This time every year is one of my favorite times of the baseball season. It is time to bring up players from times gone by and debate their Hall of Fame worthiness. Unfortunately, this year the debate is one that isn't just about who is a worthy HOFer; it's about ethics and morals. It's about wiping out an entire era of baseball. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be Hall of Famers. Unfortunately, each of them were participants in the steroid boom.
So now it is on you to decide the fate of the Hall of Fame. Here is our interactive ballot for 2013. There are 37 possible candidates this year. Here are the guidelines.
* Only vote one time. Your user name is a mandatory
* Only vote for up to 10 people. You can make a serious case for more than that number this year, but this is the number that the MLB writers have to abide by.
* If you don't think anyone on the ballot should make it, just choose the "None" option, so your vote can be weighed in the percentages. Don't choose "None" unless you are actually picking nobody.
* Your ballot will be thrown out if it doesn't follow the guidelines.
On to the player profiles.
Alomar is making his first appearance on the ballot. He is a six-time All-Star, the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year, the 1997 All-Star game MVP and he won the Gold Glove in 1990. He was one of the better catchers in baseball throughout the '90s when healthy. He was part of the Indians juggernaut of the era. His best season came in 1997, when he hit .324/.354/.545 with 21 homers and 83 knocked in. He played parts of five seasons on the White Sox, where he hit .257/.291/.384 with 19 homers. His brother, Roberto, made the HOF last season. Sandy was out-shined at the position by Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza. He also couldn't stay healthy long enough to put up a solid HOF case. He had a nice career on a great team, but I don't think he'll stay on the ballot another season.
Jeff Bagwell (Astros)
Career stats: .297/.408/.540, 449 HR, 1,529 RBI, 202 SB.
This is Bagwell's third year on the ballot. He received 56 percent of the Hall of Fame vote last season. The four-time All-Star, 1991 NL Rookie of the Year and 1994 NL MVP was a top hitter in the '90s. His career is eerily similar to Frank Thomas, only the Big Hurt was able to play a few more years and reach the 500-homer milestone. Bagwell would probably be a Hall of Famer by now if he reached that mark, or if there weren't suspicions about steroid abuse. Without concrete evidence that he did them, I don't think you can hold it against him. My guess is his numbers will rise up a little bit more this year and he eventually makes it, but it won't be this season.
Craig Biggio (Astros)
Career stats: .281/.363/.433, 291 HR, 1,175 RBI, 414 SB, 1,844 Runs, 3,060 Hits, 668 doubles.
Biggio is making his first appearance on the ballot. He is a member of the 3,000-hit club and his 668 doubles rank him fifth all-time. He is 15th all time in runs scored. He is a seven-time All-Star. Biggio came up as a catcher in 1988, and moved to second base full-time in 1992. The move was a good one. Biggio was able to play in a ton of games and accumulate a ton of numbers in a good Astros lineup. He moved to the outfield in 2003-04, but was back at second base in 2005 and committed a big error in Game 2 of the World Series. You can't ignore the numbers. He very well might get in this year. It would be nice if he and Bagwell could enter at the same time.
The home run king is making his first appearance on the ballot. The 14-time All-Star, seven-time MVP and eight-time Gold Glove winner is one of the greatest players the league has ever seen. He should be an automatic entrant. Unfortunately, Bonds is the poster boy for the steroid era. Rumor has it that he got pissed at all of the attention Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa received in 1998 and decided to hop into the fray. His numbers went nutsy from there. But Bonds was probably a Hall of Famer before that ever happened. Also, plenty of players used steroids and none of them were as good as Bonds was. Is he a Hall of Famer? You make the call.
Cirillo was a good hitter in his time and had a solid Major League career. I wish we could reincarnate the mid 90's version of him and put him at third base for the White Sox this year. But this is the Hall of Fame. He will get as many votes as I will this year.
He had a long career as a good-fielding shortstop who had a little bit of pop. There were a ton of shortstops during his era that were better than he was. I almost got in a fight with him in a Milwaukee bar. I still scratch my head about why the White Sox ever acquired him in the first place. He was a serviceable player, but he's one-and-done in the Hall of Fame voting.
Roger Clemens (Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros)
Career stats: 354-154, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 strikeouts, 1.173 WHIP.
