We are a little more than 24-hours away from the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame announcement. MLB Network’s live coverage starts at noon Eastern with the unveil coming two hours later. As you probably know, a player must be named on 75% of the ballots cast by the almost 600 members of the BBWAA to gain entrance into Cooperstown.
About 15% of the voters have already made their ballots public. Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell are the top vote-getters thus far, but neither is on pace for that magic number of 75 percent. I am assuming that MLB Network has already seen the results of the ballots (the voting deadline passed a week ago) and at least one player made the cut. Otherwise they are going to have a lot of time to fill talking about how no one made and how the writers screwed up again.
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It is definitely a shame that the voters have taken the spotlight away from the players this year. The writers have been the main focus of the discussion surrounding this year’s impressive and controversial ballot.
We, the writers of FanSided, filled out our own ballots as well. Here’s a link to our results. I must say I was surprised when I saw how the voting turned out.
I voted for eight players. If I was convinced that a guy had cheated, I left him off my ballot. I’m not going to bore you with a ton of statistics, just a short synopsis on each player I chose.
Jeff Bagwell ♦I’ll admit it. As an Astros fan I am biased towards Bagwell. When I tried to approach his candidacy objectively my first thought was: he didn’t play long enough. But when I took a close look at the numbers I discovered that Bagwell did as much, or more, in his 15-year career than other Hall of Fame first-basemen did in much longer careers. I know it’s difficult to compare players from different eras, but Bagwell measures up nicely. Baseball-Reference ranks Bagwell sixth overall among the 18 first-basemen already in Cooperstown.
Craig Biggio (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Craig Biggio ♦ Again, maybe I’m biased but I think Biggio deserves to be in the Hall on the first ballot. Not only did he eclipse the 3,000 hit mark, he hit more doubles than any right-handed hitter in the history of the game. Biggio played hard every day and was one of the most versatile players ever to step on the field. Although he started his career as a catcher, Biggio ranks 13th among the 19 second-basemen who are currently enshrined.
Steve Finley ♦ Okay, this was more of a sentimental vote. Finley’s overall numbers don’t stand alone but I still think he was one of the greatest all-around players ever.
Edgar Martinez ♦ Martinez has been left out too long. Voters complain that he was a one-dimensional player and DHs don’t belong in the Hall. I say bullshit! Martinez was one of the best pure hitters I ever saw. He won two batting titles and dominated his era. So what if he was a DH for most of his career. His .418 OBP ranks 21st all-time and his .933 OPS is 34th. What more does a guy have to do?
Mike Piazza ♦ In 1993 Mike Piazza was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year. That season he also started a streak of ten straight All-Star selections. He was, without a doubt, one of the best hitting catchers of all-time. No catcher in history hit more homers than Piazza. Sure his defense left a lot to be desired, but his offensive ability more than made up for it. Piazza’s 7-year peak WAR is the equivalent to the average Hall of Fame first-baseman.
Tim Raines ♦ I can’t believe Raines isn’t already in. He was a stud. The 1986 N.L. batting champ led the league in stolen bases for four straight seasons. The closest thing to a Rickey Henderson the National League ever saw, (other than the aging Rickey who played in San Diego for a while) Raines ranks 53rd all-time in runs scored and 36th all-time in walks. He comes in at number eight among the 19 leftfielders currently in Cooperstown.
Jack Morris ♦ Time is running out on Morris who is in his fourteenth year on the ballot. Although many say his overall numbers aren’t good enough, his support continues to grow. Morris helped bring World Series championships to Detroit, Minnesota, and Toronto. He won 20 or more games three times and was a perennial Cy Young candidate.
Lee Smith ♦ Big Lee Smith was a dominant closer and an imposing figure on the mound. He lead his league in saves four times between 1983 and 1994, averaging nearly 90 innings pitched per season during the twelve year period. When Smith retired in 1997 his 478 saves were the most all-time.
That’s my ballot. I am old enough that I was able to see all of these guys play and followed their careers closely. That is a big part of my criteria for voting. I feel like it should carry as much, if not more, weight than sheer statistics. Morris and Smith fell below the range of the previously inducted pitchers, but I still feel like they dominated the era.
The chart below illustrates how each of the hitters stacks up on the Hall of Fame Standards established by Baseball-Reference.com. I won’t pretend to understand exactly what all the numbers mean or how they are calculated. I think Bill James and Sig Mejdal are about the only ones who get it.