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Tales of a first-time Hall voter

Jan 5, 2011, 7:14 PM EDT

The envelope arrived in the mail in early December. I immediately knew what was inside. The return address (Baseball Writers' Association of America) gave it away.

I was more than a little surprised and underwhelmed, though, when I tore the thing open and for the first time in my life held a Hall of Fame ballot in my hands. Wait, this is it? A photocopied, 8½ x 11-inch sheet of paper with 33 names and boxes next to each one to be checked? If you saw it from a distance, you might have mistaken it for a fourth grade math quiz.

The form itself may have been underwhelming; the task of filling it out was anything but. As I scanned through the names of the retired players eligible for election to Cooperstown, two thoughts came to mind:

1) This is the coolest thing ever.

2) This is the most terrifying thing ever.

Since joining the BBWAA a decade ago, I'd anticipated this moment — you must be a member for 10 consecutive years before becoming a Hall of Fame voter — but I didn't fully appreciate just how daunting the responsibility is until it was finally thrust upon me. Seriously, who am I to judge how these ballplayers will be remembered for all eternity?

And that's how I'd feel if I was judging them strictly on their performance between the lines. That, of course, isn't the case. Voters are instructed to consider six criteria when evaluating a player's candidacy: his playing record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which heRead more »

  1. Tank - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:23 PM

    I agree with everything other than McGwire, Palmeiro, and Blyleven.Kudos for voting for Bagwell and Raines.

  2. Sunderland - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    Mark:I've got to read this more thoroughly to comment, but just the fact that you did this, are laying this out for us and putting your thoughts and decisions out there for us to learn from and review and critique is soooooo freakin' cool.Thanks so much.

  3. Traveler8 - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    I agree with Sunderland, thanks for being so candid on your decisionmaking process – fascinating stuff.

  4. Nats fan in NJ - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Sunderland – Ditto…

  5. Dave Nichols - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    Mark, congrats on your first ballot. Though I don't agree with some of your choices and your methodology in some cases, I certainly respect your effort and your thoughtfulness in posting your ballot with your justifications.

  6. joemktg - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    Mark: tremendous review. Wish all writers/voters did this. Takes a set of onions to lay it out here, esp. the Blyleven No voteYour stance regarding eligibility vs. admitted/tested proven steroid use is clear. So ARod is out. However, does this mean that if no admission and/or no positive tests, then the evaluation is based on field performance? How will you handle Bonds, Sosa, etc.?

  7. Sunderland - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    How could you not vote in Marquis Grissom? He coached Nyjer in 2009 and made Nyjer look HOF-worthy! In 2010, without Grissom, Nyjer fell apart.Marquis de Hall!

  8. JD - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Mark, Great post and I agree with you across the board except for Bagwell; he is totally a hall of famer but not on the 1st ballot. That should be reserved for slam dunks superstars and I think that he was not quite that.

  9. JayB - Jan 5, 2011 at 7:57 PM

    Agreed…that was a great read…..I do not agree with Walker or Larkin but so what right?

  10. Anonymous - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    Fully agree with Bags (not with Donnie Baseball) but greatly enjoyed the reasoning behind it. I wish every voter did this so at least we'd get better info on "why" this guy was and that guy wasn't. Good post.

  11. Doc - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    Nice job Mark. If every voter was as through as yourself, we'd have a valid process.Thanks for voting for Walker and Raines. For those that care to analyse their stats they are both more than deserving. It's as you suggest, kind of myopic to pick out Coors field as the only hitter-friendly field in baseballdom. Besides, Walker played a lot of his career in pitcher-friendly Big O in Montreal. Let's hope Walker and Raines get the vote in future submissions. I really enjoyed watching both on the field.

  12. Stew Magnuson - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    I'm wondering now if there is a scenario where Biggio gets in on his first ballot, and Bagwell and Biggio go into the hall together.

  13. Anonymous - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    Stew, not if their steroids use come out first.

  14. Anonymous - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Thanks for revealing your votes and rationale. Very interesting.Thanks also for voting for Jeff Bagwell. In addition to being a great, complete player he played many seasons in the Astrodome, a graveyard for HR hitters. Plus he and Biggio carried the Astros for at least a decade.

