Hall of Fame Ballot 2013

Well.  There are 37 former MLB players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, making this by far the highest-populated ballot in MLB Hall of Fame history.  Due to the voting process (a player needs 75% of the vote for induction), the controversy with steroids and PEDs (overblown), and selectively-applied logic and lack of research by voters (who are primarily mainstream baseball writers, so: inherent), it is likely that, despite a very high number of nominees with deserving resumes, we will not see many inductees this year.

That being said, there’s 37 players on this ballot whose careers are worth discussing, even if many of them are clearly short of Hall of Fame standards.  So, here are capsules of every player on the ballot this year, ordered alphabetically.  (NOTE: I realize that this is going to be way too long for many of you to read all at once- I recommend reading in chunks if need be.  Or you can skip around to your favorite players, or the ones you think are most interesting.)

ED NOTE: I’m putting the break here so Tucker knows how awesome he is when 1,000,000 people read his breakdown.Here’s Tucker’s initial post on HOF Standards. -AP

Sandy Alomar

Resume: 6-time All-Star, 1990 AL Rookie of the Year, 1 Gold Glove (and regarded as a very good defensive catcher), 11.6 career bWAR.

Alomar played for one team (Cleveland) for 11 straight years through his prime, which means he will likely be overrated by some in the fan community, and he might pick up a few votes from some local writers or fans.  Unfortunately, he likely does not deserve any with the ballot so deep this year, as he was rarely healthy enough (only playing 100+ games in four seasons) to make too much of an impact, and probably wasn’t good enough as is, with a career 86 OPS+ and only once managing a season bWAR above 3.0.  Sandy Alomar will be remembered as a guy who did all the little things right when healthy, but couldn’t back it up with enough big things to make a Hall of Fame-caliber impact.

Projection: Will not garner the 5% vote necessary to stay on the ballot next year.

Jeff Bagwell

Resume: One of the all-time great first basemen by any standard, 76.7 career bWAR, 1994 NL MVP, 1991 NL Rookie of the Year, 4-time All-Star, top 41 all-time in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, career OPS+ of 149 is 38th all-time, 19th in career Win Probability Added (WPA), 11th in career base-out runs added, both ran the bases and fielded very well.

Bagwell is in his third year on the ballot, and earned 56.0% of votes last year.  Despite a resume that does not take a second look to determine his worthiness of the Hall of Fame, the steroid era has unfairly punished his performance despite never even being tentatively linked to use of illegal PEDs.  Bagwell was one of the best hitters of all-time, and was also one of the greatest baserunners and fielders for his position ever.  He is one of the most qualified candidates this year, and will deservedly see enshrinement one day, but this might not be Bagwell’s year.

Projection: Gains even more votes this year- around 65%- but falls short of enshrinement yet again.

Craig Biggio

Resume: 7-time All-Star, 44th in career Offensive bWAR, Top 10 in OBP four times, career 112 OPS+ with 5 seasons of an OPS+ above 130, 85th in career WPA, career 62.1 bWAR.

It’s only fitting that Biggio comes directly after his long-time teammate Jeff Bagwell.  Biggio was an All-Star at both catcher and second base, two non-premium offensive positions at which he succeeded at the plate.  His power, though, did not come around until 1993, and culminated in a two-year peak of .300/.400/.500 seasons in 1997 and 1998, posting a combined 15.7 bWAR over those two years.  Biggio is one of only 28 players to finish their careers with 3000 hits and he also added 291 career HR.  In some of the less-meaningful counting stats, Biggio also has impressive career totals- 10th in plate appearances, 5th in doubles, 2nd in times hit by pitch.  Like Bagwell, Biggio is also deserving of Hall of Fame enshrinement.

Projection: Falls short of enshrinement this year, but not by much.  70% of the vote.

Barry Bonds

Resume: One of the five greatest position players ever by any estimation, career leader in HR, walks, Runs Created, Power-Speed #, Base-Out Runs Added, WPA, Situational Runs Added, Total Zone Runs as LF, 7-time NL MVP, 14-time All-Star, 158.1 career bWAR (ranks 2nd among position players).

So here’s the big one.  I shouldn’t have to reiterate the many, many qualifications that Bonds has that make him deserving of Hall of Fame enshrinement, as he qualifies by any standard you might apply.  There is one thing that might keep him out- one- and that thing is, for lack of a better word, short-sighted.  For starters, at no point in Bonds’s career did he test positive for a banned substance- yes, the substances that he took were eventually banned by Major League Baseball, but they were placed off-limits well after Bonds’s positive test.

