The Hall of Fame voters are allowed to vote for up to 10 players on the ballot, which has become sort of a problem recently with the backlog of steroid users. So, while normal Hall of Fame voters are restricted to ten, I am going past that number since I am not an actual voter. A few other things here before he begin.
If I did have a Hall of Fame vote....
- I would not be the moral police.
- It still takes talent to hit or throw a baseball even if you are taking steroids
- There are not many relief pitchers that I value. In case you were wondering, since I am not going to bring it up down below: Wagner > Hoffman.
Here are my 10 (+2) in no particular order. I'd be happy to see any of these players in the Hall of Fame, but only a few will actually make it.
Tim Raines - Raines has more than 2,600 hits, 800 stolen bases, and an on base percentage of .385. There is not a lot of hardware in the trophy case, but he did spend the end of his career with the Yankees and won a World Series ring in 1996. The Expos had some good players at different points during his time in Montreal, but I wonder if Raines would have stuck around on the ballot this long if he had played somewhere else during the first half of his career. He led the National League in stolen base in his first four seasons, probably would have run the streak to seven or eight if it weren't for Vince Coleman, and scored more than 90 runs 6 of his first 7 full seasons. Slam dunk this year.
Manny Ramirez - Ignore all of the behaviors that people took exception to, and the steroid stuff, Manny could hit. I first saw Manny at an Interleague Game the Cardinals played against the Indians in 1997. The Tribe were loaded, but Manny Ramirez was really impressive. I dabbled in his cards over the years and always enjoyed watching him play. Maybe not the 2004 World Series, but the rest of the time was good. He ended his career with more than 550 home runs, 1,800 RBIs, and a .312/.411/.585 slash line. Again, ignore the drama, just look at the numbers. The guy should be a no doubter. I think there is little chance he gets in this year.
Jeff Bagwell - There was no hitter in the NL Central I feared the Cardinals playing more than Jeff Bagwell. The guy could hit, and if he did not play in the steroid era, would have been in the Hall long ago. He's not in the Hall for all the same stupid reasons that Piazza sat around for a few years. Bagwell ended his career with more than 400 home runs, 400 doubles, and 1,500 RBIs. His overall slash line was .297/.408/.540 with an OPS+ of 149. He took home the 1994 NL MVP. I have seen a few people complain about the length of his career, 15 years, but he was really good throughout those years. I have high hopes he gets in this year.
Roger Clemens - I am not even going into numbers here. I don't care about steroids, put him in the Hall. I had my doubts about Clemens ever making it into the Hall, but I am starting to think that there is hope. I am going to say he does not make it this year, but is in within the next year or two.
Bonds - Just reread the Clemens paragraph, but substitute in Bonds where it says Clemens.
Curt Schilling - Schilling seems like one of the really heated deabtes around the Hall candidates at the moment. I don't do politics on this space, but again I am not a moral police kind of a person. When I look at Schilling's career the biggest problem is that there are a lot of lost years. He had a few good years in chunks, missed time and games with injuries, and then would bounce back and have a few more good years. 216 wins is not very many, but if you are going to argue counting numbers, he did cross 3000 strikeouts. Schilling also had four really good postseasons with the Phillies in 1993, DBacks in 2001, and Red Sox in 2004 and 2007. I'd put him in, but I also know there are people who are down on him for baseball reasons and non-baseball reasons. His vote totals are shrinking, no chance for awhile.
Larry Walker - I have heard people talk about Walker as a Coors Field hitter, but that's a pretty weak argument. Before he ended up on the Rockies, Walker was a really good player on the Expos. In his 6 years in Montreal Walker had an OPS+ of 128 and was a true five star talent. Walker hit for power, was an elite fielder and won Gold Gloves, and also had speed and stole bases. By the time his career had ended Walker won three batting titles and ended with a .313/.400/.565 slash line. I saw Walker several times throughout his career in person, but I watched his final two years with the Cardinals closely. He was old, and his neck didn't allow him to hit for power anymore, but in two seasons in St Louis he had a 134 OPS+ and almost put up a 3 WAR season in 2005. Busch Stadium is not a nice place for hitters, so that tells you a lot about the "Coors Field Hitter" argument. Walker gets into the Hall at some point, but its at least a few years away.
Mike Mussina - I am not always a huge costing numbers person, but lets start out with 270 wins and almost 3,000 strikeouts in 18 years all pitching in the American League East which was a tough division throughout Messina's career. Also remember that 10 of those seasons were played in Camden Yards, which is a pretty stadium, but also a band box. Similar to Raines, Mussina does not have a lot of hardware, but unlike Raines, Mussina did not get a World Series ring out of his time with the Yankees. Here's where I put Mussina into the Hall: If you follow the WAR7 stat with Jay Jaffe, Mussina is a little short for peak years compared to pitchers like Schilling, but he's still ahead of a few of the 1990s Braves who are in the Hall like Glavine and Smoltz. His overall career WAR is actually higher than Nolan Ryan, as well as his ERA+. Mussina makes it at some point, wait a few more years.
Sammy Sosa - Sammy never failed a drug test. Sammy has 600 home runs. Sammy hit more than 60 home runs 3 times. Sammy belongs in the Hall, put him in. Sammy gets in after Bonds and Clemens, but that's not far away.
Edgar Martinez - I know a lot of people who feel the same way about DHs as I do about relief pitchers. First, let me start by saying that I don't care about being just past 2,000 hits when the player has a career .418 on-base percentage. That's one argument I have read multiple times about Edgar. Walks, hits, whatever. When Edgar did swing the bat though good stuff happened. His career slash line was .312/.418/.515 with more than 300 home runs and 500 doubles. The JAWS rankings on Gar are a little bit off since Jaffe lists him as a third baseman, but the last time he played more than 50 games there in a season was 1994. No comparable really, just a good hitter with some great stats.
Vladimir Guerrero - Not a really long career, but Vlad was good almost the entire time. He was an incredible player in Montreal, but I am not sure that very many people saw him while he was playing there. I first saw him during the summer of 1997 and was really impressed by his defense at the time, but he was also a great hitter. I think it's the 50 Cent gif where he swings at the bad first pitch and gets a double, but there is this really bad vibe that he swung at everything and was not on base often. Not true. Vlad's career OBP is .379 with a .553 SLG and more than 450 home runs and doubles. Loads of Silver Sluggers and All-Star Appearances, as well as the 2004 American League MVP Award help make up for the fact that he did not get any postseason hardware. Not a difficult argument here, Vlad is in not in this year, but will be very soon.
Ivan Rodriguez - As a Cardinals fan I really enjoy watching Yadier Molina. I did not get to see Pudge very often, but he had that same sort of defensive dynamic to the game. Teams did not run on him, he called a good game, and he also did a good job handling the bat. Not always true of Yadier, but Rodriguez has about seven or eight years with a .300+ batting average, pretty good on-base numbers, and good extra base hit totals. For his career he ended with a .296/.334/.464 slash line, more than 300 home runs, and almost 600 doubles. He's the all-time dWAR leader for catchers and should be a no brainer for the Hall. There are some steroid rumblings here, he still should get in soon.