It's never too early to predict who will be a member of the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame class.
There are 14 carryovers from the 2011 ballot and 27 first-timers on the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot.
Who will not receive the necessary five percent of the vote to remain on the ballot? How much of the vote will each player receive? Will Barry Larkin be the sole inductee?
That's the goal of this article—to determine who will make it, who will come close and who won't be on the ballot for the 2013 Hall of Fame Class.
I'll also tell you which players would get my vote (if I actually had a vote) and I''ll try to predict how much of the vote each player will get.
Let's start with the first-ballot guys who won't receive the necessary five percent and will be removed from the ballot.
This is the list of all the players that will receive less than the necessary five percent of the vote to remain on the ballot. All of them had their moments, but none were Hall of Famers and none would receive my vote if I had a vote.
This was the first ballot for all these players.
Now let's move on to the players that have connections to PEDs.
Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids.
Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for PEDs.
Juan Gonzalez was listed in The Mitchell Report.
If I had a HOF vote, not one of these players would receive my vote.
This will be McGwire's sixth year on the ballot and Palmeiro's and Gonzalez's second.
Last year McGwire received 19.8 percent of the vote and I believe he'll receive 15 percent this year.
Last year Palmeiro received 11 percent of the vote and I believe he'll receive 8 percent this year.
Last year Gonzalez received 5.2 percent of the vote and I believe he'll receive 5 percent again this year.
Tim Salmon played all 14 seasons for the Anaheim Angels and won the Rookie of the Year in 1993.
This is Salmon's first time on the ballot and, in my opinion, he is the second-best first-ballot player on this year's ballot behind Bernie Williams.
Salmon isn't a Hall of Famer. He didn't reach any "magic" numbers, his OPS is under .900, his batting average is under .290 and outside of the Rookie of the Year, he didn't win a single award and was never considered one of the best in the game at his position.
He wouldn't get my vote.
I do believe he'll get six percent of the vote (mainly due to the weakness of this ballot overall); however, I also predict that on the 2013 ballot he'll receive less than 5 percent of the ballot and be removed from future voting.
I also wouldn't be surprised at all if he doesn't get the needed five percent to remain on the ballot.
Bernie Williams played for 16 seasons, all with the New York Yankees.
Bernie won one batting title in 1998, four Gold Gloves (1997 - 2000) and one Silver Slugger in 2002.
This is Bernie's first year on the ballot and, in my opinion, he is the strongest first-ballot player this year.
Bernie's Hall of Fame metrics on Baseball Reference say he's a borderline Hall of Famer (134 for Hall of Fame Monitor and 48 for Hall of Fame Standards).
In my opinion, Bernie did everything very well, but never really did anything great that made him stand out among the other center fielders during his playing time.
Bernie wouldn't get my vote.
I do believe he'll receive around 15 percent of the vote. Bernie's postseason records will help his cause. While his numbers compare well to Kirby Puckett's, if you factor in that Kirby played four less years than Bernie, the numbers don't compare well at all.
Being a Yankees fan, I would love to see Bernie in the Hall of Fame, but it just won't happen.
I predict Bernie will be like Don Mattingly and receive over 10 percent of the vote each year and remain on the ballot for a very long time.
Larry Walker played for 17 seasons, with his best years coming during the 10 years he spent in Colorado.
If you take a quick glance at Larry's Baseball Reference player's page, you'd think Walker would be a no-doubt Hall of Fame inductee.
However, if you take a look at his splits (mainly his home and away splits), you'll see why Larry only received 20.3 percent of the vote in his second year on the ballot and why if I had a vote, Larry wouldn't get it.
At home in Colorado (and in Montreal and St. Louis), Larry batted .348 with a .431 OBP, .637 slugging percentage and a 1.068 OPS. On the road he batted .278 with a .370 OBP, .495 slugging percentage and a .865 OPS.
That's a huge drop-off between home and on the road. To me it shows the "Colorado effect," which makes me believe that if Larry didn't call Colorado home, he wouldn't even be on the ballot still.
I predict Larry will receive 20 percent of the vote again this year and will probably remain between 15 and 21 percent for the entire time he's on the ballot.
Lee Smith was a closer/reliever for 18 seasons.
I admit that I'm torn on whether or not Smith would receive my vote, but I always end up on the side of "no."
