BBWAA 2010 Hall of Fame Ballot
Fifteen new candidates are among the 26 players listed on the 2010 Hall of Fame ballot mailed to more than 575 voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America late last month. The newcomers include Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, and Fred McGriff, as well as Kevin Appier, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Robin Ventura, and Todd Zeile.
Among the 11 holdovers, Andre Dawson (67.0%) and Bert Blyleven (62.7%) were the only players named on more than half of the 539 ballots cast last year. Candidates need 75 percent to gain entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Among players not currently on the BBWAA ballot, Gil Hodges is the only candidate to receive over 60 percent and not eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame.
The other returnees are Harold Baines, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, and Alan Trammell. Candidates remain under consideration for up to 15 years as long as they are named on at least five percent of the ballots cast.
The BBWAA election rules detail the authorization, electors, eligible candidates, method of election, voting, time of election, and certification of election results. The electors, consisting of active and honorary members of the BBWAA with 10 or more consecutive years' experience, may vote for up to 10 eligible candidates deemed worthy of election. Write-in votes are not permitted. Ballots must be postmarked no later than December 31. Results will be announced Wednesday, January 6, 2010, on the web sites of the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA. The Induction Ceremonies will take place in Cooperstown on Sunday, July 25, 2010.
The Hall of Fame features 291 members, including 2010 Veterans Committee electees Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog. Included are 202 former Major League players, 35 Negro Leaguers, 26 executives or pioneers, 19 managers and nine umpires. The BBWAA has elected 108 former players while the Hall of Fame Committee on Baseball Veterans has chosen 157 candidates. The defunct Committee on Negro Leagues selected nine members between 1971-1977 and the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues in 2006 elected 17 Negro Leaguers.
Here is a copy of the 2010 Hall of Fame Ballot that was mailed to the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
A summary of the players' records and accomplishments accompanied the ballot. The players were listed in alphabetical order, starting with Alomar and ending with Zeile. The following page, which includes Blyleven, Burks, Dawson, and Galarraga, serves as an example of the information provided to the electorate.
If I had the privilege of voting, I would have placed a check next to the names of Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, Martinez, McGwire, Raines, and Trammell. It's well known that I'm most partial to Blyleven, who ranks THIRTEENTH (13th) among all pitchers and TENTH (10th) among eligible pitchers in Wins Above Replacement. Every pitcher in the top 23 is either in the Hall of Fame or should be five years after their retirement except Only the Lonely himself. For those who prefer more traditional measurements, Blyleven ranks fifth in career strikeouts, ninth in shutouts, and 27th in wins (top 20 since 1900). No matter how you like your numbers, Blyleven should have been voted into the HOF many, many years ago. He is, by far, the most deserving player on this year's ballot.
In addition to Blyleven, I believe Raines has been grossly overlooked. I supported 30 Rock's candidacy two years ago when he first appeared on the ballot. Raines is one of the greatest lead-off batters in the history of the game, ranking 41st all-time in getting on base (hits + walks + hit by pitch), 50th in runs scored, and 5th in stolen bases (with the second-highest success rate among those with 300 or more SB). He has more Win Shares (390) than any player up for election.
I believe Alomar, Larkin, and Trammell are more comparable than not. All three middle infielders belong in the Hall of Fame. In 2001, Bill James ranked each of them in the top ten of their positions in his New Historical Baseball Abstract. They were five-tool players who could hit for average, hit for power for their positions, run, field, and throw. In addition, Alomar (1,032 BB/1,140 SO), Larkin (939 BB/817 SO), and Trammell (850/874 SO) displayed terrific bat control and plate discipline.
Alomar (.300/.371/.443, 116 OPS+, 474 SB/81%) ranks in the top 80 all time in runs, hits, doubles, total bases, times on base, runs created, and stolen bases—remarkable achievements for a second baseman who won 10 Gold Gloves. Larkin (.295/.371/.444, 116 OPS+, 379 SB/83%), who was the first shortstop to hit 30 HR and steal 30 bases in the same season, has the 1995 NL MVP Award and three Gold Gloves in his trophy case. James called him "one of the ten most complete players in baseball history." Trammell (.285/.352/.415, 110 OPS+, 236 SB/68%) won four Gold Gloves and should have been named the AL MVP in 1987 when the shortstop hit .343/.402/.551 but lost out to left fielder George Bell (.308/.352/.605), a one-dimensional player, when voters were fixated on RBI rather than overall performance and value.
The main argument against Martinez is that he was a designated hitter and failed to get 3,000 hits or even 400 home runs. Well, Jim Rice DH'd for a quarter of his career and came up short of those two milestones, yet was voted into the HOF last year. The biggest difference between Martinez and Rice isn't in their counting stats but in their rate stats. Martinez hit .312/.418/.515 with an OPS+ of 147. Rice hit .298/.352/.502 with an OPS+ of 128. Edgar had a higher AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ than James Edward. Martinez played in an era more suited to hitters while Rice benefited from a more friendly home ballpark.