  15. upperdeck4 - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    I pretty much agree with you with the exceptions of Jack Morris and Fred McGriff. I know that statistics are important, but in his generation, if I wanted a big game pitcher, it would be Jack Morris. Jack didn't bear down all of the time when he didn't need to; hence the higher ERA. However, he pitched to win and coasted when he could rather than butning himself out.With respect to McGriff,briefly, the guy was a slugger and a model of consistency, 493 homeruns, 9 years of thirty or more. With respect to integrity,there was never a whiff of scandal about McGriff; upon his retirement he noted pointedly that he was proud that he left with the same body that he began with. Just a great ballplayer and a real good guy.

  16. Bowdenball - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    Thanks for sharing this, Mark. A great read.However, you did ignore one great reason to support Blyleven- that famous picture of him wearing a T-shirt declaring his love of farting. If that's not a baseball Hall of Famer, I don't know what is.

  17. LoveDaNats - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    It has been a pleasure to listen to your reasoning and gain some insight into the process. Thanks for taking us on the ride.

  18. Ryuga Hideki - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:38 PM

    Mark, really awesome post. Loved reading the whole thing. Just brilliant. I am new to the game so I don't know most of these names but I must disagree about Bert with you. To be able to play for 22 years itself is such a great task that I would put him in HOF for that. HOF means honoring a career that is distinguished based on criteria you have mentioned. I think Bert fits the bill.Oh and I am listening to MLB Network and Bob Costas made an interesting point. How do you treat players who had HOF potential even before they started taking steroids? Prime example is Barry Bonds. He was an all star with Pittsburgh as a five-tool player. So Mark, what is your take on that?

  19. pdowdy83 - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    I agree with your votes Mark.I do not understand how Almoar can get such a high percentage of votes and Larkin can be left out. Larkin and Alomar have nearly identical career slash lines, Larkin's career WAR is 69.8 and Alomar's is 68.2. Like Mark said, if Ozzie wasn't playing Larkin would have as many gold gloves as Alomar and he played the more difficult position. Larkin also won an MVP award and Alomar didn't. They should both be in the HOF.

  20. DFL - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Unless found to have used steroids, Bagwell deserves induction.

  21. Anonymous - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    Being from Montreal, I had the pleasure to watch many great Expos players play at the Big O.I can list so many(Vlad,Dawson,Carter,Raines, Martinez, Alou,etc…), but the one that was truly special for me was Larry Walker. When you talk about 5 tools, this guy was it.Dawson and Vlad had the same tools as well, but they were either too injured (the former) or not exactly the brightest(Vlad).Nobody could play the outfield like Walker. He was so smart and fundamentally sound that it seemed he never was out of position. With his great arm, he always hit the cut-off man and although he wasn't fast, was probaby the smartest base runner i ever saw. Being an Expos fan meant enduring a lot of heartaches, but none more so than the day Walker signed with the Rockies. And to think that the Expos were so stingy that not only did they not try to sign him,they did not even offer him arbitration to at least get draft picks for fear that he would have accepted….

  22. Todd Boss - Jan 5, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    Thank you for using reasoning, opinion and more than some accumulator stats when it came to analyzing Blyleven. Congrats to him for getting in but (as you probably are thinking) to me he's not nearly among the best 30 or so starting pitchers to ever play the game. Blyleven's inclusion makes him the 31st elected starter to the Hall.Get ready to be torn a new one on every start-nerd blog out there who will tell you what an idiot you are because you deigned not to vote for Blyleven. At least with his election we can END the incessant pro-Blyleven blog postings that everyone seems to write.Here was my own anti-blyleven reasoning and mock HoF ballot. http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=403 and http://www.nationalsarmrace.com/?p=533

  23. natsfan1a - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Thanks, Mark, for letting us in on your voting process and final decisions. You clearly did not take the responsibility lightly, and I'm delighted that you got that tenth year under your belt so as to qualify to vote this year. Congrats and may it be the first of many!I don't feel that I'm qualified to agree or disagree with the votes, so I won't weigh in there. (What? This *is* still the Internetz, isn't it??)

  24. JaneB - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    For decades I've wondered what it would be like to get to vote for the HOF players. Now I know. Thank you so so so much for sharing.I wonder who will be the first Nat to go, sometime way in the future? I hope Zimmerman and Strasburg have the kind of careers that put them in. Great post Mark. And what a great landmark to be able to reach, tha you qualify to vote.

