My Theoretical 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot

Ballots for Hall of Fame voters are due today. While I am a member of the BBWAA, I have not been in the organization for the requisite 10 years, so I do not have a vote for the Hall of Fame. But I still have opinions, and so, here is my hypothetical 2014 ballot. If you’re interested, here is my ballot from last year, where I voted for Bagwell, Piazza, Schilling, Biggio, Raines, Walker, Martinez, Bonds, Clemens, and Trammell. Because of the 10 vote limit, several of those players are getting bumped this year; hopefully the BBWAA does away with the arbitrary limitation and lets people vote for whoever they believe is worthy of enshrinement in the future.

On to my 2014 picks, listed in order from strongest to weakest candidate. For players who are holdovers from last year’s ballot, I just copied and pasted what I wrote a year ago.

1. Greg Maddux, SP, +114 WAR, +123 RA9-WAR

There is no argument for keeping Greg Maddux out of the Hall of Fame. It doesn’t exist. He is inarguably one of the 10 greatest pitchers of all time, and is probably in the top 5. He dominated during the period in which offensive levels were at all-time highs, combining both a high peak and sustained longevity. No player has ever gotten unanimous support for the Hall, and Maddux won’t either, but any ballot that doesn’t include his name might as well be discarded as a vote from someone who doesn’t care about the process. This is the easiest Hall of Fame selection in recent history.

2. Jeff Bagwell, 1B, +80 WAR

Bagwell’s a top 10 first baseman, and regardless of what kind of suspicions you might have about his physique, there’s no evidence that Bagwell used PEDs, and keeping one of the great players in the history of the sport out of Cooperstown because he was too muscular is the height of silliness. Even if we’re not bound to “innocent until proven guilty”, we should at least put the burden of proof on the person making the assertion. Presuming that Bagwell used PEDs because he played in the 1990s and had big biceps simply shouldn’t be good enough for anyone. It’s a stain on the entire process that Bagwell has not yet been elected, and the Hall of Fame loses credibility every year that goes by without him as a member.

3. Frank Thomas, 1B/DH, +72 WAR

Right now, we have Miguel Cabrera. 20 years ago, we had Frank Thomas. From 1990 to 1997, the lowest wRC+ he posted in any single season was 168. His offensive peak is one of the highest we’ve ever seen, and Thomas is in the conversation for best right-handed hitter of all time. He wasn’t a great defender or a great baserunner and he got injured a lot in his 30s, but we’re still talking about 10,000 plate appearances and a .301/.419/.555 slash line. A hitter like this belongs in Cooperstown.

4. Mike Piazza, C, +67 WAR

Ditto everything I said about Bagwell. I don’t know if Piazza used PEDs or not. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. There’s no evidence that he did, and we shouldn’t be keeping clear Hall-of-Famers out of Cooprstown because of the possibility that they used steroids. Even if you believe that guys who used steroids don’t belong in Cooperstown — I don’t, but for sake of argument, go with me here — you have to weigh the benefits of preserving that kind of standard against the cost of keeping a deserving player out because of a false accusation. I’d rather induct both an unknown PED user and a guy who never touched steroids than keep both out, assuming they’re both deserving from an on-field perspective. To me, rejecting a worthy player because we falsely believe they did something they did not do is worse than accepting a guy who used steroids into the Hall of Fame. I’m not advocating for Piazza and Bagwell because I’m naive enough to think that there’s no chance either had chemical assistance — I’m advocating for them because I don’t believe in assailing someone’s reputation without proof.

5. Curt Schilling, SP, +84 WAR, +81 RA9-WAR

I hear Schilling talked about as a borderline player from a performance standpoint, but if you actually look at his career numbers, that’s an impossible case to make. 3,200 innings, prevented runs at a rate of 20 percent better than league average for his career, had an incredible peak from 1997 to 2004, and is one of the best postseason pitchers of all time. There are only 22 pitchers in the history of the game who have thrown 3,000 or more innings and posted an ERA- of 80 or below. He’s one of the very best pitchers of his era, and he’s better than most pitchers already enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

6. Mike Mussina, SP, +82 WAR, +83 RA9-WAR

Mussina’s not going to get elected this year, and probably not any time soon. In fact, there was some concern that he might get pushed off the ballot after one year, following in the footsteps of guys like Kevin Brown and Kenny Lofton. That appears unlikely now, but there’s little question that Mussina is being greatly undervalued by the Hall of Fame voters, as his career track record stacks up with most of the pitchers already enshrined in Cooperstown. He’s 19th all time in FIP-based WAR, and 31st all time in RA9-based WAR, and that’s without accounting for the fact that he spent his career in the hardest division in baseball during his playing days. Whether Mussina felt like an ace or not, he was one, and is one of the best pitchers of all time.

