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My 2012 Hall of Fame ballot

Jan 9, 2012, 8:11 PM EDT

US Presswire file photo
Barry Larkin was elected to the Hall of Fame in his second year on the ballot.

There's no such thing as an "easy" Hall of Fame ballot, not for anyone who respects the significance of this task and gives it the attention and scrutiny it deserves. But for someone who agonized over his first ballot one year ago and already is agonizing over the 2013 ballot that will include for the first time Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio, this year's evaluation felt much less daunting in comparison.

Truth be told, there were only a handful of difficult choices this time around: A few first-timers who were borderline candidates and a couple of near-misses from last year who deserved a second look.

In the end, I drew the same conclusions from a year ago. The guys I voted for in 2011 who remained on the ballot got my vote again. The guys who came up short last time came up short again. And none of the new guys under consideration reached the high standard of excellence it takes to merit a check mark next to his name.

Simple? No, it's never simple to hold an official ballot in your hand and make your selections. But it certainly was easier the second time around, though I suspect much of that had to do with the lack ofRead more »

  1. The Dash - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    Thanks again for posting your ballot and justifications – what great insight. As much as the PED players deserve to get docked for missing the "integrity, sportsmanship and character" requirement, I think players like Dale Murphy should be rewarded for exceeding in that category. It's too bad there isn't a stat to measure this impact, but I bet if you asked any kid who grew up playing little league in the 80's who he wanted to be, Dale is a top 5 guy and is one parents (and the league) would have been proud to see.

  2. Bill Stoneman - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Agree totally on Walker and Raines, two of the most exciting ball players I've had the pleasure to watch.As an Expo's fan (now Nats) I'd love to see them there.

  3. she said - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Edgar deserves to be in the Hall, simply because he was the best basically full time DH. He was also an incredibly hard worker—his eye focusing problems have been well documented—which made his batting average even more impressive. Consider that he had to do eye exercises to be able to see the ball, and he still hit over .300. Also, the DH position has been around since the 1970s, which means it makes sense that someone who played the majority of their games at that position should be included.

  4. Scott Z - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Yes! You know, when I saw that the ballots were coming out soon, i thought to myself – "I hope Zuckerman publishes a synopsis of his picks again". Love it!

  5. Anonymous - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    How Raines is not in the Hall of Fame is beyond me.

  6. natsfan1a - Jan 9, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Agreed, Scott Z. It's lways interesting to read Mark's picks as well as the reasoning behind them.

  7. natsfan1a - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    *always*…stupid flu

  8. natsfan1a - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Also kinda cool to have a "new Nats" connection in the HOF, in Barry Larkin.

  9. Jim Kurtzke - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Mark, how do you square votes against PED users but for Tim Raines, a cocaine abuser? Don't they both have character flaws?

  10. Exposremains - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    If Raines would have played most of its career outside of Montreal, he would be a Hall of Famer already. There is just too many voters that don't know much about him and won't do the required research.

  11. NatStat - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Mark, thanks for your recognition of Raines.As for the other writers/voters—go kick #@***** rocks (but not the real Rock)!

  12. Anonymous - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Don't worry Exposremains Keith Law thinks Raines will get in. And as time goes by there will be more like him and fewer numbskulls.

  13. Anonymous - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    keithlaw I think so now. RT @laurely515: @keithlaw Raines up to almost 50%. He's got to get in eventually, right?

  14. JaneB - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    I love that you share these insights, Mark. Thank you!

  15. natsfan1a - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Or rather, a "new Nats" employee who went into the HOF after working with this team.natsfan1a said… Also kinda cool to have a "new Nats" connection in the HOF, in Barry Larkin. January 9, 2012 4:02 PM

  16. hallwagner - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    i know bagwell has a long time left to be on future ballots, but if he doesn't get in at some point then i've lost all respect for the hall of fame and the bbwaa. unless of course they find evidence of him using steroids, which hasnt happened yet. just because he played with a few dopers and was a home run hitter doesn't mean he used. i mean cal ripken played with a dozen or so dopers and hit about as many home runs as bagwell did. if bagwell doesn't get in cal shouldn't. for reference i am one of the biggest cal ripken jr fans out there, just trying to prove a point

  17. Anonymous - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    This was a great post last year and another great one this year. I may not agree with the vote, I may not agree with the reasoning. But I whole-heartedly endorse the transparency to let the fans know who, want and why. But I'd vote for all M's: Murphy, Mattingly, Morris, Martinez and McGwire. C'mon! (maybe McGriff for a clean M sweep.) What would baseball have been like without them?

