To me, Alomar is the only no-brainer on the ballot. He is one of the best second basemen of all time, offensively and defensively, and performed well in the postseason. Yes, he spit at umpire John Hirschbeck and that doesn't speak well to his character, which is something we're supposed to consider. But Hirschbeck long ago said he forgave Alomar.
Blyleven will probably get in this season and he'll have the internet to thank for it. A cadre of determined researchers took to the web to advocate for his election and they're not wrong. The man won 287 games over 22 season and played for just three teams that made the playoffs. A win-loss record can be deceiving over one season, but that statistic plays over 22 years. You also can't ignore 60 shutouts, 3,701 strikeouts and a career ERA of 3.31
Larkin was an acquired taste for me because he is not the kind of player you automatically ascribe Hall of Fame status to. Some voters believe that if you have to think about it, the player isn't worthy. But we owe it to the process to think about it. Any voter not willing to consider all the facts shouldn't vote. From 1986-2004, Larkin was pretty much the most productive shortstop in all of baseball. That's a long time at a premium position.
Raines was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson during his career. But that's akin to a Corvette being overshadowed by a Ferrari. Raines was not a traditional masher as a left fielder but did all the things we value now in that he got on base and played excellent defense. There was a stretch from 1981 to '87 where he was one of the best two or three players in the game.
Trammell is like Larkin, a consistent and productive player who dominated a premium position for a long period of time. If you compare him to players at his position during his career and to other shortstops in the Hall of Fame, it's hard to exclude him.
The numbers show Jeff Bagwell to be one of the most productive first basemen ever. But he played in an era where offensive numbers have to be weighed differently. If every Steroid Era slugger gains entry to the Hall, they're going to need a new wing.
His on-base percentage of .408 was incredible, but I can't help but think the 449 homers and 1,529 RBIs were a product of a time in baseball history where such statistics were cheap to come by.
I'd be open to voting for Bagwell down the road as more research is done into that time period of baseball.
Edgar Martinez was a tough omission, too. But he was primarily a DH and as such, his offensive numbers had to be overwhelming to a point where you had no choice but to vote for him. They aren't.
In general, I'm a "small Hall" thinker. You should feel strongly about your vote, not wishy washy. I wouldn't feel great about voting for Bagwell or Martinez.
Hall of Very Good
Jack Morris, Harold Baines, Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Larry Walker had impressive careers. But the Hall should be for the truly greats.
You know who was much better than you remember? Kevin Brown.
Sorry, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez. Your ties to drug use exclude you. Baseball banned non-prescription drugs in the early 1970s, period. That steroids weren't specifically banned is meaningless. Players broke laws to obtain these drugs and that's cheating. That many players did it doesn't make it right.
Lee Smith and John Franco were very good at what they did. But in my mind, a reliever has to be amazingly dominant to merit a place in Cooperstown. Saves are almost a useless stat. So you got three outs, good for you. I'm more impressed by the guy who got 18 or 20 outs before you woke up from your nap and came in.
Carlos Baerga, Bret Boone, Marquis Grissom, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Kirk Rueter, Benito Santiago and B.J. Surhoff did not merit much more than a glance.
For those interested, I used Baseball Reference.com for most of my research along with the work done by Jay Jaffe for Baseball Prospectus that compared candidates. I also read a lot of work and comments at Baseball Analysts, Hardball Times and Fan Graphs.
Thanks also to the dozens of readers who e-mailed with their opinions. All were carefully considered.
If you wish to comment on my selections, please do. But please comment on the blog rather than by e-mail. I'll respond there when I get a chance so everybody can see it. Thanks.
OK, back to vacation.