Happy Hall of Fame induction season everyone. I’m sure you’ve already been bludgeoned over the head repeatedly with Hall of Fame news in the past couple weeks, but this is my second favorite time of the offseason (coming in behind the ulcer and high blood pressure inducing Winter Meetings). Even if some writers are just looking for attention by turning in blank ballots. A couple have done the right thing, and not hurt the percentages by simply not turning in a ballot. At Fansided, Lewis Pollis (who is the Senior Editor for Wahoo’s on First) put together a Hall of Fame ballot and vote for the baseball writers. Since I had nothing to do that day, I decided to partake. I know the suspense is probably killing you now, but we will get to my ballot in a minute.
This is one of the deepest Hall classes in recent memory, if not history. From top to bottom the ballot is littered with players who should, and will, garner serious consideration for induction. Of course there are the Royce Clayton‘s of the world on this year’s ballot, but we will just ignore there existence for the time being. It is highly likely, that some players fall off the ballot that would otherwise at least stand a Jim Rice chance at making it into the hall. For those who prefer a “Small Hall,” this is great news. Personally, I prefer a “Big Hall.” Not many players going forward are going to live up to the standards that were set by legends nearly a century ago. We will see glimpses of it, but with media today being available at lightning speeds, there’s no time for a player to become a folk hero type legend. We can tell our children about Mike Trout‘s rookie season, or Pedro Martinez‘s dominance from 1999-2001, but the word of mouth lore that turned Bob Feller into the “Heater from Van Meter” doesn’t exist anymore. And the Hall of Fame, and the writers, should adjust accordingly.
The chart below shows each of the following players career bWAR (Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement), the total for their seven best season, their JAWS total (explanation here) and what an average Hall of Famer’s JAWS is at the position that each player played at primarily. For example, Craig Biggio played catcher, second base, left field, center field and right field, but his primary position throughout his career was second base. Therefore, the average Hall of Famer’s JAWS that he is up against, is that of other Hall of Fame second basemen.
Jeff Bagwell - I don't remember ever getting the memo that 500 was the new magic number of home runs for a position player to reach. I'm going to say that hitting 449 career home runs, as well as having the 22nd best OPS of all time, all while playing during the "Steroid Era" and not having any link to taking PED's is good enough in my book. Last year he was named on 56% of the ballots, this could be his year to get in.
Craig Biggio - Hello Mr. "I can play anywhere." 3,000 knocks equals a check mark from me. Some say that it was just a by product from playing for 20 years. I say, displaying longevity is one of the criteria for induction.
Edgar Martinez - Think about this for a minute, the best DH in the American League every year is given the "Edgar Martinez Award." For what it's worth, Martinez wasn't a bad third basemen, he was simply moved to DH to avoid injuries. And to keep his bat in the lineup. And oh my, what a bat. The injuries early in his career kept him from accruing enough playing time to build up the counting stats to reach certain magic numbers. But, if you're former position is now defined by what you did in that position, you were probably a pretty special player.
Fred McGriff - Yet another slugger hurt by the new "500 home run" thing. Yet another slugger with no ties to PED use. Yet another slugger who deserves induction.
Jack Morris - The perplexing case that is Jack Morris. Great mustache. Mediocre ERA. A great pitcher during a time when there were rumblings that the ball was juiced (Jack Howell hit a broken bat home run in 1987). He isn't the best pitcher for the Hall, but there are worse already enshrined.
Dale Murphy - Murphy's decline was like jumping off the ledge at the Grand Canyon. There was no slope, just a steep drop. But, during the 1980's, he had few equals. His peak bWAR puts him just outside of Hall of Fame status, but integrity and character still mean something. We dismantle players with a bad character, even induct some into the Hall, but we rarely use "good character" as a reason to legitimize someone's candidacy. Here's looking at you Dale, you got my vote.
Mike Piazza - Greatest. Hitting. Catcher. EVER! Couple that with the handle bar mustache and curly mullet, and you have a sure fire Hall of Famer.
Curt Schilling - Cocky, check. Insufferable jerkface, check. One of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time, you better believe it. Regardless of his video game business going bankrupt and folding, Schilling hits the magic number of 3,000 strikeouts as well as scores points for pitching with a bloody sock (which might be going on the market soon. keep your eyes peeled baseball memorabilia collector types).
No Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens this year. The ties to PED's are just to thick to cut through. Are the Hall of Famer's next year? I'd vote for them, but I believe that being a "First Ballot Hall of Famer" is a special kind of honor and they don't deserve that. No one trick Ponies like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. No Lee Smith, because saves are overrated. Rafael Palmeiro is one player that I flip flopped on, especially after reading this article. I would've thrown Tim Salmon a sympathy vote, but he fell off the ballot last year. Sorry King Fish, you're a Hall of Famer to me. And for the love of all things, no Bernie Williams. If Bernie Williams is a Hall of Famer, Garret Anderson is a Hall of Famer, and Anderson is not a Hall of Famer.
Those are my selections in a totally fictional vote. It was fun. I'm pretty sure if I had to actually vote in the BBWAA, I'd probably have a nervous breakdown considering all the controversies and creams and clears surrounding some of these players.
"Table for two please."
"But there's only one of you."
"That's what you think." Said some writer in Kentucky. Probably.