Martinez had an OPS+ of 132 or higher in every season in which he had 400 or more plate appearances, other than in his final year in 2004. The righthanded hitter was an on-base and doubles machine, leading the league three times in OBP and twice in 2B while ranking 22nd and 41st in these two categories all time. He also ranks in the top 50 in BB, OPS, and OPS+. Like Rice, Martinez wasn't much in the field or on the bases, but he was a more productive hitter and a superior offensive player.
By any objective standard, McGwire is a clear-cut Hall of Famer. Big Mac ranks 8th in HR (583), 9th in SLG (.588), 11th in OPS (.982), 12th in OPS+ (162), and FIRST in AB per HR (10.6). He led the league in HR four times, including a then single-season record of 70 in 1998. McGwire (.299/.470/.752 with 41 Win Shares) inexplicably wasn't voted NL MVP that season, receiving just two first-place votes vs. 30 for Sammy Sosa (.308/.377/.647, 35 Win Shares).
Importantly, McGwire wasn't suspended nor expelled from the game. He has never admitted to or been convicted of any steroid use and wasn't even named in The Mitchell Report. In 1998, Big Mac acknowledged taking androstenedione, an over-the-counter product that was legal at the time under U.S. law and for use in MLB. It wasn't considered an anabolic steroid until three years after his retirement. If enough revisionist historians want to exclude McGwire from the Hall of Fame, I guess they will sadly win out.
Although I'm not in favor of Dawson's candidacy, I can understand why writers would vote for him. He combined power, speed, and defense in a career that resulted in 438 home runs, 314 stolen bases, and eight Gold Gloves. My beef with Dawson is that he simply made too many outs for my tastes (and many others). That said, it wouldn't be the biggest injustice if the Hawk gained entry into the Hall of Fame (unless, of course, he makes it and Raines never does).
McGriff is a borderline candidate, perhaps more suited to the Hall of the Very Good than the Hall of Fame. At a minimum, I'm hopeful that he will get at least five percent of the vote and remain on the ballot for another year. Falling seven home runs short of 500 for his career, the Crime Dog might not resonate with voters who may have forgotten just how good he was in the late-1980s and early-1990s. To wit, from 1988-1994, McGriff ranked in the top five in HR and OPS every season. That's right, for seven straight years, he finished either first, second, third, fourth, or fifth in his league in those two slugging categories. He could get on base, too, placing in the top four in OBP for four consecutive campaigns.
If peak value was the sole criteria, I could get behind Mattingly, Murphy, and Parker. Donnie Baseball may have been the preeminent hitter in the game from 1984-1986 when he hit .340 and averaged 219 hits, 48 doubles, and 30 home runs while leading the majors in total bases in '85 and '86. He could also field, picking up nine Gold Gloves at first base along the way. Murphy, who didn't miss a game from 1982-1985 when he was one of the best position players in baseball, was named NL MVP in back-to-back seasons and was a five-time recipient of the Gold Glove Award. Parker broke out in 1975 and was the man from 1977-1979 when he won an MVP, two batting titles, and three Gold Gloves. He and Rice had parallel careers, and it is my belief that the Cobra was nearly the same hitter and a much better fielder and baserunner at the height of their careers. All three candidates have loyal backers and will likely remain on the ballot for their entire 15 years of eligibility, yet none has ever received as much as 30 percent of the vote.
Morris and Smith have their fans but both seem stuck in the low-40s in terms of their overall support. It's rare to stumble across an endorsement of Morris without reading about his postseason pitching prowess. While Jack's 10-inning, complete-game shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series is undoubtedly one of the best pitching performances in the history of the Fall Classic, his overall postseason record (7-4, 3.80 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 2.00 K/BB) pales in comparison to Blyleven's (5-1, 2.47 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 4.50 K/BB). As Joe Posnanski covered in detail earlier this week, Blyleven beat Morris head-to-head in the 1987 ALCS and returned on three days' rest to win the clincher before helping the Twins overtake the Cardinals in the World Series.
Meanwhile, Baines, who Buster Olney somehow likened to Blyleven, runs the risk of dropping off the ballot after three years of picking up more than five percent but less than six percent of the vote.
First timers Appier, Burks, and Ventura are worthy of some love but unlikely to secure five percent of the vote. Galarraga, Hentgen, and Lankford all had their moments but fall well short of consideration. I'm not sure how Jackson, Reynolds, Segui, and Zeile got past the screening committee and, along with Karros, will be surprised if any of these players receives a single vote.