1. RHP Greg Maddux – There are Hall of Fame voters out there that will not check the box next to Greg Maddux’s name. Those voters are, as my dad used to say, “A few cans short of a six-pack.”
2. LHP Tom Glavine – 300 wins & elite command, enough said.
3. RHP Mike Mussina – When you look at Mussina’s career numbers next to Tom Glavine’s, they compare favorably. Mussina has a slightly better Wins Above Replacement (83-81.4) and a better ERA+ (123-118). Mussina also pitched his entire career in the American League East, a ferocious division. Mussina’s a no doubter when you look at his entire case.
4. DH Frank Thomas – 521 homers is just about enough for me to put him in but the career OBP of .419 seals it.
5. C Mike Piazza – Best power-hitting catcher of all-time. He gets dinged for his defensive flaws but he’s clearly a Hall of Famer. Piazza is one of the best opposite field power hitters ever at any position. I would’ve loved to have gotten the reaction of Ted Williams to Piazza’s induction. Williams famously gave Piazza some pre-draft lessons and gave him his stamp of approval. Remember, Piazza was selected in the 62nd round by the Dodgers as a favor to Tommy Lasorda, a friend of the Piazza family. The 62nd round doesn’t even exist anymore! How about that journey from Round 62 to being on the Hall of Fame ballot?
6. 1B Jeff Bagwell – From the Houston Astros: “Among all MLB players from 1991-2005, Bagwell ranked second in RBI, third in runs scored, hits, extra-base hits and walks and was fifth in homers and games played.” Also, Bagwell’s WAR of 79.5 is only behind Barry Bonds on the ballot.
7. 2B Craig Biggio – 3,000 hits is enough for me. He’s also first in hits in MLB over the span of his career (1988-2007).
8. OF Tim Raines – From Joe Posnanski’s outstanding piece on the Hall of Fame voting (LINK HERE): “Here’s a simple argument for Raines: In a career that was almost identical in length to his contemporary Tony Gwynn, Raines reached base just 18 fewer times and he scored 200 more runs. If Gwynn is a slam dunk Hall of Famer (and he is) then Tim Raines belongs in the Hall of Fame as well.”
I realize that Raines & Larry Walker aren’t much different when you look at WAR. I’d vote for Walker too, just not this year with a ten-player limit.
Those are my eight locks. Why no Bonds or Clemens yet? Strategically, I’m voting to get players inducted into Cooperstown. Given the plethora of qualified players on the ballot, I made a decision to use my ten votes to try and get the ballot cleared as fast as possible to induct a large number of players next year as well. I just don’t think Bonds or Clemens will get near 60%, much less 75%. Raines got 52.5% last year & I think he’s got a real shot at clearing 65% this year. I can’t justify leaving a deserving player that is that close to induction off the ballot. Also, I gave strong consideration to the length of time a player has been on the ballot even if I didn’t think they’d clear the 75% threshold for induction. Therefore, my next vote goes to:
9. SS Alan Trammell – He had a career WAR of 70.3, which is ahead of Hall of Famers Barry Larkin, Ernie Banks & Lou Boudreau among others. I hope to see both he & Lou Whitaker (74.8 WAR) both enshrined in the near future.
There was one last player that I just couldn’t leave off the ballot for any reason.
10. RHP Curt Schilling – “Everything I hear Jack Morris was supposed to be…is what Curt Schilling actually was.” – Brian Kenny. Frankly, it’s the most persuasive argument I’ve heard for any candidate this year. Schilling’s post-season success takes a close case and puts it way over the line for induction. I fear that he’ll be punished for saying what’s on his mind and for being a below average businessman (Lots of those out there, myself included).
Would also vote for: Lee Smith & his 478 saves, Larry Walker, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez (the best pure strike zone manager I’ve seen in my lifetime).
Next year’s locks: Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson
Would re-evaluate in the future: Mark McGwire
Finally, here are my predictions of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot results:
IN: Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Biggio, Piazza.
Over 50%: Bagwell, Raines, Jack Morris (Yeah, that career ERA of 3.90 & the low Career WAR of 39 is too much for me to vote for Morris).
I suspect Bonds & Clemens will fall just shy of 50%. Mike Mussina’s number will be shockingly low (20-30%). Rafael Palmeiro falls off the ballot with less than 5% of the vote.
All numbers cited are from Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.