The 11-time All-Star, seven-time Cy Young winner and 1986 American League MVP is arguably the best pitcher in the past 40 years. He won 20 games six times. He led the league in ERA seven times. He is third all-time in career strikeouts. He is the Barry Bonds of pitchers, as he is also connected with steroids. Was he a Hall of Famer before he did them? Probably. Does that mean you are going to vote for him anyway? You make the call.
The two-time All-Star was the MVP of the 1995 All-Star Game. He was the best player on the early Marlins teams and had a lengthy career in which he put up decent numbers. He won't stay on the ballot.
Steve Finley (Orioles, Astros, Padres, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Rockies)
Career stats: .271/.332/.442, 304 HR, 1,167 RBI, 320 SB, 2,548 Hits.
Finley is one of eight players in Major League history to have 300 homers and 300 stolen bases in his career. The others? Barry and Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Reggie Sanders. He is a two-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner. He was a very good player, who in another era would probably get some support. I'd be surprised if he gets the 5 percent necessary to stay on the ballot, though.
His crazy stance, his line drives into the right-center field gap, his unbelievable run in 1994 with the White Sox which got ruined because of the strike, the fact that he was still a productive player at 48-years old. The three-time All-Star and MVP of the 1990 All-Star Game at Wrigley Field is an all-time favorite of mine. Unfortunately, I think he's a member of the Hall of Very Good. We will always have his incredible .319/.406/.510 from 1994 though.
Shawn Green (Blue Jays, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Mets)
Career stats: .283/.355/.494, 328 HR, 1,070 RBI, 2,003 Hits, 162 SB.
Green had a five-year stretch from 1998-2002 where he was one of the most productive hitters in the league. He hit at least 40 homers three times and knocked in at least 100 runs four times during that span. He was a two-time All-Star and had a very solid career. Will it be enough to stay on the ballot? We'll see.
Roberto Hernandez (White Sox, Giants, Rays, Royals, Braves, Phillies, Mets, Pirates, Indians, Dodgers)
Career stats: 67-71, 3.45 ERA, 326 saves.
Another one of my favorites, Roberto took over the closers role in 1992 from Bobby Thigpen. He saved 161 games over seven seasons for the White Sox and was part of the infamous White Flag trade in 1997, when the White Sox dumped Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Roberto to the Giants for prospects. He also saved 101 games as a Devil Ray and 54 more with the Royals before settling into a setup role the last five seasons of his career. I loved Roberto and he is 13th all-time in saves, but if Lee Smith can't get in, Roberto has no shot.
Ryan Klesko (Braves, Padres, Giants)
Career stats: .279/.370/.500, 278 HR, 987 RBI.
Klesko was a big part of the Braves offense during their historic run in the 1990s, but he wasn't one of the best players at any point in his career. He also stopped being a productive hitter after his 32nd birthday, so he doesn't have the counting numbers to make a case for him either. One and done.
Kenny Lofton (Astros, Indians, Braves, White Sox, Giants, Pirates, Cubs, Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Rangers)
Career stats: .299/.372/.423, 130 HR, 781 RBI, 622 SB, 2,428 Hits.
Lofton, a six-time All-Star, was one of the most exciting players of his era. He was the table-setter for the Indians in the 1990s and led the league in stolen bases for five consecutive years. His 622 stolen bases are good for 15th all-time. While we argue that Tim Raines is the second best leadoff hitter, Lofton isn't far behind Raines. He also did it at a higher level as he made the postseason on 11 different occasions. He became a very successful journeyman late in his career and was still a fairly productive player when he retired at the age of 40. All of the people who won't be voting for the big sluggers of the '90s should probably throw a vote in Lofton's direction. I think he is a borderline choice for the Hall of Fame and hope that the numbers game doesn't get in his way.
Edgar Martinez (Mariners)
Career stats: .312/.418/.515, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI.
Martinez is on the ballot for the fourth time and received 36.5 percent of the vote last year. He is arguably the best DH in the history of the game. He is a seven-time All-Star and two-time batting champion. The fact he was a DH hurts his chances, but he was a great offensive force in the middle of the Mariners lineup for years. It will be interesting to see how his vote is affected by the big names joining the ballot.
Don Mattingly (Yankees)
Career stats: .307/.358/.471, 222 HR, 1,099 RBI, 2,153 hits.
