Saturday, January 02, 2016

If I Had A Hall Of Fame Ballot: 2016

Superstar Ken Griffey should make Hall-of-Fame in first year on ballot. 
(Photo credit:

EDIT: I have now added Jeff Bagwell and dropped Larry Walker.  I had Bagwell last year, but then deleted him this year.  My brain thinks he is already in the Hall of Fame.  

There have been seven new Hall-of-Fame Inductees in the past two years - first baseman Frank Thomas, second baseman Craig Biggio and pitchers Tommy Glavine, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz.  This somewhat alleviates the log jam on the ballot which is due largely to confusion and division on how to deal with players linked to the Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED), but new candidates and several worthy holdovers still make voting a challenge.  There are 31 eligible players 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: The greatest player of his generation and on a very short list of the best players ever.  You can't have a Hall of Fame without him.  

Roger ClemensAs with Bonds, the Hall-of-Fame would not make much sense if it excluded Clemens.  He is one of the five best pitchers in the history of the game.

Jeff Bagwell: Not on the same level as Bonds, but still a slam-dunk selection.  He is 21st 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.

Ken Griffey: It's been said that Griffey belongs in the Hall of Fame because he put up great numbers while staying clean.  I personally do not know that he was any cleaner than Mike Piazza who has been accused of using without any real evidence.  So, I'm going to say he belongs because he put up great numbers including 630 home runs (sixth best ever) and 84 WAR (number 32 all time).  He was also an elite defender in his prime.    

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: Over shadowed by Cal Ripken and slick-fielding Ozzie Smith, but his 70 WAR is eighth all-time among shortstops.

Curt Schilling: 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), 81 WAR (21st best).  

Tim Raines:  Sometimes Raines gets pumped up a bit too much by his supporters, but his credentials are Hall-of-fame worthy.  The statistical highlights are 69 WAR, 1,571 runs (40th all time) and 808 stolen bases (4th). 

Edgar Martinez: Gets knocked down by some because he was primarily a designated hitter. On the other hand, some of his supporters think he belongs because he was one of the best ever at his position.  This is not a good argument because the position is limited to a pool of players who were among the worst fielders in the game.  For a designated hitter to make the Hall of Fame, he needs to be an elite hitter and Martinez's 147 lifetime OPS+ (32nd best ever) shows that he was.  He also accumulated 68 WAR with virtually no fielding contribution.

Honorable mention:

Larry Walker: A bit controversial because his numbers were inflated by the Denver altitude, but he had a 141 OPS+ and 73 WAR and was also an excellent fielder.  

1 comment:

  1. That's an honorable and inspiring ballot with the 10 most-deserving candidates, and I applaud your making a statement for a full ballot entry. It sends a message about previous decision injustices with a well-supported and concise explanation behind the thought process and methodology of your determination.

    Well done is a home(-)run.


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