Although I am not a member of the BBWAA, and therefore not able to vote on the official Baseball Hall of Fame, that does not does not mean that have the only Hall of Fame ballot. The IBWAA, which includes not only includes several other FanSided writers, but also some high profile names in their membership, does have their own ballot. As a lifetime member, I get a vote, and wanted to share my ballot with you all.
It is worth noting that, while Barry Larkin is in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, he has not been inducted by the IBWAA. Meanwhile, Mike Piazza, who is on the BBWAA ballot, was inducted last year and is not a part of the IBWAA vote.
Jeff Bagwell: Here is the list of first basemen with 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases in MLB history – Jeff Bagwell. He also had over 1500 RBIs, was an MVP, a Gold Glove winner, a four time All-Star and a three time Silver Slugger. Despite never being linked to PEDs, the main reason given as to why he has yet to be voted in is that he ‘looks like he did.’ So, although there is no evidence of any PED use, he doesn’t get votes? That makes no sense.
Craig Biggio: Joining Bagwell should be his long time partner in crime in Houston, Craig Biggio. He had over 3000 hits and over 400 stolen bases. Despite playing a position not necessarily known for power during his era, he still hit 291 home runs. Biggio was also a seven time All-Star, making the squad as a catcher and second baseman. He won four Gold Glove awards, was a five time Silver Slugger and played wherever the Astros needed him, spending a couple of seasons in center as well.
Barry Bonds: Here comes the part of the ballot that people may not agree with. Yes, he, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmerio were PED guys. Yet, it is estimated that over 50% of the league were on PEDs at the time. Simply, it was just another era of baseball, like the pre-integration era, the dead ball era and the era of the pitcher in the 1960’s.
Even with half the league on PEDs, Bonds stood above everyone. There are eight players with 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases; Bonds is the only player to be in the 400/400 and 500/500 club. He is the all time career and season leader in home runs and walks, is third all time in runs scored and fourth in lifetime RBIs. He was a 14 time All-Star, a seven time MVP, a twelve time Silver Slugger and won eight Gold Glove awards. Bonds was the best of the best.
Roger Clemens: Here’s another PED guy, and it may be fair to wonder if PEDs played a major factor in his career renaissance after he left the Red Sox. In the end, Clemens still dominated in an era of inflated home runs and offense, en route to 354 wins, 4672 strikeouts and a 3.14 ERA. Clemens made eleven All-Star games, won seven Cy Young awards, earned the pitching Triple Crown twice and was an MVP in 1986. Like Bonds, a case could be made that Clemens was the best pitcher of his era.
Tom Glavine: It’s hard to think that a 300 game winner would be overshadowed on his team, but that happens when Greg Maddux happens to be on the same pitching staff. While he was not Maddux, Glavine still won 305 games, was a ten time All-Star and won two Cy Young awards.
Jeff Kent: A case can be made that Kent may be the best offensive second baseman of all time. He is the career leader in home runs as a second baseman, slugging 351 of his 377 home runs from the position. Kent also had 2461 hits and 1518 RBIs, won an MVP award, was a five time All-Star and won the Silver Slugger four times. Even if he was better known for injuring himself on his motorcycle and trying to cover it up by claiming he was washing his truck, Kent was still one of the top second basemen in the game.
Greg Maddux: From 1992 through 1998, there may have been no better pitcher in baseball than Maddux, who went 127-53 with a 2.15 ERA. Known more for his infamous control, Maddux still ended up 3371 strikeouts, tenth all time. Paired with his 355 wins, four Cy Young awards, eight All-Star game appearances a and 18 Gold Gloves, Maddux was another all time great.
Rafael Palmeiro: More than any other player, Palmeiro has been hurt by the outrage against PEDs. He is also the only player to actually be suspended for PEDs, which seriously hurts his case. Yet, this is still a player who had 3020 hits and 569 home runs. If known cheaters such as Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton can be inducted, then why not Palmeiro? The voters cannot have it both ways.
Tim Raines: Raines was hurt by playing at the same time as the most dynamic leadoff hitter in history in Rickey Henderson. Yet, Raines was a great leadoff hitter in his own right, ranking fifth all time in stolen bases. Although he drew a lot of walks, Raines was also a solid hitter and displayed good power for a leadoff hitter, slugging 170 home runs. Despite being overshadowed by one of the all time greats, Raines was a great player in his own right.
Frank Thomas: Almost from the moment that Thomas stepped on the diamond, he was one of the feared sluggers in the game. Although injuries derailed the end of his career, Thomas still hit 521 home runs and had 1704 RBIs. Thomas also walked more than he struck out, a rarity for power hitters in this era. He also won two MVP awards, four Silver Slugger awards and was a five time All-Star.
Let me know what you think, and who you would have voted for in the comments. There is nothing quite like the Hall of Fame to spark debate, and I’m interested in knowing who you all would select.