Here’s a riddle: what are you to do when you want to vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame but are way too young to be in the BBWAA? You join the IBWAA, of course! I joined as a life member a couple years ago and went through this same process last year. There are 15 spots available on an IBWAA ballot (compared to just 10 with the BBWAA), though I do not plan on having 15 names on my ballot. My choices – with explanations – are below. Note that Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, and Mike Piazza are not on the ballot because they have all been “enshrined” in the past, even though I would have voted for all of them had they been on the ballot. Though that distinction means nothing in regards to enshrinement in Cooperstown, it is evidence that the BBWAA needs to get its act together and elect these deserving players!
Without further ado, here are the players on my IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot.
Who I’m Voting for Again
Edgar Martinez: Here’s what I said last year…
A career .312 hitter who somehow amassed 2,247 hits while playing in at least 130 games just 12 times. He also hit over 500 doubles and was the poster child for a generation that utilized a full-time designated hitter. Plenty of voters will penalize Martinez for playing a majority of his games at DH, but I find that unfair. I believe that good fielders can get a boost, but I’d consider Martinez on part with Jeff Kent, who I chose for similar reasons.
This year? I stand by it. Just because Martinez didn’t play the field much in his career doesn’t mean he isn’t a Hall of Fame-caliber hitter. And at least he didn’t cost his teams with poor fielding, either.
Fred McGriff: Here’s what I said about him last year…
The Crime Dog amassed career totals of 2,490 hits, 493 of which were home runs. Another casualty of the ’94 strike, he likely gets to 500 long balls and 2,500 hits, two milestones that would have had him enshrined already. 10 hits and seven homers should not keep McGriff out of Cooperstown, though I could understand why he will likely miss out on Cooperstown and end up in the theoretical Hall of Very Good.
There are arbitrary thresholds and the players’ strike should be taken into account for players like McGriff and Kenny Lofton.
Mike Mussina: Last year, I said…
He won 270 games and was a consistent ace for over a decade. Of course, this was during an era of strong hitting, so his raw numbers are lacking compared to pitchers from other eras. He also missed 3,000 strikeouts, which is another hit to his resume. Good defense might help him out, but plenty of voters will find his case shaky at best. I think 270 wins over a stellar career that ended in New York should get “Moose” enshrined eventually, but I’d consider him a long shot for 2015.
He does not have the strongest old-school resume, but I think he should be enshrined. Not to mention, his WAR is just 0.6 behind Junior Griffey and fourth-best among HOF-eligible players.
Who I Voted for This Year But Not Last Year
Larry Walker: Last year, I used the Coors Field argument against him.
This was a toughie because his raw numbers are very good. However, Walker played a lot of his career in Colorado, where his numbers have been heavily Coors-aided. He never hit more than 23 homers in a non-Colorado season, which is why I cannot buy his inflated total power numbers.
Walker was aided by the height, but his road splits were .278/.370/.495. Those are very good numbers in their own right, and are the reason I’m giving a vote to Walker this time around.
First Ballot HOFer
Ken Griffey Jr.: 630 career homers, won a gold glove every year of the 1990s, and had absolutely no ties to PEDs. Need I say more?
Who I’m NOT Voting for Again
Jeff Kent: Last year, I wrote…
A career .290 batting average, 377 homers, and 560 doubles are great totals for someone at any position. Kent accomplished all of this while playing second base, even winning the 2000 NL MVP. His home runs are the most all-time by a player at his position. While his WAR is a bit on the low side, it is still ahead of plenty of already enshrined second basemen, which I believe strengthens his case.
He didn’t even get 2,500 hits and his defense was pedestrian, at best. I might change my mind again next year, but he is not in the same class as the guys I am voting for this year.
Alan Trammell: Here was my case for him a year ago.
A career .285 hitter at shortstop, Trammell spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. He has a higher career JAWS rating than Derek Jeter and also played defense, something Jeter never did. Every single retired shortstop of the modern era ranked above Trammell is in Cooperstown, which is why I voted him in.
I should be nice, since he is in his last year of eligibility, but his OPS+ was 97 or worse in 11 of his 20 seasons. He led the league in sacrifice hits twice, which is kind of like getting a perfect score on your driving test. It’s a nice accomplishment that you can brag about, but it doesn’t mean you’re a significantly better driver than anyone else.
The relievers: Last year, I said I would vote for Trevor Hoffman once he joined the ballot. I guess I lied to myself, because he isn’t on my ballot this year. Honestly, I think he and Billy Wagner have very similar cases, and neither deserve a vote in year one.
The steroid guys: I have chosen not to vote for any steroid guys, regardless of performance, because no precedent has been sent. I stand by my argument: until the first steroid guy gets in, I will not vote for any of them.
Jason Kendall: I loved batting him leadoff in MVP Baseball 2005. Moving on.
Jim Edmonds: He was memorable for his highlights, but he couldn’t get to 2,000 hits and his defense does not hold up too strongly with newer metrics.
Nomar Garciaparra: He had some really good seasons, but not nearly enough counting stats to earn my vote.
Curt Schilling: I might have considered voting for him if he wasn’t such a curmudgeon of a person. I can’t believe I once liked the guy.
My completed ballot is below, with selected players highlighted. If you have an opinion of your own – let’s face it, with Hall of Fame voting, everyone does – feel free to leave it in the comments below or tweet me @NSF_Alex.