In what has now become a New Year’s tradition here on 210Sports, 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 if I had a vote.
So, I will.
As a reminder to new readers, the method I use to decide who I would vote for is pretty simple. I follow the example of Bill Ballou of the Worcester Telegram, and he believes it comes down to one thing: “you would buy a ticket just so you could tell your grandchildren you saw him perform”. That’s about the best criteria I have ever seen, and so I use that.
Every year the subject of PEDs comes up, and to be honest this is a real easy decision for me. If a player is eligible, I’ll vote for him if I think he’s worthy. I understand that some people think they shouldn’t be enshrined. My issue is how do I determine who did them and who didn’t? Now some of the later candidates will have failed tests, and then including them could be an issue for voters. But not for me, because if they’re eligible I’ll consider them.
So for my vote, the easy part is listing the players I voted for last year that didn’t make the Hall of Fame in 2016 and are still eligible:
If they were good enough last year, they have to be good enough this year. The converse is true, and if an eligible player didn’t get my vote last year they won’t get it this time either. 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.
For the players making their debut on the ballot the first name I pick is a no-brainer for me, Manny Ramirez. One of baseball’s most feared hitters for the majority of his career, his later failed PED tests are going to turn a lot of voters off. His antics, both on and off the field, are also going to give some voters pause. But it was all just “Manny being Manny”, and he gets my vote.
Second on the list is Ivan Rodriguez. In my opinion Rodriguez is the fourth best catcher all-time in MLB history, behind Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, and Roy Campanella. Some would argue Carlton Fisk was better too, and while I don’t agree at worst that makes Rodriguez the fifth best all-time. It would be hard to not vote for the fifth best ever at his position, right? So he gets my vote.
Third on my list is Vladimir Guerrero. How feared a hitter was Guerrero? He led the American League in intentional walks four season in a row and is fifth all-time. He was the 2004 AL MVP and finished in the top-five three more times. Now granted Guerrero wasn’t the best fielder ever, but he made up for his poor play in the field with one of the best bats in his era, and he gets my vote.
The rest of the first timers include some really good ballplayers, and maybe voters will eventually enshrine guys like Magglio Ordonez or Edgar Renteria. But as I think the Baseball Hall of Fame is just for great ballplayers, “really good” doesn’t make the cut for me.