The Hall of Fame ballot was announced this week , and it features some new faces and some old. Here is the ballot:
My ballot would read: Blyleven, Gossage, Raines. With Dawson, Morris, and Trammell close but no cigar, and Brooklyn native and childhood hero Shawon Dunston as a sentimental "no way, but it hurts to admit it."
I am one of those on the bandwagon for Rik Aalbert Blyleven. His curve was one of the best pitches of his generation, if not one of the best hooks ever. He played for horrendous teams, yet managed to win games. He is 5th in career strikouts, 8th in shutouts, and 17th in wins. He won more 1-0 games than anyone else since 1900. Blyleven's career ERA+ was 118, and his career stats are as good or better than many many others who have been enshrined. But don't take my word for it.
Gossage was insane for 3 years in 1975, '77, and '78, throwing 409 relief innings, with an ERA+ of 212. But he was mostly excellent for his 22 seasons in the bigs. This is how his ERA+ numbers read, starting in 1975 when he was 23: 212, 91 (as a starter), 243, 180, 155, 173, 461, 178, 171, 124, 195, 84, 118, 114, 132, 90, 117. And those last three seasons came when he was 40, 41, and 42 years old. His K/BB numbers were only okay, not dominant, in part because his K numbers fell off later in his career. (he averaged almost 9 K/9 in his prime) Goose at his peak was about as good as closers get, and he remained effective for a very very long time.
Raines could be the best leadoff hitter in baseball history if Rickey Henderson isn't. His career line of .293/.385/.425 is all the more impressive considering he was a regular at 21 and played until he was 42. Raines' career OPS+ of 123 is impressive for a leadoff man, his fielding was excellent (although his arm not so) and, over his career, racked up 808 steals to only 146 caught stealings for an 85% success rate, which is just outstanding, even better than Rickey's. In the power department, Raines chipped in 170 HRS and 113 triples over his career, with plenty of doubles. His 1330 career BBs to 966 Ks is lovely. His numbers compare quite favorably to Lou Brock's (.293/.343/.410), with 938 steals to 307 caught stealings (for a 75% rate), and Lou was elected back in 1985. Enshrine Rock.
That's all I've got, I think. Dawson is very close but had weak on-base skills, Trammell was a fine player but comes up shy, and Morris' lifetime 1.296 WHiP and career 105 ERA+ just isn't enough.
And then there's McGwire. His career line of .263/.394/.588 is definitely enough to get him in, so the only question, really, revolves around roids. While Mac never tested positive for any banned substance, he also declined when given the opportunity to deny that he had ever taken steroids. I have nothing against Mac personally, actually I always liked him, but I would not vote for him this year based on that pathetic performance before Congress because I don't think he deserves to get in on the 1st ballot. The HOF criteria specifically list character as an applicable criterion in choosing members of the Hall (only one of several criteria that, of course, can be overcome by other factors). That's not to say I wouldn't vote for him in the future, though. I know many readers of the blog don't share my discomfort with steroid users -- I played with juicers (though at much lower levels, haha). I also have my own notions of fair play which stem much more from my career in law and government than sports. We all have opportunities to cut corners. You either believe in fair play, or you don't. I don't think those who do are compelled to bestow any special honor on those who don't. As the Bible might say, "they have received their reward."
How about y'all's ballots?
Update: As Mark W points out in the comments, I had a momentary lapse there where I forgot that McGwire had his first season of eligibility last season. He fared poorly, receiving less than 25% of the vote. While I'm not without reservations, I don't think it's fair to require players to deny wrongdoing in order to be enshrined in the Hall just because they have been accused by other players. So I have amended my ballot to now include Mac, whose numbers are clearly deserving.