I hope you got your gameface on, we about to make history ~ Willie Taylor – Knock It Out the Park
With the 2013 MLB Hall of Fame Inductees being announced this Wednesday, I thought I would take this opportunity to pare down the awesome candidate list into my Top 10 most worthy. Most writers have a ‘system’ when voting for the Hall of Fame, and I’m no different. * I like to rank every years’ candidates based on how worthy of the Hall they are. From there, I vote in the top five in my rankings. In lean years like the last three, that would have resulted in my voting in more players than the average writer. This year however (and the next few foreseeable years), there are some tough cuts to be made (Each player’s name is linked to their Baseball Reference link):
1. Barry Bonds
Yes, he would be the biggest jerk to make the Hall since Ty Cobb. Yes, he is linked very seriously to the Steroid Era through HGH and Balco and was even brought to court on perjury charges related to these allegations. But, he is also, steroids or not, one of the greatest players at his position ever. Even before the point its widely assumed he started juicing, he would have merited the vote, therefore he gets my top slot.
3. Mike Piazza
Piazza is pretty clearly the greatest offensive catcher ever (Sorry Johnny Bench fans, its true). He will lose some votes for a perceived lack of defensive skills. Not to mention he isn’t quite left out of all the steroid talk. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he was, by far, the highest vote-getter for 2013 because of the perception of Bonds and Clemens guilt.
4. Jeff Bagwell
My highest holdover from 2012. I have no idea why Bagwell hasn’t made it in yet. Yes, he is part of the Steroid Era, but he’s never been linked in any way and his personality in Houston was beyond reproach. His votes have risen from his first year to his second and I would expect him to creep towards the necessary 75% ballots and be inducted either this year or next.
5. Craig Biggio
Bagwell’s running mate on the right side of the infield and a member of the Killer B’s, it would be fitting for the two of them to be inducted into the Hall the same year. Like Bags, Biggio was widely considered one of the best people in the game when he was playing and his hard nose style made him a fan (and writer) favorite. It also doesn’t hurt that he easily agreed to move from catcher to second base to center field and back to second base…all in the name of the team.
So, that’s who I would vote in this year. But, a valid case could be made for the rest of the Top 10 as well:
The hardest choice I had to make was between Biggio at #5 and Schilling at #6 – not only because I would vote for just the top five, but because both players are very worthy candidates. The rub with Schilling is that his regular sesaon numbers don’t really hold up against fellow Hall-of-Famers, but his Postseason numbers are up there with the best ever. Cardinals fans remember vividly Schilling’s signature Postseason moment: It involved a certain piece of footwear with a certain substance on it. It will be interesting to see what the voters do with him.
7. Larry Walker
I firmly believe that Mr. Walker will be voted in by the Veterans Committee somewhere down the line, because it doesn’t look like the writers will. He got a 20% vote his first year and 23% last year. I would have voted for him each of those years, but this year the competition is too stiff.
8. Sammy Sosa
Sosa will likely be lumped in with Mark McGwire and Rafeal Palmeiro, whom he appeared in front of Congress with when he apparently forgot how to speak English. While I think Sosa was definitely aided by performance enhancing drugs, I have him ahead of the other two because he could hit for average, power and was an above -average fielder and seemed to lift his teams more than them.
9. Jack Morris
Morris was Curt Schilling before Curt Schilling. Everyone remembers his dominating performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, but he was a Big Game pitcher his whole career. A high ERA and slightly low winning percentage have kept him out of the Hall thus far, but this could be his year.
10. Kenny Lofton
I’m not sure how Lofton will be recognized by the writers, especially since he has such stiff competition, but he was always one of my favorite players. The prototypical leadoff hitter, Lofton made things happen by absolutely flying on the basepaths, playing stellar Gold Glove center field and leading several different teams into the Playoffs.
While there are several worthy candidates this year, there could be any number voted in. As many as 8 players could be written on 70-80% of the ballots. I can’t wait until Wednesday. I’ll be back after that to talk about the actual members.
*It should be noted that in no way, shape or form do I have an official HOF vote…this is just what I would do if I had that amazing opportunity.