agree, Michael—Belle’s counting stats are very similar to Rice’s, which is amazing when you consider that Belle played in 500 fewer games. And their peaks aren’t even close—Belle had four seasons where his OPS+ was higher than Rice’s best.

    It’s really a shame that Belle’s career ended early…it looked like he was going to walk into the Hall.

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