So if you want to dock Bonds for cheating, you’d have to find him actually breaking a rule, and there is no proof he did that.  Then you’d have to rid the Hall of Fame of everyone else who ever cheated- sorry, spitballers Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry.  Rid the Hall of everyone who ever took a banned substance (which we have no proof Bonds did)- sorry, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, who both took “greenies,” banned by MLB, during their career.  Now, seeing as the link between PEDs and improvement in on-field baseball production is tenuous at best, I don’t think it makes sense to blacklist only this generation of “cheaters” from the Hall of Fame- especially given that most of these “cheaters” never broke a rule.  The Hall of Fame enshrines the players and figures that were the greatest, most important, and most notable in the history of the baseball.  To punish players only from this generation for taking the wrong kind of legal PEDs (and, unless we have proof Bonds took a banned PED, we have to assume he only took legal PEDs, as every non-banned PED is legal), doesn’t make sense to me.  A baseball Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds makes the Hall of Fame a “Hall of Guys We Like,” and that would be a disservice to the game and its history.

Projection: Unfortunately, not a chance Bonds gets in his first year.  He’ll probably end up with only 40% of the vote, if that, and we’ll see if something happens to make Bonds ever a viable candidate in the minds of the voters.  If that never happens, then the Hall of Fame will be forced to change its procedures, for many reasons.

Jeff Cirillo

Resume: 2-time All-Star, 85 career Runs from Fielding (Rfield), career 102 OPS+, 5 seasons with a bWAR over 4.0, 32.0 career bWAR.

The best way to sum up Jeff Cirillo’s career would be to call him underrated.  No, he didn’t have a Hall of Fame-great career, but he never seemed to be appreciated in accordance with how good, and how fun, he really was.  He’s not an all-time elite defensive third baseman, but he’s likely in the tier below that, having a very good defensive peak and continuing to provide value during and after his regression period.  He backed that up with solid hitting through the front half of his career, but apparently could only hit with Milwaukee, putting up a 113 OPS+ in 8 seasons with the Brewers, but did not have a season with a 100 or greater OPS+ in a single season with any other team.  If Cirillo’s regression period had not come so early or so drastically, we might be discussing his Hall of Fame credentials a little bit more.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Royce Clayton

Resume: All-Star in 1997, led NL in defensive bWAR in 1994 and 1995, 16.4 career bWAR.

Clayton’s resume isn’t all that long because there aren’t a whole lot of impressive accomplishments to include.  Clayton couldn’t hit, with a 78 career OPS+ and never once hitting a 100 OPS+ for a season, and added basically all of his value in the field.  For a few years in the mid-1990s, he was pretty great in the field, but his inability at the plate quickly began to outweigh what he provided defensively.  Despite this, he still managed to find regular work in the MLB- including a stint on some fun Texas teams in 1998 and 1999- and only 15 players in history have played more games at shortstop than Royce Clayton.  Longevity alone is not enough for Hall of Fame enshrinement, though, and Clayton did not offer much more of Hall of Fame quality.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Roger Clemens

Resume: 7-time Cy Young Award winner, 1986 AL MVP, led league in ERA+ 8 times, 11-time All-Star, led league in bWAR 4 times, 133.1 bWAR (3rd all-time for pitchers).

For the sake of avoiding redundancy, I won’t go back over what I discussed in the Barry Bonds section, but I will also say about Clemens: he never tested positive for a banned substance.  With or without “cheating,” Clemens is clearly deserving of Hall of Fame induction as one of the best five or so pitchers in the history of baseball.  Also of note: Clemens had a 2.37 ERA in 8 World Series starts, in which he never earned a loss.  His first and last Cy Young Awards came 18 seasons apart.  His 143 career ERA+ ranks 10th, he is third all-time in strikeouts with 4672, and he ranks first in a handful of advanced metrics.  Similar to Bonds, a Hall of Fame without Clemens loses any sense of validity.

Projection: Closer to Hall of Fame than Bonds, but not by much. 45% is my guess.

Jeff Conine

Resume: 2-time All-Star, won the World Series with Florida in 1997 and 2003, solid fielder during his peak, 16.2 career bWAR.

Jeff Conine had a bit of a boring career- pretty consistent, decent power numbers, fine OBP, okay fielding except for a couple years in the mid-1990s and in the twilight period of his career.  Conine was always a productive hitter, but couldn’t really stand out in the power-heavy era in the 1990s and early 2000s, only hitting greater than 125 OPS+ twice.  Conine, like many players on this list, was a fine player who was typically an asset to his teams, but was rarely a standout as the skills he brought to a team were often better represented by more talented players.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Steve Finley

Resume: 2-time All-Star, won World Series with Arizona in 2001, one of only a few players with 300 HR and 300 steals, played more games in center field than anyone in MLB history other than Willie Mays, 40.4 career bWAR.

