Wednesday, January 24, 2018

My Unofficial Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot (2018)

I still don't understand why the Hall of Fame people have pushed the announcement of results, an event that used to be a staple of the first week of January, late into the month. It's almost as sinful for me as making the All-Star Ballot announcements a 90 minute ESPN event. But that's a rant I can save for another 6 months.

And the fact is, I've had my ballot solidified for what feels like a month know. I've KNOWN who I'd be voting for if I did, in fact, actually have a BBWAA membership and ability to cast a ballot, since December. The month leading up to the announcement has not changed my opinion any. In the past, there'd be a month of sportswriters saying 'WHY WE SHOULDN'T VOTE THIS PERSON' or 'WHY THIS IS FLAWED', but now that's been stretched out over a month and it's not helping any.

Hell, I'm writing this post a week in advance for it to be programmed this morning. I've been waiting to write this post for too damned long, and I'd like to get it over with.

This is a particularly stacked year of balloting, as I get the opportunity to vote for a few of my favorite players growing up, as well as rectifying some wrongs the last few ballots have been working towards. As I am allowed ten names, I will give you nine. As a reminder, you won't find anyone who's used steroids on this list.

Vladimir Guerrero:
It puzzles me a bit why one of the most fearsome and satisfying hitters of my childhood just missed enshrinement on his first go. For a few years, Vlad Guerrero was one of the faces of the MLB, not even in a fluke way, but in a way that he was bigger and stronger than everyone and he was incredible at the game. The guy helped bring the Angels back after the loss of the bulk of the 2002 squad, he won an MVP in 2004, he went on to help the Rangers make the World Series, and he even excelled in his final season in Baltimore, making a case that the Blue Jays really should have played him in 2012 rather than banking on his kids. He's a legend, he's a five-star hitter, and if it's not this year, he'll likely be a Hall of Famer incredibly soon
Team of Induction: Montreal Expos
Odds of 2018 Induction: 5 to 4
Odds of Eventual Induction: Even

Trevor Hoffman:
The era of stat-twisting and number-shaming may be at an end for the Trevor Hoffman camp. As one of the most prominent closers in history, and as someone whose rivalry with Mariano Rivera over accolades could become legendary when the latter is inducted next year (oh, it's happening. Get ready), Trevor Hoffman has not deserved the critical backlash he's been getting from sportswriters the last few years. The guy gave you consistent relief numbers for 17 years. What more could you want?? And he did so in only a few uniforms, with the entire crowd behind him, and with some legitimate power and skill. He had a very simple job, but he did it just as well as some of the guys that are in there right now. The fact that by the time he started at it, the closer position had gone from actually SAVING a game halfway through to coming into the ninth and pitching a lights-out inning may be confusing people. But I think he's a legend, and it's looking like 2018 might be his year.
Team of Induction: San Diego Padres
Odds of 2018 Induction: 4 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 2 to 1

Chipper Jones:
Of anyone on the ballot this year, Chipper Jones is the slam dunk. I don't think anyone has a reason not to vote for him, bias notwithstanding. Chipper had the work ethic and numbers of someone playing 70 years before he did. He won people over with high average, a ton of hits, and an intensity in the field. He's a rare sort of five-tool player that never inhabited the steroid-era very often. And the fact that he was there for the Atlanta Braves, a team that made three World Series' during his tenure and won one, and dominated the NL during the 90s, made it even better. You could see Chipper Jones on a national spotlight, and you could see how phenomenal, and versatile, he was. I don't think there'll be any bones about it- Chipper Jones is a Hall of Famer, and it's gonna happen this year.
Team of Induction: Atlanta Braves
Odds of 2018 Induction: Even
Odds of Eventual Induction: Even

Edgar Martinez:
One of the most satisfying developments of this year's ballot is the growing push for Edgar Martinez, and I couldn't be any more for it. It's mostly Seattle fans, because as respected as Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey are...Edgar is a different story. Edgar is the most effective designated hitter of all time, and Edgar was one of the premier clutch hitters of his era, giving the DH more power than just 'aging player who can't play positions'. Edgar was one of the first DHs used strategically, and one of the first of those that was effective for a span of more than 10 years. Edgar has had a significant leap in ballots so far this season, which is a sign that the campaigning is definitely working. I think he might sneak in this year, but if not, I don't know if the traction will carry over to 2019. This may be his make or break year...and I love that I am referring to Edgar Martinez, of all people, in that statement.
Team of Induction: Seattle Mariners
Odds of 2018 Induction: 3 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 6 to 1

