2015 MLB Hall of Fame Voting: Who Deserves to Get In?
By Nicholas Delahanty (MLB Reports Writer) Follow @Nick_Delahanty
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It is very possible that history is made with regards to this year’s MLB Hall of Fame induction class. In the past, the committee has been hesitant to vote in more than three players in one class, and it has been very rare to see more than three voted in at one time. In the past, the committee voted in four players twice (1947 and 1955) and five players only once (1936- the first year of the voting process).
As the decision day quickly approaches, there is speculation that the BBWAA could possibly end the long drought and elect five players this year. With this year’s ballot having a ton of players who could make a legitimate case to be inducted, I decided to go to the process of picking my own ballot (which doesn’t count for the BBWAA), and after taking the time and effort to research my ballet, I realized that it was a much harder process then I anticipated it would be.
Shortening the Ballot: Not An Easy Process
The BBWAA allows their voters to vote in up to 10 players on their ballots, which has been something the writers have looked to change over the past two years. The writers want the ability to vote in up to 12 players, and I truly agree with them, as the ballot this year serves as an example of why it would be beneficial to have more votes to allocate to players who are deserving of induction.
Being that the ballot has a lot of players on it this year, first step I took in this process was to try to shorten the ballot in order to help determine who really deserves consideration. The ballot this year features 34 players- 17 returning players and 17 that are being featured for the first time on the ballot, so I wanted to make sure I only considered the players who really were deserving.
The hardest decision I had to make was in regards to the “Steroid Era” players. Of course, there are players that have been rumored to taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (Such as Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell), but there are players on the ballot that are known users as well. For the guys who are known steroid users, I still feel that Major League Baseball still has to decide what to do with these players, as the writers are in a tough position to make a decision to ultimately make their own decision on whether these players are worthy of the honor still or not.
Although these players all had remarkable careers that are definitely Hall of Fame caliber without the steroid connection, I decided to leave the five players who were definitely tied to steroids off my ballot. Of course this is tough, because these players all have loaded numbers throughout their career (and most likely are all Hall of Famers if they are associated with this era) and these are some of the greatest players that I grew up watching on a daily basis.
When I got my ballot down to 29 after the cut of those five players, I started to look at the players that were on the ballot for the first time. All the players featured on the ballot had great careers, but not all of them are Hall of Fame worthy, which led me to take the players off the ballot who were good or great players during their careers. From there, I was able to eliminate another 13 players:
There are some very good players in this list, but none of these players really stood out in regards to being considered for the Hall of Fame. I’m sure some of these players will receive votes and ultimately make a case for the hall in years to come, but most of them should be off the ballot after this year.
After this round of cuts, I was left with 16 players and 10 possible votes. Here’s where things start to get interesting.
“The Sweet 16”
In the “Sweet 16,” I started by taking off three players who are the “veterans” of the ballot: Lee Smith, Alan Trammell and Don Mattingly. They all have very interesting cases, but none of them made the final cut.
Smith had great numbers for a closer, but from my research, I found that many people felt like he was a step under some of the great closer such as HOFs Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter. Closers like Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera should have no trouble getting into the hall, but Smith will be on the ballot for another year at least.
Trammell, who is on the ballot for the 14th time, had a great career for a shortstop. Being that he only received 20.8% of the vote in 2014, it would be a tough task for Trammell to gain enough votes to be inducted in the next two years. Many people feel that Trammell should be in the hall, and I don’t disagree, but it is just too steep of a hill to climb within the next two years for Trammell to be inducted, especially with the amount of Hall of Fame worthy players on the ballot.
Mattingly, who is on the ballot for the 15th and final time this season, has an even steeper hill to climb in order to be inducted, and it doesn’t look very likely. Mattingly’s injury problems over his career really hurt his chances, as he couldn’t stay healthy which ultimately led to a decrease in production. Without the injuries, Mattingly was on his way to a dominant career, and it’s a shame that we weren’t able to see what he could have possibly done on the field.
Martinez was arguably the best designated hitter the game has seen, but the power numbers and his lack of fielding experience really hurt his case. With regards to the full-time designated hitter, future players are going to see the same issue that Martinez is having, as BBWAA writers seem to value defensive skills as well as the offensive numbers that the player put up in his career. This was a hard decision for me, as Martinez was very good at what he was asked to do in his career, but he came up just a little short of receiving my vote.
Kent was one of (if not the best) hitting second baseman of his era, but being overshadowed by Barry Bonds throughout his career really hurt his value to the writers in my opinion. When you take a look at his career numbers, they are impressive, and I definitely think in a few years we can see Kent getting a lot of votes and contending for a spot in the hall, especially once the logjam that we currently are experiencing clears out.
