Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Running Down the Hall (of Fame)

My first Twins game was May 30, 1994 when the Twins took on the Seattle Mariners. As a kid, I was excited to be at my first big league game but it's fun to look back on the caliber of players in both line-ups. Future Hall of Famers Kirby Puckett, Randy Johnson, and Dave Winfield all played in the game.

Two other members of that Mariners team are prominently featured on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez. Griffey is in his first year of eligibility and he will be enshrined this year with close to 100% of the vote. Martinez has been on multiple ballots but he doesn't get as much support since he played the majority of his career at designated hitter.

Besides Griffey's almost assured enshrinement, there will likely be other's to join him in Cooperstown this summer. Here's a look at the 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot.

Class of 2016
Jeff Bagwell: It's going to be close but I think Bagwell gets just over 75% of the vote needed to get into the Hall of Fame. There are some that have questioned his candidacy because he was a big power hitter in the midst of the steroids era. Bagwell is tied with Ty Cobb for third most seasons with a .420+OBP, .540+ SLG, and 15+ stolen bases. Only Ed Delahanty and Barry Bonds are higher on the list.

Ken Griffey Jr: The only questions surrounding Griffey is whether or not he will be listed on 100% of the ballots. There has never been a Hall of Famer listed on 100% of the ballots and that trend will likely continue this year. Griffey battled through numerous injuries in his career otherwise he might be considered the greatest player in the history of the game. His tremendous defense in center field and his sweet swing at the plate make him a hands down pick for the class of 2016.

Mike Piazza: He may go down as the best hitting catcher of all-time and this should be enough to get him in on his fourth time on the ballot. Much like Bagwell, there have been some that haven't voted for him because of him being a power hitter in the steroid era. I think he makes it in this year and does it pretty easily. If Bagwell falls short, this year's class might only include Griffey and Piazza.

Future Inductions
Tim Raines: Raines continues to gain steam in recent years and I think he falls just short on this year's ballot which will set him up for election in 2017, his last year on the ballot. He is one of the best leadoff hitters of all time. His fifth in stolen bases, 13th in stolen base percentage, and 41st in win probability added. He'd need a 20 percent increase from last year's ballot and that might be too much to do in one year.

Curt Schilling: Schilling is one of the most dominant postseason pitchers of all time and the longevity of his career should help his case. He has received under 40% of the vote in each of his three years on the ballot but he should see a big jump this season. It will likely take a few more years but he should get in at some point.

Trevor Hoffman: For a few seasons, he held the all-time record for career saves before being passed by Mariano Rivera. Even as a relief pitcher, he finished second in the Cy Young voting twice and had two other top six finishes. He was the first pitcher to reach 500 saves and one of two players to have reached the 600 save mark. Relief pitchers have a tough time getting in but he was a trailblazer at the position.

May Never Get In (But Still On My Ballot) 
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina
Even though they are two of the best players of all-time, Bonds and Clemens have the cloud of steroids surrounding their candidacy. Martinez was a designated hitter and it seems like the voters are holding that against him even though he has strong numbers as a power hitter. Mussina was a good pitcher for a long time but he won't get enough support and he was the last name on my ballot.

Others on the ballot: Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Luis Castillo, David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Troy Glaus, Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Jason Kendall, Jeff Kent, Mike Lowell, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Mike Sweeney, Alan Trammel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Randy Winn

So who do you think gets in? Who else should have been on my ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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