2014 Ballot The Baseball Hall Of Fame, Baseball Hall of Fame voters must submit their ballots by the end of the year. Mark tries to winnow down the worthies to a hypothetical ballot of ten names, with a last plea for the case of Mike Mussina.
The only appropriate question to ask about the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot is, “Which ten players should receive a vote?”
There are 36 players on the ballot, with probably 22 of them having some kind of case worth being made. No one can vote for more than ten. Those are the rules. They are dumb rules, but they are the rules.
The Baseball Hall of Fame voting privileges are extended to ten-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. They don’t even have to keep writing about baseball to keep their vote. There are at least three golf writers with ballots. That sounds like a joke but it actually isn’t.
A player must be named on 75% of the returned ballots to be inducted. No one was inducted last year, creating a logjam this year that will only worsen next time around. Players who are named on fewer than 5% of ballots are dropped off. There were worries this could happen with Mike Mussina. Players who have been on the ballot for 15 years are also dropped off. Jack Morris, the focal point of many Hall of Fame-related arguments, is in his final year.
There are good and bad reasons to vote for or against any of the players. Everyone has their own. If it were up to me, there would be 16 names I would be tempted to include. They are:
Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Edgar Martinez, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker.
Glavine, Maddux, Piazza and Thomas are such no-brainers that no one should even need to explain why they’re getting a vote. Bonds and Clemens exist under the cloud of PED near-certainty, but their numbers are so insane that it’s impossible for me not to recognize their greatness with a place on a hypothetical ballot. You could give me every steroid in existence and I would not be putting up a 1.87 ERA at any point in my life, let alone at age 42. I would also have not hit a single home run, let alone 762.
That’s six players out of the maximum ten just in the automatic category. The rest need some consideration to decide how to round out the ballot.
Jeff Bagwell: Batted .297/.408/.540 over a 15-year career. It will be a recurring theme that I find .300/.400/.500 players over long careers to be impressive, even considering that it was an era full of offense. Suffers due to unfair steroid suspicion; some writers seem to think any power hitter from the era must have been juicing.
Craig Biggio: Received the most votes of anyone last year at 68.2%. A member of the 3,000 hit club, more or less an automatic benchmark until now. He snuck in at age 41, a year in which he batted .251/.285/.381. Had a number of good offensive seasons as a second baseman, also spending time at catcher early in his career and in the outfield late. He strikes me as being like Cal Ripken, only without the MVP awards, World Series ring, local connection to his team, or The Streak.