2016 Hall of Fame Ballot and My Take

As usual, I have an opinion on this year’s Hall of Fame voting for the Class of 2016. And as is equally usual, I’m more than willing to share that opinion with the rest of the world; a world that I know is deathlessly waiting to hear exactly what I think on most anything. There is humility in my family; I just don’t have any of it.

Here’s my ballot for the Class of 2016 (are you reading, BBWAA?). As there’s still a limit of 10 votes, I’m going to continue my policy of “If they’re going to give me 10 votes, I’m gonna take ’em.” Here’s my picks, new guys first, in the order they show up on the Hall of Fame website.

Ken Griffey, Jr.–You had that one, right? There’ll be a lot of worshipful commentary on him, but let me remind you that after he left Seattle he was something of a mild bust. He had some good years, but was also hurt a lot. A lot of people thought he would run past Henry Aaron on the home run list, and he didn’t even make it beyond Willie Mays. Still, he’s exactly what they envisioned as a Hall of Famer way back when they started the place.

Trevor Hoffman–when he retired he had the record for most saves in MLB history. He’s since dropped to second, but remains one of only two men with 600 or more saves. Against his enshrinement is the fact that he only led the National League in saves twice in 18 years, didn’t do particularly well in the postseason, and seemed to blow a lot of saves in critical situations. I think he needs to get in pretty quickly because of the impending arrival of Mariano Rivera on the ballot. If he’s not in by then, he could have a lot of trouble making it.

Jim Edmonds–I’ve seen a lot of center fielders in my day (stretching back into the 1950s) and Edmonds is one of the very best I saw. He is, to me, one of the 10 top center fielders ever (although others will disagree) and should be in Cooperstown. Having said that, I can’t imagine he’ll make it this time because the “first ballot mythology” will leave him out, which beggars the question how’d he get better six years after his retirement than he was five years after his retirement?

And now the holdovers, again in the order they appear on the Hall of Fame website.

Mike Piazza–Probably the best hitting catcher ever. Not noted as having a particularly good arm, but not an absolute bust of a defensive catcher. He’s been steadily rising in the voting and this may be his year, but the entire steroid issue may cause him to fall short again.

Jeff Bagwell–other than Albert Pujols, he’s the very best first baseman I ever saw.

Tim Raines–Why the heck isn’t he already in?

Curt Schilling–Staff mainstay on multiple pennant winners and multiple World Series champions. He was co-MVP of the 2001 World Series and is famous for more than his bloody sock. An early opponent of steroids, his lack of wins and his comments on politics will probably make it hard for him to get in.

Edgar Martinez–Still the best Designated Hitter ever. As long as it’s a position on the team, a person holding it down cannot be excluded from the Hall of Fame simply because he plays it.

Alan Trammell–His last chance. I’ve supported him for 15 years and am not about to stop now. One of the best shortstops ever, one of the best of his era (better with a bat than Ozzie Smith and not that much weaker in the field), and the top Detroit shortstop in team history.

Larry Walker–He’s going to be hurt by Coors Field, but the arm was great whatever field he occupied. He won batting titles (and a home run title) only with Colorado, but was an All Star with Montreal also. He was still darned good the last two years in St. Louis including an excellent postseason in 2004 (not so much in 2005).

That’s the list. If the Hall had added the two positions requested by the writers I would probably have gone with Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent (but don’t hold me to that).  Of the new guys I’d like to see several (Kendall, Wagner, Eckstein, Anderson) get enough votes to stay around for a while so we can get multiple chances to look over their qualifications. I really can’t see any of them getting in, but I’d like to see them hang around. And I hope Fred McGriff stays on too. It is the last chance for Mark McGwire and I fully expect the writers to punt him (and the other steroid boys) down the road for the Veteran’s Committee to make the final decision. It’s a lot less hassle for the writers.

Feel free to disagree with my list.

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11 Responses to “2016 Hall of Fame Ballot and My Take”

  1. Miller Says:

    I like your list a lot, v, though it’s not exactly what mine would be. Your most intriguing position, at least to me, is your take on Jim Edmonds. I completely agree that he’s in the pantheon of CFs. However, I really fear not that he won’t get in this year, but that the BBWAA will never support him. Only three All-Star Games, only twice in the top-10 in the MVP voting. not good at all in the World Series.

    I feel decent about Griffey and Piazza getting in. I also hope Bagwell makes a run this year.

    Good stuff!

  2. wkkortas Says:

    Some commentary on the commentary:

    –I agree on Raines and Bagwell, though I suspect one is hurt by his career running more or less side-by-side with Rickey Henderson and the other by wholly unsubstantiated steroid rumors.

    –Edmonds is someone I’m on the fence about, but if you asked me to explain why he shouldn’t be in, I wouldn’t have much. The Hall has certainly done much worse.

    –Along those lines, the same people who think Jim Rice is a Hall of Fame outfielder don’t seem to think the same of Larry Walker, which in my view defies explanation.

    –Likewise, the same folks who will rush David Ortiz in on the first ballot can’t seem to find a rationale for Edgar Martinez, because?…

    –And finally something Glen said a while back got me thinking–you have Trammell and Lou Whitaker who played together for fifteen-plus years and combined for over 145 WAR (b-ref version) and neither one is going to the Hall. How can two guys who were that good for that long and who played on one of the best teams of the era not get voted in? It’s mind boggling to me.

