Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Unofficial Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot (2016)

Well, it's January, which, typically, is a pretty blank month. Not a ton of trades, or baseball things. Just a ton of playoff games for the NFL.

Oh, and Hall of Fame nominations.

So, as per usual, because I do adore this part of January, I'm going to give you the ten people I would nominate for the HOF, if I was indeed a member of the BBWAA. Writers are allowed up to ten names. The ballot is pretty well packed this year, and a few of the new names could definitely be hall of famers. However, I'm pretty sure at least one carry-over will make it in this year as well. And if absolutely no one makes it in this year, due to a certain BBWAA member I know of turning in another blank ballot, then I'll be very, very disappointed.

On with the ballot. Here are ten people that I'd vote into the Hall of Fame, in alphabetical order, featuring probabilities of getting in in 2016, and in general.

Jeff Bagwell:
This guy's been on almost all of my ballots ever since I've been making them for the blog. And that's because I think he truly deserves to get in, and it really shouldn't be taking him this long. This guy was the offensive focal point of the Astros for one-and-a-half decades, and unlike one-team-mainstays like Tim Salmon, Bagwell's stats bled into 'best in the league' or 'best in the MLB' SEVERAL times. The guy hit well, won an MVP,  anchored a team and ALMOST won a World Series in 2005, his final season. Injuries and a few years of inconsistency near the end are what's keeping him from entry. Ken Griffey Jr. had both of those, to greater extents than Bagwell, and tonight we'll all be proclaiming Griffey a Hall of Famer. Bagwell, therefore, deserves a ton more respect.
Team of Induction: Houston Astros
Odds of 2016 Induction: 5 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 4 to 1

Jim Edmonds:
Before you all get up in arms about this, let me explain. I'm putting Jim Edmonds on the ballot because this year has enough for all ten spots, but Edmonds is basically my #10 spot on that list. I don't expect Edmonds to get in this year, or in 2026. Jim Edmonds is essentially another Larry Walker type- great hitter, and that's essentially it.
However, Jim Edmonds is still on my ballot. Which means that there has to be a reason for voting for him. And it's this: I have a ton of respect for Edmonds. Top to bottom he was a fun player, always a great hitter. He is one of the few St. Louis Cardinals I openly collect. He was wonderful on the A's, and was even pretty nice in his final season, as a Cincinnati Red. I might not get another chance to put Jim Edmonds on my ballot, and given the choice between Mike Mussina, who I'll definitely get to vote for next year, and Edmonds, I'm going with Edmonds.
I know this isn't a popular decision, and a lot of people might say it makes no sense, but I'm doing it anyway. I'll do the same thing for Juan Pierre in a few years, and Chien Ming Wang sometime after that. It's a throwaway vote, but one out of respect.
Team of Induction: St. Louis Cardinals
Odds of 2016 Induction: 25 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 10 to 1

Ken Griffey:
I really don't have to make much of a case here, because, barring catastrophe, he's getting in, but I'll make it anyway. I'll give you one outrageous stat.
Between 1990 and 2000, Ken Griffey hit 432 home runs. Five more than Mike Piazza, the other big 2016 candidate for HOF, hit in his entire career. For an entire decade, Ken Griffey Jr. was one of the most powerful players in baseball. Forgive the 1995 season, where he only hit 19 home runs due to injury. If he had kept the momentum going he'd be even more of a HOF candidate, but his 2000's numbers aren't as great. I doubt they'll keep him out this year, or any year really.
Team of Induction: Seattle Mariners
Odds of 2016 Induction: 3 to 2
Odds of Eventual Induction: Even

Trevor Hoffman:
The fact that people are up in arms about whether Trevor Hoffman is a Hall of Famer or not frankly pisses me off. Trevor Hoffman is one of the most dominant and consistent closing pitchers of all time. Just because Mariano Rivera has more saves than him now doesn't mean that Hoffman's numbers don't exist. I should lump Lee Smith into this, because Smith is just as dominant as Hoffman, and for the same amount of time, and because Hoffman beat HIM in saves, Smith is obsolete now?
People are also using weird stats in order to establish how futile Trevor Hoffman was. Saying, "oh, well he only pitched this many innings", or "oh, he only hit this many strikeouts-per-year twice in his career"...yeah, bozo, that'll work, because most of those stats don't really apply to closers. It's like saying that Nolan Ryan doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame because he only has 3 saves. You're warping numbers, but defeating the whole purpose of using numbers in the first place.
Trevor Hoffman is a Hall of Famer. And if he doesn't get in this year, it's because of all of the number-twisting spoilsports who enjoy ruining fun.
Team of Induction: San Diego Padres
Odds of 2016 Induction: 3 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 2 to 1

