It's the New Year, which means it is time for our annual Interactive Hall of Fame Ballot to be unleashed! This year, like last, gives us some very strong first year eligible candidates. Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz dominated on the mound throughout much of the 90's and 00's. Gary Sheffield was one of the games best hitters and 2005 World Series MVP Jermaine Dye makes an appearance!
There are a lot of guys on the ballot that you can make a good case for being in the Hall. The baseball writers can only vote for ten guys and we do to, so if you are a big hall guy, you have to strategically place your votes.
Here are the guidelines:
* Only vote one time. Multiple votes will be thrown out.
* Only vote for 10 people. A vote containing 11 or more will be thrown out.
* If you don't think anyone should be in, choose "None" so your vote can be counted appropriately.
* Voting will stop on Monday, January 5th at 9 PM CT sharp. This will allow me to write up the results prior to the Hall announcement on Tuesday morning.
Every year I have to throw out multiple ballots for not following the guidelines. Please keep that to the bare minimum this year. Please. I beg of you.
On to the player profiles:
Career Stats: .275/.328/.433, 186 HR, 756 RBI
Aurilia had four seasons with 20+ home runs, including his lone All-Star season in 2001, when he led the National League in hits with 206 and added on a career high 37 homers and 97 RBI. He had a nice career and earned himself 31 million dollars, but this is the last time I ever want to think about Rich Aurilia.
Jeff Bagwell (Astros)
Career Stats: .297/.408/.540, 449 HR, 1529 RBI, 202 SB
Bagwell is on for the fifth time this year. He clocked in at 54.3 percent of the vote last year after maxing out at 59.6 in 2013. He was a Rookie of the Year and an MVP. He played most of his career in the Astrodome and still managed amazing offensive numbers as he OPS'd over 1.00 five times. I think he would have been in already if some people didn't suspect him of PED use.
Craig Biggio (Astros)
Career stats: .281/.363/.433, 291 HR, 1,175 RBI, 414 SB, 3,060 Hits
Biggio fell two votes shy of induction in both the actual HOF voting and the SSS voting last year. Maybe the third time is the charm for the seven-time all-star. He had 668 doubles which rank fifth all-time. His 285 HBP's put him in second career in that category. Can he make up two votes? I'd say yes.
Barry Bonds (Pirates, Giants)
Career stats: .298/.444/.607, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB, 2,558 walks, 7 MVPs
You know the story of the 14-time all-star and eight-time Gold Glove winner. He's one of the top five players to ever play the game, but his choices have kept him out of the Hall of Fame. This is his third time on the ballot. He received 34.7 percent of the vote last year.
Career stats: .263/.326/.425, 126 HR, 555 RBI
Aaron Boone has his own signature moment. The Aaron Boone game, when he homered and shattered the Red Sox dreams in 2003 as a member of the Yankees. Geoff Blum has his own signature game in the playoffs. Next.
Career stats: .262/.339/.485, 251 HR, 824 RBI
Tony the Tiger came on strong, hitting at least 27 homers in his first four full seasons in the Majors. After those four seasons though, he never managed to get a full seasons worth of at bats again, due to injury and part time roles. In 2005, he did show up with an amazing 30 homers and 87 RBI in just 393 plate appearances. He is currently the executive director of the players association.
Roger Clemens (Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros)
Career stats: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 strikeouts, 118 Complete Games, 4,916.2 IP, seven-time Cy Young winner
The 11-time all-star and 1986 MVP is without a doubt one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Like Bonds, his personal choices are standing in the way of his Hall of Fame status. This is his third time on the ballot and last year he netted 35.4 percent of the vote. His status will remained handcuffed with Bonds.
Carlos Delgado (Blue Jays, Marlins, Mets)
Career stats: .280/.383/.546, 473 HR, 1,512 RBI
Between 1996 and 2008, Delgado never hit less than 24 home runs in a season and 11 of those 13 years he was over 30 including three seasons over 40. In 2000, he played in all 162 games, hit .344/.470/.664 with 57 doubles, 41 and 137 RBI. He hit some serious moonshots in his time and is one of my personal favorites.
