My Hall of Fame ballot (cont.)
1. Roberto Alomar. There was no good reason he didn't make it as a first-ballot guy in 2010. He made 12 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Glove awards and was a better player than fellow second baseman Ryne Sandberg, whose career overlapped with Alomar's and who is already in the Hall.
2. Morris. He finished with 254 wins and 175 complete games while leading the league at various times in wins (twice), starts (twice), complete games, shutouts and innings pitched.
3. Barry Larkin. The nine-time All-Star, nine-time Silver Slugger winner and three-time Gold Glove winner will get in eventually, despite receiving a surprisingly low 52 percent of the vote his first year, in 2010. If he rises to 60 percent or better this time, he's surely on his way to Cooperstown. He was an excellent two-way player who was the first shortstop to have a season in which he hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases.
4. Dave Parker. One of the most under-supported players ever, he was Jim Rice with speed and possessed one of the greatest arms in baseball history. His brush with drugs may discourage some voters. Not me. This is his 15th and final year on the ballot, and I'll go down having marked "yes'' 15 times.
5. Tim Raines. After a re-evaluation I switched to a "yes'' this year because he was a dominating player for a while in Montreal, finished in the top 20 in MVP voting seven times and wound up with 808 career stolen bases and a .385 on-base percentage.
6. Don Mattingly. I switched to "yes'' a few years ago because because he 1) was one of the best players in the game for a five-year period (and presumably would have continued along those lines had it not been for a bad back), 2) has career stats very similar to Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, who was a no-brainer for me, and 3) is one of the very best defensive first basemen of alltime.
7. Dale Murphy. A clean homer hitter who twice won the NL MVP award and was an iconic player for a while. A converted catcher, he turned himself into a Gold Glove defender in centerfield. He also brought a lot of honor to the game. I finally switched to a "yes'' vote this year.
8. Jeff Bagwell. The numbers were plenty good (449 home runs, .408 OBP, .540 slugging percentage) and he'll merit reconsideration next year. I won't argue if he gets in, but I'd prefer a chance to reconsider in future years.
9. Bert Blyleven. See above.
10. Alan Trammell. He has plenty of accomplishments -- six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger winner -- and I do believe it's true the Tigers never would have traded him straight-up for shortstop contemporary Ozzie Smith, who was a clear Hall of Famer. I studied it hard this year and though I think it's very close, I ultimately voted "no" a 10th straight time.
11. Fred McGriff. The "Crime Dog'' was an outrageously consistent and presumably clean home run hitter in the steroid era who finished just short of the magic 500 homer mark with 493 and had a sparkling .509 slugging percentage. Finished in the top 10 in MVP voting six times.
12. Larry Walker. Had supreme talent as evidenced by a .565 career slugging percentage and .400 on-base percentage. Terrific defender also had a great arm and was named to five All-Star teams but benefited to some degree by Coors Field and didn't have quite enough memorable moments.
13. Edgar Martinez, DH. A superb hitter, he's hurt by being a DH and by getting a late start to his career (he was 27 before be became a regular) that diminish his career totals. By percentage (.418 OBP, .515 slugging), he is a worthy candidate. But only once did he finish in the top five in MVP voting (3rd in 1995). Terrific hitter, but if you're going to have career total numbers that are less than eye-popping (.312 average, 309 home runs, 1,261 RBIs), it's better to do it as a two-way player.
14. Lee Smith. With 13 consecutive seasons with 20-plus saves, he was among the sport's most consistent closers. He finished with 478 saves overall, third alltime. A case can be made for him, but he wasn't as impactful as Goose Gossage or Bruce Sutter, for example, the two most recent closers to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
15. Juan Gonzalez. On merit, he's pretty darned close, with two AL MVP awards and some other dominant years. Jose Canseco raised the steroid issue for Juan Gone, and I'd like to defer the vote, under the assumption there will be a chance later for him to respond. This is one of many messy cases where there's no failed test, admission or report from a reputable source (only Canseco), and voters have to make a judgment to exonerate, indict or defer. I decided to defer a "yes'' vote under the assumption he gets the requisite five percent to make next year's ballot.
