My Hall of Fame ballot: My luck, my shame, my thoughts, my WIDVORT - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

My Hall of Fame ballot: My luck, my shame, my thoughts, my WIDVORT

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

I’ve got to admit I’ve been pretty fortunate these past few months. Twice, I have placed myself in the crosshairs of the intense, unflappable and infallible Sabermetric community with my votes, and twice I have dodged the stat-laced bullets.

Let me simply say this to my fellow writers: Thank you for not being as feeble-minded, as old-school idiotic, as I am. God bless you. Everyone.

So, here’s the deal: In October, I voted Boston’s Mookie Betts ahead of Los Angeles’ Mike Trout in the AL MVP race. Luckily, Trout won, so the SABR mob’s sabers were temporarily put away. I voted the way I did because I still believe performing at an elite level in a pennant race should at least be part of the consideration when declaring “most valuable.”

Trout is baseball’s best player; Betts, in my opinion, was most valuable in 2016. And, let’s not forget, he had a tremendous year. Luckily, the other voters saved me from my own small-mindedness and made baseball great again with the Trout decision. So, I wasn’t even verbally flogged for my indiscretion. Didn’t hear a peep.

The BBWAA came through to save my moronic soul again Wednesday when the results of the 2017 Hall of Fame class were announced and Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (pictured above) made the cut.

I voted for Bagwell and Rodriguez and eight others – the maximum 10 allowed by the current rules. Raines, the darling of progressive thinkers, analytical geniuses and non-morons everywhere, was left off my ballot.

It wasn’t a protest. It wasn’t attention-getting. It wasn’t supposed to be just another example of my vast ineptitude as a writer, a thinker, a human being.

ADVERTISEMENT

I just didn’t believe he was one of the 10 best candidates on a ridiculously stuffed ballot. If I had 12 spots, Raines probably would have been included on my final ballot (if I had 11, though, he still likely would have been left off). But I had 10. That’s a stat I must embrace.

Frankly, Raines was one of two players I seriously contemplated choosing this year whom I never considered a Hall of Famer while they were playing. Larry Walker is the other one – and Walker ended up on my submitted ballot.

It’s probably unfair that those two had to deal with such an obstacle, that they had to prove themselves a little more to me than the other candidates I considered. But this is a personal decision, and I’m allowed to have my own opinions. So long as I ultimately give those opinions a cool acronym.

So, here’s my brief WIDVORT (Why I Didn’t Vote Raines, Tim): I was bothered by the fact Raines played more than 115 games in a season just once in his final nine years. That he never had a WAR above 1.8 from 1994 until he retired in 2002, basically suggesting he was close to replacement level for a chunk of his career. That his best years were phenomenal, other-worldly, but much of his career was just solid to unspectacular.

I was bothered that, despite being considered the second-best leadoff hitter of all-time, he only batted leadoff in 63 percent of his starts (Rickey Henderson, the greatest leadoff hitter of all-time, batted atop his order 99.5 percent of the time; Lou Brock, 77 percent).

I was bothered that Raines never truly stood out as a defender, despite that blazing speed. And, given that Raines was on my Hall bubble, I was bothered some by his admittance that he used cocaine during games and carried it with him on the field. I can’t say that was a huge factor, but it was a mark on the wrong side of the ledger as I contemplated and compared.

None of this matters, though. Raines was an excellent player, one of baseball’s greatest baserunners who was a superstar for several seasons and is going into the Hall of Fame in his last chance on the writers’ ballot. I’m exceptionally happy for Raines, someone I covered for four games as an Oriole in 2001 (he was seemingly a good guy during that blink of an interaction).

I’m also happy for myself. I’m glad I didn’t cost Raines a spot in Cooperstown. That would have stunk. Because I do believe he has a legitimate argument; I just didn’t think his candidacy was as strong as 10 (or 11) others.

For the record, I didn’t avoid making my ballot public until the Raines storm passed. I was going to reveal it no matter what. The reason I waited until today is because I wanted to defer to the Hall to announce first. Many of my fellow writers chose to reveal their ballots earlier. That’s their prerogative, and I’m OK with that, too.

See, I’m pretty agreeable for a waste of human tissue (My WOHT is a perfect 1.000).