  25. markfd - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    Mark,First off congratulations to you for acheiving 10 consecutive years and voting for the Baseball HOF.Second, congrats to Robbie and Bert, both IMHO are deserving of the Hall.Third, I hope Larkin, Bagwell and Raines make it there someday they deserve it.Finally, here are some votes I cannot believe, did some people let their pet fill out these ballots!?Harold Baines 28 votes (Are there that many White Sox writers/BBWAA members?)John Franco 27 votes (Mets HOF maybe!?)Kevin Brown 12 votes (most overpaid free agent pitcher HOF!?)Tino Martinez 6 votes (maybe they were voting for the Yankees HOF!?)Marquis Grissom 4 votesAl Leiter 4 votes (???)Jon Olerud 4 votes (maybe they thought the fact that he wore a batting helmet was cool!?)BJ Surhoff 2 votes (maybe philantropic HOF!)Bret Boone 1 vote (maybe someone confused him with his father or grandfather!?)Benito Santiago 1 vote (maybe catchers who threw from their knees HOF?)

  26. Another_Sam - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    Thank you MZ. Very nice piece, very classy. I'm with you. My voting [pretend voting] is always less analytical than you articulated above, and more emotional. In my mind, Murphy, Morris, and Smith all three had lengthy periods in which they dominated their positions [and had me checking box scores] and thus I would have voted for them. But I've no quarrel at all with your picks. Very nicely done and thank you for sharing your selections and your reasoning.

  27. Section 223 - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    Mark, Thanks for sharing your thought process. I think most of us agree with "the coolest thing ever."

  28. ThrowsLikeSteveSax - Jan 5, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    Cheers to Rock Raines getting in soon.

  29. Anonymous8 - Jan 5, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Mark, using your Big Mac criteria does that mean you would vote for Barry Bondsnifnhe was on the ballot today?

  30. We Need a Bat - Jan 5, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    Most entertaining post in the history of this site for me. Thanks for the effort, Mark.

  31. Theophilus - Jan 6, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    Disagree w/ you, Mark, on Blyleven and Morris. Last season, I watched a re-broadcast of Game 4 of the Orioles/White Sox in the 1983 ALCS. Orioles scored 3 in top of 10th against Britt Burns, who was up around 130 pitches, won game 3-0. It's impossible to exaggerate how much strategy has changed in the years since. No way Mr. Wizard Tony LaRussa would manage that game today the way he did in 1983. The kingpin was the guy who could pitch the complete game. Over his career Blyleven threw 60 shutouts; Morris had 175 CG. Those guys were the keystones of their teams for a long, long time.Blyleven is in, so no big deal. I heard someone on MLB Network say Morris was the starter on Opening Day, Game One of the LCS and Game One of the WS (in the same season)for three different teams. Those are good enough credentials for me.Others on this ballot who deserve admission are Larkin and Bagwell, Trammell and Walker, and that's pretty much it. I don't believe Bagwell used illegal substances, Bryant Gumble notwithstanding. The tell-tale sign is usually a hyper-burst of productivity followed by chronic injury, sharply diminished production and a trip out of baseball. Bagwell had 14 great seasons starting with his first day in the majors. I don't think he deserves the rap and should get in eventually.Someone else on MLB Network described Raines as "a poor man's Ricky Henderson." Sort of damning w/ faint praise. His statistics seem to be padded by an extended period as a role(?) player/DH.

  32. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 6, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    Sorta like the opposite of jury duty. Always interesting. Mark: Based mostly on your discussion of Baines (whose number the White Sox retired *twice,* IIRC), a theoretical question you're bound to face someday: What would someone have to do to be a HOF DH, or is that a contradiction in terms, for you?

  33. BinM - Jan 6, 2011 at 12:38 AM

    Mark: Thanks for being up front with your rationale, player-by-player. And an additional thank-you for staying on the 'same side of the fence' with both Blyleven & Morris; It seems that a number of voters were splitting their vote on those two. Hopefully the voters wake-up to players like Raines, Bagwell & Walker in the coming years.

  34. Anonymous - Jan 6, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    Hi Mark – Thanks for sharing all your thinking on this. I see some inconsistency in that a lot of your "No"s were because the player had some stellar years but didn't have a sustained performance throughout their career. And a good portion of your reason for voting "No" for Bert is because he has a sustained performance for 22 years (giving him an impressive career) but no stellar years.Moot point now that he's in, but I thought it was interesting. Thanks for taking it seriously and letting us see the process.

