Baines and Smith make all my unofficial HOF balloting official

Lee Smith HOF 2019

I was driving home from work on December  when I got floored by unexpected good news.  I was working an overnight weekend job for the holidays and turned my radio on while driving past all the mopes on their way to work. The national news was on and the last story was about the baseball Hall of Fame.  Harold Baines and Lee Smith were both selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the modern era committee. 

Harold Baines HOF 2019

 This came as both a delight and surprise to me.  Since I began this blog in 2009 there has been no greater advocate to HOF consideration and inclusion for Baines and Smith than myself  Each year in these very pages I pretend I have a vote for the Hall.  Go back into the archives and each year you will see me eloquently persuade the inclusion of either gentleman into the Hall.

Harold Baines  began his career with the White Sox in 1980 and finished his career there as well in 2001.  He had 3 stints with them 1980 to 1989, 1996 and 1997 and then came back in 2000 and retired in 2001.  He also played for the Baltimore Orioles 3 separate times (1993-1995,1997-1998, &2000) In between He played for the Rangers , Athletics and Indians.  Baines was predominantly a right fielder in his first 7 years in the Majors.  From 1988 to 1992 he transitioned to designated hitter  playing some outfield. From 1993 on he was used exclusively as a DH with the exception of one game in right field for the Sox in 1997.

In 1980 while Baines was starting his HOF career on the south side of Chicago, Lee Smith began his HOF journey on the North side with the Cubs.  He played for the Cubs from 1980 to 1987 and then played for the Red Sox from 1988 to 1990, In 1990 he went to St. Louis and was there until mid 1993 when he finished the year with the Yankees. In 1994 He and Baines were teammates in Baltimore.  He finished his career with stints for the angels (1995-1996) Reds (1996) before finishing up with the Expos in 1997.  Smith was a reliever for the vast majority of his career finishing 802 games and earning 478 saves.

I have read several places that Baines and Smith belong in the Hall of Very Good and not the Hall of Fame.  This just does not hold up.  The truth is that they are both Hall of fame caliber in their positions of Designated Hitter and Relief Pitcher.   In baseball reference,com they rank players in similarity.  4 of the 5 players most similar to Baines, Tony Perez, Al Kaline,  Billy Williams & Andre Dawson are Hall of Famers.  Lee Smith best comps to Trevor Hoffman who made the HOF last year and Mariano Rivera, a lock to do so this year. 

Congratulations to both Baines and Smith I look forward to your future enshrinement.

2018 Hall of Fame If I had a ballot

Tomorrow baseball’s Hall of Fame will reveal the results of the Baseball Writers of America Association (BBWAA) ballot as to who will make it to the Hall of fame this year.  This is my 3rd and favoritr annual installment where I pretend that I am a member of that august institution and that my opinion really matters.  The BBWAA allows writers to vote for a many as 10 candidates of eligible  players (this year it is 33).  I like to rank the players how I would vote for them if I were given allowed 13 votes until I was allowed only one vote.  I then reveal how many and who I would vote for if I were choosing just base on who I thought was hall of fame worthy.

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.  

Last year Trevor Hoffman was unlucky 13th on my Hall of Fame list.  Why he was so low could be summed up in two words: Lee Smith.  Smith was  ‘on his fifteenth and final year on the ballot and as my Brother in Law famously said some years ago ‘If Lee Smith doesn’t get in ain’t nobody should get in.”  The BBWAA decided that Smith is not hall of fame worthy, so in my logic if Smith the superior reliever is not worthy neither is Hoffman.  Fortunately for Hoffman my logic is not being followed by the writers.  This year I’ve relented a little and placed Hoffman 8th on my list.

Like last year, My 7th choice on a 7 player ballot would be Fred McGriff.  Like Carlos Lee, McGriff has a Hall of fame nickname, but The Crime Dog for me is just on the outside  edge of the Hall of Fame.  I will give him a hard and long look next year in his final go round and perhaps even the benefit of the doubt on next year’s ballot. 