Here are the 10 candidates I voted for, with a quick comment on each:

Jeff Bagwell: He was a complete player, and I’m not getting caught up in whispers or trying to play judge, jury or detective. I don’t think it should have taken Bagwell this long to make it into the Hall based on his credentials. I’ve voted for him whenever possible.

Barry Bonds: Here’s what I do with the Steroid Era and Hall of Fame consideration. I lessen the power totals (home runs for hitters; strikeouts for pitchers, for instance) and look at the player’s overall talent and success. To me, Bonds was the best all-around position player I’ve ever witnessed as a professional writer. I get the “cheating” argument. I still vote for him.

Roger Clemens: Same as Bonds. He was the best in the game for a long, long time. I can’t erase that because he used performance-enhancing drugs. I don’t have to like the Bonds and Clemens choices, but I can’t justify keeping them out. Because they were so incredibly dominant.

Vladimir Guerrero: I debated this one some. But, again, it comes down to all-around talent and success. He was one of the game’s most feared hitters and strong-armed right fielders for what seemed like an eternity, though he retired – as an Oriole – at 36.

Trevor Hoffman: This is a vote that will get criticized by some. But he had one job to do – as defined by the way the game has evolved – and he did it as well as anyone not named Rivera.

Edgar Martinez: The DH is a position, according to the American League rules, which I didn’t write. Martinez was a hitting machine. I’ve never wavered on this one.

Mike Mussina: He gets docked because he was never the most dominant pitcher in his era. But he was so consistently good for 18 seasons in the barfight that is the American League East.

Ivan Rodriguez: The guy was a tremendous all-around player and arguably the best defensive catcher I’ve ever covered. And his teammates, including pitchers, will say he made them better.

Curt Schilling: I’m not asking him to teach a journalism class, I’m assessing his career as a pitcher. And it was splendid. He was dominant at times and excelled on the big stage.

Larry Walker: This one caught me by surprise when I first viewed his candidacy. Yes, Coors Field helped him. But the .313/.400/.565 career slash line in 17 seasons, the tremendous defense and the impressive consistency won me over – no matter where he played.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. OsFanStuckInNY

    January 19, 2017 at 8:54 am

    I won’t pick on you for any of your choices or take issue with your reasoning. Well done!

    As for Mussina — that’s a tough one. I suspect he will eventually get in, even though, in my opinion, he is a clear cut below Palmer, not to mention Maddux and Glavine. The HOF shouldn’t be admitting people who were “better than most,” in my opinion, which is where Mussina fits. What would Palmer’s stats (and no doubt longer career) be like if he was limited in pitch count and yanked before a CG the vast majority of the time? (Yeah, good luck with that, Earl.) The fact that today’s pitchers throw 2/3 the innings per season and rarely finish what they start takes them down a notch, in my opinion. Blaming it on changes in the game aren’t enough. I think the starting pitching talent has diminished in the 55 years I’ve been an avid fan of the game, and the scarcity of starters selected to the HOF in the past 20 years reflects that.
    Mussina was clearly an outstanding pitcher, never THE pitcher.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 19, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      I don’t disagree with the assessment of how the pitching game has changed, but I try not to compare players of different eras — at least in the Hall voting exercise. There are plenty of good ways to compare those of a similar era, however. And Mussina fares favorably in those.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 19, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Dan, after reading your analysis … I’m ashamed that I included Tim Raines in yesterday’s Tap-In.

    While he was always one of my favorite speed guys, I too soon forget that he was year in and year out, a 3 to 4 defender with a sorry +2 to +4 arm, thus relegating him more often than not, to DH duties in my Strat-O-Matic lineup.

    What was I thinking?

    • Dan Connolly

      January 19, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      There’s a lot of checks for him on the positive side, too. Basestealing is a lost art and he was one of the best ever with that skill. And that means something. Again, I’m not opposed to Raines being in the Hall; I just thought there were 10 better options.

  3. Sjcolmus

    January 19, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Love it! Guess who has the 24th highest all-time WAR for a pitcher, ahead of Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling, Tom Glavine and Cakes Palmer??

    Mike Mussina

    Dude really doesn’t get enough love for his yeoman’s work during an era where a 3.50 ERA was a minor miracle.

    • John in Cincy

      January 19, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Good for finding an obscure, but important fact. Moose was incredibly consistent & there isn’t one solid reason he shouldn’t be in the Hall.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 19, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      I think Moose and Edgar become the next pet projects for some voters now that Raines is in

      • John in Cincy

        January 20, 2017 at 12:15 am

        Two that are really deserving.