This is Mattingly's 13th time on the ballot. He maxed out in 2001 (his first year) when he received 28.2 percent of the vote. Last season he was named on 17.8 percent of the ballots. His supporters say that nobody was better during the four-year period of 1984-1987. That is true. He was the man during that time. Unfortunately, back injuries robbed him of sustaining that production for the long haul. The six-time All-Star and 1985 American League MVP will continue to receive his share of support, and then fall into the hands of the Veterans Committee.
Fred McGriff (Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Rays, Cubs, Dodgers)
Career stats: .284/.377/.509, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI, 2,490 Hits.
The Crime Dog is on the ballot for the fourth time. Last year, he was named on 23.9 percent of the ballots. He was a five-time All-Star and the MVP of the 1994 All-Star Game. Unfortunately for McGriff, he fell just seven home runs shy of 500. He had an OPS of .917 in his 10 playoff series. He hit at least 30 home runs in 10 seasons. He hit at least 20 in five more. McGriff was a true slugger who may be a case of having his numbers dwarfed by steroid guys. Anyone who won't vote for McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, etc. should look long and hard at McGriff.
Mark McGwire (A's, Cardinals)
Career stats: .263/.394/.588, 583 HR, 1,414 RBI, 1,626 hits.
This is McGwire's seventh time on the ballot. He maxed out at 23.6 percent in 2008 and received 19.5 percent (his lowest total) last year. The 12- time All-Star has admitted to using steroids. He led the league in home runs four times, including 70 in 1998. He was the first major steroid guy on the ballots and hasn't fared very well. Whatever you think of him, his race with Sosa in 1998 brought a lot of fans back to baseball after the strike. Are you ready to vote for him in the Hall of Fame?
Jose Mesa (Orioles, Indians, Giants, Mariners, Philies, Pirates, Rockies, Tigers)
Career stats: 80-109, 4.36 ERA, 321 saves.
Joe Table was a two-time All-Star for the Indians in the mid '90s. He is five saves behind Roberto Hernandez and ranks 14th all-time. He wasn't as good as Hernandez and I already dismissed Roberto.
Jack Morris (Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Indians)
Career stats: 254-186, 3.90 ERA, 2,478 strikeouts.
Morris is on the ballot for the 14th time. Last season he was named on 66.7 percent of the ballot. We all know the argument. He was the ace on three different World Series championship teams. He pitched possibly the greatest game ever in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, when he went 10 innings in a 1-0 complete game shutout of the Braves. He completed 175 games. Even more impressive is the fact that he went at least eight innings in 52 percent of his starts from 1979-1992. He is also third in American League wins since the DH was adopted, only trailing Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina. I think it is time Morris gets in.
Dale Murphy (Braves, Phillies, Rockies)
Career stats: .265/.346/.469, 398 HR, 1,266 RBI, 2,111 Hits, 161 SB.
This is the final year for Murphy on the ballot. He maxed out in 2000 (his second year) when he was named on 23.2 percent of ballots. Last season he recieved 14.5 percent of the vote. The seven-time All-Star and back-to-back NL MVP in 1982-83 was one of the game's most powerful sluggers for a period of time. From 1982 through 1985, there weren't many better players in the league than Murphy. He fell off pretty hard by 1988, and hung around until 1993 when he got 49 plate appearances for the Rockies. He was a very good player. Good enough to stay on the ballot for an entire 15-year run. He will make it to the Veterans Committee next year. My guess is he will never make it in, but he had a fine career.
Rafael Palmeiro (Cubs, Rangers, Orioles)
Career stats: .288/.371/.515, 569 HR, 1,835 RBI, 3,020 Hits, 585 doubles.
This is Palmeiro's third year on the ballot. Last year he got 12.6 percent of the vote. From 1990 to 2003, Palmeiro was one of the most consistent hitters in the league. He reached all of the important numbers. Unfortunately, just months after adamantly stating to Congress that he never took steroids, ever ... he tested positive for steroids. It will be interesting to see how Palmeiro's vote is affected by Bonds and Sosa.
Mike Piazza (Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres, A's)
Career stats: .308/.377/.545, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI, 2,127 hits.
The 12-time All-Star and 1993 NL Rookie of the Year is making his debut on the ballot. The numbers that this guy put up at the catcher position were unbelievable. He had his best season in 1997, hitting .362/.431/.638 with 40 homers. He had three seasons with an OPS above 1.000. I don't see how the greatest offensive catcher can be left out of the Hall of Fame. The only way he shouldn't receive votes is if you think he was a steroid user, and there has never been any evidence saying so.
