My Imaginary 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot

Posted by

The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced tomorrow.

Once again, it’s an overloaded ballot. Once again, there are too many deserving names to choose from. Once again, that means there are players who won’t get the votes they deserve due to the miserable 10-player max rule and the 10-year max rules. It’s dumb, and we all know it. But alas, rules are rules until the BBWAA decide to change them.

Last year, the writers voted four men into the Hall: John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson in their first year of eligibility, and Craig Biggio in his third year on the ballot. All deserving.

There are 32 names on this year’s ballot. They are…

* – denotes 1st year on ballot

The 2016 ballot is highlighted by Ken Griffey Jr., who has a legitimate shot at being the first ever player to receive 100% of the vote. In the past, there have been old fogies on the BBWAA voting who don’t believe any player should ever receive 100% of the vote, but there has been a purge of old writers being replaced with young ones, and for the first time ever it could actually happen.

Tom Seaver holds the record with 98.84%. I’d be shocked if Griffey didn’t break that record. I don’t think he’ll get 100% because he’s such a lock someone will choose to cast a vote for a peripheral player (Alan Trammell, for example) because he’s been on the ballot longer and he needs a vote more. Again, stupid system. Griffey deserves 100% AND Alan Trammell deserves 75%. But neither are likely to happen, and it’s all because of these dumb rules.

If you were born in the 1980s, then Griffey is probably one of your favorite baseball players. I’m no exception. He’s in my Top 5. That sweet sweet swing. That smile. That backwards cap. That 1993 home run derby shot off the warehouse in Baltimore. That mad dash to score the winning run of the 1995 ALDS. The Kid. We just can’t help ourselves. Here is all the data one needs to vote for KGJ…

EndlessGriffeySwing.gif

Too. Beautiful. Just. Can’t. Stop. Watching.

After getting 69.9% of the votes in 2015, Mike Piazza looks like a lock in his 4th year on the ballot. Jeff Bagwell (55.7%) and Tim Raines (55.0%) are looking to close the gap as well, but it’s going to be close. Raines, the greatest victim of the 10-year rule, is likely to get pushed to his final year of eligibility, which really really sucks.

An interesting note on Raines from Mike Petriello I read today on Twitter: “I wish you could quantify things like, ‘Tim Raines is hurt in HOF voting b/c the team he’s associated with is dead.’ Probably not zero.” The Expos not existing anymore is likely devastating to Rock’s case. Plus, his best case is found in stats like on-base percentage and stolen bases, which simply aren’t valued the way home runs or strikeouts are.

If you want to be convinced of Tim Raines’s belonging in the Hall of Fame, just follow Ace of MLB Stats (@TheAceofSpaeder) for a moment…

Just a sampling. Was there a better ballplayer in all of baseball between 1980 and 1990 than Rock Raines? One could make an argument that he was it. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves for so many reasons. I think he gets in, but he may have to wait until his final year on the ballot to do it.

I made my case for Schilling and Mussina in last year’s post, and I feel even stronger about their inclusion in 2016. I still don’t understand why John Smoltz was such a lock in 2015 while these two weren’t. I think Schilling is the best of the three (even if he is a right wing bigot who continues to shove his foot in his mouth on Twitter and on ESPN). I still don’t think they make it in 2016, but they’ll be closer and will get in eventually.

I’ve come around on Edgar Martinez. Despite my hatred of the DH, the guy was a truly great hitter, and actually played around 600 games (4829.1 innings) at corner infield. He was a plus defender at 3rd base and average at 1st. Compare that to David Ortiz, the second greatest DH of all time, who has been a minus defender in only 2157 innings at first base in his career. Plus, if I’m going to vote for Rock Raines for being one of the greatest stolen base weapons, then I need to give Edgar his due for his offense.

Griffey. Piazza. Bagwell. Raines. Schilling. Mussina. Martinez. That’s 7 names already, and I haven’t even mentioned steroids. Or relief pitchers, for that matter.

Bonds and Clemens are two of the greatest baseball players ever. Period. I’ve said this so many times before, but here it is again: both men’s bodies of work in their first 10 years alone was enough for them to be worth of the HOF, which is way before they were linked to any illegal substances. Ignore those stats if you have to. They belong.

So that leaves one spot and….I don’t know, maybe 8 or 9 deserving names? Lee Smith, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner could all be considered as elite relievers – a position which hasn’t gotten much love outside of crossover guys like Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley. Larry Walker was a beast. So were Jim Edmonds and Fred McGriff. Alan Trammell (in his final year) deserves a look. Mark McGwire (also in this final year) and Sammy Sosa saved baseball in 1998 thanks to some human growth hormone.

If I’m going to cast my final vote for anyone, I guess I’d just pick my favorite name among the remaining contenders. It’s not the most objective way of voting, but these things are about 90% subjective anyway, so what the heck. Plus, since this ballot is imaginary, it doesn’t matter at all, so I’ll use my last vote on the guy who needs it the most before his name disappears: Lee Smith.

Why Smith? Mostly because I love the guy. Because of the memories. Plus, he’s about to drop off the ballot (next year will be his last), and I have a feeling that with the introduction of more relievers, his stock will decline sharply. Voters will go for Hoffman and Wagner over the elder Smith since they’ve since surpassed his record setting numbers. And they’re probably right to do so. Once voters know what to do about relievers, I think they’ll discover that all three guys were deserving all along, but Lee Smith simply wasn’t pitching in the right era.

So my votes this year would look like this…

  • Ken Griffey Jr. 
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Tim Raines
  • Curt Schilling
  • Mike Mussina
  • Mike Piazza
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Edgar Martinez
  • Lee Smith

I’m really rooting for Junior to get 100% and Raines to slide in, but I have a feeling both will come up just short. We’ll find out tomorrow.

-apc.

Photo cred: Getty Images accessed here: Yahoo Sports.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s