Thoughts on the Hall of Fame Ballot


There are four players associated with the Cardinals in this year’s Hall of Fame ballot that the BBWAA has been voting on. Their ballots are due at the end of the year. We won’t know how they ultimately will vote for a few days after the ballots are due. However, a number of voters have already made their votes public.

Similarly, Fansided has also asked their writers to vote on the candidates who appear on the BBWAA ballot for induction into the HOF this upcoming July. Just as with the BBWAA, ballots are due by the end of 2011. In the interest of openness, I explain why I voted the way that I did.

The four Cardinals are Brian Jordan, Larry Walker, Lee Smith, and Mark McGwire. It’s very likely that Brian Jordan will drop from the ballot with less than 5% of the vote. McGwire will get over 5% but with his links to PEDs, it’s doubtful that he gets close to 50% of the vote.

With Larry Walker, it’s a different story. He has a career batting average of .313 (83rd all-time) but at the same time, he played ten of his 17 seasons as a member of the Colorado Rockies. The thin air in Denver certainly inflates his statistics. He hit 99 home runs in 6 seasons as a Montreal Expo. During the next ten seasons with the Rockies, he hit 258 out of the ballpark. Including his year and a half with the St. Louis Cardinals, Walker finishes up with 383 career home runs. On the other hand, he finishes his career with 2,160 hits, far from the gold standard of 3,000 which would guarantee a lock for induction. His offense did help with being awarded the Silver Slugger during 3 different seasons. With the offense out of the way, let’s take a look at what he did on defense as an outfielder. His defense brought home a Gold Glove in the outfield 7 different times. Not too shabby if you ask me. I always take defense into account when players have over 2,000 hits and hit for power as well. He did win the 1997 MVP award so he also has that going in his favor as well. If the BBWAA takes his defense into account, he could see votes in the 50% range. That said, one has to factor in what the thin air in Denver did for his offense as well.

Ultimately, I voted for Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff, Jack Morris, and Lee Smith. I took a long hard look at Walker though but ended up not voting for him this time around. Maybe next year.

Jeff Bagwell, a first baseman of the Houston Astros from 1991-2005, finished his career with a lifetime batting average of .297 and 449 home runs. Had his shoulder not bothered him in 2005, make no mistake that he would have reached 500 home runs and been a lock when he was on the ballot for the first time. However, voters do not vote on hypothetical stats. If they did, several questionable players would be inducted. Even at there, a number of players named by the Veterans’ Committee to be inducted have had questionable numbers while both the Veterans and the BBWAA ignored many players who should have already been elected (see Hodges, Gil). I’m off on a tangent, I know. Bagwell is a winner of 1 Gold Glove and 3 Silver Sluggers. In addition to winning Rookie of the Year in 1991, he was named the MVP in the shortened 1994 season. Bags is one of the best players to have ever played for the Houston Astros alongside Craig Biggio. It’s been argued that some writers refuse to vote for him because he played in an era of PEDs but I refuse to believe that Bags was ever associated with PEDs (See articles by Jeff Pearlman, Jerry Crasnick, Jeff Jacobs).

Barry Larkin, who played with the Cincinnati Reds from 1986-2004, is one of the greatest shortstops to have played the game. It’s very likely that he would have snapped up more than 3 Gold Gloves if he didn’t have to compete with the likes of Ozzie Smith. A career .295 hitter, Larkin was named to 12 All-Star teams, elected the 1995 NL MVP Award, and a recipient of 9 Silver Slugger Awards. As a member of the Reds, he played for the 1990 World Series champions. Based on prior voting in the last two BBWAA ballots, there’s a good bet that Barry Larkin, who is the top returning candidate on the ballot, receives the call in his third year of eligibility.

Fred McGriff played with many teams from 1993 to 2004. A career .284 hitter, McGriff finished 10 hits shy of 2,500 career hits and 7 home runs shy of the gold standard of 500. McGriff played for the 1995 World Series champion Atlanta Braves. The 5-time All-Star was the recipient of 3 Silver Slugger Awards and named the MVP of the 1994 All-Star game.

Jack Morris pitched in major leagues for 18 seasons from 1977 until retiring in 1994. Morris retired with a win–loss record of254–186. His career ERA, which has been a turn-off for some voters, was 3.90. He completed his career with 2,478 strikeouts. Even though Morris never won a Cy Young Award, he was a pitcher for 4 different teams that won the World Series (1984 Detroit Tigers, 1991 Minnesota Twins, 1992-93 Toronto Blue Jays). In addition to taking home the 1991 World Series MVP award, Morris was named to 5 All-Star teams in his career. Morris is one of two players to have received at least two Babe Ruth Awards. What’s even more impressive is the amount of complete games that Morris through–and that’s with pitching many seasons in Detroit under manager Sparky Anderson! In 11 of his 18 seasons, Morris threw at least 10 complete games. His career 175 complete games are good for 180th all-time.

Lee Smith, the former closer for the Cardinals from 1990-93, has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame while relievers such as Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, and Dennis Eckersley have. Relievers have a hard time getting into the Hall of Fame. Until Trevor Hoffman broke the record, Smith was the all-time leader in saves. He’s been named to 7 All-Star teams, a 3-time winner of the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year award (2 NL, 1 AL) There’s no doubt that both Trevor Hoffman and New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will be elected into the Hall of Fame. If they get in, it would be an injustice for Smith to continue waiting for that phone call.

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