Career stats: .278/.338/.488, 325 HR, 1,072 RBI
JD had 10 seasons with 20 or more homers. He was the MVP of the 2005 World Series for the White Sox. He followed that up with his finest year in 2006 when he hit .315/.385/.622 with 44 homers and 120 RBI. Another one of my personal favorites and one of the best pickups that Kenny Williams ever made.
Darin Erstad (Angels, White Sox, Astros)
Career stats: .282/.336/.407, 124 HR, 699 RBI
Erstad had a monster season in 2000 when he hit .355/.409/.541 with 240 hits, 25 homers and 100 RBI. He went on to fool managers and GM's for the next nine unremarkable years of his career. He's not one of my personal favorites.
Career stats: .278/.358/.482, 233 HR, 865 RBI
Cliff Floyd had all the talent in the world, but some of it got taken from him when he suffered a devastating injury in 1995 when he shattered his wrist and needed eight screws to repair it. The native of the South Side finally got back on track in 1998 with the Marlins and in 2001 he had his best season. He hit .317/.390/.578 with 31 homers and 103 RBI. His career was injury riddled but every once in a while you'd see that "Willie McCovey promise" he had when the Expos drafted him.
Nomar Garciaparra (Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Athletics)
Career stats: .313/.361/.521, 229 HR, 936 RBI
One of the big three shortstops to come up in the American League in the mid 1990's along with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, Garciaparra was supposed to be one of the next big stars in the Majors. It definitely started out that way. Garciaparra was a hitting machine. In the six seasons he was able to play more than 125 games, Garciaparra hit .300 in every one of them. He also hit at least 21 home runs in all of those six seasons, including 35 in 1998. Unfortunately, after 2003, he was never able to stay healthy and one of the brightest young stars faded. Stops on the North Side, LA and Oakland couldn't revive the one time next big thing. In his prime though, he was one of the best players in the league. I liked him better than both Jeter and Rodriguez when he was healthy. He'll probably get enough votes to stay around like Don Mattingly. Maybe? I don't know. He should.
Brian Giles (Indians, Pirates, Padres)
Career stats: .291/.400/.502, 287 HR, 1,078 RBI
Giles is a two-time all-star and to be honest, I had to do a double-take at his line to see if it was correct. Apparently, he was a lot better than i thought he was. Between 1999 and 2002 for the Pirates, he never hit less than 35 home runs. I don't remember any of it. Maybe some voters do. I do remember him being a decent hitter on the Padres, but nothing special.
Tom Gordon (Royals, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, White Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Diamondbacks)
Career stats: 138-126, 3.96 ERA, 158 Saves, 1,928 strikeouts, 2,108 IP
The Flash started out his career as a starter with the Royals and was 2nd in the ROY voting in 1989 as a 21 year old, one spot ahead of Ken Griffey Jr. He was 79-71 as a starter for the Royals, having more good years than bad over that time before signing with the Red Sox. He was terrible in his one full season as a starter there with an ERA of 5.59 in 1996. They converted him to the bullpen sometime in 1997 and he led the league in saves with 46 in 1998. After missing much of the 1999 and all of the 2000 season with injuries, he found his way back in the majors with the Cubs in 2001. He then spent the next nine seasons of his career finding success in various roles in the bullpen of many organizations, including a stop with the White Sox in 2003 where he was 7-6 with 12 saves and a 3.16 ERA.
Career stats: 46-61, 4.31 ERA, 187 saves
Everyday Eddie spent his first 11 seasons in the league with the Twins, despite never being really good until the ninth year when he posted an ERA of 3.51 in 2001. In 2002, they made him the closer and he thrived the next two seasons with 86 saves including a league leading 45 in 2002. He left for the Mariners and had two productive seasons out of their pen before bouncing around at the end of his career.
