Wednesday, December 26, 2012

If I had a Hall-of-Fame Ballot

The 2013 Hall-of-Fame voting should be one of the most interesting ever with several players - including two of the greatest in the history of the game - linked to the Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) controversy and a ballot that includes more than ten worthy candidates.  There are 37 players on the ballot and writers can vote for up to 10 candidates.  I, of course, do not have a vote, but will fill my theoretical ballot here.

My selection process involves comparing players to their contemporaries, other players at the same position and current Hall-of-Fame members.  I value peak performance and career performance equally.  I use many traditional and advanced statistics, most of which can be found on Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.  Some of my favorites are plate appearances, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging average, batting runs, wOBA,and WAR for hitters and innings pitched, ERA, pitching runs, strikeouts and WAR for pitchers.  I used multiple WAR statistics in my analysis, but any WAR cited below is Baseball-Reference WAR.

I do not bring PED use into my thought process.  The use of PEDs has been very widespread, not only in the 1990s and 2000's, but all the way back to the sixties and even further.  It is impossible to know which players stayed clean and which used and how much it affected their performance.  Eliminating or even judging players based on suspicion seems very unfair to me.  It also seems pretty obvious that the game turned a blind eye to the problem for many decades.  Thus, I consider PED use to have been part of the game and choose players solely based on their on-field performance.

Now, for my ballot:

Barry Bonds: He was the greatest player of his generation and is on a very short list of the best players ever.  You can't have a Hall-of-Fame without him. 

Roger Clemens: As with Bonds, it would be silly to leave Clemens out of the Hall-of-Fame.  He is one of the five best pitchers in the history of the game.

Jeff Bagwell: Not on the same level as Bonds and Clemens, but still a slam-dunk selection.  He is 23rd all-time in Batting Runs and has a WAR comparable to Rod Carew, Joe Dimaggio and Pete Rose.   

Mike Piazza: Another automatic selection.  He is arguably the best hitting catcher ever leading all receivers in Batting Runs and Weighted Runs Created. 

Tim Raines: One of best all-around players of his generation.  His 66.2 WAR is fifth best all-time among left fielders.

Craig Biggio: Had 3,060 lifetime hits and there was nothing hollow about the achievement. He had 291 homers, 414 stolen bases and led all second basemen in runs and doubles.  He even caught for a few years. 

Alan Trammell: He was over shadowed by Cal Ripken and slick-fielding Ozzie Smith, but his 67.1 WAR is tied with Barry Larkin for ninth all-time.

Curt Schilling: He was arguably the best post-season pitcher ever, but was a lot more than that.  He had a 127 ERA+, 3,116 strikeouts (15th best ever), 77 WAR (26th best). 

Larry Walker: His numbers were aided by Coors field, but was still one of the best all-around players of his era.  His 141 OPS+ was 7th best ever among right fielders and 69.7 WAR was 6th.  Also a great defender.

Mark McGwire: Had a short injury-marred career, but his peak years can not be ignored.  His 583 home runs is 10th on the all-time list and his 163 OPS+ is 13th.
A voter can only check off ten names,but there are more than ten who deserve Hall-of-Fame status.  I would also vote for Edgar Martinez and perhaps Rafael Palmeiro and Kenny Lofton.   

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