Obviously, I don't have a Hall of Fame Ballot. I would have had to have been a member of the BBWAA from the time I was 10 years old, and they don't usually extend newspaper columns or editorial jobs to those in grade school -- even though many grade schoolers are just as capable of ranking the top RBI producers for MVP, like some BBWAA members. These would be my choices for the Hall of Fame, if I did have a vote for the class of 2007. Maybe someday some of the Internet's writers and researchers will have a shot at voting, if Jim Caple's wonderful column from last week is any indication of the future. I'll put these players in order of their time on the ballot:
A Larger Step for Blyleven
Answering the Naysayers (Part Two)
Another Small Step for Blyleven
Q&A: Blyleven on the Twins
The Majority Rules, Right?
It's All Dutch to Some
The Hall of Fame Case for Bert Blyleven
Q&A: Blyleven on Felix Hernandez
Clemens Rocketing Up Charts
Poz: An Interview With a KC Star
A HOF Chat with Tracy Ringolsby
Up Close and Personal
A Peek Into the Mind of a HOF Voter
Answering the Naysayers
It's That Time of the Year (Again)
"If Cooperstown is Calling..."
The Bert Alert
One Small Step for Blyleven...
Only the Lonely
One thing I can add though, is that Blyleven is the greatest pitcher in the Ray Lankford Wing of the Hall of Fame, my personal tribute to those snubbed by Cooperstown, as well as those who, like Ray Lankford, are members of the Hall of Very Good. Blyleven's value was at least 4 standard deviations above the average for RLWHF starting pitchers, and as ESPN.com noted earlier this year, is one of 21 pitchers in history with a career ERA half-a-run better than the league average over that time -- the others are all in the Hall of Fame, while Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are all on their way once they finally retire.
Rich "Goose" Gossage
Gossage was deserving before Bruce Sutter of all people was selected as the lone inductee for 2006. Now that Sutter finds himself in the Hall, Gossage's remaining outside is nothing short of mind boggling. There is nothing in Sutter's record that sets him apart from Gossage on a statistical level; as many have pointed out, Sutter was a specialized player who only pitched in very specific situations, and was inducted thanks to save totals, a Cy Young award he didn't deserve, and the splitter. All Gossage did was throw 800 more innings and over 30 Wins Above Replacement Pitcher more in his career, while dominating hitters just as much, if not more, than Sutter did. Gossage should not be measured against only Sutter; doing so would allow many other relievers who are not truly deserving of Hall induction to have consideration. Even without Sutter's inclusion, Gossage is an obvious candidate for the Hall, and should hopefully gain his entry before running out of years on the ballot.
Trammell was an excellent defensive shortstop who could also swing the bat; using Clay Davenport's Translations, Trammell was a lifetime .294/.364/.455 hitter with plus defense at a time when shortstops were not even asked to contribute that much with the bat. He earned close to 130 WARP-3 in his 20-year career and finished with a Jaffe WARP Score (JAWS) of 97.2; that's 0.9 ahead of Barry Larkin, another deserving Hall of Famer, and Trammell also had a comparable peak to Larkin's. The argument can be made -- and has been made -- that Trammell is really no better than guys like Tony Fernandez, who are borderline candidates at best. Personally, I think Trammell is a step above, enough to bridge the gap considered in the above argument. Trammell is the last best shortstop of the previous brand, prior to the changing of the landscape by the next player on my ballot.
Ripken's importance seems overrated due to his consecutive games streak, but he's one of the top 20-25 players ever according to some metrics, and he really did revolutionize the shortstop position (well, with a little help from manager Earl Weaver). He has 6 seasons between 10.1 and 17.0 Wins Above Replacement Player; 1991 is the incredible 17 win year, where he hit .323/.374/.566 with 25 Fielding Runs Above Average at shortstop. Ripken's seventh best season was worth 9.7 WARP3, with a 9.4 as his eighth. For many players in the Hall, 9.7 is their most productive season. Ripken is enough of a Hall of Famer that if he isn't voted in unanimously the BBWAA should punish those ignorant enough to avoid checking his name off.
Tony Gwynn is the greatest hitter ever, according to Michael J. Schell in his book Baseball's All-Time Greatest Hitters Hitters were defined as the "players [who] were best at getting a hit in a given at-bat". Gwynn may not have hit for much power -- his career extra-base hit percentage is 24%, and his career Isolated Power of .121 looks like a middle infielder's -- but he was also a career .338 hitter who also hit over .350 in seven separate seasons. He wasn't a bad outfielder until he put on a bit of weight later in his career either, and he's certainly a deserving Hall of Famer. In reality though, he has about as much value as Alan Trammell, who has been snubbed thus far. He would get my vote though.
I've dealt with much of the steroid controversy the same way Jeff has. Ignoring it when I don't know the truth has been helpful. Even if McGwire had used steroids at one point, there is only so much impact they can have, and he is not a borderline candidate by any means. His career ended a few years early, and he's still a legitimate Hall of Famer. He finished with a career .263/.394/.588 batting line, which is fantastic for its patience and power combination. He has three seasons between 10.0 and 11.6 Wins Above Replacement, with a few others in the 8-9+ range, making his peak excellent. He wasn't a good defensive first basemen by any means, but he held his own and didn't hurt his teams much until the very end of his career. For more information on McGwire, I suggest you read the rest of the Joe Sheehan piece I linked to earlier, as well as Jim Baker's fine piece detailing his statistical achievements. I believe McGwire is a Hall of Fame talent, and would vote for him to keep him on the ballot until everyone knows more. If it is left up to the Veterans Committee, McGwire may never get in, even if he is somehow cleared of all suspicion. This would be a tragedy, considering his place in history and how he helped bring people back to the game in 1998 along with Sammy Sosa.
Be sure to check out Jeff 's Hall of Fame ballot as well. He covered a few of the players neither of us voted for, and he differs on a few players I've listed here.