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Beyond the Box Score readers "elect" four players to the Hall of Fame

The results of our reader poll — and expanded writer poll — are in!

Which players did our writers think had to wait outside the Hall this year?
Which players did our writers think had to wait outside the Hall this year?
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, BtBS published the results of its writer poll for the 2016 Hall of Fame class. But you, the readers, don't care about us — you care about yourselves! (As you should.) What came of our fan election? Whom did the public select?

Whereas BtBS writers chose nine players and BBWAA members chose two, the fans took a more moderate path. Four men appeared on at least 75 percent of the 388 ballots: Ken Griffey Jr. (94.3 percent), Mike Piazza (80.1 percent), Jeff Bagwell (76.9 percent), and Tim Raines (76.4 percent). Here's the complete rundown of the election:


And, for fun comparisons, here's the data for the writer, reader, and actual elections.

Player Writer Votes Reader Votes BBWAA Votes
Alan Trammell 50.0% 43.5% 40.9%
Barry Bonds 100.0% 71.2% 44.3%
Billy Wagner 0.0% 14.0% 10.5%
Brad Ausmus 0.0% 0.3% 0.0%
Curt Schilling 75.0% 57.0% 52.3%
David Eckstein 0.0% 1.6% 0.5%
Edgar Martinez 80.0% 64.0% 43.4%
Fred McGriff 0.0% 19.2% 20.9%
Garret Anderson 0.0% 0.5% 0.2%
Gary Sheffield 10.0% 9.3% 11.6%
Jason Kendall 0.0% 0.3% 0.5%
Jeff Bagwell 100.0% 76.9% 71.6%
Jeff Kent 5.0% 14.8% 16.6%
Jim Edmonds 15.0% 15.8% 2.5%
Ken Griffey Jr. 100.0% 94.3% 99.3%
Larry Walker 40.0% 32.4% 15.5%
Lee Smith 0.0% 8.8% 34.1%
Luis Castillo 0.0% 0.8% 0.0%
Mark Grudzielanek 0.0% 1.3% 0.0%
Mark McGwire 10.0% 18.4% 12.3%
Mike Hampton 0.0% 0.5% 0.0%
Mike Lowell 0.0% 0.3% 0.0%
Mike Mussina 90.0% 55.4% 43.0%
Mike Piazza 100.0% 80.1% 83.0%
Mike Sweeney 0.0% 0.3% 0.7%
Nomar Garciaparra 0.0% 4.1% 1.8%
Randy Winn 0.0% 0.3% 0.0%
Roger Clemens 100.0% 67.1% 45.2%
Sammy Sosa 0.0% 11.4% 7.0%
Tim Raines 100.0% 76.4% 69.8%
Trevor Hoffman 5.0% 38.6% 67.3%
Troy Glaus 0.0% 0.5% 0.0%

The readers had more diverse opinions than we did, especially when it came to closers. They did manage to put in Bagwell and Raines, though, which I can't argue with.

In addition to the reader poll and the original writer poll, we conducted a second poll of BtBS writers, to which 17 people responded. This ballot had no limit, meaning writers could pick as many players as they wanted. In this election, the theoretical class of 2016 expanded to 11, with Alan Trammell and Larry Walker joining its ranks. For the third consecutive year, we offer both sides of the case for each of these players, explaining why or why not they should have gotten in on the normal ballot.

Alan Trammell


Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images


My opinion is that the first question you should ask yourself when considering Alan Trammell’s Hall of Fame case is this: is Derek Jeter a Hall of Famer?


Of course nearly everyone would say that Jeter deserves enshrinement in Cooperstown, and yet Trammell is on the lower edge of the Hall voting, and has been for the past 15 years. But the difference between the two is smaller than most might think. They share a number of qualities: both were remarkable hitters as shortstops, both had incredible longevity with a single team, with occasional seasons where they offered MVP-level value. They were talented contact hitters with on-base skills and sometimes-surprising pop.

