It's early January, which means that the big story in baseball is the Hall of Fame ballot. This isn't just any ballot, though; 2013 has brought us the Ballot Which Will Destroy Us All. Emotions run deep, lines have been drawn in the sand, and space is limited due to the somewhat ridiculous rule that voters can only choose 10 players.
Unfortunately, despite the incredible names in this year's class, it is very possible that no one will be elected tomorrow. That means that we have to argue extra hard to get our money's worth out of this year's vote!
I'm going to do two things in this post. First, I'm going to point out some odd things and A's-related thoughts about this year's ballot. Then, I'm going to go over the theoretical ballot that I would send in if I was eligible to vote. Feel free to use this as an Open Thread for all Hall of Fame discussions.
Taking a look at the ballot
- Todd Walker is on the ballot. According to Baseball-Reference, Walker racked up a whopping 8.3 WAR in his 12-year career. Lou Whitaker, a fellow second baseman who fell off the ballot after his first year of eligibility, put up 6.6 WAR in his age-34 season alone (and 71.4 for his career). In Walker's age-34 season, he accrued -0.2 WAR for the 2007 Oakland Athletics, and then retired. Everyone complains about the steroid controversy, but where's the outcry against a Hall of Fame ballot which includes Todd Walker but not Lou Whitaker?
- Royce Clayton is on the ballot. Does he get to count Miguel Tejada's 2002 stats in with his own?
- Three guys who would probably make the Fantasy Baseball Hall of Fame: Steve Finley, Reggie Sanders, and Shawn Green. I remember them all fondly for their combination of power, speed, and under-the-radar status. Finley and Sanders are members of the 300-300 club, and Green averaged 37hr-25sb over a 4-year peak.
- Jose Mesa accrued 12.1 WAR during his 7-year peak, but only 9.6 for his career. That is the definition of "hanging on for too long."
- Julio Franco is on the ballot for the first time. Franco debuted in 1982. A short list of players who were born in 1982: David Wright, Robinson Cano, Yadier Molina, and Adrian Gonzalez. Also, Seth Smith and Travis Blackley!
- How does Jeff Cirillo relate to the A's? He was part of a 3-team deal which sent him from Milwaukee to Colorado. Billy Beane butted his way in, and turned Jimmy Haynes (a crappy pitcher) into Justin Miller (also a crappy pitcher). Miller never appeared for Oakland, but he did get sent to Toronto with Eric Hinske for 2002 stud Billy Koch.
- Same game, Roberto Hernandez: In 2001, the closer was one of the key pieces in the 3-team trade which sent Ben Grieve to Tampa Bay and brought Johnny Damon to Oakland. The A's ended up turning Grieve, Angel Berroa, and A.J. Hinch into Damon, Mark Ellis, and Cory Lidle.
- This will be Dale Murphy's final appearance on the ballot. Two MVP's, five Gold Gloves, 398 homers, and a 121 OPS+. He will reside safely in the Hall of Very Good.
- Looking at the list of first-timers makes me feel old, because I remember names like Rondell White and Aaron Sele...from their rookie cards when I was a kid.
My theoretical ballot - The 2013 Alex Hall of Fame!
Here is who I would vote for on my theoretical Hall of Fame ballot, with very brief commentary:
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens - I don't really care about PED's when it comes to Hall of Fame voting, and I care even less with these guys. These are two of the best of all time, even without extra help. I'm not really interested in character arguments. There is no Hall without these two.
Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza - Two of the best at their respective positions. Still waiting for anyone to formally accuse them of doing anything wrong. They need to be in.
Craig Biggio - The only guy with an actual shot of making it in real life this year. He belongs there.
Alan Trammell and Tim Raines - If you haven't heard the arguments for these two guys, then this is probably your first day on SB Nation. Welcome! Just read anything by Rob Neyer or Grant Brisbee on the subject.
Curt Schilling - Perhaps he'll be my generation's Jack Morris. I just think of him as an ace, partly because he helped lead three different teams to the World Series. But in Schilling's case, he can also back it up with 76 bWAR (nearly double Morris's total), 3116 strikeouts (15th all-time, one behind Bob Gibson), and an incredible postseason record (19 starts, 11-2, 2.23 ERA, 133.1 innings, 4.80 K:BB). He even has the Bloody Sock game to match up against Morris's 10-inning shutout. The only thing that he can't top is that big, beautiful mustache.
Edgar Martinez - Maybe it's West Coast Bias. Maybe this AL fan is ready for a DH in the Hall. He's got the WAR totals to match the other sluggers in the conversation (despite competing on only one side of the ball), his 7-year peak included 5 seasons with an OPS above 1.000 (and the others at .993 and .966), his 147 OPS+ ranks 41st all-time (tied with the likes of Mike Schmidt, Willies McCovey and Stargell, Jim Thome, and Ryan Braun), his 148 wRC+ ranks 33rd all-time (tied with Miguel Cabrera, ahead of Schmidt and Honus Wagner), and I remember him as a great player and all-around hitter.
Mark McGwire - Oaktown love. Remember your roots, people. Also, that thing about saving baseball with a bunch of home runs that one time.
Didn't make the cut this year: Sammy Sosa (one-dimensional hitter in an inflated era; if he was such a great hitter, then how come he has fewer career WAR than Edgar despite getting an extra thousand plate appearances?); Larry Walker (I just can't take his peak years seriously in pre-humidor Coors, even though the park-adjusted metrics assure me that they were in fact incredible seasons); Rafael Palmeiro (I'd probably vote for him on a less crowded ballot, but I'm bothered by the "compiler" label in an era of inflated stats); Fred McGriff (Hall of Very Good); Kenny Lofton (I could definitely support him on a less crowded ballot, so I hope he sticks around long enough for the current/upcoming ballot logjam to clear up); Jack Morris (just no); and Lee Smith (wait he got over 50% of the hold on you can't seriously I give up saves are dumb).
Alright, now it's your turn. Who would be on your Hall of Fame ballot?