Steve Finley had a funny career, changing from a speed demon in the first half of his career to a power hitter in the latter half.  In the middle of his career, he seemingly alternated between great and abominable defensive seasons, but he mostly had a positive impact defensively, which is a big part of why he played the second-most career games in center field.  He rarely was in the top 10 in any statistical category (except for bWAR, in which he had three top 10 finishes), but provided consistent, solid value for most of his long career, which spanned 19 seasons.  Although he added a lot of value over the course of his career (and some of the skills he had were undervalued by many teams), Finley’s peak was relatively low compared to his contemporaries on this ballot, and it didn’t last for very long either.

Projection: Gets close to 5% but still falls short; not retained for next year’s ballot

Julio Franco

Resume: 3-time All-Star, 111 career OPS+ (primarily at second base), played for 23 seasons, 39.7 career bWAR.

Julio Franco played for a very long time- and for a little while, he was also very good, putting up 17.6 bWAR between 1989 and 1991.  He was never a plus fielder, though, and his skills at the plate were never irreplaceable.  Franco’s longevity was matched by very few second basemen throughout history, but the others typically had more to offer than he did.  That being said, Franco was the oldest player in the NL for four straight years, and that’s pretty cool in its own right.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Shawn Green

Resume: 2-time All-Star, three seasons with bWAR over 6.0, 120 career OPS+, 31.4 career bWAR.

Similar to Conine, Green was a very solid hitter for most of his career, although Green’s peak was much higher.  Green wasn’t able to sustain that success for very long though; his second season with an OPS+ over 150 was also his last with an OPS+ above even 120.  Green was another player who managed to be underrated during the late 1990s and early 2000s, although he was probably the best hitter of the bunch.  This is seen most easily with his 2001 season, where he hit 49 HR and had a 154 OPS+, yet didn’t make the All-Star team.  Green, like so many players who fall short of Hall of Fame standards, had a peak on par with borderline Hall candidates, but just didn’t maintain that production for long enough.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Roberto Hernandez

Resume: 2-time All-Star, 326 saves (13th all-time), 131 career ERA+, 17.2 career bWAR.

The first reliever on the list is Roberto Hernandez, who found success with the White Sox early on in his career before bouncing around the league for a bunch of years thereafter.  Hernandez was a good reliever at basically every stop of his career, outside of his final year in the MLB in 2007 at age 42.  His 131 career ERA+ ranks 35th all-time and he is 39th in career strikeout rate.  Although Hernandez is one of the more underrated relievers ever, and I’d definitely make a case for him if Hall of Fame standards were a bit lower, I don’t think Hernandez has much of a chance at making the Hall of Fame.  That being said, when the subject of best relievers not to make the Hall comes up in conversation, I’ll be sure to mention Hernandez.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Ryan Klesko

Resume: All-Star in 2001, 128 career OPS+ (195th all-time), .500 career SLG (99th all-time), won World Series with Atlanta in 1995, 24.6 carer bWAR.

Klesko seemingly had endless potential when entering the league as a young left fielder with the Braves in the early 1990s; unfortunately, he never quite lived up to expectations.  A myriad of health problems resulted in him only once playing more than 150 games in a season, and his hitting was never quite up to snuff with the stars of the league, only twice putting up OPS+ over 140 in seasons where he played over 140 games.  Combined with a lack of fielding ability that forced a full-time move to first base during his first season with San Diego in 2000, Klesko quickly ran out of star potential, though he remained a useful player for years afterward.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Kenny Lofton

Resume: 6-time All-Star, 64.9 career bWAR, one of the best defensive center fielders ever, led the AL in bWAR in 1994, 15th in career stolen bases (and 59th in career SB%), top 10 in the league in OBP three times.

Kenny Lofton has an interesting case for the Hall of Fame.  He has a career 107 OPS+, which, coupled with his all-time great defensive play, gives him a strong legacy for his career, especially given his very good baserunning.  Lofton, during his prime years, always had some pop to go along with his patience and skill at getting on base, which added to his production and led to a 145 OPS+ in 1994.  Lofton is a borderline Hall of Fame candidate in my eyes, and I think a strong argument either way could sway my opinion.

