Happy New Year! To start the new year properly though, we must look to the past. It is time for our annual Interactive Hall of Fame Ballot, where you, the readers, get a chance to vote on whom you believe should be standing on stage at Cooperstown come Induction Day. There are 32 candidates and 32 career to pick apart. Ken Griffey Jr. leads the way for the first-timers, and there are some holdovers on the cusp of immortality.
The baseball writers only get to vote for 10 guys, so we will also have that limitation. We will have the same exact ballot as the writers to give this the most authentic feel, so if Tim Raines is voted in yet again, so be it.
Here are the guidelines:
- Only vote one time. Multiple votes will be tossed.
- Only vote for 10 candidates. A vote of 11 will be tossed.
- If you don't think anyone should be in, first go slap yourself and then choose "none" so your vote can be counted appropriately.
- Voting will stop on January 5th at approximately 8 p.m., so I have enough time to write up the results before the Hall announcement the next day.
Career stats: .293/.324/.461, 287 HR, 1,365 RBI
Anderson was a guy I liked because on his best days, if you squinted a little bit, you could almost see Harold Baines. Anderson also put on a show at the 2003 All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field when he won the Home Run Derby and was the MVP of the All-Star Game. He led the league in doubles with 56 in 2002 and 49 in 2003. He hit a career-best 35 homers in 2000 and topped 20 five times. He hit .300 six times. He was a three-time All-Star and part of the World Series champions in 2002 with the Angels. While he was a very good player, if Harold Baines couldn't get in, Anderson doesn't have a chance. I will remember him fondly, though.
Career stats: .251/.325/.344, 80 HR, 607 RBI
Ausmus played until he was 41 years old. He was an All-Star in 1999 with Detroit when he hit .275 with 9 homers. Maybe he has some kind of Tyler Flowers magical powers going on because other than those two things, I don't see a reason why he's on the Hall of Fame ballot. He is a handsome fellow and he was the starting catcher on the Astros when the Sox beat them in 2005 World Series. So there is that.
Jeff Bagwell (Astros)
Career stats: .297/.408/.540, 449 HR, 1529 RBI, 202 SB
This is Bagwell's sixth time on the ballot. Last year, he recorded 55.7 percent of the vote. His high was 59.6 in 2013. Maybe with the relatively weak first-year class, Bagwell can make some hay this year. He was a Rookie of the Year, an MVP and part of the 2005 World Series-losing Astros. Most of his career was played in the Astrodome where he amassed pretty amazing numbers. He didn't make it to 500 homers and there is a bit of a cloud of PED usage with him amongst the voters. Those two factors are holding him back. Maybe with the change in the electorate we will see a rise in Bagwell's votes. He's a serious contender.
Career stats: .298/.444/.607, 762 HR, 1,996 RBI, 514 SB, 2,558 walks, 7 MVP's
I have voted for the PED guys in the past in these things. However, I am now of the mindset it is silly to not vote for these guys. The 1990s was a great era for baseball and Bonds was one of the greatest. He has been between 34.7 and 36.8 percent in the three years he's been on the ballot. I am hoping to see a big jump this year. It's time.
Career stats: .290/.368/.351, 28 HR, 443 RBI, 370 SB
Castillo was a three-time All-Star. He led the league in steals twice, with 62 in 2000 and 48 in 2002. He was a member of the World Champion Marlins in 2003. He has a career 28.9 bWAR, which makes for a fine career. However, larry compared Carlos Sanchez to a lesser version of him at one point. That is not a Hall of Famer.
Career stats: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 strikeouts, 118 Complete Games, 4,916.2 IP, 7 Cy Youngs, 1 MVP
Just like with Bonds, it is time for Clemens to get voted in. The guy dominated for years in an offensive era. He's been between 35.4 and 37.6 percent in his three years. I don't want to take my grandchildren to the Hall of Fame and not see the best players of my prime era not having a plaque.
Career stats: .280/.345/.355, 35 HR, 392 RBI, 123 SB
The two-time All-Star and 2006 World Series MVP had some incredible moments and got the most out of his talents. He was a grinder. He was scrappy. He was one of my least favorite players of all time. Nice knowing you David.
Career stats: .284/.376/.527, 393 HR, 1199 RBI
Edmonds won eight Gold Gloves, was an All-Star four times, Had six seasons of 30 or more home runs. He made some incredible highlight-reel plays. He played very well in the postseason. He has a career bWAR of 60.3. There is a very good case to be made for Edmonds. He was a very solid contributor after his prime was over. I will be interested in seeing where he ends up.
