Every year, a new crop of baseball talent gets elected to join baseball immortality. The responsibility of choosing which former players enter the Hall is a right given to baseball writers across the country. Now you can argue the validity of these writers’ votes or their reasoning why they vote certain ways; but you can never argue that once a player enters the Hall, they are the elite of the elite.
For a player to be selected, they need to have been out of the game for five years and receive 75 percent of the vote. We have had seasons where 10 players were chosen (1939) and seasons where no players are selected (2013). Still to this day we have never seen any player received 100 percent of the votes with Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan coming closest, both with 98.8 percent. In each case there is one voter who leaves these guys off of their ballots for whatever the reason, usually their thoughts are ‘oh everyone else is voting for them, so I’ll help someone who is on the cusp of making it.’ The question remains if we will see any player obtain a 100 percent vote.
This year could be that year when Ken Griffey Jr. breaks the mold and gets the first unanimous election. However, there will more than likely be one writer someone in Kansas that doesn’t but Griffey on his ballot, just to be different and have their name in the spotlight. However, here at BronxPinstripes we aren’t about self-fame, but rather stand for the value of the game so we took it upon ourselves to vote on the 2016 Hall of Fame ballot to see who we would have enter the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
As you can tell there were a ton of different voting styles that lead to only two players on the ballot making it into the Hall as far as we here at BP are concerned. Griffey becomes the first player with 100% votes and Trevor Hoffman takes his place in the league of immortals. Because there are so many players that have credentials to make it, let’s go behind the scenes to see why each of our writers voted the way they did.
Chris Marra: Nomar was the second best SS in the era. I have a ton of respect for him even though he played for Boston. Griffey doesn’t need much explaining; he would have even better numbers if he could have stayed healthy- arguably one of the best talents ever. Hoffman has 601 saves which is crazy considering the team he played for. Sheffield hit the 500 HR mark, which is an automatic vote for me. Jeff Kent is one of the best 2B ever, and was one of the last offensively gifted 2B. Bonds, with or without the steroids, was one of the best ever. Steroids don’t bother me anymore, and that’s also why I voted for Clemens. Jason Kendall was a work horse of a catcher, and that’s what I loved about him.
Tyler Fiedler: I am a guy who believes guys like Clemens and Bonds, who took steroids, deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Their numbers are some of the best of all-time and should be recognized. Mussina is one of the most underrated players on this ballot. He was a constant in every rotation he pitched with. Hoffman is the second best closer of all-time, no explanation necessary. Griffey Jr. in my opinion is the best player on the ballot. He was a pure hitter and tremendous fielder, no brainer. Martinez, though only a DH, is one of the best hitters ever. His smooth swing won him batting titles and I think he is the best DH ever. Schilling was the ultimate gamer and pitched best in the big moments. His numbers in the postseason speak for themselves. Bagwell is tough. He is not the biggest name you’ve heard of but he was a great hitter in the middle of an Astros lineup that made the World Series. Trammel should be in already, I don’t know why he isn’t but he is in jeopardy of falling off the ballot. I am going to elect to keep him on.
Andrew Rotondi: There is no denying that steroids changed baseball. Many records have been diminished because guys were bashing 40+ HRs in the 90s-00s like it was going out of style. When I judge who should be in the HoF, I rely more on my eyes than pure numbers. Also, there is no reason why there can’t be documentation of the steroid era in the hall of fame; after all, it is a museum. Barry Bonds: Bonds was the best player during the steroid era, no questions asked. In a way, he caused baseball to put their foot down on the steroid issue because he made a mockery of the game (he had a .609 OBP in 2004 … SIX HUNDRED AND NINE). Mark McGwire / Sammy Sosa: Their careers would not have been much to write home about if it weren’t for steroids, but the 1998 season saved baseball and was the most memorable of my childhood. For that alone, they deserve to be in the Hall.