Edgar Martinez:
Another guy I keep voting for who doesn't seem like he's going to be getting in anytime soon. Edgar is, for my money, the greatest designated hitter of all time. His numbers aren't exactly David Ortiz', but he established the career DH distinction, and made a career out of it without being a laughingstock. I just feel like that should be respected.
Team of Induction: Seattle Mariners
Odds of 2016 Induction: 8 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 7 to 1

Fred McGriff:
Going by the atrophy he's had over the last few seasons, it's looking like this is the year that Fred McGriff will drop below 10% of votes, which really frustrates me. Here's a guy who was 7 home runs away from 500, with amazing numbers as a Blue Jay and Brave, and one of the more fun, consistent hitters of the 90's, and yet people are filing him away with the novelty 90's guys like Ron Gant and Bip Roberts.
McGriff was one of the main power sources of those Braves teams of the 90's. He could hit for distance, but also for average, and definitely deserves some more credit. Also, this guy anchored an expansion team for the first few years of its existence, and managed to slightly elevate it past laughingstock-status.
I don't think McGriff's getting in this year, but I think he deserves a ton more respect than sportswriters are giving him.
Team of Induction: Atlanta Braves
Odds of 2016 Induction: 15 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 9 to 1

Mike Piazza:
The other guy who has a pretty nice chance of making it into the Hall of Fame this year. Not only is Piazza one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time, not only did he singlehandedly elevate a Dodgers team AND a Mets team to legitimacy, and not only did he NOT, contrary to the belief of a ton of voters, take steroids, but Mike Piazza, for a stretch of 12 seasons, was one of the best players in baseball, and one of the biggest names in the NL.
I thought Piazza deserved HOF entry when he first landed on the ballot 3 years ago, but now that the field has cleared, I think he's got a better chance of landing there this season.
Team of Induction: Los Angeles Dodgers
Odds of 2016 Induction: 2 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 5 to 2

Tim Raines:
Another guy I've been lobbying for since he came onto the ballot. One of the greatest base stealers of all time, and one of the greatest Montreal Expos of all time, Tim Raines' MLB accomplishments cannot be ignored. The guy was good at his job for a solid fifteen years. His stuff with both the Expos and the White Sox was solid, consistent, powerful and with the right attitude.
The sportswriters seem to be agreeing with me, as his votes have stayed relatively steady for the past few years. He's got two more years on the ballot, so they better hurry up.
Team of Induction: Montreal Expos
Odds of 2016 Induction: 6 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 4 to 1

Curt Schilling:
Was torn between him and Moose for this one, but going with Schilling because he was a much better strikeout pitcher, and he had a TON more outstanding seasons in a row than Mussina, who would weave in and out of the spotlight.
Schilling, especially in his years as a Phillie and Diamondback, was a phenomenal, unhittable pitcher, who would have been a much bigger presence in Arizona had Randy Johnson not been there too. Just a very nice strikeout presence. Even more important is his 2004 season in Boston, which was made even stronger thanks to the postseason stretch, and his infamous bloody-sock game.
Schilling is basically the Don Sutton of the modern era. Great big-game pitcher, racked up a ton of wins, but his stats are being dwarfed by a guy he shared a team with for a couple years.
Probably not in this year, because sportswriters are still determining whether or not he's a hall of famed, but worthy of some discussion.
Team of Induction: Philadelphia Phillies
Odds of 2016 Induction: 8 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 6 to 1

Lee Smith:
Another guy whose prolonged exclusion is pissing me off. Before Hoffman and Rivera, Lee Smith was the toughest, most intimidating closer of all time, and racked up more saves than anybody else. Speed, talent, intimidation, consistency. What more are Hall of Famers looking for? Sadly, relevance.
Probably won't happen this year, which sucks, because next year is his last on the ballot.
Team of Induction: Chicago Cubs
Odds of 2016 Induction: 17 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 10 to 1

As for the guys I left off the list:
Moose I discussed. He's basically #11, but Schilling was a far-more dominant strikeout artist.
Kent was great for a small window of time, and I don't think he's a Hall of Famer.
Walker is more along the lines of Hall of Very Good, as is Alan Trammell.
Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire...nah, they juiced themselves off my ballot years ago.
Nomar's numbers were great for a few years, but he's more of a 90's-00's novelty than a HOFer.
Billy Wagner's another guy I toyed with throwing on the ballot, but I figure if Smith and Hoffman are being belittled for being closers, Wagner has absolutely no shot.

Hopefully we'll get a nice, weighty HOF year. Griffey's the only definite, but Piazza, Hoffman and possibly Bagwell could join him. Let's see how it rolls out tonight.

EDIT: Griffey and Piazza. Not bad.

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