Tim Raines (Expos, White Sox, Yankees, A's, Orioles, Marlins)
Career stats: .294/.385/.425, 170 HR, 980 RBI, 2,605 Hits, 808 SB.
This is Rock's sixth trip to the ballot. Last year, he reached his max at 48.7 percent. The seven-time All-Star was the next-best thing to Rickey Henderson during the '80s. From 1981 through 1987, he was an elite player. After that he was a very good player for another eight seasons. After that he was a quality bench player for four seasons. He should have been in already. Hey Rock, what do you have to say to the people who think you don't belong in the Hall of Fame?
Reggie Sanders (Reds, Padres, Braves, Diamondbacks, Giants, Pirates, Cardinals, Royals)
Career stats: .267/.343/.487, 305 HR, 983 RBI, 304 SB, 1,666 Hits.
I mentioned Sanders earlier as one of only eight players in the history of the game with 300 homers and 300 stolen bases. He is easily the most forgettable on the list, but that is a pretty impressive achievement nonetheless. Unfortunately, Reggie didn't do much besides that. He'll go down in history as a "Who?" when people look at that list in the future. Very good career, not a HOFer.
Curt Schilling (Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox)
Career stats: 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 3,116 strikeouts.
The six-time All-Star finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting three times, but never won the award. Schilling was a good pitcher early in his career with the Phillies but turned it up another notch when he went to the Diamondbacks in 2000. In 2001, he teamed up with Randy Johnson to bring the Diamondbacks a World Series when he won a league-leading 22 games. The next season he won 23. After a down year in 2003, he went to Boston where he led the Red Sox with 21 wins as they broke the Curse of the Bambino. He finished his career with another World Series victory after the 2007 season. He was 11-2 in 19 career postseason starts with a 2.23 ERA. Because of the numbers game, I'm not voting for Schilling this year. If things loosen up in the future though, he will get my vote. Not many people have the resume that he does.
Aaron Sele (Red Sox, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Dodgers, Mets)
Career stats: 148-112, 4.61 ERA, 1,407 strikeouts.
Surprisingly Sele was a two-time All-Star. I wouldn't have remembered he pitched until 2007. The only thing I recall about his career is he came in high and tight two pitches in a row to George Bell, who charged the mound and swung wildly at the right-hander. Unfortunately, Bell missed and got run over by Mo Vaughn. Here is the video. Sele got seven career postseason starts and went an unimpressive 0-6. Aaron Sele's wife wouldn't vote for him in the Hall of Fame.
Lee Smith (Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Reds, Expos)
Career stats: 71-92, 3.03 ERA, 478 saves.
The seven-time All-Star is on the ballot for the 11th time. Last year, he received 50.6 percent of the vote (his highest mark). At the time of his retirement, Smith's 478 saves were the all-time record. He now sits in third behind Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. Smith defined the new era of closers by coming in and recording a one-inning save. He led the league in saves four times. If any of the new age closers are going to get in (besides Rivera), Smith has to go first in my opinion.
Sammy Sosa (Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles)
Career stats: .273/.344/.534, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 2,408 Hits, 234 SB
The seven-time All-Star and 1998 National League MVP is hitting the ballot for the first time. Sammy is the only player in baseball history to hit 60 homers three times. Strangely enough, he never led the league in any of those seasons. When he was traded to the White Sox he was a skinny kid with the Eazy-E haircut. You would see flashes of the enormous power he had, but it was far from consistent. When he got to the Cubs, he started to put it all together with four seasons of 30+ homers before 1998. In 1998, Sosa and McGwire captivated the baseball audience with their home run chase. Although Cub fans may want to forget him, Sosa was responsible for a whole generation of Cub fans. While it has never been proven, it is widely believed Sosa was a steroid user. Is he a Hall of Famer? You decide.
Mediocre middle reliever. He'd have a better chance at getting in the Hall of Fame if we used Giancarlo Stanton's first couple of seasons as Mike.
Alan Trammell (Tigers)
Career stats: .285/.352/.415, 185 HR, 1,003 RBI, 2,365 Hits, 236 SB.