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 was given a HOF ballot and told to vote for only 3 players, the 4th player would be Vladimir Guerrero.  He was 4th on my OUB  in his first year of eligibility and my gut said he would not be a 1st ballot hall of famer.  My gut is saying this year that he will be a 2nd ballot one.

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.  

2018 HOF – first timers

There are 19 players appearing on the HOF ballot for the first time this year.  There is a good chance for the majority of these players that it will be their only year on the ballot.  Some may have the great honor of being first ballot hall of famers, while others may not get the 5% of the vote need to be a sophomore sensation.  There should be a handful of players who won’t even garner a single vote.

Here is a brief overview of the 19 on the ballot for the first time in 18.

Chris Carpenter – Pitcher 1997 to 2012 St Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays. 
Carpenter was a 3 time all star (all with the Cardinals) and the 2005 NL Cy Young winner He helped the Cardinals to World Series championships in 2006 and 2011.

Johnny Damon – Outfielder 1995 to 2012 Kansac City Royals, Oakland A’s, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees,
Damon was a 2 time all star with the Red Sox in 2002 and 2005 and helped the Bo sox break the curse of the bambino in 2004 and win the World Series.  Johnny had 408 total stolen bases in his career (2nd among everyone on HOF ballot, tops among 1st timers) In 2000 with the Royals,  Damon led the American league in both runs scored (136) and  stolen bases (46).  In 2009 Damon got his 2nd world series ring while with the Yankees.

Livan Hernandez 1996 to 2012 Florida Marlins, San Francisco Giants, Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, Arizona D-Backs, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, World Series and NLCS MVP in 1997 with the Marlins.

Orlando Hudson 2nd Baseman 2002 to 2012 Toronto Blue Jays, Arizona D-backs, LA Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, 2 time all start (2007 Diamondbacks, 2009 Dodgers) 4 time gold glove winner
Aubrey Huff IF/OF/DH 2000 to 2012 Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, won the 2008 Silver Slugger Award td Edgar Martinez Award with Baltimore Orioles.  Won world Series with Giants in 2010 and again in 2012

Jason Isringhausen Pitcherr 1995 to 2012 (Mets, Cardinals, A’s Rays, ANgels 2 time all star (A’s Cardinals)

Andruw Jones centerfilelder 1996 to 2012 (Braves, Dodgers, Rangers, Whitesox Yankees) 5 time all star (braves) 10 time gold glove  1 time silver slugger award  2005 Hank AAoron award and 2005 sporting news player of the yerar award.

Chipper Jones third baseman 1993 to 2012 Braves 8 time all star,  2 time silver slugger,  won world series in 1995, 1999 NL MVP, 20008 NL Batting Title

Carlos Lee LF 1999 – 2012 White Sox, Breweres Rangers, Astros, Marlins 3x all star (brewews 2 Astros 1) 2 time silver slugger

Brad Lidge Pitcher 2002-2012 Astros, Phillies, Nationals  2time alls star (astros, phillies) World Series champion 2008 with Phillies, 2008 Rolaids Relief, 2008 deliverman of the years 2008 comeback player of the year.

Hideki Matsui Left Fielder 2003 – 2012 Yankees, Angels, A’s Rays 2x all star Yankees, 1999 World Series champion with Yankees also 1999 World Series MVP

Kevin Millwood Pitcher 1997 to 2012 Braves, Indians, Phillies, rangers. Orioles, Rockies, Mariners All star with Braves, Led  AL in 2005 with Indians

Jamie Moyer Pitcher 1986 to 2012 Cubs, Rangers , Cardinals, Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, Phillies, Rockies, All Star with Mariners, Won 2008 World Series with Phillies

Scott Rolen 3rd Baseman 1996 to 2012 Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays Reds 1997 NL Rookie of the year Phillies, 7 time all Star (Phillies 1 Cardinals 4 Reds 2) 8 time Gold Glove 1 time Silver Slugger 2006 World Series Champs w Cardinals

