|Photo Credit: Eric Bolte, USA Today Sports|
Within the last few months, it was announced that former MLB commissioner Bud Selig will be enshrined in Cooperstown. This is the man that oversaw the growth of baseball to the level that it is today. He also allowed the steroid era to continue longer than it should have gone on. If the architect of the steroid era is being let into the Hall, other players will soon follow suit.
There needs to be a fine line drawn and each person is going to put that line in different spots. When baseball started testing/suspensions for steroids in 2005, players continued to break the rules. Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez, and Alex Rodriguez broke the rules and won't be on this ballot or any future ballot.
Here are the ten names I would pencil in if I had a ballot:
Class of 2017
Jeff Bagwell: It was close last year but Bagwell's 71.6% of the vote fell just short of the 75% needed for induction. There are some that have questioned his candidacy because he was a power hitter in the midst of the steroids era. Bagwell is tied with Ty Cobb for the third most seasons with a .420+OBP, .540+SLG, and 15+ stolen bases. Only Ed Delahanty and Barry Bonds are higher on the list.
Tim Raines: Raines enters his tenth and final year on the ballot with a full head of steam. He finished last year with almost 70% of the vote and the ballots released so far this year show he should easily make it. He is one of the best lead-off hitters of all-time. He's fifth in stolen bases, 13th in stolen base percentage and 46th in win probability added.
Ivan Rodriguez: It took Mike Piazza, the best offensive catcher of all-time, four tries to be elected to the Hall. With Piazza breaking down the door, it looks like Ivan Rodriguez will get to follow on his coat-tails. The 14-time All-Star won the AL MVP in 1999 and was NLCS MVP in 2003. He's played more games at catcher than anyone in history and he has 13 Gold Gloves to show for all this time behind the plate.
Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero is an interesting case and I think voters will be more open to his election in the years to come. He was a career .318/.379/.553 hitter while ranking in the top five in the MVP voting four times including winning the 2004 AL MVP. His .318 average and 449 home runs have only been matched by Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Jimmie Foxx. That's some rare company.
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.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling
Bonds and Clemens are two of the greatest players of all-time but the steroid cloud continues to haunt them. They are each making big jumps on the 2017 ballot so it will be interesting to see what will happen in the years to come. Martinez is one of the best designated hitters in history but the voters also seems to be holding his lack of defense against him.
Mussina has been one of the last names on my ballot in each of the last two seasons. He was a good pitcher for a very long time but it might not be enough to find a place in Cooperstown. Schilling is losing votes very quickly. His outspoken nature since he has retired have hurt his chances. He is still one of the best post-season pitchers in history so I would put him on my ballot strictly for his play on the field.
So who do you think gets in? Who else should have been on my ballot? Who should have been left off? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.