        Martinez had an impressive .312/.418/.515 career slash line that’s better than most players’ best seasons. Award named after him (while he was still playing!) & was spoken of in awe by HoF pitchers like Pedro, Rivera & Randy Johnson>

        The two knocks on him are that he was mainly a DH, which strikes me as biased, and not reaching 3000 hits. In six of his 18 seasons he played under 100 games, which I guessing was principally the result of injuries, so how can that be held against him?

  4. John in Cincy

    January 19, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Dan, I agree with your picks, tho I think just as strong a case might be made for Raines. Like you say, a lot of worthy candidates and just so many votes to spread around.

    My main comment revolves around Bonds & Clemens, the two big eyebrow raisers. Your way of deducting from their stat sheets–imprecise, but helpful–make some sense. I can understand some writers voting against them based on the PEDs, but they both were on Hall of Fame trajectories before they’d ever taken them (presuming they did).

    I’d like to get your take on a comment made on MLB.com when I was binge watching HoF coverage. Someone (and I apologize for not recalling who it was), said he’d never vote in either one of them, not entirely because they were presumably users, but because they lied about it, and he though that was enough for them to fail the character clause. Have you heard anyone argue from that angle before?

    Two quick takes: Dan Duquette’s failure to resign Clemens, after which the right hander went on to win additional Cy Young Awards in Toronto & New York, probably hugely contributed to him losing him his GM job in Boston.

    Will Andy Pettitte, who admitted using, ever get in the Hall? His stats are close to good enough.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 19, 2017 at 11:00 pm

      I have heard the lie argument. And I guess that speaks to the character clause. But I’m not sure I buy that doing and lying about doing have a line in the sand drawn between them. I think most — probably all of us — see them as connected. I mean, every user denied at some point.

      • John in Cincy

        January 20, 2017 at 12:06 am

        True. And what about all the times that a user at the plate faced one on the mound? Kind of a PED Mexican standoff scenario that had to have happened hundreds of times.

        One of the analysts I heard said if Bonds & Clemens get in, then how can Sosa be kept out–to whom I’d add Palmeiro & McGuire (the latter two now would need to get in through the Veterans Committee). Of course, with Sammy, there’s also the corked bats issue.

        This on Raffy: http://calltothepen.com/2017/01/19/hall-fame-rafael-palmeiro-deserves-second-look/

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          January 20, 2017 at 9:20 am

          JIC … IMO … Palmiero does not deserve HOF credentials. Not because of the PEDs, not because he’s an infamous liar, but because he simply wasn’t a good enough player. I know, I know, the numbers say otherwise, but the numbers may need to be re-calibrated in this day and age.

          Here’s my argument against Raffy. Show me a year, just ONE year where Raffy Palmiermo was the best 1st baseman in his league. NOT all of baseball mind you, but just his league. The guy was very good, and extremely consistent over a long period of time (*cough PEDs *cough), but he was NEVER the best 1st basemen around .. usually not even the 2nd best. To paraphrase Potter Stewart … “I may not know the definition of a HOF’er .. but I’ll know it when I see it”. Raffy was not it.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 20, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      It speaks to the old “brief dominance versus lasting consistency” argument that predates me as a Hall voter. I don’t have a preference. I’ve voted both sides of that aisle. As for Raffy, I can show you years where he was the best defensive 1B in his league. And that should mean something, along with the counting stats on offense. If, of course, you’re turning a blind eye in the failed test.

      • John in Cincy

        January 20, 2017 at 9:22 pm

        If sustained excellence is a sufficient litmus test (and for me it is–PED-related issues aside), then this isn’t even close. Raffy had ten seasons with over 100 RBI, four years he had 40+ homers and six more with 37+ HR.

        I submit it’s a pretty short list of players with comparable stats, and all of them likely are already in the Hall of Fame, save those with the PED taint or not yet eligible. How, I’d ask Boog, is that NOT Hall-worthy?

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          January 23, 2017 at 2:05 pm

          I already said why …. every year he played, I’d pick at least one AL 1st basemen that was better, most years I can pull 2 names that were better. And I’m not even looking into the NL lineups. How is 2nd or 3 best at your position a HOF’er?

          Only 4 times an All Star … never higher than 5th in MVP voting.

