7 Reasons the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Class Will Be the Most Interesting Ever

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIJanuary 9, 2012

7 Reasons the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Class Will Be the Most Interesting Ever

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    The 2012 Hall of Fame ballot featured a variety of different players and a variety of how those players performed and acted during their careers. We learned that the voters felt that the only player deserving of a Hall of Fame induction this year was Barry Larkin, a player who spent his entire career in Cincinnati and played every game like it was his last. 

    There will be 12 players that didn't receive the 75 percent of the votes needed to enter the Hall of Fame that will be on the 2013 ballot, a ballot that will be talked about for many years to come. The next vote will determine the view on steroids and whether players that took them should still be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    Now not every player that played during the steroid era took steroids. That we know. There are players on the 2013 ballot who did not take steroids and deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. The fact that there are players on the ballot who took steroids, including some very big names, makes the 2013 ballot the most interesting ever. 

Giving It Another Shot

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    There are five players that will be on the ballot for at least the 11th time. Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy and Alan Trammell will hope that 2013 will be their year, the year that they get enough votes to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. 

    Of these five players only Morris (66.7 percent) and Smith (50.6 percent) received more than 50 percent of the votes during the 2012 voting. Morris, who won 254 games over 18 seasons, will be on his 14th ballot in 2013. Smith, who is third all-time in saves, with be on the ballot for the 11th time. 

    Don Mattingly only received 17.8 percent of the votes during this past voting and doesn't look like he will get the necessary 75 percent anytime soon, even though he will be on the ballot for the 13th time in 2013. Mattingly had a career .307 batting average in 14 seasons all with the New York Yankees.

    Dale Murphy also doesn't seem like he will be inducted in the Hall of Fame despite falling two home runs shy of 400 for his career. Murphy only earned 14.5 percent of the votes in 2012 which was his 14th time being on the ballot.

    Trammell is the last of the five who will be on the ballot for at least 11 years, 2012 being his 11th. He received the sixth most votes (36.8 percent) but still sits well behind the 75 percent that he will need.

    2013 will be interesting to see if Morris finally makes it in, as he seems to be getting closer and closer to that magical 75 percent. As for the others, even though they may have had "Hall of Fame" careers, it seems unlikely that 2013 will be the year that they get enough votes.

Is It Time for a Designated Hitter?

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    One of the most interesting cases that the voters have seen in a while is Edgar Martinez, a player who primarily was the designated hitter for majority of his career. There is no doubt that Edgar dominated that position during his 18 seasons with the Seattle Mariners, but does that dominance deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame?

    This year, Martinez's third time on the ballot, the voters didn't think he was worthy, only giving him 36.5 percent of the possible votes. In each of the three seasons that he has been eligible he has only received in the low-to-mid 30's, a percentage not even close to what it needs to be.

    During his career Martinez led the league in runs and RBI once, doubles and batting average twice, on-base percentage three times. He was named to seven All-Star teams, serving as DH in four of them, and won the DH silver slugger four times (five total).

    Even though he was never a true power hitter, he amassed over 300 home runs and drove in over 1,200 runs. Martinez's career batting average was .312 and his .418 on-base percentage ranks 22nd on the all-time list. 

    Yes, Martinez was a remarkable and respectable player throughout his career but the voters have yet to do him justice and give him the 75 percent he needs to be called a Hall of Famer. Will 2013 be the year that a full-time DH enters the Hall? 

Close Calls

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    I'm putting five players in the "middle" stage of the voting process. These are players that were good but probably won't be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Tim Raines, Bernie Williams, Larry Walker and Fred McGriff still have a long ways to go in order to be inducted, but they have only been on the ballot for a few years.

    Raines came close this year (48.7 percent), but still has a good amount of voters to convince that he is Hall worthy. McGriff and Walker both had great careers but only received 24 percent and 23 percent respectively in 2012. Williams, on the other hand, only received 9.6 percent of votes in his first season of eligibility.

    Kenny Lofton will be on the ballot for the first time in 2013, and I consider him an interesting case. He played for 17 seasons and was a very respectable player throughout his career. His numbers are not great, that is for sure, but he did play in a time period where steroids were apparent and he should be credited for that. 

    Lofton was a phenomenal outfielder, even though he could never really stay in one spot for too long. He played for 10 different teams, nine of them for one season each and the Cleveland Indians for 10. Lofton was an All-Star six times and a Gold Glover four times. His ability to steal bases was huge during his career and lead the AL in stolen bases in five seasons and is 15th all-time was 622 for his career.

    Kenny Lofton is the complete opposite of what the Hall of Fame voters will see on the 2013 ballot, but can he at least stay on the ballot for a few more years?

The Boys from Houston

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    There will be a ton of controversy over the steroid issue on this ballot, but there are two players that are two of the most respected players of all time, Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. The two Astros have both only played for Houston and were teammates from 1991-2005, clearly the best teammates on the ballot. 