RJ Loubier: Edgar. As much as it hurts to check his name, I just have to. The only man on the face of the planet that could get to Mariano, his numbers can’t be ignored. A .312 lifetime hitter, 7 All Star selections, 5 Silver Slugger Awards and 2 batting titles. Perhaps the greatest Mariner of all-time and most definitely the most beloved. Mussina never gets enough love. In his final year, at the age of 39, he became the oldest pitcher to win 20 games. He won 7 Gold Gloves and won at least 15 games 11 times in his career. Only 5 pitchers in history have more wins than him, 4 of those 5 are in the Hall. All the other eligible pitchers with 100 more wins than losses have been inducted to the Hall of Fame, with the exception of Clemens. 7 consecutive All Star Games, a batting title, NL Rookie of the Year and 808 career stolen bases lands Raines in the Hall in my book. He led the NL in stolen bases from 1981-1984 and won 3 World Series. He should be a shoe in.
Mick Tidrow: Edgar Martinez– He was mostly a DH for his career, but he hit like crazy. Gary Sheffield– Hit for power but had an average as well. 500 HR’s and nearly a .300 Avg for a career is a strong case for the HOF. Jeff Bagwell– Nearly 500 HR’s and .300 BA for just 15 years as a pro. We can’t forget about the legendary batting stance either. Jeff Kent- He did it more than just with his bat, slick fielder and good with the bat also. 17 years of consistency. Jim Edmonds– Jimmy Edmonds did it all, from his diving catches, to clutch hitting, he produced each year. Nearly 400 HR’s and 1,200 RBI’s. Hustler and a baseball figure. Mike Piazza– One of the greatest offensive catchers to ever play the game. Throwing runners out like he did plus hitting 427 HR’s and hitting over .300 during his career is a feat catchers just don’t do.
Dylan Hornik: Piazza is one of the best hitting catchers of all time, which makes up for his horrible playoff stats. He also just a narrowly missed last year. Mussina’s numbers aren’t great, but the guy was a horse and he won a lot of games and pitched well in the playoffs. Clemens wasn’t the greatest guy, but he was a hell of a pitcher and I believe that he didn’t juice. Griffey is one of the best to ever do it. Hoffman’s the save King (except for Mo) and the first guy to go over 600 saves. That’s why he’s in and not Lee Smith. Piazza is one of the best hitting catchers of all time, which makes up for his horrible playoff stats. He also just a narrowly missed last year. Mussina’s numbers aren’t great, but the guy was a horse and he won a lot of games and pitched well in the playoffs. Clemens wasn’t the greatest guy, but he was a hell of a pitcher and I believe that he didn’t juice.
Mike Gwizdala: Fred McGriff: A model of consistency. Twice a home run champ, with ten seasons of 30 home runs or more. McGriff has 493 career home runs, a World Series title and a postseason average of .303 Jeff Kent: The most prolific power hitting second baseman in the history of the game. Won the 2000 NL MVP. Jim Edmonds: An elite defender with eight gold gloves patrolling center field. Edmonds had two seasons of more than 40 home runs, five with 30 or more. In total Edmonds has 393 home runs and one World Series ring. Larry Walker: I’m voting for Walker because I can’t stand when people bring up the “Mile High effect.” Does Coors Field favor hitters? Yes. Is Coors Field a MLB ballpark? Yes. Hence, Walker and other former Colorado Rockies players shouldn’t be penalized. In addition to being the 1997 NL MVP and home run king, Walker was a three-time batting champ and a key contributor on the 1994 Montreal Expos.
Nick Delahanty: Mike Mussina– This is a bit bias, but Mussina is a HOF type player in my eyes. Yes, he’s 20 wins or so short of 300, but Mussina was one of the best pitchers in a very offensive-friendly era. Mike Piazza- I felt he should have been in much sooner, but arguably one of the best catchers to ever play the game. He had a tremendous career, and is more than deserving of this. Trevor Hoffman- the second greatest closer of all-time (behind Mariano, of course). Hoffman had a tremendous career, and should be in based on the fact he held the saves record at the time he retired from the game. I stayed away from the known steroid abusers, because I feel baseball still needs to clarify what they are going to do with the guys of this era. Edgar Martinez- Yes, I know he was a designated hitter, but MAN could he hit. He was a special offensive player, and shouldn’t be punished because he didn’t have a defensive home. The guy was a great player and belongs in the Hall. Ken Griffey Jr.- Obvious choice, first ballot HOF in my eyes. He was truly a special talent, one that amazed me every time I watched him play. Mike Mussina- This is a bit bias, but Mussina is a HOF type player in my eyes. Yes, he’s 20 wins or so short of 300, but Mussina was one of the best pitchers in a very offensive-friendly era. Mike Piazza- I felt he should have been in much sooner, but arguably one of the best catchers to ever play the game. He had a tremendous career, and is more than deserving of this.
