It’s that time. Unless you have the ability to tune entitled sports writers, know-it-all bloggers, and your-stream-of consciousness sports crazy coworker you’ve laid your eyes and ears upon plenty of Hall of Fame debate in the past few weeks. I assume, since you’re here, that you don’t have such abilities and are in fact interested in getting some more perspectives on the matter. Nick Schaefer, Collin Whitchurch, and myself created our own fictional ballots and discussed why we voted as we did.
On Voting Style
Collin: Can we take a moment to talk about how absolutely idiotic the 10-player limit is for the Hall of Fame? There are 18-20 players about which you could at LEAST make an argument deserve to be in the HOF. But if I’m limited to 10 in my imaginary ballot (why don’t they give ballots to writers for random Fansided blogs, anyway?) I’m going with pure production and I think these 10 deserve to be in the HOF more than the rest of the eligible candidates.
Matt: It was a bit more difficult with the logjam than it has been previously, but I’d still stop short of calling the 10 vote limit idiotic. This will be the first year that the actual voters average anywhere near 10 cast votes, and if it took this long for the limit to really matter, it’s hard to call it much of an impediment. Not to mention that it’s the nature of the writers’ voting that likely got themselves into a situation where there were so many potential hall-worthy candidates sitting on the outside waiting for votes.
Nick: I also believe Tim Raines, Tom Glavine, Mark McGwire, and maybe Edgar Martinez deserve votes. I went “strategic” as a tiebreaker (as if my vote actually counts) and went with Walker to make sure he stays on the ballot. I’m worried that because of Coors Field and the logjam of everything he would be in danger of falling off the ballot when I think he’s deserving.
Justifying Final Picks:
Nick: Edgar Martinez’ bat is pretty much the same as Larry Walker’s, but Walker was an excellent defensive RF for much of his career and a very good baserunner. That’s a big tiebreaker for me as far as those two go. Jack Morris was not as good as Dave Stieb or Kevin Brown and neither of those guys had a chance of sniffing the Hall of Fame. Let’s make him the Veteran’s Committee’s problem. I think Raines will get in eventually if enough of the deserving players on this ballot can get in.
Collin: It pains me to leave Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker off the ballot. And I’m very fearful that guys like Mussina and Jeff Kent won’t even get the 5 percent necessary to remain on the ballot. And we haven’t even mentioned Alan Trammell, who absolutely should be enshrined. I’m going to be so irrationally angry if Jack Morris sneaks in Lee Smith continues to collect votes while deserving candidates fall off the ballot completely.
Matt: With so many possibilities, it’s at least likely that we won’t see guys like Morris get in through writer vote, and have already been spared the volume of arguments in his favor that the last couple of years have brought. In fact, the sheer volume here makes argument light. Save for some outrageous troll ballots most folks opinions are understandable even when they differ from your own. There are that many great players available. Lots of good players were left off my list. When I first made the list I decided to just put on everybody I thought should be in and then I’d whittle down from there. I had 17. That’s 7 guys I thought deserved to be voted for that I could not cast a vote in favor of. I don’t know, maybe I’m becoming a “big hall” guy with age.
Nick: A surprisingly low number of pitchers have gotten into the Hall in recent years. This is a good opportunity to correct that.
Matt: I noticed as I was stripping away that my eye was drawn to the pitchers. It’s hard for me to quantify them, with so many elements and variables unique to their pitching experiences and surroundings. Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine should both get in, and Mussina could leave the ballot just because of volume. It’s too bad.
Nick: That’s what’s so crazy/infuriating about some of these ballots being cast for players like McGriff, Morris, Lee Smith, etc. So many writers defend these choices as, “Well, look at this player – he was so great! I think he belongs in!” But that is only a piece of the conversation. At this point, any player you choose to put on your ballot means you are consciously excluding other players. There’s just no way you can say with a straight face that you think guys like Morris and McGriff are amongst the 10 best players on this ballot.
Nick: Matt — Why no Piazza? And I suppose, more specifically, what is the basis for including Edgar and leaving Piazza off?
Matt: I suppose you could call it politics. With those last few votes I definitely allowed my existing votes to matter. As in, I’m putting Frank Thomas in, and it seems weird to then leave Edgar off. Piazza is definitely on my extended list, and given another chance to vote at a different time, he probably makes it through mine. Not an intentional slight, he deserves in.