7. Tom Glavine, SP, +64 WAR, +88 RA9-WAR

Glavine is essentially a modern day Jim Palmer, putting up better overall numbers than his peripherals would suggest for almost 20 years. While I’m no big fan of ERA, it is pretty clear that Glavine had a runner stranding skill that evaluations of his BB/K/HR rates will miss out on, and over 4,400 innings, it’s better to give him credit for the runs he prevented than to use an ERA estimator to try and isolate his individual contribution. Glavine might not have ever had a run of dominance like some others, but consistent excellence is also worth rewarding, and Glavine belongs in Cooperstown.

8. Craig Biggio, 2B, +65 WAR

Craig Biggio is Roberto Alomar without the abrupt collapse at the end. Here, look.

Source: FanGraphsCraig Biggio, Roberto Alomar

A HOF with one and without the other doesn’t make any sense. The voters got it right with Alomar. Now it’s time to get it right with Biggio.

9. Barry Bonds, OF, +164 WAR

I don’t think PED use should be an automatic disqualifier from Hall of Fame consideration. The sport’s history is filled with terrible people who did a lot of lousy (and illegal) things, and if we threw out every player who used drugs or abused their bodies, we’d have a Hall of Fame that could fit inside a pick-up truck. I also don’t think that PED use should just be glossed over or ignored, and when we have evidence that a player used steroids, it should factor into our decision over whether or not he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I’m sympathetic to the idea that we don’t want to reward cheating. This isn’t such a cut-and-dried issue for me as it seems to be for others, on both sides. But, at the end of the day, Bonds had one of the five best careers of all time. No matter how much of a penalty you want to apply for the character clause, it doesn’t overcome what he did on the field. He’s an integral part of the game’s history, and he belongs in its most famous museum.

10. Roger Clemens, SP, +140 WAR, +142 RA9-WAR

The Barry Bonds of pitching. Everything I said about Bonds applies here too. He was simply too great of a pitcher to keep out of the Hall of Fame.

If the ballot did not contain a 10 player limit, I would also cast my vote for Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Alan Trammell, and Larry Walker. But, for this year, these are my 10. Let’s hope several of them get in, or else we’ll be in for an even bigger headache next year.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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8 years ago

Good ballot.

I’m a Blue Jays fan, and you better never mention 1987 around me, but leaving Trammell off is hard to see. I’m not blaming you: there are 17ish qualified players on a 10 man limit ballot, thanks to last year’s idiotic posturing. I just have a hard time seeing Smith, Larkin, and Yount’s peer just trampled like this.

PS: How does Lou Whittaker look along side Robbie and Biggio?

frank armstrong
8 years ago
Reply to  willystarr

I hope that you don’t get your ten years in. Bonds and Clemens are both a stain on the game. With that logic, why aren’t you voting for Sosa and Palmeiro ? Integrity is a criteria for getting in the HOF and clearly you have none.

8 years ago

Oh do shut up.

Radical Centrist
8 years ago

I have no problem with people like Rose, Bonds and Clemens being voted in – so long as it’s done posthumously, asterisks and all.

8 years ago

Let’s then put a * next to all the players and records for the years when baseball was Segregated! Just saying and most of them weren’t saints by the way.

Enhanced performance
8 years ago

The major difference with Clemens and Bonds is that we KNOW they used performance enhancing drugs. The case for exclusion is cut and dry because we have evidence of their transgressions.
Voting for a player is a case by case discussion and the fact the Clemens and Bonds cheated is known. This makes the uncertainty about Bagwell and Piazza different than the certainty we have about Clemens and Bonds. With Bonds and Clemens the transgression is also to the sanctity of statistics. There is no one who thinks they would have accomplished as much late in their careers. Their numbers cheapen what other players have and will put up. I would think a statistician would be hurt on a deeper level than a casual fan because he would have a greater appreciation for the gravity of the enhancement.