  35. Constant Reader - Jan 6, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    To me, Fred McGriff is the ultimate HOF conundrum of the Steroids Era. You stated that “While the Crime Dog's 493 homers and 1,550 RBI would have guaranteed him election a generation earlier, he falls short when compared to the other sluggers of his time.” We now know that many of the hitters AND pitchers of that ERA were on steroids. How can you pass on a clean player with some numbers that are very close to HOF worthy in a dirty era but leave open the door for the dirty players with undeniable numbers to get in later? How could you vote for Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, or Palmeiro before McGriff? I don’t know if I could live with the morality of that message. I don’t know who out there will better represent the quandary than Fred McGriff. It’s a tough call. You have my utmost respect for earning the right to make it.

  36. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 6, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    For those who asked how I will handle Barry Bonds … he becomes eligible in two years, so obviously much can change between now and then. But if he was on the ballot right now, I would not vote for him. As I explained in the case of Mark McGwire, I'm not going to vote for anyone who either admitted to or was caught taking performance enhancing drugs. I know Bonds never failed a drug test, but he did admit to (unknowingly) taking "The Cream" and "The Clear" to a federal grand jury. You can debate whether that's enough proof or not. For me, it is. Again, my initial "no" vote isn't permanent. I hope to learn more about what exactly Bonds did, when he did it, what effect it had and how it compared with other players during the 15 years he's on the ballot. I'm certainly going to be open to voting for him at some point along the way as more information is revealed.For Sec. 3, who asked about my stance on DHs: I would say a full-time DH would have to have overwhelming offensive stats and impact for me to vote for him. Edgar Martinez was close, but he didn't quite pass that threshold.And for Anon 7:48: I may not have explained my rationale clearly enough. In general, I believe a Hall of Famer needs to have sustained a superior level of performance over a significant period of time (roughly a minimum of 8-10 years, preferably more). Some guys were superior for 5-7 years, which wasn't enough for my vote. And some guys, like Blyleven, were merely impressive for a long time but not superior for a long enough stretch.In other words, some guys are great for a few years. Some guys are very good for a long time. Hall of Famers are great for a long time.

  37. Ky - Jan 6, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    Great rundown, Mark! Also, thanks for the accompanying trip down baseball memory lane … though I do feel you could have expanded on why you SNUBBED Surhoff.Also, congrats on qualifying for the vote — so awesome.

  38. Ryuga Hideki - Jan 6, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    I am wondering how does veteran's committee choose HOF. And what will be your take on position players with poor defensive skills? for example, adam dunn who might have monster numbers by the time he retires but never known for his defense. or Manny Ramirez (ignore that he took steroids for now) who sucked in the field. I am not aware of many DHs who are or would be eligible for HOF but why treat them any different than position players with poor defensive skills?

  39. Hank - Jan 6, 2011 at 1:50 AM

    Mark,Thank you sharing your voting experience and explaining your thought process. Clearly, you took it very seriously and put a lot of thought into it.I agree with you for the most part but with two exceptions: Blyleven and Walker. Any player that accumulated the majority of their offensive numbers in Colorado must be eliminated as a legitimate HOF candidate. If Walker had not spent time in Colorado he would've been no more impressive than Paul O'Neill or Dave Parker. Walker is not a HOFer.About Blyleven…He pitched in an era when the three top pitchers were power pitchers and they all went on to be HOFers. Blyleven wasn't a power pitcher and his numbers are very comparable to those three pitchers. Blyleven won two World Series titles and he had the greatest curveball of all-time.BTW, those three top pitchers that prevented Blyleven from winning Cy Youngs and strikeout awards were Seaver, Ryan and Carlton.

  40. The Great Unwashed - Jan 6, 2011 at 2:41 AM

    Great post, Mark. One question, however. If you won't vote for McGwire because of performance enhancing drug use (and I agree with that by the way), then why the vote for Tim Raines who was an admitted cocaine user? Drugs are drugs.

  41. DC Tom - Jan 6, 2011 at 3:01 AM

    Thank you, Mark, and congratulations. It is candid, insightful, and honest writing like this that has me checking this blog repeatedly every day.There has never been a doubt in my mind that the BBWA members take this responsibility as seriously as you do. Even still, at some point in the relatively near future, I wish the BBWA would make it a *requirement* that all voters explain each of their decisions via the written word. It is not too unreasonable to ask baseball writers to write, isn't it? Those explanations still could be published anonymously.

