Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sorting Through the 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot

On Monday, I released the results of the recent poll of Baseball Bloggers Alliance members in relation to this year's Hall of Fame ballot. Three men were selected out of the 91 ballots cast from BBA members. This year's ballot is packed full of worthy candidates and some official voters are having a hard time narrowing down their selections to meet the ballot maximum of 10 names.

When filling out my own ballot, it was a challenge to pick the men that should receive baseball's highest honor. There are plenty of story lines surrounding the players featured on this year's ballot.
  • Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are two of the best players in history but the cloud of steroids surrounds them. 
  • Jack Morris is in his final year on the ballot but will he gain enough support to get to the 75% needed to be elected.
  • Former Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine should be elected but could one of them be the first unanimous pick for the Hall.
  • Power hitters from the steroids era like Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, and Mike Piazza will have to fight the stereotypes but could they make their way to Cooperstown.
With each of the other announcements, the BBA asks each member to post their ballot to their affiliated blog. The Hall-of-Fame vote is the only one for which this is not a requirement. I still feel like the Hall-of-Fame balloting should be posted with my reasons for selecting each candidate. I usually break my ballot into a few different categories because I know that not all of the player listed below will be making a speech in Cooperstown this summer:
Class of 2014
Tom Glavine (1st Ballot)- Atlanta Braves, New York Mets
Accolades: 10-time All-Star, 4 Silver Sluggers, '91 NL Cy Young, '98 NL Cy Young, '95 World Series MVP
Wins: 305 (21st)
ERA: 3.54 
WHIP: 1.314 
K: 2,607 (24th)
IP: 4,413.1 (30th)
WAR for pitchers: 74.0 (28th)
Shutouts: 25 (173rd)

Greg Maddux (1st Ballot)- Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers
Accolades: 8-time All-Star, 18 Gold Gloves, '92 NL Cy Young, '93 NL Cy Young, '94 NL Cy Young, '95 NL Cy Young
Wins: 355 (8th)
ERA: 3.16 (231st)
WHIP: 1.143 (56th)
K: 3,371 (10th)
IP: 5,008.3 (13th)
WAR for pitchers: 104.6 (8th)
Shutouts: 35 (71st)

It would seem only fitting for Glavine and Maddux to enter the HOF together since each was such a key part of the Braves NL dominance in the 1990s. On last year's ballot, I had Biggio and Bagwell going in together but that didn't exactly work out. Biggio has the highest remaining vote percentage from last year's ballot and he could sneak in with the duo mentioned above. Maddux should be a lock and one would think he could be very close to being a unanimous pick.

Future Inductions
Jeff Bagwell (2013 HOF Vote: 59.6%)- Houston Astros
Accolades: 4-time All-Star, 1 Gold Glove, 3 Silver Sluggers, '94 NL MVP
BA: .297
H: 2314 (140th)
HR: 449 (36th)
R: 1517 (63rd)
RBI: 1529 (46th)
SB: 202
OPS: .948 (22nd)
WAR: 79.9 (59th)

Craig Biggio (2013 HOF Vote: 68.2%)- Houston Astros
Accolades: 7-time All-Star, 4 Gold Gloves, 5 Silver Sluggers
BA: .281
H: 3,060 (21st)
HR: 219 (144th)
R: 1,844 (15th)
RBI: 1,175 (162nd)
SB: 414 (64th)
OPS: .796
WAR: 62.1 (129th)

Mike Piazza (2013 HOF Vote: 57.8%)- Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics
Accolades: 12-time All-Star, 10 Silver Sluggers,  '93 Rookie of the Year
BA: .308 (122nd)
H: 2,127 (210th)
HR: 427 (44th)
R: 1048
RBI: 1,335 (89th)
OPS: .922 (50th)
WAR: 56.1 (117th)

Frank Thomas (1st Ballot)- Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays
Accolades: 5-time All-Star, 4 Silver Sluggers, '93 AL MVP, '94 AL MVP
BA: .301 (195th)
H: 2,468 (101st)
HR: 521 (18th)
R: 1,494 (71st)
RBI: 1,704 (22nd)
OPS: .974 (14th)
WAR: 73.6 (81st)

All of these men deserve to be inducted into Cooperstown but this might not be their year. The ballot is stacked and they might have to wait for some of the men in front of them to be honored. Biggio is one of the best up the middle players in history. Bagwell and Thomas seem to be clean power hitters in an age marked by steroid use. Piazza is the best power hitting catcher of all-time. If I ranked the likelihood of these men being selected this year, it would go Biggio, Thomas, Bagwell, Piazza. 

May Never Get In (But Still On My Ballot)
Barry Bonds (2013 HOF Vote: 36.2%)- Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants
Accolades: 14-time All-Star, 8 Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers, 2-time Batting Champ, '90 NL MVP, '92 NL MVP, '93 NL MVP, '01 NL MVP, '02 NL MVP, '03 NL MVP, '04 NL MVP
BA: .298 (235th)
H: 2,935 (32nd)
HR: 762 (1st)
R: 2,227 (3rd)
RBI: 1,996 (4th)
OPS: 1.051 (4th)
SB: 514 (33rd)
BB: 2,558 (1st)
WAR: 158.1 (3rd)

Roger Clemens (2013 HOF Vote: 37.6%)- Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros
Accolades: 11-time All-Star, '86 AL MVP, '86 AL Cy Young, '87 AL Cy Young, '91 AL Cy Young, '97 AL Cy Young, '98 AL Cy Young, '01 AL Cy Young, '04 NL Cy Young
Wins: 354 (9th)
ERA: 3.12 (212th)
WHIP: 1.173 (90th)
K: 4,672 (3rd)
IP: 4,916.6 (16th)
WAR for pitchers: 133.1 (3rd)
Shutouts: 46 (26th)

Edgar Martinez (2013 HOF Vote: 35.9%)- Seattle Mariners
Accolades: 7-time All-Star, 5 Silver Sluggers
BA: .312 (96th)
H: 2247 (161th)
HR: 309 (123th)
R: 1219 (161th)
RBI: 1261 (124st)
OPS: .933 (34th)
WAR: 67.2 (108th)

Tim Raines (2013 HOF Vote: 52.2%)- Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Florida Marlins
Accolades: 7-time All-Star, 1 Silver Slugger, 1 NL Batting Title
BA: .294
H: 2,605 (77th)
HR: 170
R: 1,571 (53rd)
RBI: 980
OPS: .810
SB: 808 (5th)
WAR: 66.2 (97th)

As I stated on my ballot from last year, Bonds and Clemens were both on their way to Hall of Fame careers before they started to use steroids. They are two of the best players in the history of the game and it is a shame that steroids had to get in the way of some of the special things they were doing on the diamond. I have championed for Martinez since his first year on the ballot. He spent some time playing third base before becoming the definition of the designated hitter. Raines is one of the most under-appreciated players in history and his skills place him as the second best lead-off hitter of all-time.

So who would make your ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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