Nomar Garciaparra (Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Athletics)
Career stats: .313/.361/.521, 229 HR, 936 RBI
Nomar was one of the big three shortstops to come up in the AL in the mid 1990s along with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. He was one of the next big stars. In the six seasons he played 125 games, Garciaparra hit at least .300 with 21 homers in all of them. He was a six-time All-Star, a two-time batting champ (.357 in 1999 and .372 in 2000). Unfortunately, Garciaparra could not stay on the field after 2003. He had flashes of his former greatness in 2006, when he hit .303 with 20 homers for the Dodgers, but it was a far cry from what he was supposed to be. When I was in Boston in 1999, you would have thought he was Ted Williams' grandson. He had 5.5 percent of the vote last year and barely stayed on for a second time through. He'll have his supporters, but he's in jeopardy of falling off the ballot. What a shame.
Troy Glaus (Angels, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Braves)
Career stats: .254/.358/.489, 320 HR, 950 RBI
The four-time All-Star and 2000 home run champ (he hit 47 for the Angels) was a boatload of talent. He was the MVP of the 2002 World Series when he hit .385/.467/.846 with three homers versus the Giants. He had five seasons of 30 or more home runs, but injuries robbed him of even more production. He missed a lot of 2003 and most of 2004. He had a career bWAR of 37.9. Good player, but not a serious contender.
Career stats: .284/.370/.538, 630 HR, 1,836 RBI
The crown jewel of the class of 2016 is the Kid, Ken Griffey Jr. The 13-time All-Star, four-time home run champ and 1997 MVP was a joy to watch growing up. He had the sweetest swing I will ever see. He wore his cap backwards. He made highlight-reel catches. He made the Mariners cool for the first time in their existence. Griffey was a once-in-a-generation talent and I was blessed to see him on the ball field. After moving along to Cincinnati, he wasn't the player he was with the Mariners, but he could still do major damage. At the end of the line, he came over to the White Sox. I couldn't have been more thrilled. What an honor to see him in a White Sox jersey. He's a for-sure lock. The only question is if there is anybody silly enough to leave him off the board.
Career stats: .289/.332/.393, 90 HR, 640 RBI, 133 SB
What a letdown after Griffey. He was an Expo, so that is pretty cool. He hit a league-leading 54 doubles in 1997. He was an All-Star in 1996, when he was also a nice fantasy league pick-up as he hit .306 with 201 hits. Other than that, I don't care to think about him ever again. No chance.
Mike Hampton (Mariners, Astros, Mets, Rockies, Braves, Diamondbacks)
Career stats: 148-115, 4.06 ERA, 1,387 K's, 2,268.1 IP
Some would say that Mike Hampton was the worst free-agent signing in the history of baseball when the Rockies gave him an eight-year, $121 million deal in 2000. He ended up pitching in Colorado for two years and put up a 21-28 record with a 5.75 ERA before being traded to the Braves in a deal where the Rockies ate a lot of money. He did have his moments though, when he went 22-4 for the Astros in 1999 and finished second in the Cy Young balloting. No chance.
Trevor Hoffman (Marlins, Padres, Brewers)
Career stats: 601 saves, 2.87 ERA
Hoffman was a seven-time All-Star. He had some serious longevity in the closer role and amassed 601 saves, the second-most in MLB history. When Hell's Bells hit, you knew there was a slim chance that you were going to win. Hoffman is an interesting case. He has the career numbers. However, I'm not sure if he is viewed in the same class as some of the other relievers that have made it in already. Was he better than Lee Smith, who is in his 14th year on this ballot? I don't know. He will probably get the second-highest vote total of the new meat. However, I have a feeling I'll be writing about Hoffman for the next 10 years.
Jason Kendall (Pirates, Athletics, Cubs, Brewers, Royals)
Career stats: .288/.366/.378, 75 HR, 744 RBI, 189 SB
Kendall was a three-time All-Star for PIttsburgh and hit over .300 six times in his career. He has a career bWAR of 41.5. He is a far better candidate than Ausmus, but he's not a Hall of Famer. Jason had a good, long career though.
Jeff Kent (Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Giants, Astros, Dodgers)
Career stats: .290/.356/.500, 377 HR, 1518 RBI
Kent's numbers as a second baseman are off the charts. He smashes Ryne Sandberg. He was the 2000 MVP when he hit .334/.424/.596 with 33 bombs and 125 RBIs. Between 1997 and 2005, Kent hit at least 22 homers and knocked in 100 RBIs every year but one. I have to think that one of the reasons he isn't in yet is the fact that he was a late bloomer. He didn't really get moving in a Hall of Fame direction until he was 29 years old, and even then he was overshadowed by Bonds. This is his third time on the ballot. He dropped from 15.2 percent to 14 percent last year.
Mike Lowell (Yankees, Marlins, Red Sox)
Career stats: .279/.342/.464, 223 HR, 952 RBI
The four-time All-Star was a solid player for Florida and Boston as those teams won the World Series in his tenure there. He was the MVP of the 2007 Series when he hit .400/.500/.800 as the Red Sox made quick work of the Rockies. However, I watched MLB Network's Hall of Fame show the other night and Lowell was a panelist. He wrote himself off very quickly. So I'll follow his lead.
