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The 2011 Hall of Fame ballot

Brace yourself for lots of posturing and moralizing about the eeeeevils of steroids and the general decline of society.

Suspected steroid users Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez are on baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, joining Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar, both of whom fell just short in last year’s vote.

Former Most Valuable Players Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker, and former Rookies of the Year Benito Santiago and Raul Mondesi also will be on the 33-man ballot, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America said Monday.

Mark McGwire, 10th on the career list with 583 homers, received 128 votes (23.7%) in totals announced last January following his fourth appearance of the ballot — well under the 75% needed for election. He admitted before last season to using steroids and human growth hormone during his playing days.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both under indictment on charges related to their denials of steroids use, become eligible for the Hall ballot in two years.

Palmeiro is 12th on the career list with 569 home runs and had 3,020 hits, joining Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players in the 500-3,000 club. Palmeiro wagged his finger at Congress in 2005 while denying he used steroids, then tested positive a few months later and was suspended for 10 days.

He tested positive for stanozolol, a person with knowledge of the sport’s drug-testing program told The Associated Press at the time, speaking on condition of anonymity because the drug wasn’t announced. Palmeiro testified before a congressional panel that he “never used steroids.”

Jose Canseco claimed in his 2005 book that he used steroids with Gonzalez, who was 35 when he played his last major league game. Then-Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks said in 2007 that he had no knowledge that Gonzalez used steroids, but said he was suspicious the two-time AL MVP did because of his injuries and early retirement.

[…]

The complete ballot: Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Jeff Bagwell, Harold Baines, Bert Blyleven, Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, John Franco, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Barry Larkin, Al Leiter, Edgar Martinez, Tino Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Raul Mondesi, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Kirk Rueter, Benito Santiago, Lee Smith, B.J. Surhoff, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker.

JuanGon doesn’t have a Hall of Fame case, so I’m not too worried about him. Palmeiro, on the other hand, is in a pretty exclusive club and would seem a lock were it not for the steroid thing. Given the climate, I’ll be surprised if he gets as many votes as McGwire has gotten.

I’m somewhat ambivalent about Palmeiro’s case for the Hall. I don’t care about the steroid thing. I’ve decided that if I had a vote, I’d completely ignore any steroid allegations and admissions on the grounds that there are plenty of other voters who will gladly reject entire classes of player based on whatever damn-fool thing they believe about the stuff, just to provide a little balance. Palmeiro’s raw numbers are certainly impressive, but he played in a great offensive context, and my gut reaction is that he’s a somewhat better version of Fred McGriff. I’d like to see how a guy like Jay Jaffe evaluates his case before I make a commitment. As such, I’d leave him off the ballot this year, but am prepared to change my mind.

Beyond that, my choices are: Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Larkin, Raines, and Trammell. I’m also on the fence about Edgar Martinez and may reconsider that decision next year. Bagwell has better triple-slash stats than Palmeiro despite playing most of his career in the Astrodome, so he’s an easy choice. Who would you be voting for if you had a vote?

UPDATE: I agree completely with Linkmeister about the continued shameful omission of Marvin Miller.

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20 Comments

  1. Greg Wythe says:

    My ballot would look fairly close, I’d just sub out Blyleven for Lee Smith.

    Of particular interest for me on the ballot is whether Alan Trammell gains a little momentum in making it to the Hall. I tend to think of HOFers in terms of whether they were dominant enough in their day for pitchers to get nervous when they were at the plate, batters nervous when they pitched, or batters mindful of where they were positioned in the field. I think that in Trammell’s case, you either penalize middle infielders for playing their position or you have to acknowledge he’s worth a vote.

  2. Alomar (best second baseman of his era), Bagwell, Blyleven, Barry Larkin (who I think was absolutely rock solid as a player), Jack Morris (winningest pitcher of the 80s, above his contextual peers), Tim Raines.

    Generally, I think the HOF has somewhat cheapened itself, since if Ryne Sandberg is in there, then there are A WHOLE LOT of players who should qualify. Still, I think all of these guys I mentioned, as well as Trammell, are deserving.

