New boys in baseball's Hall?
JAN 02, 2013 1:22p ET
Special to FOXSportsDetroit.com
Good news: Ballots for this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame have been sealed and delivered; the deadline was Dec. 31.
Bad news: I don’t have a vote.
Still, I’ll share the ballot I would've submitted and the reasons why.
The Class of 2013 will forever be known as the year performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) showed up on the ballot in full force.
And each year, it seems, that statistics -- both old and new -- seep more and more into the discussion. Partly because I’m sick of hearing about it, and partly because I’m not smart enough to understand some of them, we won’t be talking about WAR, JAWS or ERA+. It’s not like I’m against all stats, but I also believe in the "eyeball test," both when it comes to stats and steroids.
Here’s my vote:
Jack Morris: Probably the most debated holdover on the ballot. His supporters point out that he was the winningest pitcher of the ‘80s. Okay, who was the winningest pitcher from ’84-’94? Just because it’s a nice, even number, the 80s doesn’t make it more meaningful. I’m more impressed by his 14 on starts Opening Day and four World Series titles. Yes, he had a high ERA (3.90), but this was a WINNER, pure and simple.
Jeff Bagwell: I'm on the fence about Bagwell. He hasn’t gotten in because of PED-use rumors. Using the eyeball test, I don’t know of any player who’s stock improved more after he retired. I’m not a huge All-Star guy, but in a 15-year career, Bags made it only four times. Now he’s considered one of the all-time top-10 first basemen? He gets my vote because he finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting four times and was the best player in the history of his team. It’s a close vote, though.
Craig Biggio: Can’t do Bagwell without the other “Killer B.” Was an All-Star at catcher and second base, then finished his career in the outfield. Stayed a little long to get his 3,000 hit, but he did get it. Easy choice.
Mike Piazza: Another guy with PED rumors but no proof. Never really had a spike in performance; he was great from his rookie year on. Might have a been below-average behind the plate, but the guy is the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history.
Curt Schilling: A great example of the eyeball test. Has only 216 victories and never won a Cy Young, but he finished second three times in four years. Led -- and there’s no question he was the leader -- three teams to the World Series and was a vital contributor to a fourth. He also helped break the 86-year "Curse of the Bambino." People question the bloody sock, but if he was faking, why did he miss almost the entire next season while recovering? Known as “Mr. Red Light” because of his love of face time, he was and still is sometimes hard to take, but he was his generation’s Jack Morris.
Lee Smith: For many years, there was a debate about closers getting into the Hall. However, over the last few years, guys like Dennis Eckerlsey and Bruce Sutter have broken through. Yes, some of the advanced metrics show some warts in Smith’s game, but he was the all-time saves leader when he retired. Leading a major category over your career is good enough for me.
Barry Bonds: The argument that he was a Hall of Fame player before he started taking PEDs might be true, but it’s also absurd. How does anyone know when he began cheating? We know when he got caught. The evidence is too much to get my vote.
Roger Clemens: People make the same points about Clemens -- he was already a Hall of Famer. Let’s look at this. He allegedly started using once he got to Toronto. His last four seasons in Boston, he was 39-40, and in three of those years, he failed to make 30 starts. He had won three Cy Young awards but just 192 games and was declining. The Rocket takes off for Toronto and wins 162 games and four more Cy Young awards -- all after the age of 34. That’s a no vote for me.
Sammy Sosa: The eyeball test is pretty obvious here. We all fill out as we get older, but Sosa looked like the Michelin Man. He did win an MVP and had a good window of dominance, but you need only one eyeball for this one.
Mark McGwire: It cracks me up when people say that on performance alone, McGwire isn’t Hall-worthy. That statement is ridiculous. Of course, we know he cheated to get those numbers. Enough said.
Rafael Palmiero: A compiler who also cheated. Failed to reach 13 percent last year in the voting. Don’t see it getting better.
Dale Murphy: If ever a guy needed one or two more good –- not great -- years, it’s Murphy. Performance just dropped off a cliff, partly because he never missed a game. Great player, just not great long enough.
Fred McGriff: Really, really good and consistent player. Numbers were good, not great. Never reached 37 home runs. Even without help, a Hall of Fame slugger should do that.
Alan Trammell: This is a tough one. Tiger fans argue that his numbers are freakishly similar to last year’s short-stop inductee, Barry Larkin. That's true. But the danger in making comparisons between player “A” (who’s in the Hall) and player "B” is the assumption that player “A” belongs in the Hall of Fame. I think Larkin was a great player but ultimately missed too many games to earn my vote. It’s the same deal with Tram. His offensive numbers -- and some of his defensive ones, too -- are better than Ozzie Smith's. But watching “The Wizard” screamed greatness.
The eyeball test never lies.
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