Randy Johnson (Expos, Mariners, Astros, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Giants)
Career stats: 303-166, 3.29 ERA, 4,875 strikeouts, 4,135.1 IP
The Big Unit is the latest person to join the 300 Win Club, when he did so on June 4th of 2009 and he is quite possibly going to be the last member of that club. Johnson came up with the Expos as a lefty flame thrower who couldn't find the plate. They traded him to Seattle for the more established Mark Langston in 1989. The Mariners lived through some growing pains with Johnson, as he led the league in walks every season from 1990-1992. In 1993, it all clicked. Johnson won 19 games and struck out 308 batters that season, while significantly reducing his walks. He was dominant from then on. In 1995, he went 18-2 and won his first Cy Young. In 1997, he won 20 games for the first time. In 1998, as a 34 year old, Johnson was traded midseason to the Astros. After arriving in Houston, he went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA as the Astros won the NL Central. He moved to Arizona as a free agent after the season and won four Cy Young's in a row. He led the league in strikeouts all four of the seasons, won 20 games twice and led the Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Championship. In 2005, he signed with the Yankees and won 34 games over two seasons before returning to Arizona and finally finishing in San Francisco in 2009 at the age of 45. He went 8-6 that last season, to give him 303 career wins.
Jeff Kent (Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Giants, Astros, Dodgers)
Career stats: .290/.356/.500, 377 HR, 1,518 RBI
Kent is the all-time leading home run hitter as a second baseman. Between 1997 and 2005, he hit at least 22 home runs every season and knocked in over 100 RBI's every year but one. He was the MVP in 2000 when he hit .334/.424/.596 with 33 homers and 125 RBI for the Giants. Last season, he got 15.2 percent of the vote. This is his second year of eligibility.
Edgar Martinez (Mariners)
Career stats: .312/.418/.515, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI
The seven-time all-star is on the ballot for the sixth time. His high point was 36.5 percent in 2012, but last year saw him fall to his low at 25.2 percent. He is a victim of the ballot crowding. He was a dominant hitter during his prime, but he also was a DH and didn't reach any huge milestone numbers. Make the call.
Pedro Martinez (Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets, Phillies)
Career stats: 219-100, 2.93 ERA, 3,154 strikeouts, 2,827.1 IP
Martinez doesn't have the career stats that last years inductees Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, or Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina on this years ballot. However, a case could be made that during his time Martinez was more dominant than all of them. He started out in LA in the bullpen because they didn't think his small frame could handle starting. They traded him to the Expos for Delino DeShields prior to the 1994 season. The Expos inserted him as a starter and didn't look back. He went 55-33 in his four seasons as an Expos starter, including winning the Cy Young award in 1997 when he went 17-8 with a 1.90 ERA. After that season, he signed with the Red Sox and went 19-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 1998. Then he took it to a whole new level in 1999 when he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA as he won his second Cy Young award. In 2000, he may have had the greatest season ever for a pitcher. Martinez went 18-6 with a 1.74 ERA. That season, the second place finisher in ERA in the AL was Roger Clemens at 3.70, more than double that of Martinez. His WHIP was an incredible 0.737. After an injury in 2001, he was 20-4 with a league leading 2.26 ERA in 2002. He was 14-4 with a league leading 2.22 ERA in 2003. In 2004, he was 16-9 as the Red Sox finally won the World Series. He then jumped to the Mets, where age caught up to him. He was 32-23 over four seasons with the Mets before closing out his career with the Phillies in 2009.
Don Mattingly (Yankees)
Career stats: .307/.358/.471, 222 HR, 1,099 RBI
The six-time all-star and 1985 American League MVP is on the ballot for the 15th and final time. He maxed out in his first year at 28.2 percent in 2001 and last year fell to his lowest point at 8.2 percent. He was a Hall of Fame talent, but back injuries robbed him of his dominance. Instead of being one of the very best, he was lowered to just good. But back in the mid-80's there was no doubt that Mattingly was the very best. Hearing his name used to scare a six year old KenWo.
