Palmeiro v Bonds? A few Hall of Fame thoughts
The disclosure of 17 MLB.com writers’ Hall of Fame ballots certainly signaled open season on those writers’ choices.
Fine. That’s why Twitter was invented, as a venting mechanism. I choose to respond in this venue to shed the 140-character limit.
Much of the criticism sent my way concerns my vote for Rafael Palmeiro, yet exclusion of Barry Bonds. Also, I got a lot of LOL’s for voting for Lee Smith. Those latter two points are somewhat ironic, since Bonds and Smith both got the exact same number of votes (6) from the MLB.com electorate.
But … focusing on the Palmeiro-Bonds split …
No one, certainly none of the 600-odd BBWAA voters, truly knows who did or did not do the PED nasty. All we have to go on is a bunch of circumstantial evidence.
From my perception, Palmeiro had an extremely consistent career, without significant spikes, 1990 through 2005.
It is generally acknowledged — once again, only through anecdotal and third-party testimony — that, IF he juiced, Bonds did so out of jealousy upon seeing the adulation bestowed on Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa for their 1998 home-run battle.
I don’t buy the argument that he was already a slam-dunk Hall of Fame player by then: He was a career .290 hitter with 411 homers; rightly or wrongly, a lot of players with similar credentials haven’t made it to Cooperstown. Fred McGriff [.284, 493 homers] got 21% of the votes last year; Andres Galarraga [.288, 399] fell off the ballot after one year. Sure, you can argue they were different players, without as many dimensions, but this is always where these things become subjective.
Anyway, using 1998 as the line in Bonds’ sand: Before, he averaged 32 homers per 509 ABs a season, with that .290 average; after, it was 39 homers per 358 ABs, with a .316 average — all that starting with his age-35 season.
I took all that into consideration in voting, which I take very seriously. Seriously enough to pay very close attention to everyone and everything involved, and keep an open mind about changing future votes if warranted.