Adam Weinrib: I can’t in good conscience leave Trevor Hoffman, the second-greatest closer of all time, off. Sure, we devalued saves, but there are already closers in the Hall…I’m not going to suddenly course-correct for no reason. Edgar Martinez is one of the ten greatest hitters I’ve ever seen. I’m in favor of a Hall featuring steroid users. If steroids were so prevalent, as prevalent as Greenies have been for decades upon decades, then why am I supposed to shun Steroid Era players as if their predecessors weren’t also hopped up on performance-enhancers? Also, go Mussina.
Richard Kaufman: Tim Raines‘ numbers are really good. Have always thought Mussina was one of the best pitchers of his era – he pitched great in the AL East for his entire career which spanned the steroid era. I feel like it’s time to give the PED guys consideration (Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire), especially if MLB is letting some of them work as coaches around the league. Griffey is a first ballot guy. Piazza should’ve been in last year.
Brian Capozzi:Edgar Martinez – In my mind, the greatest DH to ever play the game. The guy could flat out hit. A career .312 hitter, .418 OBP, with 300+ HR’s… this guy deserves a plaque in Cooperstown. I never understood the argument for why DH’s shouldn’t be allowed in the HOF. If it’s a position in a baseball game, it needs to be counted and he was the best ever at that position. Trevor Hoffman – They named an award after him. The greatest closer in NL history, one of only 2 guys with 600+ saves. The guy was lights out in the ninth inning. Tim Raines – Baserunning is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of baseball. Anytime a player with speed on the bases, it wreaks havoc for the pitcher, catcher, and anyone fielding the ball. Raines was one of the best baserunners in baseball history. He is ranked 5th all-time in stolen bases with 808. His ability to get on-base (.385 career OBP) and steal made it easier for his teams to score runs. Ken Griffey Jr. – If he isn’t a unanimous selection among the BBWAA, then I’ve lost all trust in the writers. Griffey was a pure athlete with a God-like swing. Growing up watching him, I can tell you that every 10, 11, 12 year old in the mid-90’s would imitate his swing.
Justin McElrath: To me, it’s time we get over the whole ‘Steroids Era’ issues and recognize the impact and numbers some of these guys posted in their careers. Bonds, McGwire and Clemens have numbers only people can match in video games. The popularity that these players brought to the game during the 90s and early 2000s was exactly what the game needed in such a desperate time. The game of baseball was suffering in attendance and ratings until McGwire and Sosa were slugging balls 500 feet. MLB ate up the attention and turned a blind eye to what was happening in the clubhouses. They let guys do whatever, whenever they needed to do in order to enhance their game. Ratings and fans came back in droves, and now we want to punish these guys for helping the game reclaim the title of ‘America’s Pastime’? I appreciate what these guys did for the game, and I cannot respect a Hall of Fame without the all-time leading home run hitter. Now the easiest selection and no-brainer on the entire ballot is Griffey. I could go on and on about how good Junior was, but I think everyone has said all you can. He was a 5-tool player who had the prettiest swing I’ve seen, and could track down every ball hit into center field. I’d be surprised if Griffey doesn’t get close to 100 percent on his first year on the ballot.
Scott Reinen: I’m voting for the anti-steroid guys because there is no clear beginning and end of the ‘era’. How do you single out guys who were part of the era, before or after? It’s one big mess. Thinking of guys who cheat the game, like Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe, that leads me to believe the new cheaters (steroids) should not be in either. Martinez is one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen, and no doubt the best DH I’ve ever seen. He completes my eye test as he dominated an era. He did it along side Griffey, and the two both belong in the Hall. Tim Raines had longevity and consistency over his long career, and Schilling was a big-game pitcher and always showed up in the postseason.
And there you have it. Thirteen of our BronxPinstripes writers give you their takes on who should, and shouldn’t make the 2016 MLB Hall of Fame class. Let us know who you think should make it that we left out. Tell us why we are wrong (we’re not, but you can try). Make sure to look out for the official announcement coming later today to see just how close we were to getting it right.