My (Hypothetical) Hall of Fame Ballot for 2014

Later today, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) will announce their selections for the 2014 Hall of Fame class.  Every year, members of the BBWAA cast their vote for up to 10 players.  The players who receive 75% of the vote will be honored during an induction ceremony in Cooperstown, NY at the end of July.  Any player who receives less than 5% of the vote will be removed from the ballot.  Players who receive between 5% and 75% will remain on the ballot in future years, for no more than 15 years.

The ballot this year includes 38 names, and the complete list of eligible candidates can be found here.  Due to the stance that some members of the BBWAA have taken regarding steroids and other performance enhancing drugs over the past couple of years (anything from not voting at all to not voting for players who “look” like they were using PED’s), the ballot has become increasingly crowded with hall of fame worthy talent.  This year is arguably the first year in a long time (I’m being lazy and not looking up the other years) where there are substantially more than 10 players on the ballot who should be enshrined in Cooperstown on talent alone.

Earlier this week, ESPN Sweetspot Network Orioles blog, Camden Depot put together the hall of fame ballots from local Orioles’ blogger’s, in an effort to compare our votes to the overall voting of the BBWAA.  My votes can be found within that article (along with some analysis from Head Depot’er Jon Shepherd), and I highly suggest you head over there to read it, as the results and some of the votes are pretty interesting. With that in mind, I thought I would take a moment to explain my choices here on the Proving Ground.

Before I begin, I would like to mention that I do not believe that suspected or proven PED users should be excluded from the Hall of Fame.  In my opinion, the Hall of Fame is a museum, and a museum should tell the history of its subject matter, for better or worse.  Additionally, there were a lot of changes going on in baseball during the “steroid era” that contributed to the increase in offense, including two rounds of expansion (diluting the talent) and new ballparks (many of which benefitted offense).  Finally, the Hall of Fame already contains PED users.  Several Hall of Famers have admitted to using amphetamines and since steroids have been around since the 1930’s, so there’s a pretty good chance that someone already inducted has used them.  On to the picks, in no particular order.

1.  Barry Bonds

2.  Roger Clemens

3.  Greg Maddux

Hands down, these 3 are the best players of their generation.  There shouldn’t be any explanation needed here.

4.  Jeff Bagwell

5.  Frank Thomas

According to the JAWS system created by Jay Jaffe (explained here), both Bagwell and Thomas rank in the top 10 of all first baseman.  Their respective JAWS scores of 63.8 and 59.5 are both well ahead of that of the average Hall of Fame first basemen (54.0).  Bagwell’s career OPS+ of 149, and Thomas’ career OPS+ of 156 put them ahead of every Hall of Famer at their position except Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Roger Connor (Thomas has a higher OPS+ than Connor), Dan Brouthers, and Johnny Mize.  While Bagwell didn’t make it to that “magical” 500 HR mark, he was almost just as potent with the bat as Thomas, while also being a much better defender and baserunner, skills that allowed Bagwell to accumulate almost 6 more career WAR (according to Baseball-Reference) than Thomas.

5.  Alan Trammell

6.  Craig Biggio

Both of these players deserve to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, but my votes for them are more strategic, rather than based on them being part of the 10 best players on the ballot, though the strategy is different for each.  In Biggio’s case, the vote for him is to help ensure that he gets inducted in 2014, thus removing him from future ballots that will be just as (if not more) crowded than this year (Biggio received 68.2% of the vote in 2013, his first year on the ballot).  As for Trammell (who received 33.6% of the vote in 2013, his 13th year on the ballot), the vote is to make sure he stays on the ballot.  Trammell doesn’t have any of the “automatic” offensive stats to help his case (as opposed to Biggio’s 3,000+ career hits), but his JAWS score of 57.5 puts above the average score for Hall of Fame shortstops (54.7), and above the current JAWS score for Derek Jeter, who will most definitely be a member of the Hall of Fame.

8.  Tim Raines

I’m a Tim Raines fan.  One of the better arguments for his inclusion in Cooperstown has come from Michael Baumann of Sweetspot Network Phillies blog Crashburn Alley.  In his most recent “Crashbag”, he writes:

“You get two comps with pro-Raines people: Ricky Henderson and Tony Gwynn. I like the Gwynn one better, because he was a no-doubt Hall of Famer in a similar role to Raines. In 20 seasons, Gwynn had a career .388 OBP career 132 OPS+.  An easy Hall of Famer. Raines: .385 OBP, 123 career OPS+ in 23 seasons. So Gwynn was a little better with the bat. But the bat isn’t the only way you can create bases or outs. Raines, in his career, had 808 steals was caught 148 times, and grounded into 142 double plays. That’s 808 bases and 290 outs that aren’t accounted for by batting stats. Gwynn stole 315 bases, was caught 125 times, and grounded into 259 double plays: 315 more bases and 384 more outs. Since both Raines and Gwynn were kind of crappy defensive outfielders, that makes up for Gwynn’s greater power. So you get 68.9 career WAR/41.1 7yr-peak WAR/55.0 JAWS for Gwynn and 69.1 career WAR/42.2 7yr-peak WAR/55.6 JAWS for Raines. Those are extremely similar numbers. Taken holistically, there’s no way you can take Gwynn and not Raines.”

9.  Mike Mussina

10.  Curt Schilling

These last two picks came down to 3 pitchers, the two listed above and Tom Glavine.  While Glavine may be the only one of the three with more than 300 wins, you should know by now that pitcher wins don’t really mean that much to me.  Ultimately, I chose the two pitchers who I thought were the best.  All three have JAWS scores higher than the average starting pitcher in the Hall of Fame, with Mussina and Schilling slightly ahead of Glavine.  Additionally, both Schilling and Mussina had much better rate stats, each with a K% at least 5% higher than Glavine, with a subsequent BB%’s 2.7% lower.

So that’s my ballot for the 2014 Hall of Fame.  As stated earlier, 10 is the maximum number of selections a voter is given.  However, given an unlimited number of votes, I would have also included the following:

As for Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Fred McGriff, while great players, I’m leaning against their inclusion.  Feel free to leave comments if you think my list is brilliant or terrible, as it can be fun debating the merits of a Hall of Famer.

One Response to “My (Hypothetical) Hall of Fame Ballot for 2014”

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