Voting for the Hall of Fame has always been an honor and a privilege — and it has become a slightly bigger privilege with the museum having weeded out unqualified voters to trim the electorate.
The Hall — or, more accurately, its BBWAA guardians — gets ripped a lot. I’ve been known to join that chorus (I still need an explanation for how Tommy John and his 288 wins weren’t good enough).
Us writers seem to like picking our own fights. We resent being sworn into the Steroids Era jury. Yet we want to preside over the Closer Era and Designated Hitter trials and insist Lee Smith and Edgar Martinez aren’t worthy.
Hall of Fame voters are like America. What a melting pot. How can you not like the diversity in a group which is likely this year to elect Jeff Bagwell (449 homers and 1,529 RBIs) but last year did not cast enough votes for Carlos Delgado (473 homers and 1,512 RBIs) to even remain on the ballot?
With all that said, Ballot #415 is in the mail:
- Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza: Very short version — I climbed off the PED soapbox a couple of years ago, and swore to stay off it. And you can’t argue their numbers.
- Trevor Hoffman: How’s this for a change of pace (his signature pitch)? “Closer is a first-ballot Hall of Fame.”
- Smith: C’mon. He’s the guy who set the trail for all these Cooperstown guys (Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Hoffman maybe now, Mo Rivera definitely to come) to follow.
- Martinez: The Lee Smith of DHs; good heavens, David Ortiz’s platform for likely future induction is built on having won seven Edgar Martinez Awards.
- Bagwell: He came within two RBIs in 2002 of having eight straight 30-100 seasons. Dominating an era? Check.
- Jeff Kent: Much of Piazza’s candidacy is based on how he stood out among all-time players at his position; well, this is the Piazza of second basemen.
- Gary Sheffield: He could be this year’s Carlos Delgado, but his 509 homers have to be seen through this prism — Sheff was the last power hitter with a controlled, not an all-or-nothing, swing. Do you realize he had 12 seasons with 500-plus plate appearances and fewer than 75 Ks? In 2003, he went to the plate 678 times and fanned 55 times.
- Ken Griffey Jr.: No testimonials required, I know, but it must be pointed out he dominated the ’90s (382 homers and 1,091 RBIs) perhaps unlike any player has ever stood over a decade.