  42. David - Jan 6, 2011 at 3:27 AM

    Mark,Great post and very informative. I agree with most of your choices with the possible exceptions of Blyleven and maybe Walker. Both are borderline and its tough to say. I also think that Trammell should somehow be put in the HOF with Whitaker someday as the greatest double play combination in baseball. Maybe someone can write a poem about them someday.Again very nice post, well written and thoughtful making me want to read it twice.

  43. DC Tom - Jan 6, 2011 at 3:28 AM

    I agree with most of your decisions, Mark. Especially your "yes's" for Bagwell, Larkin, Raines, and Walker.I think the uncertainty and indecision over how to evaluate steroid (and pre-humidor!) era players like Bagwell and Walker will keep their vote totals down for a period of time. Indeed, I wonder if coming off the "Year of the Pitcher" had a direct effect on this evaluation and causing a further discount of steroid-era hitter statistics.Larkin and Raines both deserve to be in. But they both increased their vote totals significantly this year, so it does seem like it's only a matter of time for both.And while I agree that Kevin Brown likely isn't HOF material — if writers are discounting steroid-era stats of hitters like Juan Gonzalez, shouldn't they be augmenting the stats of steroid-era pitchers like Brown? He has a 3.28 career ERA. More impressively, from 1995-2001, the height of the steroid era, his ERA was 2.65 and was downright microscopic in some of those years. I agree with discounting Juan Gonzalez and Palmeiro, but the other side of the coin would seem to be giving Kevin Brown some bonus points — and not vote him off the ballot on his first try.

  44. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 6, 2011 at 3:47 AM

    Ryuga Hideki said…I am wondering how does veteran's committee choose HOF. And what will be your take on position players with poor defensive skills? for example, adam dunn who might have monster numbers by the time he retires but never known for his defense. or Manny Ramirez (ignore that he took steroids for now) who sucked in the field. I am not aware of many DHs who are or would be eligible for HOF but why treat them any different than position players with poor defensive skills?The veterans committee is made up of Hall of Fame players, longtime sportswriters, broadcasters and baseball executives. Every few years, they compile a list of players, managers, executives and others who aren't on the BBWAA ballot. They meet in private as a group and then vote. This year, they elected former GM Pat Gillick.As far as poor defensive players go, I would say I will consider them as long as their offensive production is overwhelming. Take a guy like Reggie Jackson. He wasn't known at all for defense. But his offensive production was off-the-charts good. So he's in.The same, by the way, would hold true for a weak offensive player who was off-the-charts good in the field. Ozzie Smith, of course, is the best example of this type of player.The Great Unwashed said…Great post, Mark. One question, however. If you won't vote for McGwire because of performance enhancing drug use (and I agree with that by the way), then why the vote for Tim Raines who was an admitted cocaine user? Drugs are drugs.No, drugs are not drugs. Steroids and HGH are performance enhancing. While I certainly don't support cocaine use by anyone, I've yet to hear anyone suggest it makes you a better ballplayer.

  45. Anonymous - Jan 6, 2011 at 4:43 AM

    Mark:I have an issue with the number of All Star selections being a worthy category for HoF consideration. Perhaps it's my personal dissatisfaction with the way ASG votes are conducted (indifferent fans with punch cards in stadiums, too much emphasis on 1st half season statistics, mandatory representation by all teams, possible personal biases by managers and staff when selecting pitchers, player opt-outs, etc.) but I continually hear the number of ASG appearances mentioned first by electors and media members when making a case for Hall election. How do you think ASG appearances rank when compared to other possible criteria?

  46. Ryuga Hideki - Jan 6, 2011 at 6:05 AM

    Mark, thank you very much for taking time to answer all these questions and comments, and sharing all the experience about HOF voting.

  47. David - Jan 6, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    great counter point to the steroids era is the fact that the best pitchers dont have incredible looking stats. mussina, kevin brown, pedro martinez… all borderline, but Pedro i believe would be the first to go in. the win-loss percentage and career era say it all. after that, i think mussina is more deserving than brown.

