Happy Hall of Fame day. Over on my personal blog, I wrote about why I care about the Hall and offer a half-hearted solution to the problem there seems to be with the ballots. The post was published over the weekend, so I wasn’t able to reference the ballots that have been released in the last couple of days.
That’s probably a good thing, because they’ve been batshit crazy.
The controversy is never going away, and that’s too bad. But I still enjoy a good (civil) Hall of Fame debate. I figured since the Royals have shut down operations, why not offer my picks if I was fortunate enough to have a ballot. It’s navel gazing, but what the hell else is there to discuss?
I’ve heard a lot over the last couple days where some writers like to ask something along the lines of, “When I saw this guy, did I think to myself, there goes a Hall of Famer?” It makes me think of Bagwell, because I’m pretty certain I never thought of him as a Hall of Famer when he was putting up monster numbers with the Astros. But what the hell does that matter? By the end of his career he had a .948 OPS, a 149 OPS+, close to a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio and finished with 449 home runs. Bagwell snuck up on you. Those are Hall of Fame numbers.
These two are a pair. They both used PEDs and they are both among the best to ever play the game. I’ve never gotten too wrapped up in the PED debate mainly because I figure a large percentage of players have done something meant to enhance performance at some point. Not painting with a broad brush because I don’t know and I don’t really care. It’s an era of the game that the commissioner’s office and the team’s allowed. Some players took advantage. The end.
Ken Griffey, Jr.
I get the backlash against closers. Seriously. I have a personalized pitchfork. However, like the DH, the closer role is very much a part of the game today. Wagner was one of the best. He has an 11.9 SO/9 and a 187 ERA+. While numbers are great when evaluating closers, one thing that I would look at is consistency. From the time he entered the league in 1996 until he retired, save for 2000, Wagner was among the top of the game.
I heard Marty Noble (a writer from New York who cast a ballot with only Griffey, Jr. And Jeff Kent checked) give an interview where he said he was “pretty sure” Piazza did PEDs given he had a ton of hair on his back and had mood swings. Noble just described nearly every blogger I’ve ever met. Piazza’s defense gets a bad rap, but he was adequate behind the plate, but his arm was below average. The bat played, though.
The feeling here is the Hall is a reflection of the game and it’s players. That means the DH is a legit position. Martinez was so good for so long with the bad, position is rendered irrelevant. He walked more than he whiffed, posted a 147 OPS+ and finished with .312/.418/.515. Even when you factor in his era, that’s damn impressive.
This duo strikes me as another pair where if you vote for one, you are obligated to cast a vote for the other. Schilling finished with a 3.46 ERA and 127 ERA+. Mussina had a 3.68 ERA and 123 ERA+. In their respective careers, Schilling had more notable postseason success, which while isn’t a requirement for my pseudo Hall vote, it’s certainly worth some bonus points. Mussina was simply a paragon of consistency and an exceptional defender.
I’ve been on the Raines bandwagon for quite some time. He presents an interesting litmus test for voters. He was amazing from his rookie season in ’81 until around ’87. He was really good in ’88 and ’89, but the decline had begun. By the time the ’90’s rolled around, he still had a couple of solid seasons but was past his prime. So do you go for the guy who was consistently great for the majority of his career? Or do you go for the guy who was all-world for the five to seven seasons that constituted his prime? For me, I’ll go for the all-world guy with the outstanding peak. That was Raines.
So you’ve read this far and are thinking, if he votes for Wagner, why not Hoffman? I would, but I’m at the 10 vote limit. Hoffman would get my vote next year for sure. Saves don’t matter to me since they are the ultimate gimmick stat, but like Wagner, he was damn consistent. I just liked Wagner’s ERA and strikeout totals enough to give him the edge. Wagner also had a better walk rate.
Larry Walker is another player I considered. Same for Alan Trammell. It’s a stacked ballot. It’s just too bad that there’s a voting limit.
As for former Royals, this ballot had three: Mike Sweeney, Mark Grudzielanek, and Jason Kendall. None of those guys will get the required five percent to remain on future ballots. I know this is a Royals blog and we are contractually obligated to mock friend of The Cartoonist, Kendall, but the guy deserves more than just a glance and a “no” vote. He was at the end of the line when he arrived in Kansas City, but he finished with a .366 on base percentage. Based on Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, he ranks 18th among catchers, just behind Ernie Lombardi. I’m not saying he’s a Hall of Famer, and I can’t imagine he would get a vote on a ballot with as many deserving candidates, simply he’s someone who deserves a little more attention than he’s going to get.
Now, prediction time. I predict that Griffey will get in with around 98 percent of the vote. Maybe 99 percent. It won’t be unanimous. Piazza gets in with around 80 percent of the vote. Bagwell and Raines fall just short, I’m thinking somewhere between 70 and the 75 percent threshold needed for induction. If they don’t get in this year, they’ll make it on the next ballot.
In an ideal world, we would have at least four inducted to clear the logjam and perhaps get some consideration for other deserving candidates. Maybe next year.