Smith received 45.3 percent of the vote on his ninth year on the ballot. I predict he'll receive 50 percent of the vote this time around, but only because it's a "weak class." I also predict Smith will hover between 50 and 55 percent of the vote for his remaining years on the ballot and may one day get elected by the Veteran's Committee.
Smith was a consistent closer, but unlike the other closers in the Hall of Fame already (Fingers, Sutton, Eckersley and Gossage), and with two closers in the future to be inducted (Rivera and Hoffman), I just believe the Smith wasn't on the same level as those guys. Smith's ERA and WHIP are closer to the level of Jeff Reardon and John Franco than to Rivera's or Hoffman's, and Gossage, Fingers, Sutter and Eckersley were simply dominant at one point, while Smith was never "truly dominant."
Don Mattingly played for 14 seasons, all with the New York Yankees.
In his 11th year on the ballot he received 13.6 percent of the vote and would not receive my vote on the 2012 ballot.
Mattingly was my favorite player growing up and I always thought he was going to be a Hall of Famer, even though a back injury curtailed his career. His peak, even though he was one of the best players in the game during the time, was just a year or two short. If he was able to put up numbers similar to his peak years for just a couple more seasons, he'd be in the Hall of Fame now.
Mattingly will continue to receive between 10 and 16 percent of the vote but will never get inducted, either by the writers or the Veteran's Committee. Yankees fans will just have to remember Donnie Baseball for the sweet swing and the memories from the 1980s.
Jack Morris played for 18 seasons, 14 of them for the Detroit Tigers.
In his 12th year on the ballot he received 53.5 percent of the vote, and I predict he'll get 58 percent this time around.
I would never give my vote to Jack Morris and am constantly amazed that he receives the support he does year to year (even having people vote for him over a pitcher like Bert Blyleven).
Morris' ERA-plus was 105 and his WHIP was 1.296. Yes, you read that right, his ERA-plus was 105, which means for his career he was barely above league average. Both of those stats would make him the worst pitcher in the Hall of Fame.
He never won a single Cy Young and never finished higher than third in the Cy Young voting. Yes, not winning a Cy Young doesn't mean he wasn't a Hall of Famer, but it does mean that he was never seriously in discussion for best pitcher in a single season.
Morris was great at pitching complete games and his World Series performance for the Twins in 1991 was fantastic (and the only reason I believe he gets the support he does—for that one game in which he pitched 10 innings).
If there was a Hall of Very Good, Morris would be a founding member of it.
Alan Trammell played for 20 seasons, all with the Detroit Tigers.
This will be Alan's 11th year on the ballot, with him receiving 24.3 percent of the vote last year.
Trammell would get my vote (the first person in this slide show).
Sometimes stats don't tell the whole picture and that's the case when you look back at Alan's career. Trammell never led the league in any category—except for sacrifice hits twice—but if you saw him play, you knew you were watching a Hall of Famer.
In my opinion, one of the biggest shames of the Hall of Fame voting is that Trammell's second baseman, Lou Whitaker, didn't receive more than four percent of the vote in his only appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot. But if you watched the Tigers in the 1980s, you knew their double-play tandem of Whitaker and Trammell deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
This may be one of the most debated votes I would cast, but like I said before, you just had to watch Trammell play.
I predict Trammell will continue to garner more support year after year (similar to how Bert Blyleven gained votes year to year), but sadly, the support was too late and I think Trammell ends up being elected by the Veteran's Committee.
Dale Murphy played for 18 seasons, 15 of which were with the Atlanta Braves.
Murphy won back-to-back MVPs (one of only two back-to-back MVP winners eligible for the Hall of Fame that are not already in; the other is Roger Maris).
Murphy received 12.6 percent of the vote in his 13th year on the ballot.
I would vote for Murphy and it's not even that hard of a decision.
Murphy, like Trammell in the previous slide, had to be seen to know if he was a Hall of Famer. His final stats don't do him justice.
During his peak, Murphy was one of the best overall center fielders in the game and was a five-tool player. He hit for power and average, stole bases and was great defensively.
The only reason I believe that Murphy hasn't gotten more support is because no one was watching the Braves when he was on the team.
I believe Murphy remains around the 10 percent mark in votes for his last two years on the ballot. I'm not sure if Murphy even gets elected by the Veteran's Committee, and, once again, that will be another unexplainable exclusion by those "experts."