  18. Eugene in Oregon - Jan 9, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    A well-thought-out, well-cast ballot. Thanks for sharing. My only quibble might be Dale Murphy, but that may be just a reflection of my watching a fair number of Braves' games during his best years. I don't envy any of you HOF voters having to complete next year's ballot, but I certainly hope all of you apply the same sorts of standards that you yourself have applied to this one.

  19. SpingfieldNatsFan1 - Jan 9, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    As I posted earlier, I can't believe how little love Rock Raines gets from HOF voters and current day MLB followers. He was money in the 1980s…beating you with his legs and his bat. Always seemed to be on the All-Star and always was competing for the yearly hitting and stolen base titles. I think what continues to kill him is that he spent the prime of his career playing for the Expos and generally ignored/disrespected by the US public and media.

  20. sjm308 - Jan 9, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Mark:thanks for taking the time during your vacation to spell things out for us. Very insightful and I appreciate your thoughts. I still think McGwire should be in and now I also agree with you on Raines. Still not convinced on Walker but in my visits to Montreal & Toronto they are crazy about the guy (even though he never played for the Jays, I think its the Canadian aspect). Are there any Canandians in the Hall of Fame?

  21. JeanneB - Jan 9, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    I join the throng in thanking you for doing this.One question – do you only use 'integrity, sportsmanship and charactert' to rule players out rather than in? I can't imagine a more important player with those as pluses than Don Mattingly.

  22. Constant Reader - Jan 9, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    I doubt I will make much of an impact with my plea, but here goes anyway. Mark, I don't see how you can draw such a hard line on Fred McGriff. Compare him to Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell (both HoFers). Look at his numbers next to Bagwell. If you really believe McGriff was a clean guy playing in a dirty era, he shouldn't pay the price because his numbers are compared to other in that era many of whom were dirty. He also should pay the price for the strike in '94 which cost him the immortal (or formerly immortal number) of 500 homers. I don't envy you having to sort out the steroid era and how that impacts your vote. I'll argue McGriff deserves to go before any of those guys.

  23. Just sayin' - Jan 9, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    sjm308,At a minimum, Ferguson Jenkins.

  24. The Fox - Jan 9, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    Mark,Great write-up and I agree with you on Larkin, Bagwell and Raines.Raines had such a meteoric start to his career that by the time he left Montreal and the NL he never met the expectations of AL fans, really bright star that could not burn that bright forever. Raines was 27 the last year he was an AS and Gwynn's career was more consistent and was still an AS when he was 39. Raines deserves to be in the HOF someday and I think he will make it.Larry Walker is a tough nut to crack. You hit it on the head with the curse of Coor's field. Who bats .366 and hits 49 HRs or .379 and 37 HRs? Those look like play station numbers or someone on steroids. I don't think Larry took steroids and having seen games at Coor's field you realize that the outfield is huge. Still he played most of his games before the humidor was put in which also gives the impression that his numbers were artificially inflated. Not sure if I would vote for him yet but it would not be a crime if he were voted in. I would like to hear your thoughts sometime on what might happen in the not to distant future when it might be possible that 30 HOF candidates are on the ballot and you only get to vote for 10. To me it looks like its going to be very hard to get to the 75% mark for most players. Check out the eligible players in 2015 on Baseball-reference.

  25. The Fox - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    JeanneB said… do you only use 'integrity, sportsmanship and character' to rule players out rather than in? I don't think Mark has to justify his vote in any way. That said rule 5 from the BBWAA states:Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.Off hand I can not think of a truly deserving player who has been kept out of the HOF because of integrity, sportsmanship or character. Pete Rose is not in the HOF because he broke a rule that made him ineligible to be voted on not because he was a bad guy. So if you want to vote for Donnie Baseball because he was a great guy you are allowed to. I think Curt Flood should be in the HOF because he challenged the reserve clause at great risk to himself both physically and financially. If he had played longer he might have even made it on merit. Most people would probably disagree with me that is why discussions on who should be in the HOF are the ultimate bar argument.

