The ballots are now in for the 2013 Hall of Fame balloting and while we’re another week away rom the results being made public, I still thought it would be fun to look down the ballot and see who is and isn’t likely to be going to Cooperstown. This was, of course, the year that a number of high profile players with PED questions came into eligibility. Aside from that, however, the 37 players on this year’s ballot run the spectrum from people who are all but guaranteed to eventually be inducted to people I wouldn’t even put on an All Star ballot let alone a Hall of Fame ballot so I figured I would look at every player on the ballot since it’s New Year’s and I’m bored anyway (wow do Bowl Games suck or what?). Starting with the player who has been on the ballot the longest and going from there:
Dale Murphy: Classic case of someone who always gets just enough votes to stay on the ballot but will probably never go to the hall. A two time MVP and seven time all-star who was a solid player on some otherwise forgettable Braves teams. He’s one of only a handful of players on this year’s ballot with any time with the Phillies, although that came at the end of his career and he was far from his prime. Despite being a solid outfielder for much of the 80’s his career wasn’t exactly remarkable. He might get enough people on the veteran’s committee to say he “played the right way” ten years from now, but I doubt it.
Jack Morris: This is a prime example of how the qualifiers to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame and getting into the Football Hall of Fame are completely different. Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman went into the Football Hall with little or no question, despite the fact that their stats never blew anybody away, because they both won multiple Super Bowls. Meanwhile contemporary Quarterbacks with better stats (Ken Anderson for Terry Bradshaw, Dave Kreig for Troy Aikman)will probably get nowhere near election on the grounds that they have no Super Bowl rings. If this mentality were applied to Jack Morris, he would have been a first ballot hall of famer, as his best and most memorable performances came in the World Series. His high WHIP, high, ERA, and less than stellar strikeout numbers, however, have counted against him up to this point. He came within a few votes last year of making it to the Hall and he’ll probably make it in eventually if not this year, but either way he’s on the border of one of the best starting pitchers not in the Hall or one of the worst starting pitchers in the Hall.
Don Mattingly: Is the best player on a bunch of bad Yankees teams still a Yankees legend? A debate often comes up if a player’s HOF candidacy is helped by being on the Yankees or hindered because he’s expected to meet unfair expectations. With that said, the one time MVP and six time All Star probably doesn’t have a strong enough resume to make the case for election no matter what uniform he wore during his career.
Alan Trammell: The position player version of Jack Morris, Trammell had a brilliant 1984 postseason that was the highlight of an otherwise forgettable 20 year career. Although he was a solid shortstop for the Tigers over two decades, his lack of hitting and total lack of power numbers should keep him out of the Hall, but for whatever reason he has seen his share of hall of fame votes steadily increase over the last few years. Because of this he might have a senior committee election in his future.
Lee Smith: A victim of the historic bias against bullpen pitchers, Smith was one of the best relievers over two decades and for a while was the career leader in Saves. 2012 marked the first time that Smith got over 50% of the vote for the Hall so some of the old bias against relievers might finally be dying out, but even now the criticisms that he was never a blowaway closer, he never played on a championship team, and is no longer the career leader in Saves might be enough to keep him out.
Mark McGwire: An admitted PED user whose only argument for getting into the Hall was that he hit a lot of home runs. Not much to say here.
Tim Raines: A very great Leadoff Hitter who had the misfortune of having his career overshadowed by playing in the same time as the greatest Leadoff Hitter of all time. The seven time all star, one time MVP, and four time league leader in Stolen Bases has seen his candidacy pick up steam the last few years. His solid OBP and OPS numbers to go along with his ridiculous stolen base rate should be enough to get him into the hall, and now that Rickey has earned the distinction of getting into the Hall before him there shouldn’t be much holding him back, but he’ll probably have to wait a few more years.
Edgar Martinez: A solid hitter throughout his career, but his underwhelming power numbers looks absolutely miniscule when compared to his steroid era contemporaries. Add that to the fact that he was a DH through much of his career and it’s doubtful he’ll be getting to the Hall anytime soon.
Fred McGriff: Another player with solid power numbers that would come to be overshadowed by the steroid era. He was of the best first basemen of the 90’s, but it’s highly doubtful he’ll get into the Hall.
Jeff Bagwell: A player with a great OPS and who got through the steroid era unblemished, it’s probably only a matter of time before he gets in. He got 56% of the vote last year so it could be this year.
Larry Walker: Power hitter. Steroid Era. Coors Field. No magic numbers hit. No chance.
Rafael Palmeiro: There were questions of if he was truly a Hall of Fame player during his career despite getting 3,000 hits and 500 HRs, and that was before his “I did not take steroids period” act in front of Congress only to test positive for steroids a few months later. He won’t make it.