16. Harold Baines. Terrifically consistent career with 2,866 hits and 384 home runs. He hit .300 eight times and had 20-plus home runs 11 times in a stellar career but was never among the top few players in the league and did a lot of his damage as a DH. His career isn't all that dissimilar to Bert Blyleven and Lee Smith in that they also compiled terrific career numbers but were not dominating players.
17. Tino Martinez. He hit 339 career home runs, many of them important as his teams advanced to the playoffs nine times in 16 years.
18. John Franco. His 424 career saves are the most ever by a left-hander. A consistent pitcher who had an excellent career for his hometown Mets but wasn't quite dominant enough to make it.
19. Marquis Grissom. He is one of only seven players with 2,000 hits, 200 home runs and 400 stolen bases. He has four Gold Gloves, not to mention a .390 career World Series average, fourth best ever for those with at least 50 at-bats. His career was better than you probably remember, but it was not quite good enough.
20. John Olerud. Terrific defender and a career .295 hitter was one of the game's most underrated players.
21. Kevin Brown. He will be recalled most for his $105-million contract, constant scowl and appearance in the Mitchell Report. Excellent pitcher in his heyday who led the NL in ERA twice and won 211 games but is no Hall of Famer.
22. Al Leiter. Bounced back from predictable arm trouble early in his career (he had some hellacious pitch counts, including 163 once at age 23) to have a tremendous career. Won only 162 games but had three World series titles and memorably allowed the game-winning hit of the Subway World Series in 2000 on his 142nd pitch of Game 5.
23. Carlos Baerga. He looked like he was on his way in the early '90s when he strung together three seasons with at least 20 home runs, 200 hits, 100 RBIs and a .300 batting average. But he slipped after that and though he hung around for a long while he peaked very early.
24. Benito Santiago. He hit 217 home runs in a fine career and is recalled for his terrific arm, even from a crouch position. The unanimous 1987 NL Rookie of the year wound up with a 20-year career but wasn't dominant enough for serious consideration.
25. Raul Mondesi. The talented right fielder is one of 10 players to have multiple 30-30 seasons. Also threw the ball well. Shouldn't top single digits in votes, though.
26. Charles Johnson. Excellent defensive catcher won four straight Gold Glove awards for his home-state Florida Marlins and eventually signed a $32 million, four-year with the Dodgers when he was heading downhill. Solid all-around player with no real case for the Hall.
27. Bret Boone. He suddenly buffed up and showed a lot of power, including in 2001, when he had 141 RBIs for the 116-victory Mariners. Not a factor here, though.
28. B.J. Surhoff. The most remarkable thing about him was that he was the No. 1 pick of the 1985 draft, and that he wasn't Barry Larkin, Will Clark or Barry Bonds, who all came a few picks later. Surhoff a nice, solid career, mostly after he left the Brewers, the team that blew it by taking him first.
29. Bobby Higginson. Often the best player on some atrocious Tigers teams, he had a nice arm and a little power and was memorably well paid for what he brought. Still, he's a strong candidate to receive zero votes.
30. Kirk Rueter. Was once seventh in Rookie of the Year voting, once ninth in ERA and once tied for 10th in wins. Nice pitcher who won more than he lost. Must have friends on the nominating committee.
31. Lenny Harris. Sure, he's the alltime leader in pinch hits. But that just points to the fact he usually wasn't good enough to start. His 804 pinch-hit at-bats are the most in history, too, and the hits were almost exclusively singles, and unmemorable ones at that. Lifetime .349 slugging percentage. If he gets a vote, it's from someone who really loves the pinch hit.
* two guys who are a yes on their accomplishments but proven steroid users)
32. Mark McGwire. His exploits -- especially the 70 home runs in 1998 -- are enough to elect him easily him had he been clean. To claim the accomplishments aren't enough is a copout. He and Sammy Sosa saved the game. But without the steroids, it's hard to imagine him hitting 70 home runs in his mid-30s the way he did. I like the man a lot, but I can't agree the steroids didn't help him as much as he thinks.
33. Rafael Palmeiro. He's 10th alltime in total bases, 12th in home runs and 15th in RBIs and is one of only four players with at least 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. He had a career in some sense similar to Blyleven's but was good enough to hit some magic career numbers. Yet, his finger wagging performance in Congress followed by his failed steroid test dooms him.
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