For the past number of posts I have been fixated on the BBWAA election that will be announced this Wednesday. In previous posts I have reviewed the players returning to the ballot and the progress they have made over the years. I have also reviewed the players who are appearing on the ballot for the first time this year. The writers are allowed to vote for as many as 10 players on the ballot. In my last post I began to reveal who I would vote for if I was instructed to vote for 10 players. I ended my post at #8 as if I was given a ballot this year I would only vote for 7 players.
Today I will tell you the 7 players I would vote for if I was given the opportunity.
The 7th on my ballot would be Dale Murphy.
Why I voted for Him: There are several things that set apart Murphy from the other players who I did not vote for. Murphy was a back to back NL MVP winner in 1982, 1983. He was also the heart ans soul of the Braves teams of the 1980’s Besides the back to MVPS in 1984 and 1985 he led his team in the following 4 categories: Hits,Homers, Runs Batted In, and Batting Average in 1986 he led the braves in all those categories but homers where he was second. One writer explaining in 2001 why he did not support Murphy’s hall of fame bid had to admit his amazing run in the 80’s and his other worthy achievements but countered with “I can’t recall the last time I said to myself ‘I miss seeing Dale Murphy play baseball'” 1
The thing is I do miss seeing Murphy play ball. I remember he played with a style that said he enjoyed playing the game that made me enjoy watching him play.
Why he’s not higher on my list: He doesn’t really stand head and shoulders above the rest of the possible inductees. Murphy was one of them. He was only listed one time in the top 5 of any offensive statistical category among position players on the ballot and that was a fith place showing in career homers. The MVPs and his 80’s dominance did get him on my ballot but his inability to standout statistically in the crowd of challengers keep him entrenched in 7th.
If I was limited to 6 votes I would use the 6th for Lee Smith.
Why I voted for him: There are only 5 relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame (Goose Gossage, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, and Dennis Eckersly) Smith has more than 100 saves than any of them. He had 25 or more saves in every season from 1983 to 1995.
Why he’s only 6th: The concept of relievers in the Hall took a little time to grow on me. But the recent inclusions of Eckersly, Sutter and Gossage have convinced me of his hall worthiness that being. Perhaps that previous bias helped me make stronger cases for the players in front of him.
Now is the point of my discourse than I am apt to lose all credibility. But before you put your fingers in your ears and started shouting blahcetera, blahcetera, blahcetera, I urge you to hear me out.
If I had only 5 votes I would use my fifth on Robin Ventura.
Why I voted for Him: Let me be clear. I don’t think Robin Ventura belongs in the Hall of Fame. I do believe that he merits some consideration. I have noticed there is a bit of local cooking when it comes to hall of fame voting. Certain players only get votes from the reporters who covered the team he was on. I see that as a trust that the local writer has to opening the eyes of the rest of the media. As someone who is a life long fan of Chicago baseball, I do feel that trust even though mine is just a hypothetical one.
I believe that Robin deserves to be part of the conversation for more than just 1 year. Ventura splayed an excellent 3rd base and deserved each of his 6 gold gloves. A fierce competitor with a keen batting eye (5th in walks among this years hopefuls) and a clutch hitter as attributed by his 18 grand slams which ties him for 3rd all time.
Why I didn’t vote for him higher: Putting him ahead of Smith and Murphy who have much brighter hall 0f fame prospects than Ventura was foolhardy enough. I can justify it by saying that if I had only 5 votes I would want Robin in more than the other two. As we get to the final 4 on my ballot, I can’t bring myself to score Ventura over any of them.
Before I reveal my top 4 I want to say a bit about the list of 12 statistical categories I have been talking about. I made this chart after I decided who I was going to vote for to see if my voting pattern meshed with the player career numbers. The 12 categories are two Bill James Stats: Hall of Fame Monitor and Hall of Fame Standards and then 10 traditional stats: Games, At Bats, Runs, Hits, Home Runs, RBI, Stolen Bases, Walks, Batting Average and Slugging Percentage. I was glad to see that the three of the 4 players I have left to reveal appeared most frequently on those top 5 lists, two 7 times and 1 8 times. I felt that lended a little credibility to my selections.
If I was allowed to vote for 4 players to the Hall of Fame. My 4th vote would be for Roberto Alomar.
Why I voted for him: Alomar seems to me the most Hall of Fame worthy of anyone on the ballot for the first time this year. He had the highest scores of anyone on the ballot in terms of the Hall of Fame Monitor and Hall of Fame Standards metrics. He is second in runs and stolen bases and 3rd in 3 other categories including his career batting average of .300. He was an All Star every year from 1990 to 2001 and won gold glove awards in all but 2 of those seasons.
Why He was not higher: I have Alomar rated ahead of all the other first timers on the ballot. Even though Alomar’s accomplishment are stellar it would take an even more special player than him to overtake the 3 returners remaining on my ballot.
If I was told that I only had 3 votes for the Hall of Fame my 3rd vote would be Harold Baines.
Why I voted for Him: While Harold was only listed in the top 5 4 times in the statistical categories referenced above he is on the top of more lists than any other candidate. Baines played more games, got more hits and batted in more runs than anyone else up for consideration this year and He had the second most at bats. Granted those are longevity records and longevity is often dismissed when it comes to the Hall. What can’t be dismissed is the quality of effort Baines put out on the field. He was a fan favorite with the White Sox and the Orioles having 3 stints with each team. After his first stint with the White Sox the owner retired his number while he was still playing! Baines missed a game as coach for the White Sox this past year to be honored by the Orioles at a special Harold Baines night.
Why he’s not higher: some of the things I said about Edgar Martinez in my last post are true about Harold to a degree. He spent more than 1/2 his career as a Designated Hitter and isn’t always one of the first two players you think of in those White Sox teams in the 80’s. To be fair though he led the team in both hits and Rbis 4 times between 83-88 and was just 1 RBI behind Ron Kittle from doing it a fifth time. That being said he just doesn’t have the numbers to compete with my top two.
If I only had 2 votes for the Hall of Fame my second vote would be for Tim Raines.
Why I voted for Him: If Tim Raines ever makes it to the Hall of Fame which I believe he will, he will have Rickey Henderson to thank for it. In my opinion Hendersons enshrinement last year will force voters to reevaluate Raines who is much like Henderson. Raines had more stolen bases, runs scored and walks than anyone else on the ballot. He appeared on 5 more top 5 lists for a total of 8. Again more than any other player on the ballot.
Why I don’t have him higher: Out of respect for the career of who I have # 1.
If there was a rule that you could only vote for 1 player a year for the hall of fame, that player would definitely be Andre Dawson.
Why I have him #1: My best memory of Dawson is in his years with the Cubs in his batting stance with the brick wall behind him at Wrigley field. It is a beautiful memory and to me it resonates baseball. Of all the candidates for the Hall no one is as deserving as Dawson. Of those on the ballot this year he ranked 1st in at bats, second in games and RBI, third in hits and home runs and fourth in stolen bases. I mentioned in phase 1 that Dawson is 1 of 6 players with more than 300 homers and stolen bases. He is one of only 3 players that has 400 + homers and 300 + swiped bags. The other 2 are Willie Mays and Barry Bonds.
So there it is my official unofficial hall of fame ballot. The results of the official balloting will be announced Wednesday. I will check in Wednesday with some final thoughts on the selection process.