Hall of Fame ballot 2009 (cont.)
Don Mattingly: No. The comparison to Kirby Puckett is fine except Puckett played centerfield and while it's a matter of circumstance, Kirby WAS brilliant in the postseason. Mattingly was one of my all-time favorite players. And on the plus side, I do not think he will fall off the ballot.
Mark McGwire: Yes. I had not voted for him before, and I don't know if it's right to vote for him now. But as time goes on, I become more and more convinced that a huge percentage of baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs in the 1990s (and may still now). There was no testing, no real deterrence and an immense pressure to keep up. I would bet that some of those who used would shock the heck out of everyone. It sadly became an accepted part of the game, and I have lost any and all hope of figuring out who used and who didn't. Beyond that, McGwire was an amazing player. He brought baseball back to center stage in 1998. It was one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen. He hit 478 homers in his 10 best seasons. You know: Gaylord Perry definitely used the spitball. Sparky Anderson collected Don Sutton baseballs with scuff marks all in the same place. Lots of players used greenies. I have always believed that the Hall of Fame is an honor, not a right, but after much consideration I voted for McGwire this time. I would vote for Pete Rose too. I am willing to admit that I'm wrong and should have stronger moral fiber.
Jack Morris: No.
Dale Murphy: Yes. I want him to stay on the ballot. I do believe he was a better all-around player than Rice, Dawson or Dave Parker -- the other outfielders on the ballot. He had six truly excellent seasons ...
Seasons with 28 or more Win Shares
Seasons with 135 or better OPS+
Seasons with 10.0 or better WARP1
Seasons with more than 100 runs created
Of course I'm cherry-picking. I undoubtedly could come up with stats that would make Rice, Dawson or Parker look good, too. Murphy's career was too short, and he was helped tremendously by his home park, and he was not much of a player after he turned 32. But I think Murphy had a higher peak than the others, and he was an iconic figure (especially in the South), and he did everything well ...
Jesse Orosco: No. Do you remember seeing Orosco in a Twins uniform?
Dave Parker: No. But did you know he finished in the top 5 in MVP voting five times?
Dan Plesac: No ... and honestly I remembered his career as a closer lasting longer than it did. He only had four seasons with 20 or more saves.
Tim Raines: Yes. Of course. ...Raines was probably the best player in the National League in 1985, '86 and '87 (and he was awfully good in '83 and '84 too) and he NEVER CAME CLOSE to winning an MVP award. This is the thing about the awards, they do color people's views about players forever. Very bad decisions (such as George Bell over Alan Trammell for MVP in '87 or Dan Quisenberry not winning the Cy Young) never quite go away. In the end, I think this is why it's so important to really review a player's career in addition to worrying about how the player was viewed during his time. Maybe people cared more about batting average and RBIs than on-base percentage and slugging percentage, but they were wrong, and we know better now. And, we'll know even better in five years, 10 years, 20 years.
Retroactive MVP winners of the 1980s (just my opinion -- bold are actual winners)
1980: George Brett and Mike Schmidt
1981: Rickey Henderson and Mike Schmidt
1982: Robin Yount and Mike Schmidt
1983: Cal Ripken and Dale Murphy
1984: Alan Trammell and Ryne Sandberg
1985: George Brett and Willie McGee
1986: Wade Boggs and Tim Raines
1987: Alan Trammell and Tim Raines
1988: Jose Canseco and Darryl Strawberry
1989: Robin Yount and Will Clark
Jim Rice: No. I wrote before that I will be happy when he goes into the Hall of Fame even though I didn't vote for him, and a few people wondered what I meant by that. Here's what I mean: After studying the issue VERY closely (VERRRRY closely) I do not believe Rice makes my Hall of Fame cut for all the reasons that have been repeated again and again and again on this blog.
But I still respect the man for what he did, for being the first black baseball star in Boston, for putting up that incredible 1978 season, for playing every day and posting good numbers over his 12 good years. As a voter, I made my decision. But as a baseball fan, I admire one of the stars of my youth.
Lee Smith: No. I'm totally baffled by what to do with relief pitchers, and you know what? So are the voters in general. Lookit: The only starting pitchers to get into the Hall of Fame since 1991 -- since Ferguson Jenkins -- are Gaylord Perry, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton and Nolan Ryan. All have 300 victories and all have 3,000 strikeouts. The standard for a starter has been pretty clear cut for almost two decades now. If Bert Blyleven had 13 more cheapo victories, he'd be in the Hall.
But over that same time, four relief pitchers -- Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage -- have been voted in, and I have NO idea what the standards are. Sutter, as mentioned here countless times, had an eerily similar career to Dan Quisenberry, who got no Hall of Fame support. Fingers was sort of a bullpen pioneer, but his numbers do not seem to be significantly better than those of Jeff Reardon, Tom Henke or John Franco -- in fact, their numbers look better. Eckersley had that strange four-pronged career where he started off as a good starter, then he became a mediocre starter, then he became a dominant closer, then he finished off as a fairly mediocre 60-inning a year guy. Gossage was a thoroughly dominant closer -- the best of the four in my view -- but he was more or less a fiasco the one year he was asked to be a starter, which tells us something.
Now you have Lee Smith, who had the save record for a long time and put up a better than 100 ERA+ for 17 consecutive years. Is that Hall of Fame worthy? Was he better pitcher than Ron Guidry, Dave Stieb, Bret Saberhagen, Jimmy Key and many other excellent pitcher who pitched twice as many innings but had careers that were considered too short for Hall of Fame consideration? I have no idea.
Alan Trammell: Yes. Of course. Alan Trammell played about two fewer seasons than Ozzie Smith, and still created 100 more runs than the Wizard. Did Ozzie make up more than 100 runs with his defense? Maybe, he was awesome, but remember: Trammell was very good defensively too. Anyway, Ozzie breezed into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Greg Vaughn: No.
Mo Vaughn: No. But closer than Greg Vaughn.
Matt Williams: No.
Joe Posnanski is a columnist for the Kansas City Star and the author of joeposnanski.com.