If I were allowed 13 votes, unlucky 13 would go to someone who had his share of both good and bad luck in his career, Kerry Wood. Wood debuted for the Cubs on April 12, 1998 Easter Sunday. It was the day after I got married. Shortly after that he had a 20 strikeout game on his was to being Rookie of the Year. His injury plagued career had him make the transition from starter to reliever and the injuries kept him from the Hall of Fame type career we imagined for him in those early years. However, I think that he is deserving of a mention, so I give it to him here.
Last year my 11th vote went to Gary Sheffield, this year he has dropped to 12th. Sheffield’s name has generated much debate amongst writers and fans on his worthiness for the Hall. Last year I said there were too many question marks about Sheffield to consider him higher than 11th. So it should not be surprising at all that he’d drop a notch this year.
In 2016 in his 3rd year of Eligibility, I placed Mike Mussina 11th on my ballot. Last year je went up to 9th. I have moved him back down to 11th this year. A lot of people I respect think this is a hall of fame pitcher, 1/2 way through the ballot process, I do not.
If I were allowed to vote for exactly 10 players, my 10th vote would go to Jeff Kent. 10th is exactly where I placed Kent last year. To me Kent is a very good player but I see him ultimately missing out of enshrinement to Cooperstown.
I am a Chicago guy and I see my role as a Chicago guy to bring Chicago players to the attention of those who may not have seen them play regularly. With that in mind, my 9th vote goes to Carlos Lee. Not only does he have one of the greatest nicknames of all time, El Caballo was a pure power hitter and a joy to watch. He’s been wavering for me between 8th and eleventh but his early years for the White Sox have him sticking out at 9th.
If I could vote for only 6 players on the 2018 ballot. Larry Walker would be that 6th player. Larry has been going up in my estimation over the past few years (He was my 8th choice last year.) I think at least in my mind , the time is coming that writers should consider his solid case for enshrinement.
If I could vote for as many or as few players in the Hall of Fame this year as I thought were truly deserving of such an honor, that number would be 5. My Official Unofficial Ballot (OUB) would contain 5 names, the 5th name would be Omar Vizquel. Vizquel is among 3 players on the ballot for the first time this year who are also on my OUB. Some say Vizquel just does not have the offensive stats to garner enshrinement in Cooperstown. Those who say that don’t understand what an awesome shortstop and student of the game he was. I say he is very deserving of Cooperstown and I plan to plead his case for as long as it takes to get him there.
If it was decided that only 4 players could adorn my 2018 ballot, The 4tth name on that ballot would be Edgar Martinez. (Edgar was 5th on my list of players last year.) I have changed my tune on Edgar over the past few years as many official voters have so I think if not this year Martinez should make it to Cooperstown very soon.
If I could only vote for 2 players this year, my 2nd vote would go to Chipper Jones. Jones played only for Atlanta for his distinguished career and is extremely deserving of being enshrined his first chance out of the gate.
My wife is convinced that Jim Thome ruined the White Sox. No matter what I say to her, I cannot talk her out of such foolishness. That being said there is no kind of foolishness that can keep the pride of Peoria, Illinois out of the Hall of Fame. The 2006 comeback player of the year with the White Sox is who I would vote for this year even If I could only vote for one player.
Whew!!! That was a lot of fun but also hard work. Now a little bit more guesswork. I think that tomorrow 4 or 5 players will be announced as getting 75 % or more of the votes needed for enshrinement. If it is 5 that will be tied with the most ever with the original Hall of fame class that included Babe Ruth. If it were 5 , I think it will be Vladimir Guerrero , Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Edgar Martinez and Jim Thome. If it is 4, and I think it will be 4, Martinez would just narrowly miss out.