My 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot: Part 2
Last week I wrote Part 1 to my MLB Hall of Fame ballot if I had an official vote. The entry included my voting criteria, as well as what I personally value more in a Hall of Famer than others. It all culminated in listing the four players on the ballot that undoubtedly deserve induction into the Hall of Fame this year (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Craig Biggio, Frank Thomas).
But I still have six more names that I can include on my ballot! Which bring me to today: figuring out those final few players whom I believe should be inducted this year. I narrowed the ballot down to eight players to choose from for those last six spots, and today it’s time to choose.
First, the final eight names: P Jack Morris, OF Tim Raines, DH Edgar Martinez, 1B Jeff Bagwell, OF Larry Walker, P Curt Schilling, P Mike Mussina, 2B Jeff Kent.
1. Edgar Martinez
Career stats: .312 batting average, .418 on-base %age, 309 home runs, 1,261 RBI, 2,247 hits, 514 doubles
What’s Working For Him: Martinez was an offensive machine for his 18-year career. Martinez’s lifetime .312 batting average places him in front of other Hall of Famers like Jackie Robinson, Paul Molitor, Hank Aaron, and George Brett. His 309 career long balls are impressive, but even more so is his 838 career extra-base hits, which places him above Joe Morgan, Brooks Robinson, and recent inductee Roberto Alomar.
In short, the guy knew how to get on base. Martinez ranks 21st all-time in career on-base percentage (one point ahead of Stan Musial), and led the American League three times in OBP for a season. Martinez played more than 100 games in a season 12 times over his career, and had a batting average under .294 just once in those years.
What’s Working Against Him: Martinez was almost exclusively a DH starting in 1995. When he did play in the field, he was primarily a third baseman, and not a very good one. Martinez also never won a World Series, but did make the playoffs six times, along with seven All-Star teams.
Critics will say that he only excelled at one facet of the game, and that the Hall of Fame is for players who played both sides of the ball. They’re entitled to that opinion, and I’m entitled to mine. He’s in — Martinez put in 10+ years of well above-average offense, which is what the Mariners paid him to do. Plus, the guy is credited in part to saving baseball in Seattle with this hit in the 1995 ALDS.
2. Jeff Bagwell
Career stats: .297 average, .408 OBP, 449 home runs, 1,529 RBIs, 2,314 hits, one of the goofiest batting stances in recent history.
What’s Working For Him: Bagwell was a constant threat in the middle of the Houston Astros’ lineup for 15 years. He ranks in the top 50 all-time in home runs (36th), RBIs (47th), OBP (40th), slugging %age (34th), on-base + slugging (21st), and walks (28th). Bagwell could get on base any way he wanted, but also knew how to drive in runs — he ranked in the top 10 in the National League seven times in home runs and RBIs.
Bagwell won a Gold Glove in 1994, three Silver Sluggers, made four All-Star teams, won the 1991 Rookie of the Year, and the 1994 NL MVP. He also led the Astros to their first World Series in 2005.
What’s Working Against Him: Bagwell would have been a surefire Hall of Famer had shoulder issues not ended his career after just 15 years. He also wasn’t the sharpest fielder, but he could easily be left in the game in the later innings without much fear.
Overall: If not this year, then he’ll get in eventually. He may not have had the longest career, but he was very good in the years that he played.
3. Curt Schilling
Career stats: 216 wins, 3.46 ERA, 3,116 strikeouts, 4.38 K/BB ratio
What’s Working For Him: Schilling was one of the best strikeout pitchers in the game over a six-year span, fanning more than 300 batters in a season three times. Schilling led the majors in wins twice, and had an ERA of over 4.00 just two times in his 15 seasons as a starting pitcher.
Schilling won three World Series titles in his career, and although he never won a Cy Young Award, he finished 2nd on three occasions. He made six All-Star games, and won countless awards for service in the MLB community. Schilling will also be forever remembered as one of the best big-game pitchers ever, as his “bloody sock game” can attest to.
What’s Working Against Him: Schilling had many great years, but did he have enough? Mixed in with his dominance were several average seasons that included injuries and below-average performance, which helps explain why he only finished with 216 career victories.