Projection: 18% of the vote; will remain on next year’s ballot

Edgar Martinez

Resume: 7-time All-Star, career 64.4 bWAR, three-time league leader in OBP, 147 career OPS+ (45th all-time), .418 career OBP (21st all-time), . 515 career SLG (68th all-time), the best designated hitter in MLB history

Edgar Martinez is pretty entrenched as the best DH in MLB history.  No player who’s been a primary DH for their entire careers has ever been as good of a hitter, and very few at any position in any era were Martinez’s match with the bat.  Last year, his third on the ballot, Martinez earned only 36.5% of the vote.  I’m not sure what to make of that other than to think that maybe voters don’t want designated hitters in the Hall of Fame, which would be a notion I wholeheartedly disagree with.  The designated hitter has been part of baseball for almost 40 years now, and there are many stars who primarily play DH.  It has just as much a place in the game as does the relief pitcher, and the DH arguably has more impact.  Ignoring the best ever player at a position (that, again, has existed for about 40 years) is to ignore its place in the game- which, at this point, is just being stubborn.

Projection: Martinez doesn’t get that much closer, but picks up some steam: 38.5%.

Don Mattingly

Resume: 6-time All-Star, 1985 AL MVP, 127 career OPS+ (208th all-time), 39.8 career bWAR.

Mattingly has picked up a lot of support for a variety of external reasons: stardom status, played his entire career with the Yankees (which adds great media attention and a huge fanbase), a well-liked and classy guy by all accounts, and because his peak was one of the highest of the 1980s.  Other than that, though, his career (which was pretty short as is, at only 13 seasons with 90+ games played) doesn’t hold up to Hall of Fame standards, ranking outside the top 200 in both career OBP and SLG, only playing pretty good defense, and not staying around for very long.

Projection: With all the new players on the ballot, Mattingly might lose a little bit of the vote this year, but I don’t think he’s in any danger of being eliminated from the ballot.  I say he gets 16%, only a slight drop from last year.

Fred McGriff

Resume: 5-time All-Star, 134 career OPS+ (121st all-time), 48.2 career bWAR, .509 career SLG (76th all-time), won World Series with Atlanta in 1995.

Fred McGriff had a long career at first base- so long that only Eddie Murray and Jake Beckley have played more games at the position.  He led the league in HR twice (and ended up with 493) and OPS(+) once.  He was top 10 in the league in SLG seven times and OBP four times.  McGriff, bar none, was a very good hitter for most of his career.  But to be a Hall of Fame player at first base requires a bit more than McGriff offered, though his era does him no favors.  By my count, McGriff’s contemporaries at first included Bagwell, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire, Don Mattingly, John Olerud, Mo Vaughn, Carlos Delgado, Jim Thome, Kent Hrbek…it wasn’t easy to stand out.  I’m not sure anyone can blame McGriff for not being a standout among that group, but it does mean he had to be that much better in order to succeed.  He just wasn’t.

Projection: McGriff stays pretty steady from his 23.9% he got last year.  My guess is 23%.

Mark McGwire

Resume: 12-time All-Star, 1987 AL Rookie of the Year, 163 career OPS+ (13th all-time), 58.7 career bWAR, led league in HR four times, led league in OBP twice and slugging four times, led league in OPS+ four times.

As with Bonds and Clemens, McGwire, despite his admitted steroid use, never tested positive for a banned substance (and the substances he admitted to taking were not banned when he tok them), so let’s get that out of the way early.  Now, certain people around the collective baseball fanhood believe Mark McGwire to be a “one-trick pony,” meaning all he did was hit home runs.  Now, even if that was true (spoiler for next sentence: it’s not), that’s a damn good trick to have, as McGwire hit 583 HRs, good for 10th all-time (though that was good for 5th at the time McGwire retired).  Of course, McGwire was also great at getting on base, leading the league in OBP twice and finishing with a career mark of .394, good for 81st all-time.  He also had a career SLG of .588, which is 8th all-time.  Any way you want to look at it, McGwire is among the all-time greats at hitting the baseball.  This, in my mind, is enough to give him my hypothetical Hall of Fame vote without a second thought, but he also played pretty solid defense for a lot of his time in Oakland- and although his career fielding numbers look a bit low, this has much to do with the fact that he played the twilight years of his career in the National League, where he could not rest as a designated hitter, and was much too valuable to sit.

Projection: Now in his seventh year on the ballot, McGwire’s vote percentage has slipped each of the past three years, so this year doesn’t look good for him.  I think he’ll see a slight comeback of sorts, but I doubt he’ll see any serious consideration at this point.  23% seems within reach for McGwire this year.

