For the first time in my brief blogging career, I have a full 10 man Hall of Fame ballot. And, as an added bonus, I actually got to submit a ballot for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. My ballot here is going to differ slightly from the one I sent in there, because the Google doc that we voted on didn’t have one of the players on there (unless I had a total brainfart and missed it).
When trying to conceptualize this post I had a few different ideas in mind, but I think I am going to break up my ballot into a couple different groups based on my levels of certainty, and then explain why I left off the people I left off.
(note: all of the WAR figures in this post are rWAR. I prefer fWAR but unfortunately when comparing historical players I only have rWAR to go on)
Without further ado:
Super Slam Dunk Obvious
1. Bert Blyleven, RHP
Beyond being my sentimental favorite, Bert is the most meritorious candidate on the list. He has 10 more WAR than his nearest competitor. The median for Hall of Famers is 56.9, and Bert has 90.1. That right there should end the debate, but we can delve a bit further (though I plan on giving Bert his own post on or around election day): For those saying Bert was only a compiler, they semi have a point as his WAM (wins above MVP, or single season WAR above 6.0) is slightly under the HOF median. Still it is safely within the margins of HOF voting. And his WAE (wins above excellence, single season WAR above 3.0) is roughly 10 wins over the median. The bottom line is that Bert deserves to be in and people who say otherwise are either beyond help in the intelligence department or are saying it just to be trolls.
2. Jeff Bagwell, 1B
Another slam dunk. Bags was better than the average hall of famer in 13 of his 15 seasons, and while younger people will probably remember him hitting balls out of the short left field of Enron/Minute Maid, remember that the bulk of his career was played in the Astrodome, where he still put up huge numbers (.406 wOBA). His career wasn’t amazingly long, but he still has the second most WAR on the ballot.
Pretty Damn Obvious
3. Roberto Alomar, 2B
I was pretty shocked when Alomar didn’t get in. Part of me wonders if the whole spitting on the umpire incident came back to bite him a bit, but looking at his numbers there is no doubt. His numbers are actually probably a bit worse than a couple other candidates I will get to, but Alomar is the best second baseman since Joe Morgan, and those two are a cut above every 2B since the dead ball era, so Alomar is a slam dunk for me.
4. Barry Larkin, SS
Larkin struggled with injuries a lot over the course of his career and while that probably hampers his case in the eyes of some voters, it probably should enhance it. Among all shortstops his career WAR is 5th among all shortstops elected into the HOF (by the writers). Though he won three gold gloves, Larkin wasn’t a spectacular defender, but he was incredible with the bat, posting a .371 wOBA over the course of his career, better than any elected shortstop except for Honus Wagner. Larkin spent every year of his career within or above the average HOF zone, and belongs in.
5. Edgar Martinez, DH
Because he was a DH I really don’t think Edgar will ever get in (though 36% in his first year on the ballot isn’t bad), but he should. His WAR is safely over the median, his WAE is slightly over the median, and his WAM is just barely under it. His career wOBA is .405, and when you consider it is harder to hit as a DH than a 1B, including him is just fine.
I thought you were a slam dunk, but perhaps not
6. Tim Raines, OF
After Blyleven, Raines seems to be the next sentimental favorite. He deserves to get in, but for me he is very close. Raines has the 4th most steals of anyone, and has a very impressive 84.7% career success rate. For more on Raines’s candidacy you can go here.
Semi-borderline, for some reason or another
7. Alan Trammell, SS
Trammell to me is basically Barry Larkin, but most of his value came with the glove. Because of the natural uncertainty in defensive stats I am a little bit more leery of making him a slam dunk, but he still deserves to be in. Just a little farther down my ballot.
8. Mark McGwire, 1B
Did McGwire use PED’s? Probably. But for one, so did a lot of people that we probably have no idea about, including a lot of pitchers who threw to him. Secondly, steroids don’t turn you from Yuniesky Betancourt to Alex Rodriguez. Steroids might lengthen someone’s decline phase, but McGwire tailed off quite a bit as it is, so that isn’t as much of an issue for me. It probably made his peak a bit higher than it “should have” been, but he was so good anyways that it’s hard for me to penalize him. The guy had a 162 OPS+ for crying out loud. In the end, my view on PEDs is I am not even going to really consider it as a factor, given its prevalence. If we could narrow it down and say “ok these 50 guys took them” then I would want them not in the Hall. But there is just no way of knowing how widespread it is, so McGwire gets in.
9. Larry Walker, OF
I don’t think I once thought of Walker as a hall of famer when he played, but it just goes to show you that you can’t rely on your memory to decide who a Hall of Famer was. Every year he played except for his worst year was spent within the HOF margin, and he had a 9 WAR season, which is better than any hitter on the ballot except for Bagwell (and Bret Boone somehow). People smarter than I say that Walker’s defense is underrated by Total Zone as well, boosting his value a bit in my eyes.
I didn’t have you in at first, but reconsidered
10. Kevin Brown, RHP
I was wrong wrong wrong about Kevin Brown. I originally left him off my ballot, but after reading and looking at some numbers I reconsidered. His WAE and WAM are both below the HOF median, but they both are also very close. And all of his seasons are above the HOF median, with most of them coming right in the heart of the steroid era. He had a 127 ERA+, better than Blyleven (though in 1,500 less innings). He is often overlooked, and I don’t know whether he will get in, but he should.
Dale Murphy: Only had 7 seasons in HOF territory, and only 44 WAR over the course of his career. He had a good peak, which is nice, but didn’t carry it for long. His WAE and WAR are both below the HOF median.
John Olerud: I am voting Olerud in next year, or whenever I don’t need the 10 spots on the ballot. He deserves to be in, but just not as much as these other guys.
Rafael Palmiero: Ditto to Olerud for me.
Lastly, some graphs comparing the candidates. First, the two pitchers I have in compared to three others on the ballot:
As you can see, Blyleven is comfortably in. Brown is a bit less comfortable but his peak does it for me. Jack Morris is in no way a Hall of Famer. Lee Smith is one of the better closers ever, and I think deserves to be in more than say Bruce Sutter, but I’m not sure he deserves it. And poor Al Leiter didn’t make it on the graph.
Also, excuse the little valley in the gray HoF zone line there. Data entry mistake.
Next, some middle infielders:
The best season on here belongs to……Bret Boone. But as you can see he tailed off like crazy and isn’t in the same conversation with the other three.
Lastly, the 1Bs, OFs and the lone DH
Looking at it this way really hurts Olerud’s case a bit, but I think he belongs in. Bagwell is a slam dunk and Edgar is as well.
Finally, some OFs
Walker and Raines are safely in, whereas neither Murphy nor Parker are close. Though Murphy did have a nice peak.
So there’s my ballot. If you want clarification on why I voted someone and not someone else, feel free to comment.