As you’re all probably aware, The Brewers Bar is part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, a group of baseball blogs that “fosters communication and collaboration amongst bloggers across baseball.” As you may remember, the BBA collaborates on things like postseason awards, and since this is Hall of Fame Voting Season, we also provide “recommendations” for the Hall.
We were all given the same ballot that members of the BBWAA selected from, and our deadline was December 28. Last night, the results were announced, and only two players received the 75% necessary to receive BBA recommendations: Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar. Barry Larkin was the only other player to crack the 70% mark, but fell well short at 70.78%. Jeff Bagwell (62.34%) and Edgar Martinez (59.09%) rounded out the top five.
The ballot I submitted (and my long-winded reasoning):
Roberto Alomar – One of the best offensive second basemen to ever play the game, Alomar finished his 17-year career hitting .300/.371/.443. As Joe Posnanski writes, there’s reason to believe that Alomar was a bit overrated defensively, but even if you think he was merely okay with the glove, he’s still a Hall of Famer based on the offensive output alone. For whatever reason, he’ll probably be remembered more as “The Guy Who Spit On The Ump” than anything else, and he’s been accused of some pretty shady things after his playing career ended. As you’ll probably be able to tell from the rest of my picks, though, I don’t really care about what things that are unrelated to a player’s production on the field.
Jeff Bagwell – It took me about a tenth of a second to check the Bagwell box and never look back. Seriously, take a look at his Baseball-Reference page and tell me that’s not a Hall of Fame player — and for most of his career, he played his games in the Astrdome. In the strike-shortened 1994 season, Bagwell had an OPS+ of 213 (!!). From 1996 to 2000, he posted OPS+ numbers of 178, 168, 158, 162, and 152. He has a career line of .297/.408/.540. The only reason this is even a question is because Roger Clemens‘ alleged PED use has cast a shadow over those Astros teams on which Bagwell ended his career.
Craig Calcaterra has done an awesome job talking about the ridiculousness of this witch hunt over at Hardball Talk, and Posnanski spent a good chunk of today’s column talking about it (“perhaps we should just burn him at the stake, and if he lives, you’ll know you were right”). It’s one thing to exclude guys like McGwire and Palmerio — even if I don’t agree with it — because they were proven to have used. It’s another thing to exclude a guy like Bagwell just because you “have a bad feeling.” If you’re going to withhold your vote for Bagwell because you haven concerns about those Astros teams, does that mean not voting for Craig Biggio, Jeff Kent, or Lance Berkman down the line?
Of course, withholding votes for those guys would mean applying some kind of consistent voting logic, which we already know is something the BBWAA is not capable of doing.
Bert Blyleven – If Blyleven had pitched two decades later, he’d have multiple Cy Youngs sitting on his mantle. Instead, we’ve had to endure years of “Blyleven or Morris” arguments, and we’ve basically exhausted every argument on both sides. After he got so close to getting in last year, if he doesn’t get in this year, I don’t think he ever will. At least the BBA as a whole got this right.
Barry Larkin – He was hitting 30 home runs as a shortstop before it was cool. People will credit the likes of Cal Ripken and Alex Rodriguez for breaking the traditional mold of a shortstop, but Larkin had just as big a hand in it as those two did. He has Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg, Joe Cronin, and Pee Wee Reese on his Baseball-Reference similar batters list. If the man had played shortstop in New York instead of Cincinnati, he would’ve been in on the first ballot and people would be rightfully calling him one of the best shortstops to ever play.
Edgar Martinez – Sooner or later the BBWAA will have to drop the stupid “DHs can’t win awards or go into the Hall” nonsense. I don’t especially like the Designated Hitter, but it’s here, it’s not going anywhere, so we might as well work with it. Martinez was simply one of the best hitters in his era, was very good into his 40s, and even had an iconic playoff moment (if you’re into that type of thing). Yet writers are still hung up on the DH issue, like if he had played in the field and become a total liability for his team, he would have been a shoo-in.
Mark McGwire – I fully realize that he probably won’t ever get in, and I’m one of the few people that just doesn’t care about the Steroid Era. Does it stink that he cheated? Sure. But the Hall of Fame is littered with guys who openly cheated, and to me, the Hall of Fame acts as a record of the best players of every era. Simply put, McGwire was one of the best players if the 1990s, and deserves to be recorded in history as such. Steroids were a part of the game in the 1990s (and other decades, too), just as cocaine use was prevalent in the 1980s and amphetamines were a part of the 1970s and 1960s. It doesn’t do any good to pretend like it never happened.
Rafael Palmeiro – Same rationale as McGwire, and he has the counting stat milestones that McGwire doesn’t. Does he look like an ass for lying on Capitol Hill, failing a test, and claiming Miguel Tejada injected him with some weird unknown substance? Yeah, he does. But again, that stuff doesn’t matter to me when it comes to the Hall of Fame. I realize it does for other people, and Palmeiro will never get into the “real” Hall.
So, who would you vote for?