Jose Mesa

Resume: 2-time All-Star, 321 career saves (14th all-time), 100 career ERA+, went by the very literal nickname “Joe Table.”

Jose Mesa is perhaps…okay, definitely best known for being on the mound in the 9th inning for the Indians during the Game 7 meltdown that led to the Florida Marlins winning the 1997 World Series.  Though he finished his career with 321 saves, those came mostly from longevity than quality pitching, as he finished with a career 100 ERA+, which means he was exactly average at giving up earned runs for his career.  His rate stats were never particularly impressive, and advanced stats do him equally little favors.  He did pitch more games than all but ten other pitchers in history, though, so there’s that.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Jack Morris

Resume: 5-time All-Star, 105 career ERA+, won 3 World Series (1984 Detroit Tigers, 1991 Minnesota Twins, 1992 Toronto Blue Jays), 39.3 career bWAR.

I’m not sure there’s another way to put it other than bluntly: there’s really no reason that we should be talking this much about Jack Morris’s Hall of Fame candidacy.  Though he was a good pitcher for a long time, that’s about what his career comes down to: he was a good pitcher that racked up a lot of wins playing for almost-exclusively very good teams.  Morris, it can be said, had great numbers in two stat categories- wins and innings.  And yes, Morris was a workhorse, but there is not enough of a well-rounded body of work for him to earn my Hall of Fame support.  Unfortunately, this reads as an indictment of Morris rather than a praise of his career, which was both very good and a lot of fun to follow.  He’s just not up to Hall of Fame standards as a starting pitcher, though.

Projection: In his 14th year on the ballot, Morris gets a little bit closer- I say he gets 68.5%.

Dale Murphy

Resume: 7-time All-Star, NL MVP in 1982 and 1983, led league in HR twice and SLG twice, 121 career OPS+, 42.6 career bWAR.

Murphy, like Mattingly, was a very good player with a likable personality who was great for a short period of time.  Murphy had a few years in the top 10 in the league in certain categories- four times in WAR, 5 times in OBP, 6 times in SLG, but didn’t hold his peak for long enough.  Murphy was talented enough to be ready for MLB pitching by the time he was 23, but didn’t have much value after his age 31 season.  Like many players who fall just short of Hall of Fame induction, Murphy just wasn’t good for long enough, and he didn’t sustain his peak for enough seasons.

Projection: It’s his last season on the ballot no matter what, so his vote will increase a bit, but it still won’t be nearly enough for induction. 22%.

Rafael Palmeiro

Resume: 4-time All-Star, 3020 hits and 569 HR, 132 career OPS+ (142nd all-time), 66.1 career bWAR (68th all-time among position players).

Palmeiro is an interesting case- he is the only one of these “cheaters” on this ballot who actually did test positive for a banned substance, so at least he has that for him.  Of course, Palmeiro has enough of a borderline case as is, with a career SLG of .515 SLG (71st all-time) and a OBP of .371 (only 249th all-time).  He did have good fielding ability at first base, when he wasn’t DHing, and didn’t hurt his team too much on the the basebath.  Is Palmeiro really deserving of the Hall of Fame, though?  I’m not sure.  Was he really that great of a hitter?  I’m just not sure.  I’m sure I could be swayed either way, but it seems to me that Palmeiro’s case is pretty borderline.

Projection: Palmeiro doesn’t have much of a shot anyway, only getting 12.6% of the vote last year.  I doubt it goes much higher. 14.5%.

Mike Piazza

Resume: 12-time All-Star, 1993 NL Rookie of the Year, 143 career OPS+ (62nd all-time. Led NL twice in this stat), 56.1 career bWAR, considered the best-hitting catcher in MLB history.

As said in the previous paragraph, Mike Piazza is considered the best-hitting catcher in the history of Major League Baseball, finishing with the 32nd-highest SLG ever (.545) and .377 OBP, which ranks in the top 200 ever.  Basically, if you’re the best ever at your position at something as big as “hitting,” then you should probably be in the Hall of Fame, and Piazza is no exception.  The one knock on him, his defense, wasn’t really a minus until later in his career anyway, while he remained on National League teams that couldn’t hide his bat by making him the designated hitter.

Projection: Piazza will come pretty close, if he doesn’t earn induction outright. I’ll say 72%.

Tim Raines

Resume: 7-time All-Star, 123 career OPS+ (and six top 10 seasons), 66.2 career bWAR (67th all-time among position players), seven top 10 seasons in OBP, 808 stolen bases (5th all-time) and 11th in stolen-base percentage, won World Series with New York Yankees in 1996 and 1998.