Walker benefited from the ballpark he played in throughout his career, but hasn’t been able to persuade the writers that he is Hall of Fame worthy. He had a great career and was one of the better players during his era, but the numbers aren’t enough to persuade the writers of myself to give him a vote.
The Final Cuts
And then there were 10 players left. I could have easily given all 10 of these players my votes that I had, but I decided against it, being that I wanted to make sure I only put the players I 100% felt should be in the hall.
Here’s where the ballot becomes very difficult: I had 10 Hall of Fame worthy candidates, and had to decide if all ten deserved the vote this year. With that being said, I once again removed players off my ballot, and I ended up with voting for only four players to be enshrined this year (Sorry to the people who wanted to see five players elected for only the second time ever). Here’s how I got to my final decision.
Raines was a tough cut for me. Jon Heyman of CBS made an interesting point in regards to Raines’ case (which made my decision a lot easier), as he compared his career to Kenny Lofton. The career numbers are very similar (with Raines having a slight advantage in most categories), but here’s the main difference: Lofton didn’t receive the percentage of votes necessary to stay on the ballot. Lofton, according to the voters, was not in the same caliber as Raines, but it still will be very tough for Raines to persuade the BBWAA that he truly belongs in the hall. With his vote total decreasing last year, I definitely think Raines will rebound and increase his vote total this year, but he is still very far away from hearing his name called into Cooperstown.
If it wasn’t for injuries and a strike-shortened season, I truly feel that McGriff would be in the Hall of Fame already. Just seven HRs short of 500 in his career, McGriff definitely came close, but I think that not getting to that milestone will hurt him in the long run.
Schilling was a good pitcher, tallying 216 wins in his career, but he will always be remembered for his postseason heroics. Mussina is another interesting case, as he tallied 270 career wins, but with the ballot being loaded with great pitching, these two guys will have to wait at least another year for their call to the hall.
My final two cuts came from the likes of Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza. Eventually, both of these men will be enshrined into Cooperstown, and they both could be very close this year, but ultimately it will most likely take them both another year of two to get in.
Four Well-Deserving Players Into The Hall of Fame
When I finally finished my ballot, I was truly happy with the outcome. These four players all made a lasting impact on the sport, and should be recognized for their hard work and dedication to the organizations they played for.
With regards to the actual voting, I could see the BBWAA electing anywhere from three to even five of these players, as there is at least 8 or 9 players that should ultimately get their call to the Hall of Fame. It’s a very difficult process to go through, but is definitely a fun topic of discussion to have every year, and I honestly feel that I picked the best candidates to be added to the Hall of Fame in 2015.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
A big thanks goes out to our Featured Writer Nicholas Delahanty for preparing today’s featured article. Nicholas is a current student at Felician College, studying Broadcast Journalism with a minor in English.
He served as the Broadcast and Media Relations Intern for the New Jersey Jackals in 2013, and currently serves as the Assistant Media Director for the team. He also hosts a radio show on WRFC Felician College Radio Station called ‘Around the Bases.’
Nicholas recently started working as a broadcaster for Felician College Basketball games, and is a student-writer for the college’s monthly magazine.
He volunteers as a baseball and basketball coach in Garfield, New Jersey, and also volunteers as the announcer for the town’s Junior Boilermaker Football program.
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Posted on January 5, 2015, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged @MLBreports on twitter, @nick_delahanty on twitter, Aaron Boone, alan trammell, angels, arizona diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, baltimore orioles, barry bonds, BBWAA, boston red sox, brian giles, Bruce Sutter, carlos delgado, cbs sports, cincinnati reds, cleveland indians, cliff floyd, closer, colorado rockies, Coors Field, craig biggio, curt schilling, Darin Erstad, designated hitter, detroit tigers, don mattingly, Eddie Guardado, edgar martinez, Felician College, fred mcGriff, Garfield NJ, gary sheffield, goose gossage, hall of fame, Hall of Fame Ballot, Hall of Fame Voting, houston astros, jason Schmidt, jeff bagwell, jeff kent, jermaine dye, john smoltz, jon heyman, kenny lofton, Larry Walker, lee smith, los angeles dodgers, mariano rivera, mark mcgwire, mike mussina, mike piazza, minnesota twins, mlb, MLB Hall of Fame, mlb reports, montreal expos, new york mets, new york yankees, nick delahanty, nomar garciaparra, pedro martinez, performance enhancing drugs, pitchers, randy johnson, Rich Aurilla, roger clemens, sammy sosa, san diego padres, san francisco giants, second baseman, shortstop, st louis cardinals, Steroid ERA, Sweet 16, tampa bay rays, tim raines, tom gordon, tony clark, toronto blue jays, trevor hoffman, troy percival, veterans. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.