  26. Kevin Rusch, Section406 - Jan 10, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Mark,(Actual question, not a rhetorical one) — is there anything to demonstrate that the PED users knew it was wrong, immoral, or cheating? I mean, it'd been outlawed in other sports, but I really don't even recall the topic coming up in baseball until much later. In fact, it was long assumed that having more muscles was a detriment in baseball. Meanwhile, we don't know anything about the effect of greenies or other performance-enhancing drugs used in older periods, and let's not forget the well-documented cocaine vials in Tim Raines' pockets.And finally, McGwire, Palmeiro, and Bonds all put up numbers that were dominant for their generation, a time in which they were competing against many, many other players (and pitchers) who were also juiced.I'm sure these arguments aren't new, but they're why I'm just not comfortable categorically ruling out a player because of steroids.Just sayin'.

  27. Britt - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    As a former Reds fans 1972-2004 I am very happy to see a Reds player make the HOF. Very deserving. Go Barry Lark!

  28. SonnyG10 - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Thanks for posting your picks Mark. Interesting reading.

  29. Section 222 - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    Great post Mark. Your analysis is convincing and consistent. I hope you're right ultimately about Raines and Walker. Mitch Williams in his usual bullheaded way seemed to take your side on the steroids debate — he said anyone who admitted to or was proven to take steroids shouldn't be in the Hall. And then, later in the program, he said "there's a presumption of innocence in this country" so until someone shows him proof that Clemens took PEDs "I'm not buying it."Ok, so Mitch Williams is an idiot, but I'd be interested in hearing more from you on what is an adequate level of proof. Does Bonds not get in because he was convicted of obstruction of justice but Clemens does because there was a mistrial in his perjury trial. Bonds still hasn't admitted he took steroids, right? Nor has Clemens. Is the Mitchell report on its own sufficient?

  30. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:59 AM

    One thing overlooked on Mattingly. He was, for much of his career, the best fielding first baseman of all time (statistically speaking). I don't know if he retained that statistical lead at the end of his career but there is something to say for being one of the best ever at something.

  31. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    Mattingly was such a good fielder that the Yankees tried him at thirdbase in 1986 for 3 games. Yes, a left-handed third baseman.

  32. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2012 at 4:44 AM

    Isn't Pete Orr a third baseman when needed? And didn't Willie Harris play there for Riggleman? Albeit Harris was terrible … probably why they went for Hairston.

  33. Ray - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Sorry Mark, there is no way Tim Raines is a Hall of Famer. To say he was the second greatest leadoff hitter of all times is to never have seen the games of his era (or the previous era either). Stats are stats. Raines was not an impact player and after his first few seasons was mediocre, and bounced around from team to team. You're telling me that Raines was a better leadoff hitter than Pete Rose? Really? How many championships did Tim Raines win again? Bounce around your "adjusted stats" all you want to sabrmetrics folks, if you were there during the era, you think of Raines as slightly above ordinary — much like Bernie Williams. Its not the Hall of OK.

  34. Donald - Jan 10, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I don't think you are being fair to Juan Gonzalez and Dale Murphy, based on your rationale. You say if they played in a different era, they'd be in. So you're keeping them out because they don't compare favorably to known PED users that you are also disqualifying? I think if you want to disqualify the PED users, which I agree with, then you should remove them completely and compare the other players only against the ones left.

  35. Wild Card - Jan 10, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Mark,thanks for sharing your insight, it is great to see how an actual voter deliberates. I put Raines in the same catagory as Mattingly, as being a great player but never made the difference (see Kirby Puckett).I only disagree with Jack Morris, to have the most wins in a decade and the ace not only on 3 WS winners, but with 3 diff franchises (tigers, twins, jays), personifies dominance.

  36. markfd - Jan 10, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Agree with all of your choices, I am hoping fellow Connecticutian Bagwell will get to go in next year with another "Killer B" Craig Biggio (who in my mind is undoubtedly a 1st ballot guy).

