I wanted to do a deep dive into this year’s Hall of Fame Ballot, but never got around to it. I dreamed of covering a major league team. It never happened on a regular basis, but I did get to cover a handful of Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies games. So I had my Moonlight Graham moment. I’d never thought about having a vote, I just loved writing and loved baseball. But I appreciate the writers who understand the responsibility that comes with the vote and treat if with respect. I think the recent changes, in general, are good – particularly cutting some dead weight off the list of those who voted. Still, despite those changes, there are too many well qualified candidates on the ballot.
Here’s how I would vote, with an explanation on some.
Barry Bonds: Yes. Look, Bonds brought shame to the game. And I don’t like steroids. Some of his numbers a hollow. But the executives who let the game be riddled with drugs are in so it’s absurd to exclude the players, particularly ones who would have been locks before they took a drug. Guess what, he doesn’t get to make a speech.
Chris Carpenter: Not this year. I think he has a more legit case than most people realize. But the ballot is too glutted right now.
Roger Clemens: This yes pains me.
Johnny Damon: He’s a borderline candidate, but he wasn’t as good as Kenny Lofton, who belongs in the Hall of Fame and should have sailed in on his first attempt. Instead, voters shit the bed in one of their worst mistakes.
Vlad Guerrero: Yes! Dude hit .318/.379./553 with 181 stolen bases and some solid defense. Played just 16 years.
Livan Hernandez: No.
Trevor Hoffman: No. It doesn’t bother me if he’s in or out. Some people say that’s a sign he shouldn’t be in. That’s the argument of a fool. There are always going to be guys who are tough to gage. The issue with Hoffman is that he was durable and effective. Those our certainly two Hall of Fame traits. For example, Chase Utley won’t get into the Hall of Fame because he wasn’t durable despite the fact that when he played he was one of the six or seven best second basemen of all time. The same is true for Eric Davis in centerfield. The knock on Hoffman is he struggled when it mattered most and he never had that one dominant season. The same could be said of Dave Winfield and Eddie Murray, but they’re justifiably in the Hall of Fame. I vote no basically because there are a bunch of guys who need to get in first.
Orlando Hudson: No.
Aubrey Huff: No.
Jason Isringhausen: No.
Andruw Jones: No. This might be bias because I hated him as a player. But it’s a game of numbers on how many people I vote for.
Chipper Jones: Yes. He was remarkable. And I hated every moment of his disgustingly good career.
Jeff Kent: Yes. More home runs than any second baseman in history. A postseason walk off home rub. An MVP. This is long overdue. Get some of these guys who deserve enshrinement and are languishing on the ballot cleared off.
Carlos Lee: No.
Brad Lidge: No.
Edgar Martinez: Yes. Paul Molitor and Frank Thomas are already in the Hall of Fame as designated hitters. Edgar was better than Molitor. He’s not just a member of the .300/.400/.500 club, he hit .312/.418/.515
Hideki Matsui: No.
Fred McGriff: No, but yes next year. So you’re telling me that if he hit seven more home runs, he’d be a Hall of Famer? That’s asinine. The 500 home run club was about separating the Mantles and Matthews of the world from the Mizes and Kiners who were also Hall of Famers.
Kevin Milwood: No.
Jamie Moyer: No.
Mike Mussina: Yes. Why isn’t this obvious?
Manny Ramirez: No. Next year.
Scott Rolen: No. This ballot has a ton of jerks. But here’s the deal. By new school (70 WAR) or old school (316 homers) he’s a Hall of Famer at third base. But he can wait so we getting the guys who have been waiting.
Johan Santana: No, but closer than people realize.
Curt Schilling: Yes. God forgive me. He earned it.
Gary Sheffield: Next year.
Sammy Sosa: Next year.
Jim Thome: Yes. He was Paul Bunyan in stirrups. Everyone should happily support him.
Omar Vizquel: No. People compare him to Ozzie Smith. Vizquel was good, but he was lightyears worse than Smith offensively and not nearly as good defensively.
Billy Wagner: Not yet. I’d take him over Hoffman, to be honest.
Larry Walker: Yes. Eight years is too long a wait for a guy who hit .313/.400/.565 and stole 230 bases. This is the list of National Leaguers with higher slugging percentages: Barry Bonds and Rogers Hornsby.
Kerry Wood: No.
Carlos Zambrano: No.