Having now looked at the top 17 candidates whom I think deserve to be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, it is time to select the top candidates from that bunch. Voters are allowed to vote for no more than 10 players, so that means of the list, seven will not make the cut this year.
After looking at the numbers and the awards and the stats, I have decided these are the 10 that deserve my mythical vote this year; Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, and Frank Thomas.
Jack Morris’ career might not compare to that of Maddux or even Glavine, but he dominated MLB in the 1980s. This year is also Morris’ final year on the ballot. If he doesn’t make this year in his 15th try, he will be dropped from further BBWAA consideration. In 2009 Jim Rice earned his Hall of Fame ticket in his 15th and final try, I am hoping Morris does as well.
While I feel the names I did not choose also belong in the Hall of Fame, there is a limit to how many players I can vote for. With that, the deciding factor on a few players for me was the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
Mark McGwire admitted to using PEDs during his career. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have both denied using, but there is more than enough evidence to make one wonder. Sammy Sosa is another player who is heavily under the suspicion of using PEDs. Additionally, the former Cubs’ slugger was caught using a corked bat. I will never know how long he used it, but it does give me some doubt.
Palmeiro falls into the PED crowd, but he accomplished something during his career that was done by only three other players, collecting 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. The other three are already in the Hall of Fame. Because of that, he gets my vote.
Jeff Bagwell and Curt Schilling both had great careers, but they weren’t over the top.
Bagwell was a face of the franchise, but his team never won it all. Bagwell also did not compile the “magical” mark of 500 home runs or 3,000 hits. Schilling played for several winning teams in his career and he was a strikeout machine. However, he is nowhere close to 300 wins.
Mike Mussina also had a great career, but he was never “the guy” on any of his teams. He is south of 300 wins as well as on the wrong side of 3,000 strikeouts. With an ERA of 3.68, Mussina’s would be the second highest of any pitcher in the Hall of Fame. Mussina also had several high profile teammates who helped his teams just as much as he did to be successful.
Regardless of the cons I have against all these players, I still believe them to be Hall of Fame players. Let us remember one really important factor when it comes to the Hall of Fame. It is a museum that documents the game of baseball. Museums don’t just document the good (like Schilling, Mussina, and Bagwell), but they also document when bad things (PEDs) happened.
Steroid use is a part of the game’s history and that will never go away. We will never know how many players used and didn’t use. But what we can do is make sure that it is well documented in the museum so people know about the era it occurred and can learn not only how it changed the game, but how it was also stopped.
So while I am not voting for certain players this year, just remember that I still think all 17 players I originally listed should be enshrined in Cooperstown.
The official ballot results will be released by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Jan. 8, one week from tomorrow.