          The 1st half of his career nary a whiff of 40 homers. Not until he came to the cozy confines of OPACY and started juicing did he start hitting for power. Coincidence?

          • John in Cincy

            January 23, 2017 at 3:28 pm

            This exchange illustrates why different voters see things from different angles. Eddie Murray never won an MVP either, and his year to year numbers weren’t all that splashy; he just kept producing season after season, hence the “Steady Eddie” nickname. (Yes, he was better than Palmeiro, so don’t go there.)

            Raffy was similarly dependable. As for the argument that he didn’t hit 40 homers till he got to the Orioles and was juicing, I submit that there could have been other factors in play, with hits that were doubles in previous years (41 in 1988 & an AL-leading 49 on 1991), becoming homers as he matured and got stronger–much as is the case with Manny Machado.

            Regarding MVP balloting, you neglect to mention that there were 10 years he got votes, three times among the top ten vote-getters. He did, however, win The Sporting News’ Major League Player of the Year Award for 1999, so that’s something. If you want to look at the other first basemen of his era, you’ll have to admit there were many elite ones. Check out this list of the best of the time: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/170147-top-10-first-basemen-1980-present

            If you argue for a very small Hall membership, then I’d agree, he doesn’t make it, but he has better numbers than some that are already in it. And please note in this regard that we’ve–mainly you–focused on individual seasons, not career marks. When you look at lifetime stats (just a few here), Palmeiro’s status among the greats is enhanced: 569 HR (13th most all-time), 1835 RBI (16th), 1663 Runs Scored (33rd), 3020 Hits (27th), 4460 Times on Base (20th), 1192 Extra Base Hits (8th), 585 Doubles (20th), 2040 Runs Created (18th) & 119 Sacrifice Flies (8th). Those are pretty impressive numbers. Also, without getting much into fielding, his career .994 Fielding Percentage is the 41st best ever.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          January 24, 2017 at 3:29 pm

          You make good points all. But the one thing I’m still going to take exception with is the comparison to gaining strength to Manny Machado. True, while Manny has shown a power increase in his short career, Raffy didn’t show that 30+ power jump until his 8th year in the league, which “coincidentally” was around the time of the PED scandals. Specifically Jose Canseco and company in Texas. The very next year, he joined PED central .. the Orioles. The homers escalated from there.

          And in the same vein of thought, you mention his ‘sustained excellence’. Knowing what we know now, how does someone manage to ‘sustain’ such excellence into the twilight years of one’s athletic career? Specifically until he was 41? ‘Roids. Plain and simple. The guy was dirty as dirty can be. And there IS a character clause in the guidelines for HOF consideration.

          He was a super cheat. He cheated the other players in the game, he cheated father time and he cheated the fans.

          I understand your arguments. It’s all about the numbers for some. For me … it’s not .. and the numbers need to be recalibrated. 400 Homers isn’t what it used to be.

          • John in Cincy

            January 25, 2017 at 2:17 pm

            Palmeiro’s career arc is tragic, whether he did or didn’t use. He was, by all accounts, a great teammate. I agree that the power boost looks suspicious. But was he a “super cheat”, as you put it? I’m not saying yea or nay, just considering the pros and cons.

            Against him are the following

            * Canseco’s allegation in “Juiced” evidence
            * The sudden boost that coincided with Canseco
            * The failed drug test

            For him are the following:

            * denial of Canseco claim
            * his testimony in Congress
            * the failure of his physique to balloon up, unlike Bond’s bobble-head look, Sosa’s overall massiveness and McGuire as lumberjack on…well, lumberjack on PEDs lol
            * passing a polygraph test concerning steroid use

            Incidentally, when asked to explain where the power boost came from, Palmeiro said it was his taking a different approach at the plate–previously, he hit to all fields more, but the went to consciously trying to pull pitches.

            Another interesting stat: Raffy is one of only five players in MLB history to collect over 3000 hits and 500 homers in the course of his career, the others being Aaron, A-Rod, Mays & Murray (surprisingly, Bonds fell 65 hits short).

  5. Wade Warren

    January 24, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    hey Dan sure wish we could have a discussion over this with a few beers. sure would like some guidance from you on this. I fell out with Roch over this just didn’t like what went down with Raffy when others were more guity than him. hopefully we can have a sit down before season starts

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

To Top