This time of year is always fun as the “does he or doesn’t he belong” in the Hall of Fame and “why or why not” chatter starts. For years I have taken the stance that known PED users do not get in for me. Lucky for them, I don’t have an actual vote.
Rarely am I swayed once my mind is made up, but it has happened with Tim Raines, so it may still happen for the PED guys. It doesn’t help their cause, though, that many of them are also known as “bad character” guys which is a criteria considered by the writers. Only time will tell if they get in, but chances are that they have their fates determined where Mark McGwire’s has ended up – with the Expansion Era Committee.
Without further delay, here is my mock HOF ballot for 2017:
Jeff Bagwell – it’s a crime that he isn’t in already, but he was close last year and hopefully gets over the top this year.
Tim Raines – still a more borderline case than all the Sabr-types want to believe, but they have swayed me on Raines.
Trevor Hoffman – had a strong first showing on last year’s ballot. Yes, saves have been greatly de-valued since Trevor retired, but his career even outside the saves warrant inclusion. He had a HOF entrance, as well.
Edgar Martinez – DH is still a position, correct? And Edgar Martinez is the best DH to ever play, correct? Then why isn’t he in? Not to mention his .418 career OBP and 147 OPS+.
Lee Smith – one of the most dominant relievers of his era, saves be damned!
Fred McGriff – do the writers really care about seven home runs? It appears that they do. Either that or the Crime Dog was greatly overshadowed by the PED guys on the same era.
Billy Wagner – compelling cases were made for Wagner last year when comparing him against Hoffman. And, like Smith was dominant in his day, Wagner was, as well. He deserves to be in Cooperstown.
Vladimir Guerrero – Vlady had an incredible career and cannon in right field. If you compare his career against McGriff, you’ll see that they are strikingly similar. It will be interesting to see how their vote totals stack up.
Mike Mussina – Mussina is a curious case. On one hand, you have wins being de-valued which makes his 270 somewhat less significant, but then you also have those same people saying his ERA is too-high. Do you like traditional stats or not? He was durable and a workhorse, no doubt, but was he dominant? And if so, was he dominant for a long-enough period? These are the hang-ups with Mussina.
Ivan Rodriguez – there are some strong signs that point to Pudge as a PED guy, but no hard evidence. Still, what is out there is what also first surrounded the known users. He is a tough call for me. No doubt, one of the top 5, maybe 3 all-around catchers in history.
Who gets in this year
My best guess is that we get a two-player class in ’17 with Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines finally breaking through. Trevor Hoffman pulls a Craig Biggio and ends up just a couple votes shy of induction this year, paving his way for 2018.
As first-timers, Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez stand the best chance, however, the PED suspicions on Rodriguez may hamper his vote total. Guerrero, meanwhile, may track in the 40-45% range in votes.
Borderline newcomers to stay on the ballot (5% of vote)
Jorge Posada – should clear at least 10%
Magglio Ordonez – nice career, but not quite as good as Guerrero or even Larry Walker
Who falls off the ballot
*Raines will fall off if he doesn’t get elected