  3. blank says:

    I tend to believe that career WAR is a good first-cut stat for whether someone should make the Hall. In that case, Blyleven is the only eligible non-member with a career WAR over 90. Bagwell is next at 79.9. Larkin is a good choice too. After that, I think it starts to be less easy. I realize that her played in Coors, but Larry Walker hit well on the road too. Here are the complete listings of WAR.

    http://www.baseballprojection.com/war/top500.htm
    http://www.baseballprojection.com/war/top500p.htm

  4. Linkmeister says:

    Thanks for noticing, Kuff.

  5. Bubba at Shell says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t help but view Palmerio, Bagwell, Martinez, Alomar, etc. and not have serious concerns that they benefited from PEDs. I try–I really do–but I can’t help it.

    And it pains me to say that I view Biggio the same way.

    Regarding HOF…I don’t think any of them measure up. When thinking about HOF, I try to compare them to other HOFers and see if they seem to fit in.

    Imagine a collection of pitchers being talked about: Gibson, Seaver, Carlton, etc. Does anyone really think Morris and Blyleven belong in the same company? I don’t (and neither did Niekro, Perry and few others).

    Let’s do the same for first basemen. I can’t imagine Bagwell being talked about in the same discussion with Murray, Killebrew, McCovey.

    My opinion is the bar has been significantly lowered for the HOF and it’s becoming the Hall of “Very Very Good” and the Hall of “Above Average for a Long Career” (e.g., Niekro, Perry)

  6. Bubba: “I can’t imagine Bagwell being talked about in the same discussion with Murray, Killebrew, McCovey.”

    Really?

    
    Name     Games   Hits    BB  HR  Avg  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+  WAR
    =============================================================
    Bagwell   2150   2314  1401 449  297  408  540  948  149 79.9
    Killebrew 2435   2086  1559 573  256  376  509  884  143 61.1
    McCovey   2588   2211  1345 521  270  374  515  889  147 65.1
    Murray    3026   3255  1333 504  287  359  476  836  129 66.7
    

    Looks like he fits pretty well to me. Baseball Prospectus has him as easily the leader of the four in WARP (Baggy 91.2, Murray 72.7 , McCovey 71.8, Killebrew 50.3), which I suspect has to do primarily with fielding. What’s your argument against Bagwell?

  7. Bubba at Shell says:

    If you were playing a big series, who would you want in the middle of your lineup?

    Me–I’ll take Killebrew, McCovey or Murray.

    And can you imagine the numbers they would have put up during Bagwell’s era?

    How good were they compared to the folks they played with? All Star appearnaces:
    Bagwell – 4. The other three: 6, 8, 13

    These debates are what makes baseball great.

  8. Patrick Uding says:

    What other sport elicits such emotion and conversation over the HOF honor than the greatest sport of baseball. Enjoyed the opinions previously submitted. If I had a vote, I would elect the following for 2011: Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, Mattingly, and a write in for Marvin Miller as the Veterans Committee is obviously nothing but a band of idiots. Bagwell will get my vote in 2012 as I guess I subscribe to the belief that first year induction is reserved for the Ruths and Cobbs. Mattingly may surprise some, but is there anyone out there who avidly followed baseball in the 80s? Who defined excellence in the AL more than Boggs and Mattingly? Boggs is in, yet Mattingly barely gets any support – go figure! Larkin must be elected as we passed last year due to his failure to measure up to the “first year of eligibility” standard. Lets see what happens.

  9. Jason MacAskill says:

    All-Star appearances as a measure of how great a player is?

    Debates ARE what make baseball great, but that’s a terrible point of debate. All-Star voting is a popularity contest, and every ML team needs an All-Star representative – please don’t use that criteria as ANY sort of determinant as to who gets into Cooperstown and who doesn’t. Brooks Robinson made 18 All-Star teams, but Mike Schmidt only made it 12 times… does that mean Robinson was that much better?

  10. Patrick Uding says:

    Are you responding to my post? I’m confused. I didn’t even use the term “All-Star appearances” once. The point I was making is that a HOFer is a player who defined excellence over a period of time (decade) – a guy who you look back and say “man he could play the game!” I would like to apologize to George Brett, as I would have to say he – along with Boggs and Mattingly defined excellence in the AL over the decade of the 80’s. Once again Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin and Mattingly would be getting it right in 2011.

  11. Jason MacAskill says:

    If you’re asking me, Patrick, I’m not responding to you, but Bubba.