Food Dog
8 years ago

On the contrary, a statistician would have a greater appreciation of the difficulty of appreciating the gravity of the enhancement.

8 years ago

Writers like this are what is wrong with sports. It’s a very good thing this loser doesn’t have a vote. Lets all be very thankful for that. Here’s hoping he never gets to vote.

8 years ago

Because we have to judge on a case by case basis. There’s a football field size of space between the career value of Bonds/Clemens vs. Sosa/Palmeiro.
Even if you’re such an unreasonable hardliner who thinks steroids added 50% of value to careers, the formers would still be qualified. You can literally cut their careers in halves and have 4 midtier HOFers.

Omer Middleton
8 years ago
Reply to  willystarr

I think Barry Bonds should go on national t.v. and tell all the young people who are playing sports that they don’t have to play by the rules, it is o.k. to cheat and to lie to accomplish your goals in life. As far as I am concerned there is only one thing lower than Mr.Bonds and that is whale dunk
and it is at the bottom of the ocean.

Helen Lovejoy
8 years ago
Reply to  Omer Middleton

Well it didn’t take long to get to “WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!”

8 years ago
Reply to  Helen Lovejoy

and the whale dunk. never forget the whale dunk. never forget what it did to us.

Dinosaur Thirteen
8 years ago
Reply to  Helen Lovejoy

Until you coach youth sports and have to deal with kids who have major physical and emotional problems related to steroid and hormone abuse (for which their parents paid) in order to get them “to the next level”. The money in pro sports today makes lots of people very stupid.

8 years ago
Reply to  Omer Middleton

Please stop being idiotic. Like it or not, this baseball writer, Dave Cameron is one of the very few that makes sense! PED use should NOT mean automatic banishment from the HOF for so many reasons. With both Bonds and Clemens, they were HOF’ers before steroids use(alleged)Look at their career numbers, Bonds was a 30/30/100 gold glover his entire career, while Rocket was a 15-20 game winner, 250-300 strikeout, 250 inning pitcher! There are many in the HOF with far inferior numbers, and we KNOW they were not using their entire careers!

If you want to say no to Bonds cuz you dislike him, his attitude, his personality or whatever, I can live with that, but to try to deny him cuz he used (alleged)even then only after he was the attention McGwire and Sosa was getting in 1998 from all of baseball, including the dipstick that is the commissioner and try to deny his God given talents, even when he had already proven he was one of the best alltime, then just close the HOF, cuz no one deserves to be in it!!

And just for the record, Pete Rose not being in the HOF makes the whole thing a complete sham!! The HOF is going to make itself irrelevant by leaving too many out that should be in and including too many that shouldn’t be in…..what a joke!!!

Enhanced performance
8 years ago
Reply to  vbrink

How do you know they were hall of famers before steroid use? When did they start? I don’t believe anything those guys say and at least in A-Rod’s case steroids were alleged by Selena Roberts in high school. It is tough to have a hardline on steroids but it is tough to have a soft line too.

Stan the Man
8 years ago
Reply to  Omer Middleton

Really dude! Why do you single out Barry Bonds? What about Ryan Braun. He knew he was guilty and still let Aaron Rodgers, his friend, defend him in public. I think you guys are mad because Bonds was the best of the “cheaters”.

8 years ago
Reply to  willystarr

I’ve voted multiple times on several posts during the past couple of days and none have been recorded.
Manipulating the vote totals is silly and petty at best. I thought this site was aimed at intelligent, open-minded discussion of baseball topics. Apparently, I was wrong.

8 years ago
Reply to  willystarr

I am new to this blog and know very little of Dave Cameron, but a Baseball writer? Considering voting for Bonds and Clements shows little regards for the integrity of the game and truly to HOF knowledge. Clemens was done after being release by Boston in 86 (Like McGwire was in 95) Bonds was done by his ego. Looks at Bonds stats from age 36. No other player have had those number after 35. Come Aug & Sept, when everyone else is tired and struggling, the users are fresh thus the crazy stats from Bonds. Steroids damages the integrity of the game. Keep them out. You get caught – lifetime ban. Arod and Braun = Fraud!