  48. Big Cat - Jan 6, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Big Donkey – NO

  49. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 6, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Anonymous said…I have an issue with the number of All Star selections being a worthy category for HoF consideration. Perhaps it's my personal dissatisfaction with the way ASG votes are conducted (indifferent fans with punch cards in stadiums, too much emphasis on 1st half season statistics, mandatory representation by all teams, possible personal biases by managers and staff when selecting pitchers, player opt-outs, etc.) but I continually hear the number of ASG appearances mentioned first by electors and media members when making a case for Hall election. How do you think ASG appearances rank when compared to other possible criteria?I don't use All-Star appearances as a primary factor at all in deciding a candidate's Hall of Fame worthiness, for the reasons you stated. But I do think it's worth mentioning how many All-Star appearances a player had, because I do think it reveals something about their career. Flawed as that process may be, the greatest players of all-time do have a bunch of All-Star appearances. Very few true greats weren't an All-Star at least a few times.Alomar was an All-Star 12 consecutive years. Blyleven was an All-Star twice in a 22-year career. It's not fair to judge each player's career entirely on that. But I do think it helps separate the absolute best of the best from the merely great.

  50. James - Jan 6, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Great read Mark. I really enjoy reading the rationale behind your choices and agree with all of them other than the Steroid clouded scenarios. Don Mattingly, Kevin Brown and Juan Gone all just don't pass the sniff test in my book. They all make it into the Hall of Very Good, not the Hall of Fame. BJ Surhoff doesn't really even make the Hall of very good in my book, I am surprised he made the first cut here, and that's coming from a big time O's fan in the 90s. As for McGwire and Palmeiro, I like to think I would put them in, and look forward to a day when enough of the writers feel the same way. That day might come at some point when we look back and see a whole generation of power hitters absent from the Hall of Fame. That said I will never have to put pen to paper and vote them in, so maybe I would back down at the last minute when lining them up with current HoFers.

  51. Scooter - Jan 6, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    James, I'm pretty sure the "first cut" that Surhoff et al. made was simply playing for ten years.It's a little surprising how few make it just to that benchmark.

  52. Raff - Jan 6, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    Hi Mark,First, thank you.Second, the issue of how good a player was perceived to be during his career seems to be problematic: the whole point of "Moneyball" is that Billy Beane was able to exploit systematic flaws in baseball people's perception of value. How do you factor that in (if at all) — i.e., that the shortcoming might be in the perceiving, not in the player?

  53. Mark Zuckerman - Jan 6, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Raff: While I admit that we all perceive different players in different ways (sometimes unfairly) I'd also argue that numbers alone can never completely paint a perfect picture either. There's something to be said for a Hall of Famer to be more than just stats. There's an intangible quality that elevates them above everyone else and makes them legendary, and perception (fairly or unfairly) plays a role in that.It's not the Hall of The Players With the Best Stats. It's the Hall of Fame.

  54. Ryuga Hideki - Jan 6, 2011 at 10:20 PM

    Do you recommend book or articles that chronicle the use of steroids or PEDs in baseball the best? Thank you.

  55. Drew8 - Jan 8, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    Mark:Congrats on your first Hall vote and thanks for your diligence. I enjoyed reading your rationale.One quibble: You say "Hall of Famers are great for a long time." That's not always the case. Sandy Koufax (165 career wins) is in for a run of five remarkable seasons. Dizzy Dean (150 career wins) had just three stellar seasons.Then there's the Veterans Committee, which voted in Giants outfielder Ross Youngs, who died at age 30.Bill James says that in assessing greatness you first need to decide whether you're talking about peak value or career value.His book "Whatever happened to the Hall of Fame?" is a good read.

  56. Greg H - Jan 9, 2011 at 7:19 AM

    Very good read and obviously all based on opinion. You are correct – there is not a right/wrong answer.But there is a very important question- You did not vote for McGwire and Palmeiro because they took steroids to enhance their performance (supposedly) to get thru the long season. To you this disqualified them based on the sportsmanship/integrity criteria.Yet you do vote for Tim Raines, a known user of cocaine. With the boost cocaine gives you, it acts in the same way as roids, giving you a boost or an edge to get thru an extra inning game or the long grind of a 162 game season. There is nobody you voted for who I disagree with. I'd have added Blyleven and Palmeiro (I have other reasons for not voting for McGwire who by the way, was never found to have used a banned substance when it was banned).

  57. Greg H - Jan 9, 2011 at 7:22 AM

    Sorry, 1 amendment to my post-I would not have vote for Larry Walker. Great player, but not HoF great in my opinion.

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