  12. Jason MacAskill says:

    PS – I’ll argue about Mattingly though! (I preface this by saying that I really liked Mattingly, too – it’s a damn shame he got those back problems.) He had a GREAT five-year stretch in the late 80s, great bat, great glove… and then he lost his pop. He COULD play the game – he just wasn’t a dominant guy long enough. He compares to a guy like Will Clark (who gets zero support too, and was also a favorite back in the day), or to a lesser degree, Kent Hrbek (at least in terms of overall numbers).

  13. Patrick Uding says:

    Jason- appreciate your responses. You know, I just reviewed Mattingly’s career stats again and I still think he’s a HOFer (sometime go and look at his season avg figures over the 14 yrs). I wouldn’t mention a Clark or Hrbek in the same breath. I do have to admit, an injury shortened career does make room for a lot of debate. Interested in how you (or any other bloggers) feel about the amount of recognition/respect the Hall voters show toward speed. I strongly feel that since 500 homers make one a shoe-in (how else would Harmon Killebrew be in?), so should 750 stolen bases (if the player is solid elsewhere statistic-wise.) If you’re going to make me drop my Mattingly case, then let’s get Tim Raines recognized finally in 2011! Current major league leaders log about 40 steals, predominantly due to the abuse and wear-and-tear stealing subjects them to. In this context, I believe we have not appreciated guys like M. Wills and T. Raines as far as their deserving a plaque – we’d rather watch a ball sail over the fence. After all, it was the McGwire/Sosa home run derby known as the ’89 ML Season that left one of the greatest all-around players in history with no alternative but to “bulk up” and join the insanity in order to be better appreciated. Happy Holidays.

  14. And happy holidays to you, Patrick.

    You don’t have to get me started on Raines – I sure hope he gets some support soon, because the ballot is going to get jammed in a couple of years. One of my favorite pro-Raines bits of trivia is this: he reached base more often than four 3,000-hit Hall of Famers. Pretty much defines what a leadoff guy does, right?

    (Darn, I HAVE to go to the store right now. I’ll be right back to talk Donny Baseball.)

  15. Donny Baseball vs. Will the Thrill…

    Mattingly had 7,721 plate appearances, with a .307 average, and a slash line of .358/.471/.830. Clark had 8,283 plate appearances, with a .303 average, and a line of .384/.497/.880. Relatively close, but Clark gets the nod.

    Mattingly won an MVP, and had two other top-5 finishes. Clark never won an MVP, but had four top-5 finishes.

    Both were All-Stars six times.

    Mattingly won nine Gold Gloves to Clark’s one. Clark does fare relatively well in the defensive metrics, though.

    We can both pick and choose from tons and tons of data. But I really do think that Clark bears “mentioning in the same breath”.

    Cheers!

  16. Patrick Uding says:

    Whoa! I guess since Clark played while I was preoccupied building a career post-college, his accomplishments were not totally appreciated. He does belong in the same breath as Mattingly – but I guess the jury’s out as to whether they’re HOF material. I thought maybe my last comment would get you to bite at Pandora’s Box a.k.a. the Steriods Era stars debate. It is my strong conviction that McGwire, Palmiero, Clemens and Bonds all deserve their plaque. I RESENT the protectionist, purer than thou attitude of the BBWAA voters who refuse to consider these great stars of the era. I am an avid baseball fan AND a big boy who can think for himself, thank you BBWAA! You cannot have a void in which the greatest talent of the 80’s and 90’s is ignored due to the supposed use of enhancing drugs. If someone has a tizzy fit over whether an inductee of this era has legitimate numbers, they can simply step over to the left and salute the plaques of stars from a different point in time. For God’s sake, this is a game of numbers and statistics, and the guys who lead their peers should be recognized – each individual fan will respect who they choose to respect. The BBWAA DOES NOT need to babysit or protect us from any boogeymen. The biggest atrocity will be if Barry Bonds isn’t inducted on first ballot – the man ruled baseball for an entire decade before he suddenly bulked up to get the same respect that Sosa/McGwire were being showered by the baseball world. By the way, after saving baseball from widespread fan apathy, interesting how McGwire is suddenly an outcast . . . hhhmmmmm! There, it feels so good to vent – anyone dare disagree? . . . and I haven’t yet mentioned that the sacred Hall is tarnished by the absence of Rose and Shoeless Joe.

