My Picks for the 2015 Hall of Fame Vote

Every year I post, once the Hall of Fame ballot comes out, my choices for the Hall of Fame. As the Hall gives each voter 10 votes, I, in the grand tradition of Southern Politics, take every vote I can get. So I always vote for 10, knowing many fewer will make it. But I look at it this way, it’s a chance to produce my “Jim DeShaies Vote”. For those of you who don’t remember, DeShaies was a Houston pitcher who played long enough to get on the Hall of Fame ballot. He worked in broadcasting and in 2001 started a campaign to get a vote for the Hall. He got exactly one.

Knowing that half of you are having major heart palpitations and breathing problems waiting breathlessly (see what I mean about breathing problems?) for my announcement, here we go, in alphabetic order new guys first and holdovers later.

1. Randy Johnson–if you don’t know why, you haven’t been paying attention.

2. Pedro Martinez–see Johnson above.

3. John Smoltz–Smoltz was the third of the great Atlanta triumvirate (Maddux and Glavine being the others) of the 1990s. Unlike the other two he didn’t win 300 games. He did, however, produce 154 saves. With Atlanta usually having bullpen problems, Smoltz gave up his starter role and spent a bit more than three seasons working as the closer (primarily 2002-2004 and much of 2001 in the same role) . He led the NL in saves one of those years (2002). Later he went back to starting and led the NL in wins. He has a Cy Young Award. A couple of injuries and the three + years in the bullpen cost him a shot at 300 wins. I’d vote for him anyway.

Now the holdovers:

4. Jeff Bagwell–premier first baseman in the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st Century. Won an MVP in strike shortened 1994. Hit 449 home runs with 1529 RBIs in a 15 year career. Had nine seasons of 5+ WAR (Baseball Reference.com version) and two others just under five. His OPS+ is 149. He suffers from the taint of being a good power hitter in the steroid era.

5. Craig Biggio–teammate of Bagwell at Houston. Has 3000 hits, is fifth in career doubles (behind Speaker, Rose, Musial, and Cobb). Early in his career he was thrown out stealing a lot, but got much better as his career progressed. Led the NL in steals in 1994. He began as a catcher, moved to the outfield, and to second base. Many times a player is moved to hide his glove; in Biggio’s case he moved to fill a hole. He led the NL in both putouts and assists several times. His OPS+ is 112 and his WAR 65.1.

6. Edgar Martinez–Martinez is arguably the best DH ever. Baseball gives out an annual award for the best DH. In 2004, the award was named for Martinez. He won the award five times (David Ortiz has won it seven times). He won two batting titles, along with two doubles and one RBI title. His OPS+ is 147 and his WAR is 68.3 (despite spending almost no time in the field). Unlike a lot of people, I don’t degrade a player because he is a DH. If you think about it, most players are truly one-dimensional (pitchers generally don’t hit well, many hitters are terrible fielders) and by this time, the DH is so firmly established in the American League that I can’t imagine it being deleted any time soon. That being the case, I think we have to acknowledge the contribution of the DH.

7. Don Mattingly–It’s Mattingly’s last year on the ballot and I’ve voted for him every year so I’m not about to stop now. I know the career is short, but it is centered around a very high peak. His OPS+ is 127 and his WAR 42.2. He has a batting title, two hits titles, an RBI title, three doubles titles, and an MVP. He also hit .417 with a home run and six RBIs in his only postseason experience. And before anyone asks, I was supporting him long before he began managing the Dodgers.

8. Mike Piazza–Speaking of the Dodgers, I never thought I’d be able to say that it’s possible the greatest Dodgers catcher wasn’t Roy Campanella. But Piazza makes that a true possibility. One of the best hitting catchers, he was chided for not being a particularly good throwing catcher. That’s a particular problem when Campanella is the all time leader in caught stealing percentage (Piazza’s 23% isn’t in the top 400). But Piazza was Rookie of the Year, led the NL in OPS+ twice, hit 427 home runs, has an OPS+ of 143 and a 59.4 WAR (BTW his defensive WAR isn’t all that good, but it’s seldom a negative). He’s never going to get into the Hall on his fielding (few do) but he may be the best hitting catcher ever. As with Bagwell, the steroid era problems create difficulties in electing him.

