Right before my December Hot Stove period began, I posted the 2012 ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now that I have had some time to digest the names on the list, I figured now would be a perfect time to discuss who will go in this year, who should go in eventually, and who I would put in on this former Rockies (6) heavy ballot.
Let's start with the returning candidates.
Before I get flamed, the first phrase (will or will not) refers to this year ONLY. The second phrase (should or should not) refers to whether I think that player will get voted in, not whether I think they should get voted in.
Barry Larkin - 62.1% last year - will go in
I will argue to my dying day that Dante Bichette deserved the 1995 NL MVP over Larkin, but I will also argue that Larkin had a far better career. He is a Hall of Famer and were it not for injuries, he would have already been in.
Jack Morris - 53.5% - will not go in, should not go in
I don't think Morris makes it this year and with his limited eligibility he won't make it on the stacked ballots in his final two years of eligibility either. Basically Morris fans, if he doesn't get in this year, he probably won't ever make it into the Hall.
Lee Smith - 45.3% - will not go in, should not go in
Smith could be one of those candidates that gets in on his final year of eligibility (he has 6 years left counting 2012). I think he will be left out, probably topping at around the level of Tony Oliva or Gil Hodges (low 60%).
Jeff Bagwell - 41.7% - will go in
This would probably surprise most and honestly I surprised myself when I made this pick. Bagwell needs a full 33.3% of voters to add him this year. That is a lot, but I think it will happen because the writers that left him off for whatever asinine reason SHOULD come to their senses this year. If it doesn't, he won't see the Hall until 2017 at the earliest because everyone else will overshadow him in the upcoming years.
Tim Raines - 37.5% - will not go in, should go in
Raines is an interesting case. He is only in his 5th year of eligibility, so he has plenty of time for voters to consider him. I think he will steadily climb and probably go in around 2019 or so (much later than he should).
Edgar Martinez - 32.9% - will not go in, should go in
Martinez is the most controversial candidate that doesn't have steroids attached to him. The question is should a DH get into the Hall. I think he will get a big bump this year and eventually sneak in. On a personal note, if DHs aren't ever allowed in shouldn't American League pitchers also be kept out of the Hall since they don't play both sides either?
Alan Trammell - 24.3% - will not go in, should not go in
Trammell is BELOVED by Tigers fans and was a good/great player. I do not think he will ever get voted in, but I think he has the best chance of anyone else on the ballot of getting voted in by the Veteran's Committee one day.
Larry Walker - 20.3% - will not go in, should not go in - former Rockie
This one angers me to write, because I feel Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer. There is no way the writers will vote Walker in just because of the so-called "Coors Effect." It will be one of happier days as a baseball fan IF Walker does get in one day, ideally on the same ballot as Todd Helton, but I just don't think it will ever happen.
Mark McGwire - 19.8% - will not go in, should go in
We now come to the highest ranked admitted user. The name of the place is the Hall of Fame. There haven't been many baseball players in history as famous (with the casual or non-fan) as Mark McGwire from 1998-2001. The McGwire/Sosa battle in 1998 brought me back as a fan following the 1994 labor debacle. I think eventually the steroids tarnish will start to go away, but not this year.
Fred McGriff - 17.3% - will not go in, should not go in
This is another that is hard to write because Fred McGriff is my favorite all-time baseball player and second favorite athlete after Walter Payton. He was the epitome of consistency when it came to playing. To borrow an analogy for NASCAR, McGriff almost never won the race, but he was ALWAYS in the top 10. He was never the best first first baseman in baseball, but he was always in the discussion. I just don't he'll ever get enough support to get in, but he will probably last 15 years on the ballot.
Don Mattingly - 13.6% - will not go in, should not go in
When I first got into in baseball in 1985 or so, if you asked me to name 5 sure fire future Hall of Famers Don Mattingly would have been on that list. Unfortunately, Mattingly's career, while having a Hall of Fame peak, just dropped off too soon for consideration. He will also last 15 years, but never get too close to election.
Dale Murphy - 12.6% - will not go in, should not go in - former Rockie
Another name on that list of 5 sure fire Hall of Famers would have been Dale Murphy. After a couple of MVP years, Murphy turned into the best player on some really bad Braves teams in the 80s. Also like Mattingly, his skills dropped off too quickly for serious consideration. He should be in the Braves Hall of Fame, but not the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rafael Palmeiro - 11.0% - will not go in, should go in
On pure numbers alone, Palmeiro should have been a no doubt first ballot Hall of Famer. He is one of only four players that are a member of both the 3,000 hit club and the 500 home run club. However, as you all know with Palmeiro comes the specter of steroids as well. The tarnish won't go away this year, but IF (and that's a big if) Palmeiro stays on the ballot, he will get in eventually.
Juan Gonzalez - 5.2% - will not go in, should not go in
Has any two-time MVP ever felt like less of a Hall of Famer than Gonzalez? Even at his peak, I don't remember ever thinking of Gonzalez as a future Hall of Fame player. He was a very good player, albeit also with the steroids aura around him. He could stay on the end of the ballot a couple more years, like a Harold Baines, but he'll never get close to getting in.
THE FIRST TIMERS
For the sake of brevity, with this group I am only going to go in depth with the guys I feel could get over 5% this year.
Bernie Williams - will not get in, should not get in
Williams will, without a doubt, get the highest vote total of all newcomers. That being said, it still shouldn't be higher than 15% or so and most of that will be because he was on some great Yankees teams. I could see Williams hanging around the bottom of the ballot much like Dale Murphy, but just like Murphy, he belongs in the Yankees Hall of Fame not the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Vinny Castilla - will not get in, should not get in - former Rockie
Along with Dante Bichette, Castilla is most often cited as the best example of the "Coors Effect." Whether that is true or not, he STILL hit those home runs and drove in those runs which counted the same as everywhere else. That being said, there is no way Vinny Castilla is a Hall of Famer. He will never go thirsty in Denver though, I know I would buy him a beer. He could be in the 5% range, but he is more than likely a one and done.
Ruben Sierra - will not get in, should not get in
For the first 5 or so years of his career, Ruben Sierra looked like he would smash all the records before his career was through. It didn't happen, of course, as his downturn began with a trade to Oakland. He was never the dynamic player after that, although he did play for a long time. Playing for a long time, just doesn't cut it. Another that might get 5%, but probably won't.
Javy Lopez - will not get in, should not get in
Lopez will get the benefit of both being a catcher and being on the great Braves teams of the 90s. I don't think he will get 5%, nor should he, but he will probably get enough votes to be among the highest of the one and dones.
THE "WILL THEY GET ONE VOTE?" CLUB
Jeromy Burnitz - former Rockie
Tony Womack - former Rockie
Eric Young - former Rockie
If I had a vote, this would be my ballot for this year's Hall of Fame.
Vinny Castilla (no I don't think he is a Hall of Famer, but I'd have to vote for him)
Eric Young (just so he would get 1 vote)
No pitchers on my ballot, but that is just because there aren't that many on the ballot. I just don't feel either Morris or Smith should be in the Hall. They just weren't good enough in my book.