If it wasn’t for Rickey Henderson, Raines’s Hall of Fame case would be a lot easier to make.  Henderson and Raines had very similar skillsets, combining elite baserunning with very strong skills at the plate from the leadoff slot and good range in left field.  Problem is, Henderson was just better at everything than Raines was.  That, of course, doesn’t reflect poorly on Raines at all, but it has made him pretty severely underrated for most of the duration of their careers, and after they ended as well.

Projection: Raines has been picking up a lot of steam in his last four years on the ballot, and I think this trend continues.  I’ll say he gets 54% of the vote this year.

Reggie Sanders

Resume: All-Star in 1995, 115 career OPS+, 36.7 career bWAR, won World Series with Arizona in 2001, 10th in career Total Zone Runs at right field.

Reggie Sanders, like Finley, also had 300 HR and 300 stolen bases for his career, plus provided great defense, though Sanders typically played a corner outfield position.  Though Sanders did provide value towards the end of his career, he never really peaked, only once providing a season bWAR above 4.0.  He did have a good amount of power, but wasn’t able to stand out as a huge improvement in that category over other great power hitters of the era.  Sanders hit a lot of high fly balls, which would normally either result in long outs or home runs; he hit only 341 doubles in his career to go with his 305 HR.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Curt Schilling

Resume: 6-time All-Star, 127 career ERA+ (48th all-time), 76.9 career bWAR (26th among pitchers), led league in strikeouts per walk five times and is second all-time in this category, led league in strikeouts twice, led league in starts three times, led league in WHIP twice, won World Series with Arizona in 2001 and with Boston in 2004 and 2007, likely the best postseason pitcher in MLB history.

It’s hard to mention Schilling’s career without talking about his 2.23 postseason ERA, which he accrued in 19 starts from 1993 to 2007.  Incredibly, he actually had a lower mark in World Series games, at 2.06.  I have no problem with using dominant postseason performance (over a large enough sample size) as a tiebreaker for Hall of Fame cases.  Fortunately for Schilling, he would be more than deserving of enshrinement without his playoff heroics.  He was one of the rare pitchers who got better as he approached his mid-30s, due to gaining better control of his pitches; the two times he led the league in walk rate came in 2002 and 2006, at the ages of 35 and 39.  Schilling wasn’t given any favors from his era or defense for a significant portion of his career, but he was always one of the more dominant pitchers in terms of run prevention, ending in the top 10 in ERA nine times for his career.  He may not have the same body of work as the all-time elite of his era like Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Greg Maddux, but Schilling more than meets Hall of Fame standards.

Projection: He probably will not get in this year anyway, but will garner a significant portion of the vote.  53%.

Aaron Sele

Resume: 2-time All-Star, 100 career ERA+, 17.2 career bWAR.

Sele was a fine pitcher during his day, but doesn’t have too impressive a resume.  His career path was certainly fun, though, and he bounced from notable team to notable team- going from the interesting Red Sox teams of the mid-1990s to the offense-heavy Rangers of 1998 and 1999, to the 116-win Mariners in 2001, to the World Series-winning Angels in 2002 (though he did not pitch in the postseason for that Anaheim team).  Interestingly, Sele finished fifth on the AL Cy Young ballot in 1999, despite having an ERA nearly a full run higher than any other pitcher who received a vote.  During his peak, Sele always had a positive impact on his team, but was never dominant for any period of time, and wasn’t steady enough long-term to earn any serious Hall of Fame consideration.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Lee Smith

Resume: 7-time All-Star, 27.9 career bWAR, 132 career ERA+ (33rd all-time), 478 career saves (the long-time record).

Smith was one of the dominant closers before the heydays of Mariano Rivera, Eric Gagne, and Trevor Hoffman.  His rate stats still hold up very well, holding the 94th-best career hit rate and the 15th-best career strikeout rate.  For a closer, he was a great innings-eater, consistently racking up more than 90 innings pitched during his first stint with the Cubs.  In 1983, the first year Smith led the league in saves, he also finished with a 4.7 bWAR, fifth-highest among all pitchers.  Relievers are typically held to a different standard when it comes to the Hall of Fame, and Smith will be as well, but it seems pretty clear that he was one of the few most dominant relievers of his era, when relief pitchers were just beginning to be used primarily as specialists, and he held his production for many years.  I lean towards giving Smith my Hall of Fame support.