Edgar Martinez (Mariners)
Career stats: .312/.418/.515, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI
Martinez was a seven-time All-Star, a two-time batting champion and the DH award is named after him (although that gets me mad because Harold Baines should've had that named after him first, but I digress). He definitely has the rate stats that you would like of a Hall of Famer. However, like Kent, he started on his Hall of Fame journey pretty late himself. He was 29 years old during his first breakout year and he suffered injuries the next two seasons. So he was 32 years old when he started dominating every year. He also played in the shadow of Griffey, ARod and The Big Unit. He's a good candidate. This is his seventh year on the ballot. He maxed out in 2012 at 36.5 percent and fell back to 27 percent last year.
Fred McGriff (Blue Jays, Padres, Braves, Devil Rays, Cubs, Dodgers)
Career stats: .284/.377/.509, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI
The Crime Dog enters his seventh year on the ballot as well. He maxed out at 23.9 percent in 2012. The guy was a beast, hitting at least 30 homers in ten seasons and at least 20 in five more. I don't understand what the voters' issue with him is. The guy crushed his entire career. He didn't have any ridiculously huge seasons, and if he did, they wouldn't vote for him because they'd think he was tainted. He played a good first base and was not a DH like Martinez. He was just a steady masher, but he didn't reach 500 homers so he doesn't get the vote? I don't get it. Get him in there people.
Mark McGwire (Athletics, Cardinals)
Career stats: .263/.394/.588, 583 HR, 1,414 RBI
Speaking of guys that put up ridiculously huge seasons but can't get in to the Hall due to a PED taint, Mark McGwire is on the ballot for the 10th and final time. I think the Hall issued rules to get these guys off quicker and McGwire will be the first to go. It was awesome watching this guy when he connected in Oakland and even more so in St. Louis when they ended up in Big Mac Land. The 12-time All-Star maxed out at 23.7 percent in 2010 and fell all the way down to 10 percent last year. It's now or never for Big Mac. I personally feel like if you aren't going to vote for him you should vote for McGriff. That hasn't happened yet, though.
Mike Mussina (Orioles, Yankees)
Career stats: 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 2,813 strikeouts, 3,562.2 IP
The five-time All-Star pitched his entire career in the vaunted AL East and ended up winning 270 games with a 3.68 ERA through the entire steroid era. Yet he doesn't make it in because he finished behind Roger Clemens every year, but Clemens doesn't make it in either because he was a steroid guy. Guys like Mussina and McGriff are being screwed by both the guys who refuse to vote for steroid guys and the guys who don't. He's another guy who should be getting way more votes than he does. Last year, he reached 24.6 percent, up from 20.3 percent in his first year.
Mike Piazza (Dodgers, Marlins, Mets, Padres, Oakland)
Career stats: .308/.377/.545, 427 HR, 1,335 RBI, 2,127 hits
Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher to ever play. His top four comps on baseball reference? Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk. He hasn't busted through yet, though, because he had back acne. When Piazza got all of one it was a tremendous sight. I have his 1992 Bowman card in a safe place. He should be a Hall of Famer. I didn't vote for him in the past. I will now.
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 says know your damn role and vote for him. This is his ninth time on the ballot. He maxed out last year at 55 percent and the early returns show that should be increasing this year. Will he jump 20 percent? I hope so. This guy was a great ballplayer. He wasn't Rickey Henderson, but nobody ever will be. Raines was in Tier 2 by himself. If he doesn't get in, no other speedy leadoff outfielder ever should.
Curt Schilling (Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox)
Career stats: 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3,116 strikeouts, 3,261 IP
The playoff hero is on the ballot for his fourth time. Last year, he had 39.2 percent of the vote, which represents his high-water mark. He was the World Series MVP in 2001 with Arizona, and he pitched heroically in 2004 as the Red Sox broke the curse. The moments are there. The rate numbers are there. The career numbers aren't as high as one might like, but he has a very solid case. Now that Maddux, Glavine, Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz are in, we will see if Schilling (and Mussina for that matter) make a jump.
Gary Sheffield (Brewers, Padres, Marlins, Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Tigers, Mets)
Career stats: .292/.393/.514, 509 HR, 1,676 RBI, 253 SB
I loved Gary Sheffield's stance and swing. So much so that the KenWo guy I created in 2003 MVP Baseball uses his stance. He had 14 seasons with at least 20 home runs. Nine with a batting average over .300. Eight with 100 RBIs. He was a nine-time All-Star and a force in any lineup. Last year he had 11.7 percent of the vote due to being connected to BALCO. I threw out those concerns for good this year. I'm voting for the Sheff.
