This is one of those topics that can start arguments, especially from team or player "homer" fans. I tried to take as an objective approach as I could on this subject and found I was a bit surprised at how hard I was on some players.
I don't know how the writers look at it, but when I look at who's in the Hall now, there's two types of members. There are regular Hall of Fame players and then there are the immortal Hall of Fame players.
To put that in perspective, when you compare two players like Walter Johnson to Don Sutton or Babe Ruth to Andre Dawson, even though all four are in the Hall, you don't look at them the same.
There's a level of dominance the Big Train and the Babe had that only a select few players will ever achieve. A player like Albert Pujols, if he continues on the path that he's currently on, has a chance to be viewed like that.
I think what's most difficult for those who vote is where is the "line" that someone is a Hall of Fame player or more in line of the Hall of Very Good. I definitely don't think there is anyone on the ballot this year who is considered close to being an Immortal, so it comes down to where MY line is. Here's my list:
Players I Would Vote For and Who I Think Will Get In
Bert Blyleven—To be honest, I don't know why he's not already in. The only difference between Bert, Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro and Don Sutton is that Bert fell 13 wins short of 300 wins. He's probably also the last of the pitchers who will make the Hall that for most of their career pitched on a four-man staff instead of the current five-man staffs we see now.
Roberto Alomar—Had Roberto's career lasted a few years longer, he had a shot of being one of the true greats. Even though they reconciled, I believe the spitting incident with John Hirschbeck may be the only reason he didn't get in on the first ballot. It's been reported by a lawsuit of a former girlfriend that Alomar also has AIDS, which makes me wonder (if true of course), is that why his career started to go south earlier than most? His last great season was while with Cleveland in 2001 at the age of 33. After that, his stats fell off of a cliff.
Believe it or not, these are the only two players I would vote for 100 percent without a doubt. The following is a list of those who are in my Hall of Very Good, but borderline on a lot of people's minds:
Tim Raines—If not for Rickey Henderson, the best lead-off hitter during his playing days. Wound up fourth on the all-time steals list and scored 1,573 runs, but none of his other stats really scream Hall-worthy.
Jeff Bagwell—Had it not been for a faulty shoulder that ended his career two to four years prematurely, I may have included him on my ballot. There is a very small cloud of steroid use that is out there (not even CLOSE to the stench around Sosa or Bonds, but...) with no direct or indirect proof. Enough that some voters may take a wait-and-see approach to see if there's anything to it or not. There's no listings, to my knowledge, stating how many years they were on the Hall ballot before getting voted in, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
Barry Larkin—Barry lost a lot of time to injuries during his career. I'm surprised he gets the support he does because when you look at his numbers, they're not within sniffing distance of being considered Hall-worthy. In my mind, he would've been borderline, even had he been healthy for most of his career.
Fred McGriff—Here's a guy who was in the mold of Eddie Murray. Always a guy you feared when coming to the plate, was among the very best players of his day, but never THE player of his day. Even if he had reached 500 home runs, his other stats didn't reach the level of Hall-worthy.
Jack Morris—Something about this guy always brings up arguments. Some say "If Blyleven gets in, you can't keep Morris out!" Why? If voted in, he will have the highest ERA of any Hall pitcher and none of his other stats jump out as Hall worthy either. "But he was the best pitcher of the 1980's." Okay, why does it HAVE to be years that end in zero? Why not pick from 1984-1994, would he still be the best of those 10 years? If somebody else, does that make them Hall worthy? "Jack pitched to the scoreboard." Really? If people are making ridiculous statements like that just to make somebody Hall worthy, I'd just soon keep them out.
Alan Trammell—Stats are similar to Barry Larkin without the injuries. He was among the best of his peers in his era, but never dominated.
Edgar Martinez—The first full time DH to be on the ballot. He's getting some love from some, but not me. It's hard to believe, but most of the stats he put up were between the ages of 32-38. I believe to make the Hall and not having to bring your glove to the park, you have to put up some serious numbers to get in. He falls short.
Steroid Brothers in Arms—I lump Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez in this crew. With an admission, a positive test and a BIG cloud over these three guys is enough to keep them off of my ballot.
There's a list of players that I believe will get votes, maybe enough to stay on the ballot for years like Harold Baines, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Lee Smith and Larry Walker. Most of the rest will get some token votes, but will be off the ballot either after this year or in a couple of more years. Well, that's my ballot, let the debating begin!
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