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 eligible for the sixth time. He maxed out at 23.9 percent in 2012, but suffered from the stacked ballot last year and dropped to 11.7 percent. Speaking of guys that used to scare a young KenWo, McGriff with his helicopter type swing and massive power did just that. He hit at least 30 home runs in 10 seasons. He fell just seven home runs shy of 500.
Mark McGwire (Athletics, Cardinals)
Career stats: .263/.394/.588, 583 HR, 1,414 RBI
The twelve-time all-star and first player to ever hit 70 home runs in a single season is on the ballot for the ninth time. He maxed out at 23.7 in 2010 and fell to a low of 11 percent last year. McGwire was a remarkable power hitter, who would be in if not for his personal choices. If you are willing to look past that, you are probably going to give the votes to Clemens and Bonds instead, hence the drop in McGwire's votes last year. Will he stay on the ballot?
Mike Mussina (Orioles, Yankees)
Career stats: 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 2,813 strikeouts, 3,562.2 IP
Talk about bad timing. Mussina is making his second trip to the ballot. Last year he received 20.3 percent of the vote when Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, two 300 game winners, were eligible. Now that Maddux and Glavine are off the ballot, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez are on. That is four of the best pitchers in the last 40 years hitting the ballot at the same time as Mussina, who was no joke in his own right. Mussina made his debut in 1991. From 1992 until the end of his career in 2008, he won at least 11 games in every season, including his league leading 19 in 1995. He reached the ever elusive 20 win mark in 2008, his final season. He fell just 30 wins short of 300. Mussina spent his entire career in the offensive era in the AL East, one of baseball's toughest divisions. I think he eventually makes it. Will it be 2015?
Troy Percival (Angels, Tigers, Cardinals, Rays)
Career stats: 35-43, 3.17 ERA, 358 saves
Percival was one of the better closers during his time. He saved 42 in 1998 for the Angels and recorded at least 27 saves every year from 1996-2004. He saved 28 games for the Rays in 2008. Hawk described him as looking like he had some "bad sausage", which I enjoyed.
Mike Piazza (Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres, Athletics)
Career stats: .308/.377/.545, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI, 2,127 hits
Piazza is on the ballot for the third time. He received 62.2 percent of the vote last year, which was up from his debut of 57.8 in 2013. I had Piazza's Bowman rookie card, so I always rooted for him. He is the greatest hitting catcher of all time and deserves to be a Hall of Famer. Is this the year? Make the call.
Tim Raines (Expos, White Sox, Yankees, Athletics, Orioles, Marlins)
Career stats: .294/.385/.425, 170 HR, 980 RBI, 2,605 hits, 808 SB
The Rock is making his eighth appearance on the ballot. He maxed out in 2013 at 52.2 percent, but fell to 46.1 percent last year. He was one of the very best players in baseball for seven seasons. A very good regular for eight more and then a solid bench player for the remainder of his career. I'm not sure what people are looking at, but the Rock deserves the call. So if you don't think the Rock is a Hall of Famer, you can take your mouse, turn that sombitch sideways and stick it straight up your candy ass! If ya smelllllll what the Rock is cooking.
Curt Schilling (Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox)
Career stas: 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3,116 strikeouts, 3,261 IP
Schilling is on the ballot for the third time. He netted 38.8 percent of the vote in his first appearance in 2013, but fell to 29.2 percent last year. He is suffering from the same timing issue as Mike Mussina. The two were great pitchers, but probably not as great as two (three if you count Clemens) other pitchers on the ballot. Schilling is one of the very best postseason pitchers as he went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in October. If he went in with Randy Johnson, there would be a huge Phoenix contingent in the crowd in Cooperstown as the two formed one of the most dynamic starting duo's ever for the Diamondbacks in the early 00's. I think he eventually gets in.