Lee Smith (Cubs, Red Sox, Cardinals, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Reds, Expos)
Career stats: 478 saves, 71-92, 3.03 ERA
Big Lee is the last guy who is eligible to get 15 rounds on the ballot. This is Year 14 for him. He maxed out in 2012 with 50.6 percent of the vote, but was down to 30.2 percent last year. With Hoffman on the ballot, there probably won't be the support that Smith needs to make it all the way. It's a shame. Smith reinvented the closer's role. I have a hard time voting for any closer other than Mariano Rivera if Smith doesn't make it in.
Sammy Sosa (Rangers, White Sox, Cubs, Orioles)
Career stats: .273/.344/.534, 609 HR, 1,667 RBI, 2,408 hits, 234 SB
Sammy is on the ballot for the fourth time and is in danger of dropping off as he only netted 6.6 percent of the vote. He slugged 30+ homers 11 times. Three times he hit over 60. The guy was unbelievable. Plenty of players took steroids, very few came close to hitting and having an impact on the game like Sosa. Back in 1991, I wore 25 on my little league team because I liked Sosa on the Sox. I'm going down with the ship.
Mike Sweeney (Royals, Athletics, Mariners, Phillies)
Career stats: .297/.366/.486, 215 HR, 909 RBI
Sweeney was a five-time All-Star in the early 2000s for the Royals. During that time, he demolished White Sox pitching. He will not be getting my vote. Sweeney was a steady hitter for seven years, but always had injury problems. He knocked in an impressive 144 runs in 2000. This will be the last time I think of him until Hawk mentions all-time White Sox killers. Then I'll get mad.
Alan Trammell (Tigers)
Career stats: .285/.352/.415, 185 HR, 1,003 RBI, 2,365 hits, 236 SB
Alan Trammell has reached the end of the line in the Hall of Fame voting. He maxed out at 36.8 percent in 2012 and checked in at 25.1 percent last year. Unlike his former teammate Lou Whitaker, at least he had the time on the ballot. Like Sweet Lou, though, he hasn't gotten in which is a shame. Trammell played in the shadow of Cal Ripken and Ozzie Smith. He couldn't hit like Ripken. He couldn't field like Smith. He was, however, just as good as Barry Larkin who got voted in a couple of years ago. Trammell was a fine player with the stick or the leather. Maybe the Veterans Committee will serve him right one day.
Billy Wagner (Astros, Phillies, Mets, Red Sox, Braves)
Career stats: 422 saves, 2.31 ERA, 47-40, 1,196 K's, 903 IP
Wagner was another strong closer for a long time. He had an ERA over 2.85 only one time in his 16 years. He struck out a huge amount of the batters he faced. However, he doesn't have the numbers that Hoffman does. He isn't a revolutionary like Smith was and he isn't an all-time legend like Rivera was. I find it hard to see Wagner getting much support. He was great, though. I wish we had him.
Larry Walker (Expos, Rockies, Cardinals)
Career stats: .313/.400/.565, 383 HR, 1,311 RBI, 2,160 hits, 230 SB
It's the sixth time through for Walker, who maxed out in 2012 with 22.9 percent of the vote. Last year he was down to 11.8 percent, so it isn't looking good. The 1997 MVP was a three time batting champion, maxing out with a .379 average in 1999, when he won the triple-slash triple crown, also leading in OBP and slugging. He had an OPS over 1.000 six times. He gets held back due to injuries and the Coors Field factor, where his splits were through the roof compared to any other park in baseball.
Randy Winn (Devil Rays, Mariners, Giants, Yankees, Cardinals)
Career stats: .284/.343/.416, 110 HR, 662 RBI, 215 SB
He was an All-Star in 2002 and made $42 million in career earnings. I'm not sure why else he's on this list and Joe Crede wasn't last year.
That concludes our look at the candidates for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2016. It's a tricky year, as the voting base got chopped pretty significantly. All of the old guys that haven't covered the game in ten years were removed from the process, so you might see some movement for certain players.
I'm a big Hall guy and am not scared away from steroids. Therefore I will be maxing out my ballot. Here we go:
- Barry Bonds
- Roger Clemens
- Ken Griffey, Jr.
- Fred McGriff
- Mark McGwire
- Mike Piazza
- Tim Raines
- Gary Sheffield
- Sammy Sosa
- Alan Trammell
Griffey is the no-brainer here. Raines should've been in long ago. McGwire and Trammell get my vote on their final spin through. Sosa and Sheffield are my guys and also have remarkable numbers. McGriff was seven dingers short of 500. Bonds and Clemens were my generation's best. Piazza is the best offensive catcher ever.
Bagwell, Mussina and Schilling were in consideration, but I like McGriff better than Bagwell and always favor hitting over pitching, so there ya go. Enjoy! Cast your ballot here, and the results will be published the morning of the 6th!