Johann Santanna Pitcher 2000 to 2012 Twins,Mets 4 time all star (Twins 3, Mets 1) Cy Young 2004 & 2006 with Twins 2 time al leader era I time nl era leader 3 time al strikeout leader I time AL Wins leader won pitching triple crown 2006.One time gold glove winner

Jim Thome FB/DH  1991 to 2012 Indians, Phillies White Sox Dodgers, Twins, Orioles 5 time all star (Indians 3 , Phillies 1 , White Sox 1) 1 time silver slugger, 2002 Roberto Clemente award, 2004 Lou Gherig  and 2006 Comeback player of the year award

Omar Vizquel ss 1989 to 2012 Mariners Indians Giants Rangers White Sox Blue Jays 3 time all star(Indians) 11 time Gold Glove winner

Kerry Wood Pitcher 1998 to 2012 Cubs, Indians Yankees 2 time all star (Cubs) 1998 NL Rookie of the Year Led  league in strikeouts in 2003

Carlos Zambrano Pitcher 2001 to 2012 Cubs, Marlins 3 time all star (Cubs) 3 time silver slugger

2018 Hall of Fame – Returning Players Preview

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame election results will be revealed on  January 24th. Today we will preview the 14 returning players from last years ballot.

The players returning from last years ballot listed from the highest percentage of votes received to lowest are …

Trevor Hoffman 74% of the vote in 2017, 3rd year on the ballot. 2017 was highest vote total.

Vladimir Guerrero 71.7% of 2017 2nd year on the ballot.

Edgar Martinez 58.6% of the vote in 2017. 9th year on ballot   Edgar’s  highest % came in 2017.

Roger Clemens   54.1 % of the vote in 2017. 6th year on the ballot,   Clemens  received his highest %   in 2017,

Barry Bonds  53.8% of the vote in 2017. 6th  year on the ballot,  Bonds received his highest %  in 2017

Mike Mussina 51.8 %  of the vote in 2017.  5th year on ballot  Mussina’s highest % came in 2017

Curt Schilling 45% of the vote in 2017. 6th year on the ballot,    Schillings highest % was 52.3 in 2016

Manny Ramirez 2nd year on the ballot, voters were just being voters last year when the put manny on just 23.8% of his inaugural ballot.

Larry Walker 21.9% of the vote in 2017. 8th year on the ballot . Larry’s highest  % 22.9  came in 2012, his 2nd year on the ballot

Fred McGriff  21.7 % of the vote in 2017.  9th year on the ballot. Fred’s  highest %  was 23.9 in 2012, his 3rd year on the ballot.

Jeff  Kent 16.7%  of the vote in 2017. 5th year on the ballot  . 2017 was Kent’s highest total to date, .1 percentage points higher than his previous best in 2016.

Gary Sheffield 13.3% of the vote in 2017. 4th year on ballot highest percentage to date.

Billy Wagner 10.2 % of vote in 2017, 2nd year on ballot, 10.5% in 2016 best total so far

Sammy Sosa received 8.6% of the vote in 2017.   6th year on the ballot.   In 2012 Sammy received 12.5%, his highest percentage in his first year of consideration.

Next Time: A preview of first-time players on the 2018 ballot.

2017 Baseball Hall of Fame – If I had a ballot.

It is come to my favorite part of my annual HOF analysis, pretending that I get a say in the picking of the future hall-of-famers.  Last year I supposed that writers  were allowed 12 votes and worked my way down from there.  This year, I still pick 12 but wanted to start with the player who I think is the most HOF worthy that did not make the cut of 12.

Trevor Hoffman # 13 if allowed 12 picks

Last year my 9th vote went to Trevor Hoffman.  This year he dropped off the list to what I guess could be called unlucky 13th .  I still think he has the credentials to be in Cooperstown someday but there is a player near the top of my list more deserving than Hoffman, who will not be considered on the writer’s ballot for much longer.   They share the same position but not the same support among the writers.  Like last year, I am putting Hoffman on the back burner until my # 2 choice this year’s HOF fate is revealed.

