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My Imaginary 2014 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot
Who Gets In
Tomorrow is the big day. The one some of us have all been waiting for. The day the BBWAA announces the 2014 Hall of Fame ballots. The list of players to choose form this year is quite deep and one has to figure that there won't be a repeat of last year when not one person was inducted. That, in my mind, was a shame. There should be no way that can happen again. I struggled to narrow my list to the maximum 10 selections. Before you go any further let me leave you with this disclaimer. I will not withhold a vote for a player who may or may not be linked to possible steroid use. There is a good chance that some of the players listed below did cheat. There is also a good chance that they didn't. The fact that there are players who were clean duing the "Steroid Era" only makes their accomplishments more notable. But this isn't a steroid argument. It's my list of the ten players I would vote for this year if I had a vote. Enjoy.
* List is in alphabetical order
Jeff Bagwell ~ Possibly the face of the Houston Astros franchise. Bags was a top flight first baseman for a decade combining power (449 career homers), speed (202 carrer steals) and solid defense (one gold glove). If nothing else he will always be remembered for his unique batting stance but in my mind Bagwell is a no doubt Hall of Famer. His support has gone up in each of his three years on the ballot reaching 59.6% last year. Of course, 75% is the magic number.
Craig Biggio ~ The only other player that could rival Bagwell for face of the franchise Biggio excelled at catcher before he was moved to the outfield. He excelled there before he was moved to second base where he, well, you know, excelled yet again. A seven-time all-star Biggio was a model of consistency in his 20-year career and amassec over 3,000 hits during his time as a premier big leaguer. He fell just short last year at 68.2% in his debut on the ballot and while this might not be the year he gets in I have no doubt that there will be a plaque in Cooperstown bearing Biggio's name one day.
Barry Bonds ~ Barry Effing Bonds. Ignore the steroid talk. Throw it out. Was there a better player in baseball over the last 25 years? Maybe even ever? Bonds has won a record seven MVP awards. SEVEN! He is third all-time in offensive WAR behind only Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. He is 4th in career OPS at a staggering 1.051 and I didn't even mention that he is the home run king with 762. And before you argue with that, please note I am an Atlanta Braves fan. I would like for Hank Aaron to hold the record but he doesn't. Bonds does. Easily the greatest offensive player I have ever seen with my own eyes. If he isn't in the Hall, nobody should be in the Hall.
Roger Clemens ~ Fitting that Clemens and Bonds are next to each other. Again, throw out the steroid talk. Clemens was to pitching what Bonds was to hitting. Pure dominance. A power pitcher if I ever saw one Clemens led the league in ERA seven times. He is third all-time in WAR for pitchers and won seven Cy Young awards. SEVEN! Do you see the symmetry to Bonds? Oh, and Clemens even won an MVP of his own as a pitcher which is no easy feat. He also won 354 games in his career and is third all-time in strikeouts with 4,672. He belongs in the Hall.
Tom Glavine ~ One of two Braves pitchers who should be enshrined this year is Glavine. A member of the 300 win club (305) Glavine also has two Cy Young awards to his name and spent 17 of his 22 years in an Atlanta uniform. A workhourse, he made at least 25 starts in all but his first and last year in the bigs. That's reliability. One of the best pitchers on one of the best staffs in the 1990's Glavine should waltze into the Hall.
Greg Maddux ~ If there is a shoe-in this year it's Maddux. The best precision pitcher of all-time in my mind Maddux led the league in innings pitched and ERA in three consecutive years from 1993-1995. Two of those years his ERA was under 1.75. You don't see those kinds of numbers in today's game. Mad Dog won four consecutive Cy Young awards and a record 18 gold gloves. He led the league in wins three times, WHIP four times and shutouts five times. If Maddux doesn't walk in nearly unanimously this year I will eat my hat.
Mark McGwire~ For a while in the mid 90's it was Mark McGwire's game. I am a firm believer that his home run race with Sammy Sosa in 1998 helped bring the casual fan back to baseball after the 1994 strike. He hit a then record 70 homers that year and backed it up with 65 the next. McGwire was a true power hitter in an era when power was all the rage. Unfortunately for him I believe he will be the first player linked to steroids to fall off the ballot. Not this year mind you, but believe it or not this is already his 8th year of eligibility and he has yet to top 25% of the vote.
Mike Piazza ~ He is only the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history. Why is he not in the Hall yet? Some voters are morons. That's why. Piazza was a 12-time all-star, Rookie of the Year and finished in the top three of MVP voting three times. He was easily the preeminent catcher in the 1990s and one of the best of all time. In his first year on the ballot he received 57.8% of the vote. Odds are he will get to 75% soon.
Curt Schilling ~ Like Clemens, Schilling was a dominating power pitcher you could count on to toe the rubber every fifth day. He was a part of three World Series winning teams including the 2004 Boston Red Sox for which his bloody sock will always be remembered. His win totals (216) may leave some of the more traditional voters wanting but I believe he is in.
Frank Thomas ~ The Big Hurt was one of my favorite players when I was growing up. He was also one of the games most feared sluggers. Thomas won back-to-back MVP's in 1993 and 1994 and mashed 521 long balls over a nineteen year career spent mostly with the Chicago Whtie Sox. But he wasn't just a home run hitter, Thomas also belted out 495 doubles while amassing a career .301 batting average. If it weren't for Maddux on this year's ballot I would tab Thomas as the shoe-in candidate this year.
So there you have it. My top ten for this year's ballot. I know not all of these guys will make it in this year, and some of them may never be inducted. But if I had a vote, this is how it would be cast. If you agree or disagree with any of these or feel I left someone out please feel free to tell me below.