One feature I admit I really like that I've done the last couple years has been posting my Hall of Fame ballot. In the past I have done it leading up to the actual announcement then I did another blog about it. I actually have been able to split it into 3 posts and it worked out really well. This year however it snuck up on me and my mind has been elsewhere since, so this year its late and only one post. By now you know who got it, but I still thought I would make my list. I am not an actual voting member and therefore I show bias toward certain people and I usually admit it. I will say that the next few years outside of one class looks fairly weak so if some of these guys could stay within range they could make it in.
Before I begin, let me show you who all was up for nominations this year. Usually you hear only the winners and a few others, so here is the complete list.
Was a lot of these going to make it? No way, but still they shouldn't be excluded from the list of nominations. Sometimes its amazing to see some of these guys have been retired for five years. It seems like Matt Stairs was still playing. At any rate, its safe to say this list could be cut in half and it wouldn't need to be discussed.
As for me, my list has some that are very questionable, and again, I'm bias, but my list really was easy this year compared to the last couple years. I might have even considered not even putting 10 names. However I did so let's take a look in no real order. By the way, all card images are thanks to the Trading Card Database.
Lee Smith. He is one of the most underrated people on the Hall of Fame ballot. Relief pitching really was in transition when he played. Today its like a machine- Starting until 5-6th inning, then a new one for each of the next 3 innings. Sometimes it varies, but that's how it is today. In the early 2000's it wasn't too different, but they usually at most had to use 3 pitchers a night. The closer role really stood out. In the 80's and 90's they had closers, but for the most part the whole "pitch count" wasn't a factor so most starters could pitch complete games and win 1-0 and nobody would blink (especially Greg Maddux). Now if you have a 1 run lead in the 7th, its too risky to keep you in. My point in all this is that a lot of relievers who pitched in the 80's and early 90's are overlooked because they had no real defined set of innings to pitch. Trevor Hoffman who gets a lot of buzz caught the tail end of that era, and as a result after getting the closer job where he only had to focus on the last inning he was more effective and that's why he gets more buzz in my opinion. At any rate, Lee deserves to be in the Hall of Fame or at the very least heavy consideration.
Jeff Bagwell. In years past, I usually kept more of the obvious names off the list unless I absolutely loved them. I would never say I was the biggest fan of Bagwell, but I did always like him. The list this year is a lot thinner at the bottom, so besides Bagwell being an obvious choice, it didn't really matter if I used a space on him when it could have gone elsewhere. So, sorry Arthur Rhodes who might have gotten this spot, but even if it was obvious I had to include Bagwell.
Barry Bonds. By now you know I'm a fan of Barry Bonds and for the most part I've gotten over the whole steroids talk. Its good to see that his percentage rises each year, but I hope he gets an even bigger jump next year. Then again a huge increase of votes could result in more steroid talk. "His percentage number went up 12%? He must have taken steroids to improve that much."
Mike Mussina. Part of this is because a lot of you have talked me into it the last couple years, and another part is the field is weaker this year. At any rate, I never said he wasn't good, I just didn't know if he deserved to be in the hall. I'm happy I finally have him on my list. He might drop off again in a year or two, but I have a feeling he'll be back.
Gary Sheffield. Here's another one that isn't included because I felt he was without a doubt hall worthy but because the field is weak. Then I got to thinking how hot he was when I was a kid and there was a buzz about him and it reminded me that is partly what the Hall is about. He entertained me so his inclusion is somewhat warranted. By the way I should point out most of these picks I didn't look up a lot of stats like I have in previous years. I've had other stuff I've been doing and didn't prep enough for it. Maybe next year I will.
Ivan Rodriguez. To be honest, outside of Barry Bonds and Lee Smith, Pudge would be the only other name I would absolutely have on my list. I consider him one of the best catchers of all time. I won't say best because that's highly debatable but in the nineties and even early 2000's I can't really think of one who was consistently better. Even after he left Texas and he got older he still had the ability and was one of the top of the game. I also think its quite possible that Ivan might have been the first (and only) Hall of Famer I've seen play in a game. So there's also that.
Vladimir Guerrero. Remember what I said about Sheffield being an exciting player and he entertained me. Yeah I could basically rewrite all that again for Vlad. I thought he was a really solid player and doesn't always get the credit he deserves. Maybe its because he played for the Expos, I don't know. But I do think he deserves more consideration.
Manny Ramirez. My former Red Sox fandom is showing and I don't care. Manny being Manny brought many an entertaining night. Is he one of the best of all time? No, but he was a character in a sport that entertained me. I've long said it seems sports is more about entertainment than ability these days, and Manny was an interesting performer of entertainment.
J.D. Drew. I know what your thinking, "J.D. Drew and you haven't mentioned Edgar Martinez yet?" Well there are a few reasons for that. First I knew that Edgar would have enough votes on the ballot and would be safe. Second I wasn't sure if J.D. would get enough/any votes for people to consider him a little more. Is Edgar a better choice for the Hall? YES! However while J.D. never stood a chance of making it in, I remember him have a blazing start to his career and actually had promise of transition for the Cardinals. Folks knew McGwire would be gone sooner than later and with Ozzie gone too, they needed some younger guys that could get people excited. J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel were those guys. They caused excitement for the Cardinals fans and when the began to fizzle it was game over for them, but the short years they had were pretty amazing. In fact, for both really, their hot first years parlayed them into players for more years in the majors than they maybe deserved. However I still think it should give people a chance to at least consider him before just scrolling past his name like I'm sure they did with Melvin Mora. As for the Cardinals, by the time Drew and Ankiel had started to fall, they had a couple other young guys to boost the team better- some guy named Pujols and another named Yadi. Not bad.
Pat Burrell. Again, Edgar wasn't falling off the list, my vote didn't matter. Pat Burrell did need votes and in the end, I would be the only one who voted for him. Unlike J.D. Drew though, I think Burrell was made to be a star but it just never happened. I think my best memories of Pat was a good first season and having a bunch of his cards before I got out of collecting. I still think though that his stats should have been looked at more so if J.D. and Pat would have gotten just enough to last another year, it might have helped.
So that is my list. I know I didn't include Edgar, but I explained it. I'm bias, and I also knew he didn't need my vote. Sure neither did Pudge, but again, I'M BIAS! As for other names I considered?
Trevor Hoffman- he didn't need my vote.
Billy Wagner- I considered him, but figured he'd be safer than Pat or J.D.
Tim Raines- he likely didn't need my vote. I mean he was safe but didn't know if he'd actually get in.
Fred McGriff- Crime Dog is a favorite but I had to choose him or Sheffield.
Larry Walker-The more I thought about it, I thought his numbers wouldn't have been as good if he wasn't a Rockie.
Roger Clemens- My bias shown. I just don't like him.
Curt Schilling- I liked him and I still think he's Hall worthy but he needs to not talk for a few years.
Sammy Sosa-Just never a fan.Plus Bonds and Clemens could have made it in without steroids, not sure about him.
Tim Wakefield- I really wanted to include him, but didn't want to bump anyone else.
Matt Stairs- Just a tad thinner ballot and maybe I would have. He would have gotten Burrell's spot, but not a HOFer.
So there you have it. That's how I would have voted. Next year I will tell you already, bias or not, who my number one choice will be on my ballot- Johnny Damon! I think in two years the voting will be tough (I think Chipper's year) but then it gets pretty thin. If some of these guys can just hang on, they might have a shot.
I know this is an odd hour of posting, but my sleep is way off so I figured why not. So thank you for reading this whenever you do catch it, and I hope you have a great week.