Trammell is on the ballot for the 12th time. Last season, he received 36.8 percent of the vote (his highest total). While he wasn't as powerful as Cal Ripken or as flashy as Ozzie Smith, Alan Trammell was as steady of a shortstop that there was. He could field, hit, had some pop and played his entire career with one team. Barry Larkin rightly got in the Hall last year. Trammell was pretty much the same player Larkin was. It is a good possibility that neither Trammell nor Lou Whitaker will ever make the Hall of Fame ... and that is ridiculous.
Larry Walker (Expos, Rockies, Cardinals)
Career stats: .313/.400/.565, 383 HR, 1,311 RBI, 2,160 Hits, 230 SB.
Walker is on the ballot for the third time. Last season, he received 22.9 percent of the vote. The five-time All Star and 1997 National League MVP was a three-time batting champion. He also won seven Gold Gloves. A very good case can be made for his Hall of Fame candidacy. You can also say that he was a product of Mile High stadium and that he wasn't great for long enough. Either way though, the guy had a very good career and was good all the way until the day he called it quits.
Todd Walker (Twins, Rockies, Reds, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, A's)
Career stats: .289/.348/.435, 107 HR, 545 RBI, 1,316 Hits.
Orlando Hudson is Baseball-Reference.com's second-most comparable player to Walker. Given a choice between the two, I'd take Hudson. Next.
David Wells (Blue Jays, Tigers, Reds, Orioles, Yankees, Blue Jays, White Sox, Padres, Red Sox, Dodgers)
Career stats: 239-157, 4.13 ERA, 2,201 strikeouts.
Wells was a very successful pitcher in most of his stops. Besides the 5-7 with a 4.41 he put up in 2001. As a member of the White Sox. Where he criticized Frank Thomas. May the wrath of 20 million demons reign down upon the tubby bastard. I'd vote for Todd Walker before I would vote David Wells. All of that aside, he pitched for 21 seasons, did well in the postseason, threw a perfect game, won a couple of championships, was a 20-game winner and was a three-time All-Star. A small case could be made for his candidacy. I suppose if one good thing came from him, he tutored Mark Buehrle for a while.
Rondell White (Expos, Cubs, Yankees, Padres, Royals, Tigers, Twins)
Career stats: .284/.336/.462, 198 HR, 768 RBI, 1,519 Hits.
White was a pretty solid hitter, but injuries caused him to only play in 100 games six times in his career. The 2003 All-Star hit .300 five times, but he isn't a Hall of Very Gooder, let alone a Hall of Famer.
Bernie Williams (Yankees)
Career stats: .297/.381/.477, 287 HR, 1,257 RBI, 2,336 Hits, 147 SB.
The Yankee great is the only guy to remain on the ballot from last season. He received 9.6 percent of the vote. Williams was a solid hitter for many years and came through in the postseason many times for the Yankees most recent dynasty. He hit 20+ homers seven times and knocked in 100 runs five times. He was a very good player. Will that put him in the Hall? I doubt it.
Woody Williams (Blue Jays, Padres, Cardinals, Astros)
Career stats: 132-116, 4.19 ERA, 1,480 strikeouts.
Williams was a pretty good third starter for a bunch of years. Is Gavin Floyd a Hall of Famer? No? Well then neither is Woody.
My ballot: I'm voting for 10 guys this year and wish I had a spot for a couple of more. Here are my votes: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Sammy Sosa and Alan Trammell.
I chose to include Bonds and Clemens because I think they were Hall of Famers well before they were on steroids. Although I'm not against voting in Palmeiro or McGwire, Sosa ranks higher than both of them for me and I wasn't willing to not include Raines, McGriff or Trammell for either of them.
Piazza is the best hitting catcher ever. Bagwell was a top threat at the plate and on the bases in his time. Besides Clemens, Morris was the dominant AL starter for a good 25 years. Trammell was a great underrated shortstop. Raines was the second best leadoff hitter I've ever seen. McGriff was a consistent producer for years on end and also mashed in the playoffs. Biggio was a great talent who reached 3,000 hits.
By voting for five first timers, I had to leave guys I've previously supported off of the ballot. Those guys are Edgar Martinez and Lee Smith. I also would have liked to give a vote to Kenny Lofton and Curt Schilling.
You could also make a case for a handful of other names.
It isn't going to get any easier next year. Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Tom Glavine and Jeff Kent join the party.
Don't forget to click on link, make your picks and debate below!