Jays Journal brings you the ballot for the 2016 MLB Hall of Fame elections. After some discussion, we ask for your input. Who gets in? Who does not?
As a member of the IBWAA, I am asked to fill out my 2016 MLB Hall of Fame ballot. I thought it would be interesting to present the choices here to you and get your input on who I voted for. The ballot is actually tougher than I thought it would be. This year, there is an obvious first ballot guy, some borderline guys and some guys who put my baseball morality to the test.
So, I’ll present you with the ballot and my choices (indicated with * next to their name) with some defense thereof. Then, feel free to fire away with your choices. By IBWAA rules, I am allowed to select up to 15 candidates. The IBWAA requires 75% for election.
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On this ballot, there are 14 first timers. And, of that group, only Ken Griffey Jr is the sure bet. Honestly, it should not surprise anyone if he becomes a unanimous selection and gets in on his first go. In his 22 year career, he hit a total of 630 HR, 1836 RBI with an average of .284. He’s a 13 time All Star (11 in a row) who finished in the top 5 of MVP voting 5 times and won the award in 1997. No question, he gets in.
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There were some borderline players who I had to debate over. For example, Jim Edmonds had a 17 year career that saw him win 8 Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and 4 All Star appearances. Ultimately, I left him off because of the “benchmaks” that typically get applied to Hall of Fame voting. He collected 1949 hits, which is well below the 3000 mark that gets you in to Cooperstown. As well, his career average is .284. I bumped him in favor of Gary Sheffield who gave 22 years and came closer to 3000 hits with 2689. He’s a career .292 hitter, a 9 time All Star and 5 time Silver Slugger. Of course, I wanted to recognize Edmonds’ defense over Sheffield’s, but really, the offense makes this an easier decision.
The more interesting debate came when I had to confront my real stance on the whole “Steroid Era” issue. Previously, I would have told you that any guy who was accused of cheating and had evidence against him should not be considered for the Hall of Fame. Cheating is cheating. We should not celebrate cheaters.
However, when you look at the careers those accused had, it is hard to discern how much of their numbers were impacted by cheating. Our choice is to ignore their numbers or not. But, if you ignore the numbers of an individual, you are ignoring the fact that “juicing” was rampant. Can we just pretend that an entire era of baseball didn’t happen? Should we just assume everyone was cheating? If there were a formula that said X% of their numbers were a direct result of “the juice”, we could subtract that from their totals and move on. But, there isn’t.
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Instead, we really need to look at the body of work. There are 3 examples of this that got my vote when they wouldn’t have a while ago. Firstly, Barry Bonds. His career numbers are off the charts. Take a look at this: He’s a 14 All Star, 7 time MVP, 8 time Gold Glove winner, 12 time Silver Slugger, walked an amazing 2558 BB, including 688 IBB! If you look back at his early (physically leaner) years, he was putting up great totals of 25+ HR. He very well could have been a Hall of Fame candidate anyway.
Mark McGwire may be a guy who benefits from my own personal bias. I grew up an A’s, Bash Brothers fan before I even knew what steroids were. He’s a 12 time All Star, Rookie of the Year winner (1987), 3 time Silver Slugger winner and a Gold Glove winner in 1990. He has 583 HR for his career. For me, he’d been hitting with the same power since he came into the league. He hit 49 as a rookie. Was he cheating the whole time? Perhaps. But, if he was, he was operating under what was practically standard practice in MLB.
Roger Clemens was a freak of nature on the mound. And, his numbers are tainted. But, to what degree? It is impossible to know. But, let’s take a look at the whole body of work: He’s an 11 time All Star, 7 time Cy Young Award winner (he finished in the top 5 10 times), he won the AL MVP award in 1986 as a 23 year old when he won 24 games and only lost 4 times. He has 354 career wins, which is well past the 300 benchmark. He has 4672 career strike outs.
Sammy Sosa‘s career numbers are (to me) more tainted than the others above given that his power clearly took a jump starting in 1993. I’m not buying the “natural talent” argument with him. Admittedly, I am still bitter that Carlos Delgado only appeared once on the ballot and did not receive enough votes to remain there. If he doesn’t deserve consideration, then there are some others who don’t, like Sosa.
Now that you’ve seen my ballot, please feel free to leave your opinions below. Leave your choices, leave your arguments for or against my choices. To me, this Hall of Fame conversation is very interesting. Do players deserve to be voted in when they were very good when they played? Should they have to stack up against some of the all time greats who are already enshrined? Have your say.