  3. glen715 Says:

    “And finally something Glen said a while back got me thinking–you have Trammell and Lou Whitaker who played together for fifteen-plus years and combined for over 145 WAR (b-ref version) and neither one is going to the Hall. How can two guys who were that good for that long and who played on one of the best teams of the era not get voted in?”

    1. Who is this “Glen” guy? Is he that very moody guy who writes a blog?

    2. W.K., not ONLY do I do I feel that way about Trammel and Whitaker, but I can’t imagine one going to the Hall without the other. Trammell and Whitaker went together like Abbott and Costello. (Which I guess means that Trammel was “I Don’t Give A Darn” and Whitaker was “What”. It’s too bad that Eddie Watt was a pitcher and not a second baseman!)

    3. V, do you actually feel that Pujols and Bagwell were better first basemen than Keith Hernandez? Speaking of Keith, I cannot figure out why he’s not in the Hall of Fame already. To me, it makes no sense.

    3. As far as relievers, and I might seem ignorant on this, but why do Tug McGraw, Jesse Orosco and Kent Tekulve get ignored for the Hall? Also, Lee Smith is on the ballot, and he SHOULD be in there, in my opinion. Something’s weird if he’s not.

    4. As far as the Mets are concerned, Piazza had much less value as a catcher than their best catcher ever, Jerry Grote, who might have been the best defensive catcher ever, on ANY team, and could also get a clutch hit quite often. Without Grote, I say that the likes of Tom Seaver were not nearly as good a pitcher. Even that catcher from Binger, Oklahoma who DID make it to the Hall said, quite often, that if he and Grote were on the same team, then Grote would be catching and he would be playing third.

    Of course, I’ve mentioned already that I believe that Mazeroski ABSOLUTELY belongs (and I DON’T understand why he has so many detractors), and I don’t understand why more guys who were relatively poor hitters but GREAT at defense are not mentioned. I mean, you’ve got Kiner in there, a fairly miserable fielder, and many other great hitters who were miserable fielders. Defense is SO overlooked in the Hall of Fame voting, and I don’t know why. We recognize hitting and pitching, and even a DH (Edgar Martinez) is considered. Then why not defense? It’s every bit as important as offense, and I don’t know how that can be denied.

    Glen

    • wkkortas Says:

      I agree with you about Trammell and Whitaker going in together; they were the guts of some very good teams for a long time. If Tinker and Evers are in there, then Trammell and Whitaker should be.

      • glen715 Says:

        Absolutely.

        Well, for that matter (and I’m just being fanciful here), why not put in Cey, Russell, Lopes and Garvey in the Hall of Fame, together?

        Actually, I’m not being so fanciful. I kinda mean it.

        And I realize that Garvey turned out to be kind of a puke, especially for this guy who, as a teenager, had his poster on my wall because he represented America, Apple Pie, Mom, Chevrolet, and, of course, Baseball. But I still think he belongs, based on what he did on the field. I mean, the damn guy has a junior high named after him.

        Glen

    • verdun2 Says:

      To answer your #3, Yes, I think both Bagwell and Pujols were better first basemen than Hernandez. Hernandez was a better fielder, but Bagwell was no slouch in the field and Pujols learned to be acceptable at first and was a lot better hitter than Keith H.
      v

      • glen715 Says:

        Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree about Keith Hernandez. And I’m in good company. Don’t forget who Mark Grace’s (who’s about the same age as me) role model as a first baseman was—— none other than Keith Hernandez! When he was brought up to the Cubs, he even asked for Hernandez’s number 17 that Keith wore as a Met. (Keith wore #37 as a Cardinal).

        I think that the main thing that’s slowing both Tim Raines’ and Keith Hernandez’s entry into the Hall of Fame is the cocaine thing. But the cocaine thing was back when he was with the Cardinals. Without Keith Hernandez, the Mets wouldn’t have won the pennant, let alone the World Series. To me, he was far more valuable than Gary Carter, who is in the Hall of Fame. Hernandez was far more valuable than a LOT of people, and he was a smart hitter in addition to being one of the best defensive infielders there were and a great positive influence on the Mets. I’d rather have Hernandez than Carter, Dykstra, Strawberry (never liked him, anyway), Wilson, Backman, Knight, and, yes, even their shortstop, Rafael Santana Banana. (Who???)

        Glen

  4. William Miller Says:

    V, I had planned on doing a post on this topic, but you did such a fine job here, mine would mostly be redundant. I’d go along with virtually all of your picks, and, like you, I also think Edmonds was very underrated.
    The only choice that would be different for me is that I would put Mussina in ahead of Hoffman. Give me a guy who can go 8 strong over a one-inning closer any time. Not saying Hoffman doesn’t belong, but closers are a lower priority to me than starters or position players.
    One other thing about both Bagwell and Walker. They were both excellent base-runners, which may be the hardest skill to quantify.
    Nice job,
    Bill

  5. Sean Thornton Says:

    I feel for Trammell. It took me longer than it should have to get on board for him, but once you break down the stats, there is no doubt he should be in the Hall. I have a feeling the Veteran’s Committee will be busy in the near future, as Trammell, Edgar & Raines will probably all be passed over for inclusion when they deserve to be honored.

  6. Precious Sanders Says:

    I like your list so much better than the BBWAA’s. We might have to start a petition or something.

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