The 2010 Hall of Fame Ballot

After an interesting facebook thread with Adam on the Baseball Hall of Fame decision facing the Baseball Writers Association of America (or as I like calling them, a bunch of old white guys).  As we know, a name must appear on 75% of the writers ballots to merit induction.  I could look at last year’s results and this year’s crop and say who WILL be chosen in my mind, but more fun is simply filling out my imaginary ballot and see what it looks like.  The ballot I am going from is here, and we will approach it systematically:

Step 1: The BBWAA virgins

These are the 15 names on the ballot for the first time.  If 15% is not achieved, they fall out of future running – how many stand the smell test for further study?

  • Roberto Alomar – career swandive corresponded with trade to Mets.  Had some weird swings in effectiveness.  But also 12 time all star and 4 time MVP Top 10.  Definitely passes the first hurdle.
  • Kevin Appier – one ERA+ better than 150, one Cy Young caliber year.  No.
  • Ellis Burks – 1 MVP Top 3, lot of good OPS+ years abut several in Coors.  Hurt a lot.  No.
  • Andres Galarraga – had two careers basically, with the Rockies turning him around.  Was one of the NL’s best sluggers for 5 or 6 years.  Merits preliminary consideration, but I’d be surprised if I picked him ultimately.
  • Pat Hentgen – won the 1996 Cy Young award.  Nothing else to work with.  No.
  • Mike Jackson – an uber setup man will get in someday.  But not him.
  • Erik Karros – too high a positional expectation.  1B asks for a lot with the bat, he did not deliver enough.  No.
  • Ray Lankford – No.
  • Barry Larkin – 1995 NL MVP.  12 time all star, another MVP top 10, few other MVP vote years.  3 gold gloves.  Worth further investigation.
  • Edgar Martinez – pure DH most of his career, 7 time all star, lot of high OPS+ seasons.  He is a tough call, but would be wrong to eliminate him here.
  • Fred McGriff – lots of accumulation stats and played in a more restrained HR hitting era.  Longevity has value.  Worth investigating.
  • Shane Reynolds (short peak as OK starter), David Segui (1B without power?), Robin Ventura (good hitter, pro, but that’s all), Todd Zeile (good but undistinguished) – all No.

So from the newbie pile: Alomar, Galarraga, Martinez, Larkin, McGriff all pass the first cut

Step 2: The returnees

Only 11 returnees, the lowest group ever.  Let’s approach them in ascending order of last year’s voting results.

  • Harold Baines – accumulation stats, good DH but not serious thunder – No
  • Dale Murphy, Don Mattingly – great 80s players with entirely too short a peak and not dominant enough for Koufax exception to apply – No.
  • Dave Parker – Cocaine is one thing.  But longevity issues, peaked early.  But had MVP Top 5s in 1985-1986.  Let’s keep him around for now.
  • Alan Trammell – 6 time all star, some MVP push, some high OPS+ years in a tough position.  Let’s keep him around for now.
  • Mark McGwire – we all know the facts here.  Move him on for now.
  • Tim Raines – 2nd best leadoff hitter with the misfortune of the best leadoff man ever being an exact contemporary.  Move him on for now.
  • Jack Morris – lot of wins, but lot of run support and little distinguished performance.  No.
  • Lee Smith – a lot of saves, but give me a break.  No.
  • Bert Blyleven – a lot of bad teams, but a lot of Ks and a lot of performance.  Move him on.
  • Andre Dawson – .323 career OBP.  Classy guy, accumulated lots of stats.  But not enough to warrant inclusion.  Made too many outs.  Joe Carter with better PR.  No.

So the returnees leave us with Parker, McGwire, Trammell, Raines, Blyleven.

Step 3: Further processing.

The first two steps rendered us 10 names to consider for the Hall of Fame.  I would not mind a big Hall, but since it has been meant to be small, I will treat it accordingly.  So let’s examine the 10 names a little further, waving some sabermetrics over the anecdotal cases.

  • Robert Alomar – he was clearly regarded as the best 2B in the game for a significant portion of his peak.  The MVP votes are there to prove that.  The OPS+ stats are impressive, moreso coming from a defensive value position.  His crash landing obscures the peak – to me this is easy.
  • Andres Galarraga – I cannot get the Coors stats out of my mind, though he was excellent in Atlanta.  1B asks for a lot offensively and while he produced a ton, I am not sure if it is QUITE HoF timber.  It’s closer than it seems.
  • Edgar Martinez – a pure DH.  That is a problem.  But his 8 years Top 10 OPS, 6 times Top 10 runs created.  The man had to hit a lot to make up for his positional issues – and he did.
  • Barry Larkin – was a good SS for a long time and an excellent hitter for a SS.  Don’t let the ARod era screw you up – Larkin was as good this side of Ripken.  The MVP measures, the OPS+ all in his favor.  He was not as durable as you’d like – but his peak was long enough.
  • Fred McGriff – No.  Accumulation stats not enough for me ultimately.
  • Dave Parker – Parker made a mistake.  But his case was better than Rice’s.  Does that mean he is HoF worthy?  I don’t know.  I exclude him grudgingly.   The OBP is not there.
  • Mark McGwire – andro was legal in 1998.  The rest is hearsay.  McGwire has not begged us for forgiveness.  Until we learn more, I am satisfied with his peak, the homeruns and his excellent plate discipline.  This might make me a bad person.
  • Tim Raines – 2nd best leadoff hitter ever.  Henderson was a contemporary.  Bad luck.  This is a really easy case.  For the 80s he might have been the best player in the NL!  And he stole bases with more success than anybody (frequency and efficiency).
  • Bert Blyleven – pitched a long time, only one 20 win season.  But a lot of bad teams he was on.  And aside from a couple years late, his defensive independent pitching work was supreme.  He should get in.
  • Trammell was a terrific SS with a great 1987.  He played at the same time as Ripken which explained the lack of individual honors.  Honestly this is close for me.  I’d go with him though I can see the other way, especially given injuries that befell him at times later.

So the ballot for me:  Alomar, Martinez, Larkin, McGwire, Raines, Blyleven, Trammell with Galarraga a wistful omission

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