  17. Harris Brody says:

    Listen up follks. All you “Bill James Stats” guys need to get up and out of your mother’s basement. The stat discusion is absoultely meaningless. Guys that played 20 -30 years ago (or more) played in a smaller league, in much bigger ball parks, against much better pitching and w/o the bene fit of steroids or HGH. I will admit that todays players are better athletes (i.e., bigger, stronger, faster) are not necessarily better baseball players. Some of their success has to do with the poor pitching, smaller ballparks, livelier ball etc….

    Based on the above, the only way to determine HOF worthiness is to ask the two following questions
    1. Was the individual one of the dominant players in his era?
    2. Did the player play long enough (i.e., 10-12 years at a high performance level) to warrant HOF status

    That said, the following are my thoughts on this class:

    DEFINTELY NO: Gonzalez, Baerga, Mondesi, Boone, Brown, Franco (Good but not dominant), Higginson, Grissom, Johnson, Harris, T. Martinez, E. Martinez, Surhoff, Santiago, Rueter, Dale Murphy (close but no cigar), L. Smith (Close also), Olerud

    Probably NO: Parker (not good enough long enough), Mattingly (good enough but not long enough), Baines (not all around enough)

    HELL NO (Steroids also make you stronger and recover faster for those of you Bill James’ Mom’s basement Boys): McGuire, Plameiro.

    Defintely Yes: Jack Morris, R. Alomar, B. Larkin, T. Raines, J. Bagwell, A. Trammell

    Probably Yes (i.e., Veterans Comittee?): B. Blyleven, Larry Walker, Fred McGriff

  18. Patrick Uding says:

    Happy New Year! I just came upstairs cuz Mom yelled “breakfast’s ready!” and read with interest your post. I agree with much of your insight and perspective, but the following post is essential to correct a complete collapse of judgement on your part:

    Grab your laptop, a pop and bag of chips, go down into your Mom’s basement and spend a bit more time reviewing Jack Morris’ career and contributions relative to his peers and you’ll realize the embarrassment of placing his name under “Definitely Yes” He certainly falls in the Mattingly category.

    Second, regarding your requirement that a player play “long enough” to warrant HOF status. What do we do with Addie Joss, Ross Youngs, and Sandy Koufax. They obviously fail to measure up to standard. But their plaques are hung and they aren’t coming down, so your suggested screen cannot be applied going forward.
    Along the same common sense grounds, you cannot fly this “keep the bullies, liars and cheats out” banner either, as the current Hall population and baseball as an institution is littered with the failings of human nature. Practically everyone who played in the nineteenth century needs to be booted out simply because seizing an edge through cheating was simply an intricate part of the game. How many runs did McGraw and Burkett score by darting straight across the infield from first to third w/o bothering with 2nd base? How many extra K’s and W’s do Coveleski, Faber, Grimes, and Perry have thanks to an emory board, saliva, Vasoline jelly? For that matter, out with all who starred in the late 60s and 70s! Have you not read the “tell alls” by Bouton, Bresnan, and Flood about the widespread use of “greenies” for additional endurance and that extra edge? Why they’re all cheaters! Its all not fair – the whole game is nothing but a joke! Why is there even a Baseball HOF at all? Time to head back downstairs – thanks for the pancakes, Mom.
    Pat

  19. Bubba at Shell says:

    The voters spoke and Bagwell wasn’t close. And I recall seeing some analysis saying that if a player doesn’t get 50% on first ballot, their chances for future selection are not good.

    I can live with Alomar in, but does anyone really think of Bert Blyleven as one of the greatest picthers of all time? I don’t.

    Alomar’s selection is a good sign for Biggio.

  20. Patrick Uding says:

    Re: Blyleven YES he was one of the most talented pitchers. The quality of the teams one played on should not dictate whether one is recognized or not. Look at the career Strikeout total, if that many major leaguers swung and missed, by all means hang the plaque! Don’t worry about Bags, he’ll be in one day – sooner if the HOF Board of Directors gets its head out of its XXX and directs the BBWAA do what is right and recognize the greatest stars of the 90s. You can’t pretend baseball wasn’t played for an entire decade, any more than you can assume Gwynn and Ripken (first ballot inductees . . . hhhmmm) never touched a questionable substance. Come on baseball – recognize our game is played by human beings, not heros from a bible story. Geez!

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