Overall: Schilling garnered 38.8% of the vote last year, and should see that rise this year. He may not have been great for as long as guys like Maddux or Glavine, but his reputation as a winner and as a 3,000-strikeout guy should put him in.
4. Jack Morris
Career stats: 254 wins, 3.90 ERA, 3,478 strikeouts, 175 complete games
What’s Working For Him: Morris was the staff ace in Detroit for years, including their 1984 World Series season. In 12 seasons of full-time starting pitching with the Tigers, Morris won an average of 16.2 games per season, including two seasons of 20+ wins. Morris was also known for finishing what he started — Morris threw complete games in nearly 38% of his Detroit starts, and did so in 33% of his career starts.
Morris won three World Series championships throughout his career, and etched himself into baseball history with his 10-inning, 1-0 Game 7 shutout of the Atlanta Braves to win the 1991 World Series with the Minnesota Twins. He also made five All-Star teams and finished in the top 10 of Cy Young voting on seven different occasions.
What’s Working Against Him: His strikeout numbers aren’t great, and the win statistic is less and less impressive as time goes on. His career Wins Above Replacement for Pitchers is 133rd all-time, he gave up over 100 earned runs in a season eight times, and led the majors in wild pitches four times.
Overall: Morris is more than his 1991 World Series-winning shutout, and I think voters have been realizing that in recent years. This is his last year on the ballot, and I think he deserves enshrinement.
5. Larry Walker
Career stats: .313 batting average, .400 OBP, .565 slugging %age, 383 home runs, 1,311 RBI, 2,160 hits
What’s Working For Him: It’s hard to find someone who dominated a decade like Walker dominated the 1990’s. Even throughout this final two years of 2004 and 2005, Walker continued to hit for a high average and get on base. Walker’s career OPS of .965 ranks 16th all-time, ahead of other Hall of Famers like Ralph Kiner, Willie Mays, and Ty Cobb. Walker twice led the league in slugging percentage, and his lifetime .565 slugging percentage puts him ahead of Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, and Johnny Mize.
Although he never won a World Series title, Walker still made playoffs three times, including a World Series appearance with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004. Walker won the 1997 MVP, three batting titles, three Silver Sluggers, seven Gold Gloves, and made five All-Star teams.
What’s Working Against Him: Coors Field. The majority of his career was spent in the altitude of Denver, where balls tend to fly a little farther. It’s very true that Walker’s home stats were staggeringly better than his road stats, which voters tend to see as a Coors Field effect.
Overall: Julian Levine of SB Nation’s Beyond The Box Score wrote a good critique of the home/road splits argument a year ago. I tend to agree with Levine here — give Walker a bust in Cooperstown.
6. Tim Raines
Career stats: .294 average, .385 OBP, 2,605 hits, 808 steals, 23 seasons.
What’s Working For Him: Tim Raines was a menace on the basepaths throughout his career. Raines led the league National League four times in steals, and ranks 5th all-time with 808 career steals, and 13th all-time with a stolen base success rate of 84.7%. Raines led the National League three times in times on base, and sits 46th all-time in that category, beating names like Lou Brock, Nap Lajoie, and Tony Gwynn. His strikeout rate was low (1 K every 10.72 plate appearances), and he earned the 37th most walks in history (1,330).
Raines made the playoffs five times, winning his only World Series title with the Yankees in 1996. He made seven consecutive All-Star teams from 1981-1987, and was named the All-Star Game MVP in 1987. Raines also won a Silver Slugger award in 1986 when he won his only batting title.
What’s Working Against Him: Raines was good, but was he good enough to get into the Hall? Raines doesn’t have any of the common benchmarks that voters in the past have used to determine Hall candidacy (3,000 hits, 500 home runs, .300+ batting average). It seems that Raines was consistently good, but never consistently great.
Overall: As sabermetrics have become more popular, voters have begun to realize Raines’ value even more. As such, his vote percentage has increased every year since 2009.
So there’s my ballot. Once again, my ten votes go to:
Greg Maddux, Craig Biggio, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Curt Schilling, Jack Morris, Larry Walker, and Tim Raines.
Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent are definitely worthy, but like I said in my criteria, there is something to be said about being a “first-ballot” Hall of Famer that I just didn’t think they had.
The BBWAA will announce their official Class of 2014 on Wednesday, January 8.