Derek Lee

Mike Cameron

Tim Wakefield

Jason Varitek and Jorge Posada

This year there were a number of first time players to the ballot who may never make the Hall of Fame, but certainly deserve mention in the Hall of Very Good.  Players like Jason Varitek, Jorge Posada, Derek Lee, Tim Wakefield and Mike Cameron to name a few,  If I were allowed to vote for 12 players elgible for the 2017 HOF class. My 12th vote would go to one of these players, It would go to Mike Cameron.  Cameron had an excellent career and was part of two blockbuster trades before making an indelible mark in Seattle.  Most people remember that Cameron was part of the trade that brought Ken Griffey Jr. to the Reds.  They sometimes forget that  previously to that Cameron was traded to the Reds from the White Sox in exchange for Paul Konerko.  So yes I am voting for Cameron 12th because he gave the White Sox PK.

If I were allowed to vote for 11 players, my 11th vote would go to Gary Sheffield (I did not vote for Sheffield  last year).  Sheffield is garnering lots of hall of fame consideration this year, there are too many question marks for me to consider him much higher.

Gary Sheffield

Jeff Kent

If I were allowed to vote for exactly 10 players, my 10th vote would go to Jeff Kent.  (I did not vote for Kent last year,) Let me say a little about my rankings here.  The players from 7 to 11 this year are very close in my assessment of them.  They are pretty well interchangeable as I think they are all solid choices with one or two question marks that keeps therm from going much higher on my ballot.

If I could only vote for exactly 9 players my 9th vote would go to Mike Mussina.  (I voted for Musina 11th in 2016 ).

Mike Mussina

Larry Walker

My 8th choice if I could vote for 8 would be Larry Walker  (Walker was not in my top 12 last year but has been in my top 10 in years past) .

My 7th choice on a 7 player ballot would be Fred McGriff  (McGriff was 5th on my list in 2016).  I adjusted the Crime Dog lower this year as there seemed to be no evidence he is anything more than a middle of the packer when it comes to his hall of fame qualifications.

The Crime Dog

The other Pudge

If I had to vote for 6 and only 6 HOF candidates, my 6th vote would go to Ivan Rodriguez.  (Pudge is on the ballot for the first time in 2017)  I could not quite pull the trigger on the strong hitting backstop to put him on my official unofficial ballot but He is certainly close

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 ballot would contain 5names.  The 5th name would be Edgar Martinez.  (Edgar was 7th on my list of players last year.)  In the past, I have shied away from Martinez for Cooperstown, but for this year at least I am thinking that he belongs.

Edgar Martinez 5 of 5

Vladimir Guerrero 4 of 5

If I was given a HOF ballot and told to vote for only 4 players, the 4th player would be Vladimir Guerrero  (This is his first year on the ballot .)  Something tells me he will not be a first ballot selection but I am thinking it will be very close.  

Jeff Bagwell 3 of 5

If I could only votr for 3 players in the Hall of Fame for this year, my 3rd vote would go to Jeff Bagwell (Bagwell was 4th on my “official” ballot last year).

Lee Smith 2 of 5

If I could only pick 2 players on my Hof ballot one would give me a rush and the other a feeling of relief.  The relief would come from   #2 on the Ballot Lee Smith. (Smith was 3rd on my ballot last year.) Lee is one of those between eras guys who  is certainly deserving but never got the votes he deserved in his first 14 years on the ballot,  His last year on the ballot should be no different.

The rush would come from the speedy Tim Raines who would be my #1 pic on any sized ballot this year.    (Raines was my 1st choice last year.) Raines like Lee should already be in, but unlike Lee should get in this year in his last year of eligibility.

Tim Raines #1 of 5

That is pretty much what I think.  But I don’t really have a vote.  I do have a sense for these things and I think that there will be 2 players announced on Wednesday,  Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell.  Hoffman, Rodriguez and Guerrerro should be all right under the 75% threshold in some order,