Projection: Smith had fairly steady support for a while before getting a higher percentage of the vote last year, finally cracking 50%.  I say this continues to rise a little, and he gets 52%.

Sammy Sosa

Resume: 7-time All-Star, 1998 NL MVP, 128 career OPS+ (190th all-time), 54.8 career bWAR (127th among position players), .534 career SLG (44th all-time), 609 HR (8th all-time).

As many have said about Sosa, it’s downright bizarre that we’d be talking about the Hall of Fame credentials of a player who hit over 600 home runs in his career, but that’s Sammy Sosa for you.  Though a great slugger in terms of raw numbers, his skills were probably inflated due to his era, and there were many that provided similar power with a more well-rounded skillset.  Though his 2001 season was certainly among the most valuable in recent memory (10.1 bWAR), his peak wasn’t all that historically impressive, only getting over 6.0 bWAR one other season- in 1998, which was historic for an entirely different reason.  Sosa’s production wasn’t replaceable, per se, but what he offered to a team was offered by certain other players on recent and upcoming Hall of Fame ballots, who also brought more to the table than he did.  I won’t give an outright no to Sosa, but he’s on the wrong side of borderline, in my mind.

Projection: He doesn’t have much of a chance anyway, as his appearance in the Mitchell Report (though the substance he tested positive for was not banned at the time) and the corked bat (which, yes, was against the MLB’s rules) have left a bad taste in the mouth for many voters.  14% of the vote, or even lower, doesn’t seem like an unrealistic estimate.

Mike Stanton

Resume: All-Star in 2001, 112 career ERA+, 12.6 career bWAR, won World Series with New York Yankees in 1998, 1999, and 2000.

Stanton’s strikeout rate comes out pretty favorably (87th all-time), and some advanced stats are quite nice to him, but he was just never historically dominant.  Despite pitching more games than anyone in history other than Jesse Orosco, Stanton never had too much impact on his games, actually throwing fewer innings in his career than he did games (1114.0 and 1178, respectively).  Stanton was used as Mariano Rivera’s setup man during the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990s and early 2000s, but was not always great in that role.  Ultimately, Stanton was a good, not great, reliever who stuck around for a while without pitching to that many batters.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Alan Trammell

Resume: 6-time All-Star, 110 career OPS+, 67.1 career bWAR (61st among position players), considered a very good defensive shortstop (rightfully so), probably deserved the AL MVP in 1987, won World Series with Detroit in 1984.

Skills at the plate like Trammell’s are very rare for a shortstop of any era to have, and most of them who hit like Trammell are already in the Hall of Fame.  Trammell’s fielding skills are pretty rare also, and most shortstops who fielded like Trammell are already in the Hall of Fame.  In other words, I’m really not sure how we’re on Trammell’s 12th year on the ballot, and he has yet to come close to making the Hall of Fame.  You won’t find many shortstops throughout time who had six seasons with an OPS+ above 130, and I doubt you’ll find more than one or two among that group who were credited with saving as many runs in the field as Trammell is.  Plain and simple, Trammell is one of the best and most well-rounded shortstops in history, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Projection: After taking a large jump in the vote last year, I think Trammell will continue to get closer, possibly getting up to 48%.

Larry Walker

Resume: 5-time All-Star, 1997 NL MVP, 141 career OPS+ (73rd all-time), 69.7 career bWAR (52nd all-time), .400 OBP (57th all-time), .565 SLG (13th all-time), one of the greatest defensive right fielders ever.

At first glance, it might be tempting to suggest Walker was a product of his environment, playing the peak seasons of his career in hitter-friendly Coors Field- but OPS+ factors for home-field environment, and he still comes out quite favorably in that department, plus he was still a great hitter when he played for Montreal and St. Louis.  And it’s not as if those were the only things that made Walker great- not only did he have great range in right field, but he was also a very good baserunner, stealing 230 bases over the course of his career at a successful rate.  And his throwing arm was so powerful that he retired with more outfield assists from right field than anyone since Roberto Clemente.  Walker doesn’t seem to get the recognition he deserves as both a powerful slugger and incredibly well-rounded player these days, and his reputation should be much better than he is.  In my mind, Walker is deserving of Hall of Fame enshrinement.

Projection: He seems to be unfairly punished as a member of the “steroid era” even though his hitting numbers would still be historically relevant and he has never been linked to illegal PEDs.  That being said, I’ll predict a bit of a rise for Walker this year: 28%.

Todd Walker

Resume: 98 career OPS+, 8.3 career bWAR.

