Every time I see a writer writing about their Hall of Fame picks, my eyes glaze over. At first, I loved it. The banter back and forth with Twitter followers and website commenters over who should and shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame was enthralling, but over the weeks that enthrallment changed to apathy.
First off, I want to try and detail my ever changing mindset on the steroid era. This is not a black and white issue, nor will it ever be, but it’s hard to bar people from the Hall when so many players were doing the same thing. Trying to pinpoint who did and didn’t do steroids and other performance enhancers is a bit like trying to determine who watches porn on their iPhone. You know a lot of people do it, but only a few get caught and even fewer admit to it readily even after they’ve been caught.
I’m not saying it should be ignored completely, but certain players who did performance enhancers in their career were still the best in their generation and likely would have been Hall of Famers in any generation. And the use of cocaine and amphetamines in previous eras also cannot be ignored, although neither had the effect on performance that PEDs did (or do).
I’d feel a little dirty voting in players who didn’t at least own up to their usage after they were caught (I’m looking at you Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro) but I think I’d still vote them in.
Having done away with that business, I’d vote for Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez.
Taking into account my reasoning on steroids, McGwire’s enshrinement becomes obvious. A four year stretch that saw him hit 52, 58, 70 and 65 home runs from 1996-1999 and 583 career home runs are impossible to ignore. He also hit a home run every 10.6 at-bats and had a career slash line of .263/.394/.588 putting him in a class by himself.
He’s done everything you need to do to get in the Hall. His finger wagging at Congress pisses me off as much as the next guy, but he still deserves it. I won’t say any more about that.
Bert Blyleven should have got in years ago but the dinosaurs in the BBWAA refuse to look past the fact that he was never flashy and was easily forgotten, but there is no stat that can be used against Blyleven’s case. This is the year he finally gets what he deserves.
Roberto Alomar was the reason I wanted to be a second baseman when I played baseball. He was my favourite player growing up. Any Canadian baseball fan would probably say something similar. Aside from that, he was one of the top second-baggers in the game for over a decade and always seemed to play on a winner. A career OPS over .800 for a middle-infielder and defensive ability that defined Gold Glove make him a shoe-in. He also had six seasons of better than 5.0 WAR and ten above 4.0 WAR. Case closed, he should’ve got in last year.
The writers who will keep Bagwell out of the Hall this year should be ashamed of themselves. They will refuse to vote for one of the best hitters of the last two decades simply because they suspect he did steroids. Suspect. He had a slugging percentage of at least .500 every year from 1993-2003. He has a career slash line of .297/.408/.540, every player who is Hall eligible to compile a .290/.400/.500 line is already enshrined. The logic that says he shouldn’t get in the Hall because he might have done steroids would dictate that no one who played from 1988-2006 should be considered. Ridiculous.
Raines is the best leadoff hitter of his generation not named Rickey. A career .294 hitter with an .810 OPS, 808 stolen bases and a 71.0 WAR for his career. If Raines hit that “milestone” mark of .300 in batting average, he’d already be enshrined. He also walked at a higher rate than he struck out and that has to count for something. Also, I’ve never understood why players who played for a high number of seasons have that used against them in Hall of Fame voting. The conventional wisdom is “well, he had so many home runs and hits because he played so long.” Someone needs to explain why that’s a bad thing. If you can play at a high level for as many years as someone like Raines, then that should only add to his résumé.
He gets in first ballot if he had hit seven more homeruns. Eddie Murray’s in the Hall of Fame and he was no better than McGriff, except that he just barely cleared that magical 500-home run mark. Proof? It’s in the pudding. Or, you know, the graphs.
Remember when I said everyone with a .290/.400/.500 slash line was in the Hall of Fame? Martinez’s line is .312/.418/.515. I understand people who say that he shouldn’t get in because he played most of career at DH, but wouldn’t he have been less valuable to his team if he’d played at third base badly his whole career? The Hall is littered with players who were horrid defensively but put up staggering offensive numbers. Martinez was one of the best pure hitters of his generation and he needs to be enshrined.
Statistical information and graphs from FanGraphs.