9. Tim Raines–Raines is arguably the finest leadoff hitter in NL history. He won a batting title, led the league in runs four times, in doubles once, and picked up four stolen base titles. He had the misfortune of playing at the same time as Rickey Henderson and that’s always hurt his chances to be seen independently. There’s also a nomad phase to the end of his career that is fairly lengthy and pulls down a lot of his numbers. And then, of course, there’s the lupus issue that cost him a year and the drug problem that has hampered his case. He finished with a 123 OPS+ and 69.1 WAR.

10. Alan Trammel–You can easily argue that Trammell is the best shortstop in Detroit history. He helped the 1984 team to a World Series, then won the Series MVP. He finished second in the 1987 MVP race and garnered 12 first place votes in the process. As a shortstop he almost never led the AL in any major fielding stat, but was generally well into the upper half of the league in fielding. His OPS is 110 and his WAR is 70.4 (22.0 defensive WAR).

Who am I leaving out? Actually a lot of guys. Without picking any of the steroid boys, there’s still a lot of interesting names on this ballot. At various times I’ve touted the case for Mike Mussina, Fred McGriff, Larry Walker, and Jeff Kent. Now I can add in Nomar Garciaparra as someone I’d like to take a longer look at for addition to the Hall.

There you go, team. Now you pick ’em.

 

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11 Responses to “My Picks for the 2015 Hall of Fame Vote”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    Where is the complete list of the nominees? I haven’t been able to find it.

    Anyway, I would vote for Keith Hernandez. I sometimes wonder if the cocaine thing is one of the reasons that Hernandez hasn’t been voted in. Well, Ferguson Jenkins (possession of marijuana in an airport, as I recall) was eventually voted in and so was Orlando Cepeda, and it was for similar reasons. Even Juan Marichal was eventually voted in after smashing John Roseboro on the head with the bat. It just took these guys a little longer. The personality and drugs stuff (I’m not talking about steroids here, of course) kept them out, but eventually they were in.

    Other than the cocaine possession thing, I can’t imagine why he’s not in already.

    I’d put Raines and Trammel in.

    Glen

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    Oh, yeah. I just remembered that Raines had a cocaine thing, too. In fact, I remember reading that he slid into second a certain way so that he wouldn’t break a vial of cocaine, or something like that.

    How about the all-schmuck/prick baseball hall of fame? That’s much easier than voting for the regular hall of fame. Lenny Dykstra should get some votes. So should Jeff Kent. How about Richie Hebner (for giving the “finger” to the fans at Shea Stadium). Garry Templeton. (If I’m ain’t startin’ then I ain’t departin”.) Plus, he gave the “finger” to Cardinal fans at Busch Stadium. Jim Rice (for pushing his manager, Joe Morgan, down the dugout steps.) Billy Martin, definitely. Lenny Randle for punching out his manager while on the Rangers. Ty Cobb. Larry Bowa. Juan Marichal. (again, for what he did to Roseboro). I can’t think of anyone else who should go in there at the moment, but there are tons more!

    Glen

  3. steve Says:

    Excellent write up v. You have me more interested in the hall of fame with every post! Hard to argue with Johnson-Martinez-Smoltz as top three. I sure hope Raines gets in there.

  4. Gary Trujillo Says:

    Wait, wasn’t Dave Kingman the best DH of all time!? I kid….I kid!!!!

  5. The Baseball Bloggess Says:

    Looks good to me! Well, except … you know I have to find a spot for Mussina. (We all have our favorite players who we go to the mat for … and Mussina is my #1).

    I’d probably slide Trammel off the list for Moose … or Raines, only because of the handful of mediocre games he played for Baltimore (around the time when he jettisoned the Tim and decided he should be called “Rock Raines”).

    And, you convinced me on Mattingly. 🙂

  6. wkkortas Says:

    I think Mattingly needs to take the Joe Torre route if he wants to get into Cooperstown (and, frankly, Joe’s playing career is more impressive than Mattingly’s.) The Dodgers win a few World Series titles , we’ll talk.

  7. oosorio456 Says:

    Larry walker deserves more votes. If biggio don’t get in this year will be a shame. My imaginary ballot would look like this:Biggio,Johnson,smoltz,P.Martinez,E. Martinez,bagwell,mussina,walker,piazza,kent. Schilling,McGriff,raines and trammel are hall worthy,but 10 limit vote is a unfair system

    • verdun2 Says:

      I see that the BBWAA has requested the Hall move the vote limit from 10 to 12 for next year. I agree with you entirely that the 10 vote limit stinks. Welcome aboard.
      v

  8. canyonthoughts Says:

    Walker was better than Raines, unfortunately Coors Field will be a unfair argument against his case

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