Derek Jeter’s career should be examined through the lens of "hitter first, everything else second", as he was definitely a top offensive shortstop for much of his run. A 119 wRC+ is great for any regular, but sterling for a shortstop and 19% better than league average. Trammell was … not much worse. His 111 career wRC+ was just a few points lower than Jeter’s, and 11% better than the league. Jeter was a better hitter, of this there is no doubt. But Trammell was close, and that matters.

Defense is a different story entirely. Jeter was never considered a great defender by metrics, despite his run of Gold Gloves. He was a net negative (-29.7 defensive runs per FanGraphs) for the Yankees, but Trammell was an elite defender for the Tigers (184.4 defensive runs) by the same measure. That’s a swing of over 20 wins based on defense, a remarkable difference. The value that Jeter gains in offense over Trammell -- particularly on a rate basis -- is overwhelmed by Trammell’s defensive superiority.

While those are the biggest factors in comparing the two players, there are several others that work in Jeter’s favor. Most obviously, there’s the issue of Jeter’s postseason heroics. But a lot of that is derived from playing for the Yankees, and while it is fair to give The Captain bonus points for his stellar work in the postseason, what we shouldn’t do is penalize Trammell for toiling through the 80’s and 90’s in Detroit. Jeter was also an exceptional baserunner (24 runs on the bases) where Trammell was basically average (3 runs). Perhaps most interesting is that Trammell made considerably fewer plate appearances than Jeter, serving about three-quarters of the Yankee great’s total career despite playing through a similar number of seasons. In truth, Tram had approximately three-quarters of the playing time Jeter did, which certainly matters.

However, a player who was perhaps superior on a rate basis to Jeter, who played in the league for two decades but perhaps only 75%-80% of the games as No. 2 … to me that’s no-brainer as a Hall of Famer. Perhaps the Tigers great isn’t exactly Derek Jeter, but because he was almost as good on offense, so much better on defense, and so consistent, Alan Trammell too deserves our #r3spect.

Bryan Grosnick


In a vacuum, Alan Trammell has an interesting case for the Hall of Fame. He was durable, playing 20 seasons and accruing 9,375 plate appearances. He succeeded both at the plate and in the field, with 124.1 career offensive runs and 184.4 career defensive runs, per FanGraphs. Add it all up, and you get 63.7 fWAR (92nd all-time among position players) or 70.4 career bWAR (62nd all-time among all players). Given this, it seems any reasonable person would push for Trammell's enshrinement.

Well, I did vote for Trammell — on the expanded ballot. But when it came to the normal one, I simply had to leave him off. While Trammell's case on its own has merit, it pales in comparison to those of his peers, who simply deserve it more than he does.

Let's start with the shoe-ins. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, and Ken Griffey Jr. have large advantages on Trammell: Each tops his career fWAR by at least 14 and his career bWAR by at least nine. No one would argue that Trammell should make it in over one of those players. (Don't even think about bringing up the S-word here — I made my feelings clear on that last year when I covered Bonds.) After these six, just four spots remain.

So which players should fill out the ballot? In Mike Piazza, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, and Trammell, we have five eligible players for those four slots — meaning, for lack of a more descriptive phrase, one gotta go. In terms of career WAR, Piazza, Walker and Martinez look somewhat similar to Trammell. They begin to separate, however, when we take playing time into account:

Player PA fWAR fWAR/600 bWAR bWAR/600
Mike Piazza 7745 62.5 4.8 59.4 4.6
Edgar Martinez 8672 65.5 4.5 68.3 4.7
Larry Walker 8030 68.7 5.1 72.6 5.4
Alan Trammell 9375 63.7 4.1 70.4 4.5

By fWAR, Piazza, Martinez, and Walker really set themselves apart. Although the gap narrows for bWAR, the idea remains — these three did essentially what Trammell did, and in significantly less playing time. For me, that makes them more worthy of induction.

