In what appears to now be a tradition, if two years in a row can be called a tradition, I offer my completely unofficial Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. To be eligible to cast a real ballot a person must be a Baseball Writer’s Association of America member for at least 10 years and cover baseball for 10 consecutive years for an accredited outlet. It goes without saying I have neither qualification, and odds are I’ll never meet either of them. But I have a blog, and I get to tell anyone that cares who I would have voted for. So, I will.
Last year’s posting has the rundown on how I would decide who to vote for. In short, I like the method Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram, my local newspaper, uses to decide who to vote for: you would buy a ticket just so you could tell your grandchildren you saw him perform. The posting also covers those players accused of using PEDs, and because they are eligible to be voted for I have included some of those players on my ballot.
The easy part is listing the players I voted for last year that didn’t make the Hall of Fame in 2015:
If they were good enough last year, they have to be good enough for this one. The converse is true, and if an eligible player didn’t get my vote last year they won’t get it this year. In my opinion there’s no such thing as someone being “not a first ballot Hall of Famer”. They either belong in the Hall of Fame, or they don’t. Some of these curmudgeon writers deciding that a player is good enough for the Hall but not good enough to be in on the first ballot are showing arrogance to the nth degree. A player’s stats don’t change.
The perfect example of this is Bert Blyleven, who was elected to the Hall by the BBWA in 2011 in his 14th year on the ballot. His fourteenth. I went back and looked at his stats, and he had no wins and no strikeouts over those 14 years. Obviously he made it in because his ERA and WHIP were both 0.00 over the same stretch. One could make the argument that Blyleven doesn’t even belong in the Hall, but I’m more interested in the reasoning why a writer would decided fourteen years after a player was eligible to suddenly vote for him.
There are 15 players making their first appearance on the ballot, and one would expect that for some of them it will be the only time they appear as candidates need to be named on at least 5% of ballots cast to remain on for the next season. Twelve players were dropped from last year’s ballot for failing to reach the 5% threshold, and one, Don Mattlingly, was dropped because he reached the 15 year mark, which until last year was the limit for inclusion. That limit is now set at ten years, although both Alan Trammell and Lee Smith are “grandfathered” and will get 15 years on the ballot if needed.
One player who won’t need those ten years is Ken Griffey, Jr. Not only does he figuratively pass the “you would buy a ticket just so you could tell your grandchildren you saw him perform” test, he literally passes it as several times I did just that. Other than the idiocy some writers believe that no player should get 100% of the vote I’d love to hear one good reason to not vote for Griffey. Heck, I’d like to hear a “no so great” reason. Junior is a Hall of Famer. There simply is no argument against him.
My next two votes go to players I wouldn’t want to see play, because that meant my team was likely losing and would have almost no chance of making a comeback against them: closers Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner. Hoffman is second all-time in saves, behind only future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. Wagner is fifth all-time on the list, just two behind fellow lefty John Franco despite pitching in 266 games less than Franco. Add those two to Smith and that gives me three pure closers on my ballot, and my memory tells me there only three pure closers in the Hall of Fame now. It probably won’t double in number this season, but I feel it should.
Big names Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines are all not on my ballot. They are all really good players, but they just don’t pass the “buy a ticket” test. I do suspect, like Craig Biggio last year, that they will get elected into the Hall.
So did I get it right? Did I not include someone that you think is an “automatic”? Let me know in the comments section below.