Bernie Williams: Personally I was surprised that he got enough votes last year to stay on the ballot this year. The Centerfielder on a number of Yankees championship teams is no doubt going to get some HOF talk regardless. The five time all star had some solid years in his prime, especially when you look at his OBP during that time, but he won’t get into the Hall unless 75% of the BBWAA sees being a good Yankee player as an automatic qualifier for the HOF.
Mike Pizza: A player who was probably the best hitting Catcher of all time and got through the steroid era without anything more than a few accusations. Add that to the fact that he played almost his entire year in the nation’s two biggest markets and he had a remarkable story of coming out of nowhere to be a late round draft pick and a twelve time All Star, and Piazza probably has the best chance as anyone to be a first ballot Hall of Famer this year.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens: Two first year players with two very similar cases: All time greats who would have been in the hall of fame with no questions asked had they not taken steroids once, but now will have more than a few questions about their candidacy due to being tied to very public PED issues. The combination of voters who won’t vote for PED users no matter what and voters who will say “let’s make him wait a year or two because of his PED use” will probably be enough to keep both of these players from reaching 75% this year, but it’s only a matter of time before enough voters decide PED issues isn’t enough to keep the all time Home Run leader and the seven time Cy Young winner out of the Hall.
Curt Schilling: Only Roger Clemens has a more impressive resume among pitchers than Schilling on this year’s ballot, and Schilling was never caught in any PED scandal. A player with solid regular season stats who also has the benefit on being on three different clubs who got to the World Series (along with the now famous “bloody sock” game). The question here becomes if his less than stellar financial issues and possible scandal surrounding a shell video game company are enough to turn enough voters away from him, but he should get to the Hall if not this year certainly within the next few years.
Kenny Lofton: A very solid player who was probably the best leadoff hitter in his prime and became the face of a revived Indians team in the 90’s. The six time All Star with a career .372 OBP will probably have to wait a decade or so but he should be getting into the Hall in the future.
Sandy Alomar, Jr.: A six time All Star and a very solid catcher on some great Indians teams, but it’s doubtful he’ll get enough votes to stay on the ballot for more than one year.
Jose Mesa: Yet another player from the Indians, he had the benefit of having his best season in a year when his team went to the World Series. The fact that 1995 was largely his only remarkable season and the old bias against relievers probably means who won’t get anywhere near the Hall, although he might get enough votes to stay on the ballot.
Sammy Sosa: Hit over 600 Home Runs, but has all but admitted using PEDs. Add that to his low OBP and high strikeout rate, he won’t come close to the Hall, although he’ll probably get enough votes to stay on the ballot.
Craig Biggio: Much like questions of whether being a Yankees player helps or hurts one’s candidacy, questions of whether or not being a hot prospect helps or hurts the perception of one’s career could also be asked. Biggio was made out to be a hot prospect coming out of the Astros’ system and was rushed into the majors after only two seasons and 589 PA’s in the Minors. Despite never quite living up to his massive hype, he still had a solid career with over 3,000 hits and a .363 OBP. The lack of power, lack of any real postseason success, and lack of an MVP, however, will probably be enough to keep the seven time all star out of the Hall, although he’ll probably get enough votes to stay on the ballot for a few years.
David Wells: Considered one of the great pitchers of the steroid era, Wells also has the benefit of being a fan favorite along with being considered the best pitcher on the Yankees’ 98 championship team. All this is probably enough to get him a few votes, but really he’s a long shot to be on the ballot next year.
Jeff Conine: A guy with a ridiculously long career that never really was that remarkable, unless you count the fact that he was the only major contributor who was on both Marlins’ World Championship teams. He’s another position player on this year’s ballot with any time with the Phillies, but once again that was long past his prime. He might get a vote or two, but the two time All Star is probably enjoying his only year on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Steve Finley, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Roberto Hernandez, Ryan Klesko, Reggie Sanders, Aaron Sele, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker: For whatever reason, the BBWAA feels it necessary to include every player with at least ten years of service and at least one All Star selection on their ballot once they hit eligibility. Obviously, none of these guys will never get close to being elected to the Hall. Only Julio Franco has more than two All Star selections from this list (he has three) and is probably, along with Reggie Sanders, this group’s best chance of getting even one Hall of Fame vote. I suppose it’s good that the BBWAA includes these players on their ballot so that they can always say “hey he had a chance and wasn’t voted in” for any player who would even remotely garner any kind of Hall of Fame talk, but most of these players weren’t elite during their time and won’t be on the ballot next year.