The 2014 Hall-of-Fame ballot has more deserving candidates than in any year I can remember. There were already more than 10 viable candidates on the 2013 ballot, but nobody was elected due largely to confusion and division on how to deal with players linked to the Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED). The additions of pitchers Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine and slugger Frank Thomas make the 2014 ballot even more crowded. There are 37 players on the ballot and writers can vote for up to 10 candidates. Unless a voter favors a very small elite Hall of Fame, this makes it virtually impossible to fill out a ballot without leaving off some deserving names. 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
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.
Greg Maddux: There is absolutely no excuse for leaving Maddux off the ballot. He won four consecutive Cy Young Awards between 1992-1995, has 355 career victories and his 104.8 WAR is 6th on the all-time list of pitchers. There is also no hint of PED use for those who take that into consideration.
Jeff Bagwell: Not on the same level as Bonds, Clemens and Maddox, 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.
Frank Thomas: Spent much of his career as a designated hitter, but what a hitter he was - an amazing 156 OPS+ lifetime and 15th all-time in batting runs. He should be an automatic selection, but some might penalize him too much for being a designated hitter.
Tom Glavine: played second fiddle to Maddux on the great Braves staffs of the 90s, but still a clear hall of famer with 305 wins, 4,400 IP and 73.6 WAR (22nd among pitchers).
Mike Mussina: Might get overlooked because he never won a Cy Young award, but had a 123 ERA+ in over 3,500 innings and his 345 Pitching Runs was an impressive 13th all-time.
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).
A voter can only check off ten names, but there are more than ten who
deserve Hall-of-Fame status. Falling off of my ballot from last year are Craig Biggio, Mark McGwire, Tim Raines and Larry Walker. I still believe they belong in the Hall of Fame and would also vote for Edgar Martinez.