Walker doesn’t have much of a resume other than to say that he was a decent player who stuck around for 12 years.  Though clearly lacking of any Hall of Fame consideration, Walker still had a nice career, peaking in a line of .316/.372/.473 from second base for Minnesota in 1998.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

David Wells

Resume: 3-time All-Star, 108 career ERA+, 49.4 career bWAR, won World Series with Toronto in 1992 and New York Yankees in 1998.

Advanced stats are fairly nice to David Wells, who stuck around the MLB for a long time (21 seasons) and always had good rates, especially in the strikeouts-per-walk category, where he ranks 41st all-time.  Wells was always a good pitcher, and occasionally was very good.  I hate to come off as one of the “hidden veil” sportswriters who hides behind subjective blanket terms, but simply being good-to-very good for a long time isn’t enough for Hall of Fame induction.  Wells, to put it simply, just needed to be better in order to get to the Hall of Fame.

Projection: It’s going to be really close to 5%- I’ll say Wells gets 4.6% and is not retained for next year’s ballot.

Rondell White

Resume: All-Star in 2003, 108 career OPS+, 25.5 career bWAR, was a member of the 1994 Montreal Expos- and in my mind that counts for something.

Rondell White was a solid hitter for most of his career, and a very good fielder too, but couldn’t stay healthy enough to make a huge long-term impact, only playing over 100 games in six seasons, and only once playing more than 140.  In a world without injuries, White makes a few more All-Star teams, keeps his speed on the for much longer, and isn’t completely spent by age 34.  Unfortunately, that’s not what happened, and White’s career, though no fault of his own, still feels like a disappointment to many, given the talent that he did have.

Projetion: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

Bernie Williams

Resume: 5-time All-Star, career 125 OPS+, career 45.9 bWAR, won World Series with New York Yankees in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000.

Strangely, Bernie Williams is one of the few Yankees stars to possibly be underrated.  While his placement in center field lasted for much longer than it should have- and this was a detriment to the team for a while- Williams was very good with the bat right up until he didn’t have anything left to offer.  He ranks in both the top 200 in career OBP and SLG, and had an OPS+ over 120 for nine straight seasons, all while playing a premium defensive position.  No, Bernie Williams is no Hall of Famer, but, like many on this list, his career was very good nonetheless.

Projection: I was surprised he got 9.6% of the vote last year, and I can’t imagine that number goes up. I’ll say 8.5%.

Woody Williams

Resume: All-Star in 2003, 103 career ERA+, 25.0 career bWAR.

Woody Williams took a long time to get going, not making a team’s regular starting rotation until Toronto offered him the role in 1997, at the age of 30.  From there, Williams was a consistently above-average pitcher, having straight complete seasons of ERA+ from 95 to 115 until 2005.  Williams was a solid pitcher throughout his 30s, but was never anything better.

Projection: Less than 5% of the vote; not retained for next year’s ballot

There you have it- all 37 players on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.  If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, and you are my new favorite reader.  If you want to comment on anything, we have that comment section at the bottom just for that, because I want to know what you think about the players up for vote.  Or follow the blog on Twitter @FormerlyFausto, or my own account @twarner50, where I discuss/rant about these things at end.

13 Comments

It’s going to be very interesting and possibly frustrating over the years I think to see other guys get voted in. This debate is going to be never ending for as long as baseball is around whether they get in or not. There is a right answer in my opinion and I think they shouldn’t get in. I don’t see why they should and I know they were such a big part of baseball history but it doesn’t seem fair to let them in. Really intrigued to see what happens over the next 5 to 10 years surrounding this. Also, you think you could check out my blog cuz I’d love to hear what you have to say http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/hall-of-infamous/

Hey Chris, thanks for reading. Here’s why I think they should be allowed in: for the most part, these guys never actually broke a rule. Every performance enhancing drug that isn’t banned is legal, which means that, before substances are banned, they’re essentially on the same legal standing as a dietary supplement. We don’t have proof other than conjecture that Bonds, Clemens, and McGwire (but not Palmeiro, as I discussed in the article) ever did anything that broke a rule. I don’t think it’s fair to ban players from the Hall of Fame for doing things that were legal at the time they did them. Palmeiro, who did test positive for a banned substance, is different from that group. At this point, I understand why people would argue for him to be ineligible, but the punishment for taking illegal PEDs is a 50-game suspension, not a lifetime ban. And that’s what it comes down to for me- we don’t discipline players, that’s the job of the league office. If they say that taking illegal PEDs merits a 50-game suspension, then that is the punishment for taking illegal PEDs, not banning them from the Hall of Fame.

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