Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2009 Hall Of Fame Ballot

I know that I don't get a vote, but I wish I did. Hopefully there will be some more consistent voting this year, but I doubt it. It will probably be more of the same. All I know is that a certain Chicago writer who absentmindedly left Harold Baines off last year's ballot had better not forget this year, like he promised. Maybe he could persuade a few other voters to throw Harold some token votes instead of handing in blank ballots or writing in banned players.

Out of this year's candidates who would I vote for?

After a lot of soul searching, I have divided the picks into three categories consisting of five players each.

The five locks.
Harold Baines
Andre Dawson
Rickey Henderson
Tim Raines
Lee Smith

I don't get the voters' reluctance on voting in closers. They are as important to the game as the sluggers, the fielders and the starters. Lee Smith was one of the premier closers for a long time. He should be in. Let him in.

Harold Baines was a five tool player for the first third of his career. When his knees gave out, he turned himself into the designated hitter that defined the role. The American League is set up the way it is because of his years as the DH. He owns that role. Let him in.

Rickey Henderson IS the Man Of Steal. He also holds the record for career lead off home runs with 81. Let him in.

Tim Raines was no slouch on the basepaths either. For a time, there were years where he and Rickey were the premier stealers of their respective leagues. Raines had the glove and could get on base. Let him in.

Andre Dawson redefined the Expos organization and then did it again with the Cubs. Dawson is the only player to hit 200 home runs and steal 200 bases with the Montreal organization. Let him in.

The five semi locks.
Bert Blyleven
Don Mattingly
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Jim Rice

Bert Blyleven won 287 games with mostly crappy teams. He ranks fifth all-time in strikeouts! Let him in.

Don Mattingly was the only reason to watch those Yankee teams of the eighties. It's not his fault that his entire career came between championships. Let him in.

Jack Morris holds the MLB record for most consecutive Opening Day starts with 14. 4 World Championships, including 1 World Series MVP. Three times hitting 20 or more wins in a season. One no-hitter. Let him in.

Dale Murphy defined the Atlanta Braves organization for the eighties. A two time NL MVP that has five consecutive Gold Gloves for center field to his credit and four consecutive Silver Sluggers. Let him in.

Jim Rice continued a Red Sox tradition of power hitting left fielders. One AL MVP, two Silver Sluggers and eight All-Star appearances. He led the AL in total bases four different times. Let him in.

The five players that are deserving, but there's no more room on the ballot.
David Cone
Mark Grace
Tommy John
Dave Parker

Alan Trammell

David Cone had a 12 year period where he could do no wrong. Let him in next time.

Mark Grace had the most hits in the nineties. Let him in next time.

Tommy John extended his career by having surgery which was named after him, improving the game for all. On top of that, he was one hell of a pitcher. Let him in next time.

Dave Parker was a powerhouse that opponents feared and he delivered. Let him in next time.

Alan Trammell played 20 seasons in Detroit and was consistently good for most of that time. Let him in next time.

There are good arguments for each of the fifteen players listed, but only ten can be marked on a ballot. Let these players in and clear the way for some excellent players that might get left out cold because there's no room. All of these players deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Let's make it happen!


Johngy said...

I have to respectfully disagree about your HOF selections. First, I must admit that I am an Elitist when it comes to the HOF.
Of your top 5, I think Rickey Henderson is the only lock.
The other 4 would go to my semi-lock group, joining only Bert Blyleven.
Those other 4 would drop to possible deserving (since there is room on my ballot, but I am not using it all).
I am not debating the greatness of any of these players. I just want my HOF to be the greatest of the greatest. Under that reasoning, I just can't put Grace, Cone, Parker, Trammell or John in there.

steveisjewish said...

I also have to disagree - My votes are for Henderson, Blyleven, and the Hawk - While there are a lot of nice players on that list - not all of them were the most dominating players at their positions for a long enough streych of time

Steve Gierman said...

And that's exactly what makes this sport great! Everybody has their own view.

Dave said...

Steve, I get that you're a Harold Baines fan, but can you give a little bit better rationale for his Hall of Fame candidacy? He "was a five tool player for the first third of his career" - OK, but that's not a long enough time to get into the Hall of Fame. How did he "define" the role of DH? By being a guy who wasn't healthy enough to play in the field? I'm not opposed to DHs (like maybe David Ortiz someday) getting into the Hall, but I think that they'd get in despite being a DH, not because they were a DH and "defined the role". I think that if you objectively look at Baines' stats, you'll see that he falls short of Hall of Fame status. He was a very good player, but not one of the best of all-time.

dayf said...

Two points on Baines:

1) The DH is part of the AL Game, and a great DH really helps the team.

2) Offensive numbers were GREATLY depressed in the 70's and 80's and they cannot be compared with today's numbers.

Baines is a hall of famer, one day the voters will figure it out.

Steve Gierman said...


I completely agree with your David Ortiz comment. I think he is the quintessential DH right now.

My point with Harold defining the role is simple. Before Harold took over the DH role for the majority of the nineties (he did still occasionally play the field), the DH was the place to dump players.

Most designated hitters in the seventies and eighties were either washed up players that were in the lineup for their marquee value or because the manager wanted to rest a player. Harold was the first player to be placed consistently as a DH for his hitting.

Fred Manrique was placed at DH ten times between 1981 and 1990. 5 times in 1987 alone! If that doesn't show how mishandled the DH role was back then, I don't know what does.

Harold's numbers and clutch ability at that role have shaped the DH into what it is today. Before Harold, the DH was a complete mess that many managers had no clue how to use.

Johngy said...

Fred Manrique...great point there about the DH!

Dave said...

Regarding dayf's points, Baines played 1980 - 2001, so he missed the 70s completely. I'd agree that Baines was one of the top hitters in the A.L. during the early 80s, but he really tailed off in the late 80s and the 90s. Offensive numbers were definitely not depressed in the 90s, and Baines was never someone who I'd rank as one of the top 30 hitters in the game in that decade.

Regarding Steve's point about the DH - you raise an interesting point that Baines revolutionized how the DH was used, but what did he do as a player that makes him Hall worthy? In other words, what were his accomplishments on the field that vault him into the category of the all-time greats? I'm looking at his numbers and I just don't see it. He didn't even hit 400 home runs, he didn't get 3000 hits. He only had 3 seasons where he reached 100 RBI. He wasn't a base stealer and he didn't play in the field for most of his career. He had a .289 average, .356 OBP, and .465 SLG. That's a nice career, but not among the best of all-time.

Johngy said...

My friends and I debate this topic all of the time. We represent all sides (3 Elitists, 2 Moderates and 2 Inclusives). Everyone has their own views.
One friend likes to see all of these great players in, because it is just more to see and more history remembered and honored. One wants more exclusivity than I do. Recently, he has mellowed a bit. He suggests a 2 tired HOF. One HOF is for the Elite only. The second level is for the rest, which would than include probably all of the 15 names on Steve's list.

Steve Gierman said...

Dave, the last two thirds of Baines' career was spent being acquired by a team in July to bolster their offense for a playoff run. They traded for Harold because in the clutch, he seemed to always come through. In my opinion, that elevates his status past very good.

Johngy, that's a very interesting system! That could actually solve the logjam of talent, but it also opens up a whole other can of worms.

I love hearing everyone's opinions! If anyone's got more, let's hear them!

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