  37. Manassas Fan - Jan 10, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    One I would love the veteran's committee place in the Hall is Tommy John. The man has over 280 wins, and his experimental surgery, that bears his name, is so common now in the majors, where before him it was never done.As for Curt Flood, I agree that his stance on Free agency (though it was the Senators who were getting little production from him), and the fact we was a solid player. And changed the game.Marvin Miller is another one I would like to see.As for Mark's votes. Understanding his PED stance, I would say I would voted as he did, except I might have voted for Jack Morris and Fred McGriff.

  38. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Judging from Mark's comments and reasoning, he probably would not be voting for Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, nor Sammy Sosa. Nor would I. Although they look like steroids users, Puckett and Bagwell remain clean and deserve induction.What a mess steroids has created!

  39. Dawn - Jan 10, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Happy New Years! Better late then never.One man's character flaw is another man's eccentricity. If it (HOF selection) was based on character Ty Cobb among others wouldn't be in. That being said Jack Morris detractors often mention his surly attitude towards media members as a reason he hasn't been voted in. Writers are human and allowed their human bias when making their selections. Having to make these choices (while an honor) would give me a headache rather quickly.As a Tiger fan I have an affection for Morris (he never refused to take the ball) and for Trammell (a terrific player, horrible manager) a great person. I also disagree with Tram being less talented than Larkin, some of his stats are even better then Barry's.

  40. JMB - Jan 10, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Im curious about the impact of your PED anlysis on other players you consider — like McGriff. Hwne you are comparing players from the "steroid era" against their peers are you excluding from the "peer group" players with PED issues? That would only seem fair.

  41. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    On the PED users — It's a tough subject as there are likely many guys are in the HOF who used (look at tghe changes to body type for guys already in their 20's, adding 30 pounds of muscle, and look at all of the guys who played in the early 90's or later era and performed well into their 40's with no real drop off, and in some cases up-ticks) — Nolan Ryan, Ricky Henderson, Dennis Eckersly, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken Jr. (tell me that almost every other Oriole, including utility infielder Manny Alexander, was using, but that the trainers did not let Cal and his 240 lb frame at age 33, but 185 lb frame at age 31 frame, have some of that magic stuff that half the game was using without a care in the world for being caught, and without any stigma that it was wrong in any way? Cal likely used and he's in.)

  42. Canada's #1 Nats Fan - Jan 10, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Definitely agree that Raines and Walker should be Hall of Famers. I think the one key point not mentioned by Mark in his assessment of Jack Morris are the number of complete games he pitched in his career. I believe it is 150+. As pitchers pitch later into games they are more likely to give up runs as they tire, but Morris was always there, willing to go deep into games which no doubt inflated his career ERA.

  43. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    There is a fairly easy way to deal with the PED stuff. I think that anyone who's in the Hall of Fame since say Eddie Murray and anyone afterwards, inlduing anyone who wants to be o nthe ballot, should take a series of lie detector tests and show their medical records to some HOF committee. If they come through clean great, they can be in. If a player wants in, he should submit to the hassle, if it's too much to bear, they can stay away from Cooperstown for the rest of their days. Easy enough.

  44. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    Wow, tough to compare Trammel to the league generally and not SS's. In those days, SS's actullay had to catch and throw, not like today's game where a guy can slog around out there so long as he's hitting some HR's.Look at Bagwell's body changes, the guy adds 40 pounds — suspicion is not enough to keep a guy out, even when it's pretty likely?dfh21

  45. Anonymous - Jan 10, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Thanks for the insight, Mark, and thanks for taking the task so seriously. I visited the HOF last year, taking my dad for his 85th birthday. It was an incredible two days. True baseball fans can't help but leave Cooperstown believing that the bar should be very high indeed. Hope I live long enough to see the first Nats inductee — provided he's worthy!

  46. JeanneB - Jan 11, 2012 at 2:51 AM

    @The FoxI was not asking Mark to justify his votes; he did that with his entire post. He specifically mentioned "integrity, sportsmanship and character" in countering the statstical argument for his vote against McGuire. I do wonder if that rule and those specifics are ever a plus that will add to a player's votes. I recognize that the back injury is actually the factor most keeping Mattingly out- not enough stats for a long enough time for majority of voters.

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