Fred McGriff played for 19 seasons for several teams.
In McGriff's second year on the ballot he received 17.9 percent of the vote.
I would easily vote for McGriff.
Some people say McGriff was a "compiler." I say McGriff was simply consistent. McGriff was one of the better power hitters in the game in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was hitting 30 home runs a season when that actually meant something. Even though his career OPS is .886, his career OPS-plus is 134, so that shows he was one of the better overall hitters in the game.
I believe McGriff will get 30 percent of the vote this year as more voters start to realize just what McGriff did, especially when they remember that he was "clean." I believe McGriff will be inducted into the Hall of Fame before his 10th year on the ballot.
Edgar Martinez played all of his 18 seasons with the Seattle Mariners, with roughly 1,400 of his 2,000 or so games as a designated hitter.
In his second year on the ballot he received 32.9 percent of the vote.
I would gladly vote for Edgar.
Edgar would be the first pure DH in the Hall of Fame (although Paul Molitor played more games at DH than any other single position, he played more games at all positions combined than he did at DH).
While a designated hitter, much like a closer, would have to completely dominate in order to win any awards or Hall of Fame induction, I do believe Edgar was that dominant. Was there a more feared hitter in the 1990s?
For his career, Edgar batted .312 with an OBP of .418, a slugging percentage of .515, an OPS of .933 and an OPS-plus of 147. Those numbers simply scream Hall of Famer to me.
I do believe Edgar will get 45 percent of the vote this year and much like Goose Gossage did, he will have to wait till he nears the end of his 15 years on the ballot to be elected.
Tim Raines played for 22 seasons for several teams.
In his fourth year on the ballot he received 37.5 percent of the vote.
I would gladly and easily vote for Tim Raines and am amazed he hasn't received more support than he has.
Raines was simply the second best leadoff hitter in the 1980s behind Rickey Henderson. Along with Rickey, Raines was also one of the biggest threats on the base paths.
Raines, like Trammell and Murphy, had to be seen to realize how great he truly was.
I do believe Raines will get 50 percent of the vote this year and finally gain induction within three years.
Jeff Bagwell played for 15 seasons, all of them with the Houston Astros.
In his first year on the ballot he received 41.7 percent of the vote.
I would easily vote for Bagwell and would have made him a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
The only thing stopping Bagwell is questions regarding PED use. While there's no "hard evidence" like there is about McGwire, Palmerio or Gonzalez, he still played during that era.
A career line of a .297 batting average with an OBP of .408, a slugging percentage of .540, an OPS of .948 and an OPS-plus of 149, along with being one of the best "running big men" in the game (202 stolen bases) and having an above average glove defensively, all scream first-ballot Hall of Famer.
I do believe that Bagwell will get 60 percent of the vote this time around, with his induction coming in the 2013 Hall of Fame class.
Barry Larkin played for 19 seasons, all of them with the Cincinnati Reds.
In his second year on the ballot he received 62.1 percent of the vote.
I would easily vote for Barry and firmly believe he should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. It's a shame he barely got 50 percent on his first ballot.
I believe Barry is a top-six all-time shortstop and would even rank him higher than Cal Ripken Jr.
Barry was great offensively (though, lacking the HR power of Ripken) and great defensively (behind Ozzie Smith all-time, but ahead of Ripken and at least equal to Omar Vizquel). If I had to choose between Ripken and Larkin for one game (knowing before hand that both would be healthy), I would easily take Larkin every time.
Larkin should receive, at a minimum, 88 percent of the vote and will be inducted in July 2012 into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
My ballot would include votes for Barry Larkin, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff and Dale Murphy.
Barry Larkin will be the only person inducted.
Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff and Jeff Bagwell all will improve in their vote percentages.
Jack Morris (for some unknown reason) will continue to garner support.
Tim Salmon and Bernie Williams will be the only first-ballot players to garner enough votes to carryover to the 2013 ballot.
PED users such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro will get some votes, while other voters will hold their PED use against them.
So, who do you think gets over 75 percent of the vote and is inducted in July 2012? Who would you cast your votes for (maximum of 10—I voted for seven)? Do you disagree or agree with my votes or reasoning behind why I did/didn't vote for someone? Feel free to comment below!