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Finding a plan of attack for the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot

Jim McIsaac

My Hall of Fame Ballot, if I had one:

1. Jeff Bagwell
2. Craig Biggio
3. Barry Bonds
4. Roger Clemens
5. Tom Glavine
6. Jeff Kent
7. Greg Maddux
8. Edgar Martinez
9. Mark McGwire
10. Mike Mussina
11. Rafael Palmeiro
12. Mike Piazza
13. Tim Raines
14. Curt Schilling
15. Sammy Sosa
16. Frank Thomas
17. Alan Trammell
18. Larry Walker

I'm a big Hall guy, alright. I struggled with Palmeiro, Sosa, and Walker. It feels like you could commission your own version of Ken Burns's Baseball, leave out Palmeiro and Walker, and not get any angry e-mails. Also, the fake Ken Burns documentary is my new favorite Hall of Fame litmus test. It's a convenient litmus because I get to make up the rules as I go along.

The problem is that a ballot has just 10 slots. There are 13 obvious, don't-have-to-think-about-it, easily identifiable Hall of Famers on the list, and thinking about any of them not in the Hall of Fame really annoys me. So even if I were to take my time with this hypothetical ballot, there are still hypothetical players getting shafted.

I need a strategy on how to vote. I've come up with three.


As in, I'd rank the top 10 by WAR because the thought of picking and choosing in a more arbitrary way frightens me. That list up there, ranked by an average of the players' WAR according to and FanGraphs: WAR FanGraphs WAR Average
Barry Bonds 162.5 164.1 163.3
Roger Clemens 139.4 139.5 139.5
Greg Maddux 104.6 113.9 109.3
Mike Mussina 82.7 82.5 82.6
Curt Schilling 80.7 83.2 82.0
Jeff Bagwell 79.5 80.3 79.9
Frank Thomas 73.6 72.4 73.0
Rafael Palmeiro 71.8 70 70.9
Larry Walker 72.6 69 70.8
Tom Glavine 74 64.3 69.2
Tim Raines 69.1 66.4 67.8
Alan Trammell 70.3 63.7 67.0
Edgar Martinez 68.3 65.6 67.0
Craig Biggio 64.9 65.3 65.1
Mark McGwire 62 66.3 64.2
Mike Piazza 59.2 63.6 61.4
Sammy Sosa 58.4 60.4 59.4
Jeff Kent 55.2 56.6 55.9

Take the top 10, cut off the bottom eight, and whammo, a reasonable ballot. Except it's boring. And you know what? It's the Hall of Fame, not the ...


YEAH. Also, only 446 results? Come on, Internet. Pick it up.


That's better. Anyway, ranking just by WAR forces me to leave some of my pet players off, like Alan Trammell, Craig Biggio, and Tim Raines, all of whom should have been in by now. I'm not ready to do that, regardless of what one stat says.

Not until they're in

As in, I'm just going to ignore all of the new players until the old players get on. It's a protest ballot, fist in the air, and it would go something like this:

1. Jeff Bagwell
2. Craig Biggio
3. Barry Bonds
4. Roger Clemens
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mark McGwire
7. Mike Piazza
8. Tim Raines
9. Alan Trammell
10. Larry Walker

I had to leave Rafael Palmeiro off, but that's okay because he always kind of bugged me. I'll get him back next year. The only problem with that list -- a fine list -- is that a ballot without Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas is worthless, absolutely worthless. As much as I want to captain the Alan Trammel bandwagon, leaving Maddux off for him is … well, it's making a point in a self-important fashion. It's only slightly different from the dinks who refuse to vote for anyone from the Steroid Era, no matter how far removed they are from the whispers and rumors, because it's the only way to be sure.

I don't like those dinks. Keeping Maddux off the ballot doesn't make sense, regardless of methodology.

Enhance. ENHANCE.

That would be a list of guys who aren't getting in because of performance-enhancing drugs, real or imagined.

1. Jeff Bagwell
2. Barry Bonds
3. Roger Clemens
4. Mark McGwire
5. Rafael Palmeiro
6. Mike Piazza
7. Sammy Sosa

Yeah, that's right. I'd leave three spots blank. In protest, or something. It's not like I'd write a self-righteous article like this, then go back in and write Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, and Tim Raines in.

Maybe I'd do that.

But this hypothetical ballot would exist to double-down on the perceived-steroid guys. I'm not immune to the what-about-the-children arguments, and I'm not saying that I'm cool with the steroids. Because I'm not. If you're really interested in a billion more words on the subject, I fleshed my thoughts out here after Melky Cabrera was suspended. It's a complicated subject, and it's hard to balance the emotion and the nuance.

This vote, though, would be an acknowledgement that these players were the best of their era, in the context of their era. I want the Hall of Fame to be a museum of baseball that represents the sport across the decades. It's a joke to pretend the '90s and '00s were about only Ken Griffey, Greg Maddux, and two or three others. I was weaned on '90s and '00s baseball. I remember all of those guys. They existed and everything. They're a part of baseball's story, and that's what I think the Hall of Fame is for.

You might have different opinions about what the Hall of Fame is for. That's kind of the point. But for me, there's no reason to have it if there's no Bonds and Clemens. And the other guys. So give me the last option, and I'd probably make a big deal about the front seven before sneaking Maddux, Thomas, and Raines on because I'm only human. Except, I wouldn't want Trammell to fall off, so maybe I'd drop … no … no, not that guy … maybe I'd drop … no … wait ...

What an impossible ballot. Makes me kind of glad I don't really have one.

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