Nick: There are arguments to be made about voting strategically in terms of trying to keep deserving guys on the ballot long enough for it to clear up, but just saying, “Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer!” when he’s probably the 6th best pitcher or worse eligible isn’t enough of a justification.
Collin: If I were voting strategically, I probably would’ve included Tim Raines just because he has less time to get over the hump than guys like Larry Walker. I can see the argument for voting strategically, but I feel like it’s not right to vote any way other than “who are the 10 best players on the ballot?” and that’s how I went. The fact that people have to vote strategically further points to the flaw in the entire process.
Matt: Yeah I wonder how many people are casting votes to save ballot lives. I guess my main reason for balancing Frank with Edgar is not wanting to quantify how good each is relative to the other. I unfairly grant Edgar points for being on the ballot more than just this year, which is funny because the first-ballot prejudice always bugs the shit out of me.
Nick: I bristle a bit when Edgar Martinez gets tied to Frank Thomas. They were both elite hitters who played primarily at DH etc. etc. but Frank has 40 points of slugging on him and 1500 more PAs. I agree with the first-ballot prejudice being asinine. I think this year it may oddly work in reverse as the new guys on almost exacerbate the narrative of, “Wow – nobody got in last year, which was dumb AND look at how crazy the ballot is next year with all of these first balloters coming in!”
Matt: This year’s results will be an interesting indicator of what happens in the future. Without that over-correct this only gets worse and on the one hand you’d hate to see that, but on the other hand that would almost certainly bring change.
Nick: I don’t think it’s that long-term a problem. I agree with Collin that it looks like Maddux, Thomas, Glavine, and Biggio will be the only ones getting in. After this year, no matter what, Morris is gone too. That frees up quite a bit of space.
Granted, I can’t remember next year’s Hall newcomers on the ballot off the top of my head…
Collin: I know Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are the big names, if I’m not mistaken. More starting pitchers!
Nick: Oh jeeze. Okay, so it won’t necessarily improve that much even if four get in. I don’t know how Bagwell still won’t be in after this year…so odd.
Collin: It’s also going to hurt Mussina and Schilling when they’re going against those three… (assuming Mussina stays on the ballot).
Matt: If it’s not in the guidelines it’s assumed or implied that players are to be weighed against other players of their era by their position, so the new guys definitely hurt the pitchers that don’t get in this year.
Collin: More importantly… JOE CREDE IS ON THE BALLOT NEXT YEAR. Oh, and Jermaine Dye. Two years from now the only candidate we get is Griffey, unless you want to make an argument for Jim Edmonds. Sheffield joins Randy, Pedro and Smoltz on next year’s ballot. He’ll make for an interesting HOF argument, for sure.
Nick: I just don’t think Sheffield makes it in. We now have a precedent of 500+ home run guys being passed up without much of a fuss – Palmeiro, Sosa, McGwire, etc. That’s not to say that I don’t think Sheffield is a Hall of Famer. I think he is. I just don’t know that he’ll get in. He was too much of a grouch to reporters and he has some PED fog to boot.
Nick: It looks like – James aside – we have unanimously agreed on:
1. Frank Thomas (shocking).
2. Barry Bonds
3. Craig Biggio
4. Roger Clemens
5. Greg Maddux
6. Curt Schilling
7. Jeff Bagwell.
Then Larry Walker, Mike PIazza, and Mike Mussina are each at ⅔ votes from us.
Collin: If I had to venture a guess, based on my reading and the work of the exceptional Baseball Think Factory, I’ll say Maddux, Glavine, Thomas and Biggio are the only four enshrined.
Nick: It has become so crowded that you wind up largely with the slam dunks and then quibbling around the margins. Granted, the margins here are guys that should probably get in pretty easily, but because Piazza and Bagwell couldn’t get in on the first try you have to make some hard choices.
Is This Everybody?
If it seems like somebody’s missing, it’s because there is. Our mighty leader, James Fegan, in an odd choice of priorities has elected to get married and go on his honeymoon rather than hang back and quibble over HOF votes with the rest of us. He did manage to send through his quick opinion, though. It’s evident he isn’t burdened by any of those “hard choices.”