    On his second ballot, Bagwell received the third most votes, earning 56 percent of them. Playing 15 seasons, he compiled over 2,300 hits, 449 home runs, 1,500 RBI and 1,400 walks. He played in all 162 games four times, led the league in runs three times, and doubles, RBI, walks and slugging percentage once.

    Bagwell was an All-Star four times, a Silver Slugger three times, a Gold Glover once, a Rookie of the Year winner and a National League MVP.

    His teammate Craig Biggio had just as impressive of a career. Also a workhouse, Biggio played in every game of the season three times and led the league in plate appearances five times throughout his 20 years in Houston. He is the only player not named Rafael Palmeiro with over 3,000 career hits on the 2013 ballot. 

    Every player on the ballot has a specialty that will or won't earn them a spot in the Hall of Fame, and Biggio has one of the strangest of all; he was amazing at getting hit by pitches. He was hit 285 times in his career, which is second best all-time, and led the league in that category five times.

    Getting hit by pitches won't earn Biggio a trip to the Hall, but his overall resume should. He is one of the last guaranteed clean players that we will see for a long time to come. It would be really special if the two teammates, Biggio and Bagwell, could enter the Hall of Fame together in 2013.

Class(less) Aces

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    So this is where the debate will start. Two totally separate situations for two completely different players.

    Roger Clemens is one of the best pitchers of all time. His statistics are phenomenal, and they alone would be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot. Here's the thing: Clemens took performance enhancing drugs. 

    He has seven, yes, seven, Cy Young awards and also one MVP. He was named to 11 All-Star games. He has more than 350 wins during his 12 major league seasons. But he took performance-enhancing drugs.

    Baseball-Reference measures Hall of Fame statistics and what a player would need to achieve in order to make it into the Hall. The likely HOFer needs only 100 points based on their Hall of Fame Monitor; Clemens has 332. Going by Hall of Fame Standards the average HOFer needs 50 points; Clemens has 73. 

    He is a Hall of Famer without a doubt going by the numbers, but the fact that he cheated changes everything. Will he get elected? Does he deserve it?

    Going in a complete opposite direction is Curt Schilling, who to our knowledge never took anything illegal. Schilling also has good statistics, but they may not be good enough. He only has just over 200 career wins but did finish in the top four of the Cy Young voting four times while also winning two World Series.

    What Schilling will have to hope for is that the voters eliminate all players who cheated and reward those who excelled during that time period while staying clean. Otherwise, it is going to be very close for Schilling, and there is a slim chance that he gets in on the 2013 ballot.

Steroid Sluggers

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    Okay so where should I start? The 2013 ballot is filled with sluggers like we have never seen before. It features returning players Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire and welcomes first-timers Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza and most importantly Barry Bonds.

    All of these players had tremendous careers in all aspects of the game, with an eye on their offensive performances. Palmeiro hit 569 home runs. McGwire 583, Sosa 609, Piazza 427 and Bonds 762. Each and every one of those five players took performance-enhancing drugs. 

    Should this even be a conversation? Well it's going to be a big one regardless of your answer to that question.

    We have already seen a preview of how some voters view players who took steroids in the past few years. McGwire has been on six ballots and only received 19.5 percent of votes this year. Palmeiro, in his third year, only received 12.6 percent. Juan Gonzalez didn't even earn enough votes to stay on the ballot for more than one year. 

    So what will happen with these guys? How will the voters view them during an era where many players took steroids? We all know the numbers that they put up and we all know what helped them get those numbers. The question will be, does it even matter?

Will the Home Run King Make It?

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    Every player on the 2013 ballot has a reason for being there, and you can make a case for all of them being Hall of Fame-worthy, but in the scheme of things, only one player on that ballot makes a difference and that's Barry Bonds.

    There is a debate even before the Hall of Fame debate, and that's whether you can ever call Barry Bonds the home run king. Bonds does have more home runs than Hank Aaron, but Bonds did take performance-enhancing drugs while Aaron was clean throughout his career. So who's the king?

    If you want to look at some incredible numbers, go look at Bonds' statistics during his career. Some of them are really just appalling that he could do such things with a bat and a glove. But his numbers aren't even relevant in this debate, it's a matter of principal and deciding what was right and what was wrong when he played.

    This is arguably the biggest vote in the history of baseball. It's bigger than any Rookie of the Year vote, Cy Young vote or Most Valuable Player vote. The vote on whether Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame will change the game forever. It will determine whether other "cheaters" will also make it into the Hall of Fame and how "cheating" will be perceived in the future.

    Baseball is an imperfect game, and it's impossible to monitor everything that goes on. Cheating is going to happen no matter what Major League Baseball does restrictions and suspensions wise.

    In my opinion, and feel free to disagree with me, Bonds deserves to be deemed the home run king and deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. He had the best career that many of us have ever seen, whether he took steroids. Yes, he shouldn't of done it but how much more can we punish him?

    Bonds is a Hall of Famer in my book, whether he receives 100 percent of the votes of none of them, plain and simple.