Jason Schmidt (Braves, Giants, Pirates, Dodgers)
Career stats: 130-96, 3.96 ERA, 1,758 strikeouts, 1996.1 IP
Schmidt was decent and had a nice long career, but we're talking about Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and John Smoltz here. Schmidt's own mother wouldn't even vote for him.
Gary Sheffield (Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers, Mets)
Career stats: .292/.393/.514, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI, 253 SB
I like violent swings. Gary Sheffield probably had the most violent swing of all. When I'd make KenWo on MVP Baseball, I'd give him Sheffield's swing. So needless to say, I'll be voting for Gary this year. Fourteen seasons of 20+ home runs. Eight seasons of over 100 RBI. Nine seasons over a .300 average. Sheffield was a nine-time all-star and a dominant force in any lineup he was a part of.
Lee Smith (Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Reds, Expos)
Career stats: 478 saves, 71-92, 3.03 ERA
Lee Smith is on the ballot for the 13th time. His high point came in 2012 when he hit 50.6 percent of the ballots. Last year he fell all the way down to 29.9 percent. His 478 saves were the most ever when he retired. The seven-time all-star led the league in saves four times and helped reinvent the closing role. If Smith doesn't make the Hall of Fame, no other closer besides Mariano Rivera should make it.
John Smoltz (Braves, Red Sox, Cardinals)
Career stats: 213-155, 3.33 ERA, 154 saves, 3,084 strikeouts, 3,473 innings
The first two members of the big three of the Braves made the Hall last year. Smoltz could have possibly went in with them if he didn't stick around to throw 78 innings between the Red Sox and Cardinals in 2009. Smoltz is not the slam dunk candidate that Maddux and Glavine were, but he was very good and better than the other two in the postseason. Since the Braves were in the postseason pretty much every year, he had a lot of opportunities. Smoltz went 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 209 October innings. After an injury kept him out of the entire 2000 season, Smoltz came back as a reliever. In 2002, he had 55 saves. In 2005, he jumped back into the starters role and again excelled. He led the NL in victories with 16 in 2006. It's going to be a tough call this year. Does Smoltz make your ballot?
Sammy Sosa (Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles)
Career stats: .273/.344/.534, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 2,408 hits, 234 SB
This is Sammy's third time on the ballot. I'm hoping it isn't three strikes and you're out for Sammy, but it is looking that way. He got 12.5 percent his first year and fell to 7.2 percent last year. 11 seasons of 30+ homers. Three seasons over 60. Played a huge part in bringing fans back to baseball as the fun loving slugger for the North Siders. I always liked Sosa since his days on the White Sox, but I fear I'm going down with the ship.
Alan Trammell (Tigers)
Career stats: .285/.352/.415, 185 HR, 1,003 RBI, 2,365 hits, 236 SB
This is the fourteenth time for Alan Trammell, so at least he's had time unlike his longtime teammate Lou Whitaker who was booted in his first year of eligibility in the biggest error of the writers ever, but thats a story for another day. Trammell was a better ballplayer than Ozzie Smith, but he didn't do the fancy backflips. Maybe if he did he would have been a first ballot guy like the Wizard. He also wasn't as good as Cal Ripken, but nobody was. Trammell was a steady, star player for the Tigers and should be a Hall of Famer. It's a shame he maxed out at just 36.8 percent in 2012 and fell to 20.8 last year.
Larry Walker (Expos, Rockies, Cardinals)
Career stats: .313/.400/.565, 383 HR, 1,311 RBI, 2,160 hits, 230 SB
It is the fifth time through the system for Walker. He maxed out in 2012 with 22.9 percent. Last season he dipped to 10.2 percent. The more crowded the ballot gets, the more difficult it will be for Walker to stay on. He was a three-time batting champion and hit 49 homers in 1997.
There you have it for this year's ballot. It's a tough one. I'm sure most people will list Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez and Craig Biggio will probably get in, but I'm not sure the other very viable candidates will gain any traction. Maybe next year, when Ken Griffey Jr is the only huge newcomer there will be some moves made by the other guys. Hopefully they stay on the ballot that long.