The Hall of Fame Ballot, Part 3
The Top 10:
Roberto Alomar – Alomar is an easy pick, though for reasons I can’t explain I never liked watching him. A career .300 hitter, with an OPS+ of 116. Considered a great fielder, winning 10 Gold Gloves. Career absolutely collapsed at age 32. Since it was before the advent of steroids testing, I don’t know what happened. His abrupt collapse is the only thing that might hold up his candidacy.
Bert Blyleven – Still 5th on the career strikeout list, even though strikeouts have gone up considerably since he retired. Outstanding postseason numbers. The baby of the sabermetric community.
Andre Dawson – Hit 438 home runs, near the top of his era. Led the league in HR and RBI once, total bases twice, and won the 1987 MVP. His .323 OBP is miserable, and it is the only real blackmark against him. Was a good outfielder until the Montreal turf destroyed his knees. Compares well with last year’s selection, Jim Rice.
Barry Larkin – An exceptional hitter when healthy. Won the MVP in 1995. Played more than 140 games in only 7 of his 19 seasons. Around a league average fielder. In comparison to Alan Trammell below, he was a better hitter and a weaker fielder. Interestingly enough, Trammell is listed as his most similar player on Baseball-Reference. I would put both in.
Edgar Martinez – The exact opposite of Alomar. He is not an obvious Hall of Famer, and I loved to watch him hit. He spent almost his entire career as a DH, thus he picked up no Gold Gloves. Take a look at his minor league numbers. He bounced between AAA and Seattle from 1987 to 1989, for reasons completely inexplicable to me. Nevertheless, that bouncing kept him from playing a full season until age 27. In 1993, he injured his knees and became a full-time DH. He won a pair of batting titles, led the league in OBP three times, 2B twice, and RBI once. His career OPS+ of 147 ranks 43rd all time. For someone whose value is purely as a hitter, I think he hit well enough to go to the Hall of Fame.
Fred McGriff – Though I don’t put much stock in steroid arguments, McGriff’s 493 career home runs look much better given the lack of steroid charges against him. McGriff feels like Baines with more power. He had a very long and very consistent career, leading the league in home runs twice and OPS once. He was even a bit better in the postseason. I think he should go in, but I doubt he will do very well.
Mark McGwire – Will McGwire be the worst person in the HOF? No. Will be the first person who did something illegal in the HOF? No. Will he be the first person who used a currently banned substance to go into the HOF? No. Could he hit? Yes.
Dale Murphy – Toughest call on this list, and the one I would be most likely to drop. Great peak, with consecutive MVP’s. Fell off a statistical cliff at age 32. Until then, one of the very best players in baseball for 8 seasons. Is that long enough to make the Hall of Fame? Probably not.
Tim Raines – Not as good as Rickey Henderson. That strikes me as why he is not in the Hall of Fame. Consider this for a lengthy presentation of the case for Raines.
Alan Trammell – Probably not as deserving as Lou Whittaker, but I don’t get to vote for Lou. Got sort of lost behind Cal Ripken and Ozzie Smith. Had a range factor substantially better than the league average. Career OPS+ of 110, better than at least 5 Hall of Fame shortstops. Combine his fielding and his hitting, and you have a Hall of Famer.
Now you have my extended take on the Hall of Fame. For comparison, other discussions are available from Verdun2, Bud Bareither, Niktigs, and Rob Neyer. To talk general philosophy, I consider any player who would not make the Hall of Fame worse, that is, not be the worst player at his position elected, worthy of consideration. On this ballot, I think that at least 12 players, the top 10 along with Ventura and Morris, meet that definition. Should they all make it? Probably not. But the world won’t end if they do. Given a Hall of Fame full of players like Joe Tinker, Fred Lindstrom, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Rube Marquard, and George Kelly, I have trouble getting too riled up at the possible election of Alan Trammell. The Hall of Fame is not perfect; let us not claim it is something more than it really is.
Who do you think should go in?