Fred McGriff:
If Edgar Martinez can get a cult following to propel him in well into his time on the ballot, then it's likely that one's never gonna come for Fred McGriff, who arguably has some more impressive numbers, but wasn't a multi-dimensional player, and never made a defining impact anywhere he played. And yet I will continue to put him on my blog ballots until I can no longer do so.
Team of Induction: Atlanta Braves
Odds of 2018 Induction: 50 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 20 to 1

Mike Mussina:
One of the guys I toyed with putting on the ballot. Like Martinez, he's gotten a ton of traction this year, with balloters bringing him just shy of the 75% needed so far. However, do I share the same feelings? Well...yeah. I look back at what he did in the 90s with the Orioles, and I see someone so powerful, so intimidating, and so consistently successful on the mound, that it's the kind of performance that would have been right in line with the O's rotations of the 60s and 70s. Jim Palmer may have given him a few pointers in the midst of his early-90s ill-fated comeback. I think it's the mediocrity of his Yankee numbers that has made it so difficult to define Moose, or the fact that he never really had a single standout year. And yet you can say the same thing about Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris, and they're now both Hall of Famers. Plus, you can't say that either of those two, or many pitchers, could have an equally powerful and HOF-worthy performance in his final year in the majors. He won 20 games for the first time in his career when he was 40 years old, in 2008. And then he left. I finally realize how great of a pitcher the guy was, and I do think he deserves a once-over from the voting committee.
Team of Induction: Baltimore Orioles
Odds of 2018 Induction: 6 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 3 to 1

Scott Rolen:
Every time I do one of these, I pick a first-balloter who's probably not gonna spend too much time on the ballot, and give them a nice time. Here, it's Scott Rolen, one of the more impressive infielders of my childhood, playing on two World Series teams, and winning a ring with one of them. This is a guy who overcame some obligatory rookie hype with my Philadelphia Phillies in order to become an incredible third baseman defensively, as well as a great hitter. In all four teams he joined, including the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds, he was a standout player, and an impressive tool to have. Plus, the 'traded for Scott Rolen' club, with members including Placido Polanco, Troy Glaus, and Edwin Encarnacion, is a small but prestigious group. I don't think he'll get in, but he's on the ballot because I enjoyed his style of play, and because he's a hometown hero.
Team of Induction: St. Louis Cardinals
Odds of 2018 Induction: 25 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 23 to 1

Jim Thome:
Well...suffice to say, I've been waiting a while to write this bit. Jim Thome is arguably the person that convinced me to start following baseball. In 2003, my dad got tickets to Citizens Bank Park, and I went to a Phillies game for the first time in my sentient life. I was 7, and I enjoyed taking the entire thing in. And I just remember being in absolute awe every time Jim Thome came to the plate. He was big, strong, and he hit home runs, and he was an incredibly nice guy. And as a big, tall, power-hitter in little league, I couldn't have been any more impressed. I went to a few more games in Thome's tenure in Philly, and I was never not impressed. The guy was a career home run hitter, but he was just an incredibly fun player to watch, and it'd be impossible to root against him. I can also remember two occasions in Citizens Bank Park when I witnessed Thome in a different uniform- once as a White Sock, and once as a Twin. And the latter time, I remember him coming off the bench to hit, and the entire crowd giving him a standing o. Which he deserved. The guy played 22 seasons, he hit over 600 home runs, he made fans and worshippers wherever he played, and he's one of the most genuine baseball personalities out there. How could I not vote for him? How could he not get in?
Team of Induction: Cleveland Indians
Odds of 2018 Induction: Even
Odds of Eventual Induction: Evener

Omar Vizquel:
If I've seen any sportswriters up in arms about anyone over the last month, it's Omar Vizquel. This is one of the single most impressive defensive players of a generation, a guy who played over 20 seasons simply because he was able, a guy who played on THREE different 'super-teams' with himself as a strong center, and a guy who was never not counted on at shortstop. This is Luis Aparicio for the new generation. And the lack of offensive success is giving him a harsh go during his first ballot. The general consensus with Vizquel is that he deserves to get in, but I'm not sure if it'll happen anytime soon. I don't know how many op-eds by disgruntled sportswriters it's going to take in the next ten years. I'd like to see him in, because I think he deserves it, but this era of baseball is so stacked with greatness that someone with slight flaws can be stonewalled. So...I'm putting him on my unofficial ballot because I have a feeling that eventually it will amount to something.
Team of Induction: Cleveland Indians
Odds of 2018 Induction: 10 to 1
Odds of Eventual Induction: 4 to 1

So...those are my nine names. At this point, I'd predict that Thome, Chipper and Guerrero are definite, and I feel like the numbers on Hoffman and Edgar will stay strong enough to let them in as well. I hope some of this goes right, and I hope for a strong 2018 class, and no blank ballots.

1 comment:

  1. Great job. Have no arguments with any of them, although I didn't vote for Rolen,Mussina,or Vizquel.