So the choice comes down to Raines and Trammell. Since the former has about a three-win edge when it comes to fWAR, I chose him; certainly, you could make an argument for Trammell over Raines. Nevertheless, the fact that it came down to these two makes it clear how borderline Trammell's case is. In a normal period, Trammell would probably make the Hall of Fame easily, and I wouldn't object to it. Right now, though, the other players on the ballot outweigh him.

Ryan Romano

Writer Poll (No Limit): 88.2%

Writer Poll (Normal): 45.0%

Larry Walker


Photo credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images


Walker's offensive numbers are nothing short of remarkable. He hit for average and power and showed exemplary plate discipline. In 17 seasons, he won three batting titles, posted an on-base percentage over .400 in eight consecutive seasons and in nearly two decades, ended up with a career 140 wRC+. Additionally, he was a five-time All-Star and won an MVP award in 1997 at the age of 30. Walker never experienced a true decline, meaning he was valuable to his team until the day he retired. Even in his last season, he put up a 2.2 fWAR and a 135 wRC+. Unfortunately, Walker remains the victim of an anti-Coors Field bias, which has subverted his chances at making the Hall of Fame.

Walker displayed success as a hitter in Montreal, in Colorado, and even as a veteran in St. Louis. He played for the Expos for five seasons, including the strike-shortened 1994, during which time he slashed .284/.359/.489, good for an OPS 30 percent higher than league average. He belted 26 percent of his home runs during this time period in which he played zero home games in Colorado.

The narrative that Walker only has great numbers because of his time at Coors Field is factually inaccurate. 70 percent of Walker's career was played somewhere other than Coors. Looking at the numbers outside of Colorado, Walker put up a career .277/.378/.505 slash line and hit a total of 229 home runs, a dinger in 4.1 percent of his plate appearances. Including Coors Field only moves the needle on his slash line due to rounding.

His 68.7 fWAR and 72.6 bWAR make him a compelling candidate for the Hall of Fame. His peak was high, his career consistent, and his skillset transferable regardless of where he played. Keeping Walker out of the Hall because he played a third of his games in a hitter-friendly park does a disservice to the player and to the Rockies franchise. If a player of Walker's caliber cannot surmount the Coors Field bias, no one will.

Steven Martano


Many Hall of Fame voters fall into one of two camps: Small Hall, or Big Hall. When considering Larry Walker from the position of a Small Hall voter the decision is simple. No way. Walker’s career fWAR is 68.7, which ties him for 95th in MLB history. He fares somewhat better by career bWAR (76.2), which puts him 74th, overall. WARP likes Walker least of all, attributing him 56.8 wins, which ranks 107th. Walker was also never close to any of the magic milestone numbers that up until recently guaranteed a player eventual entry into the Hall. He was a well-rounded player who had a very good career, but certainly not one that put him in the inner circle of baseball greats.

Even for the biggest Big Hall voter, a check mark next to Walker’s name still isn’t a slam dunk. For this voter, the problem lies less with his credentials and more with the limitation on the number of candidates that can be endorsed on each ballot. Sort this year’s candidates by bWAR or JAWS and he comes in 6th, just edging out Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, and newly elected Mike Piazza. However, if you compare JAWS scores to the corresponding positional average for each player, Walker drops to 11th on this year’s ballot, with just half a win more than the average Hall of Fame right fielder. Piazza, Raines, and Trammell all shoot past Walker; he also finds himself behind Martinez, who edges him out by posting a 1.0 difference over his peers.

Even on the biggest Big Hall ballot, Larry Walker was at best a coin flip for the final spot this year. Sure, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza, and Alan Trammell won’t be on next year’s ballot, but in their place will be Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Vladimir Guerrero. Walker certainly wouldn’t taint the Hall of Fame if he were elected, but it seems unlikely that the ballot will thin out enough for him to get enough votes before his fate joins Trammell’s in the hands of the Veteran’s Committee.

Matt Jackson

Writer Poll (No Limit): 100.0%

Writer Poll (Normal): 45.0%


Thanks for reading, and we'll see you in July, when Griffey and Piazza take the stage at Cooperstown. Hopefully, several more of their contemporaries will eventually receive the same honor.