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OTM Roundtable: Hall of Fame voting

Who do we think should get in.

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Cleveland Indians v Boston Red Sox Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

It is a good time of year for many baseball fans, even with this lockout. With Hall of Fame voting results being revealed next week, many will be able to celebrate some new inductees, and Boston Red Sox fans in particular are hoping to celebrate the induction of David Ortiz, perhaps among some others. Other people, and I include myself in this group, will be thrilled that another Hall of Fame season has passed.

But in the meantime, we are still in Hall of Fame season so we might as well share our hypothetical ballots as a staff. For what it’s worth, I am abstaining because I hate this process! But here are those who did cast a fake ballot.

Mike Carlucci

I’m breaking my votes into three categories. First, the no-hesitation candidates: Todd Helton, David Ortiz, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, Billy Wagner. Elite at their positions. Easy yeses all around.

Next up, the problem candidates: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez. Bonds and Clemens are two of the best players to put on the uniform; they’re in. And you tell the story of Game of Shadows and Clemens’ legal drama as they are part of it. Manny failed tests and that eventually ended his career. He started later than Bonds and Clemens, so maybe that was his career but he didn’t get flagged ASAP so I’m assuming his true ability carried him to the Hall. Again, gotta tell that story.

A-Rod: the biggest punishment possible. Multiple lies and re-framing. Annoying as an announcer. Another shame to have to flag the biggest challenge of his career was coming back from a suspension. But he’s in.

Like picking the 13th donut of a baker’s dozen after filling all my cravings, I have one extra spot. If I had a real vote I don’t know what I would do here. I’d have to really consider the consequences, look at the trends, etc. But I’m a large Hall voter. Johan Santana was robbed of a real chance on the ballot because Bartolo Colon won 20 games the last time it mattered for Cy Young voting, robbing him of three straight. So I choose Tim Lincecum, who was other worldly for a few years in, with his delivery, a unique way. The totality of his (brief) excellence is worth remembering.

Bryan Joiner

Here is my Hall of Fame ballot:

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa

My ballot is led by a principle: To vote for the best players eligible. Given that Bonds and Clemens are arguably the two best players ever, they’re locks. The back end of this ballot, which I’d classify as Jones, Kent, and Sheffield, is entirely as deserving as, say, near-miss Scott Rolen, but there aren’t enough spots to mark them all. I find tactical omissions of players stupid and pointless, and given how much the game has grown it seems insane that there are people who think there aren’t 10 people worthy of enshrinement. That’s especially so in the case of Sosa, who’s gotten a rawer deal than any of the other PED-suspected players compared to his accomplishments. There was a good five-year period where Sosa was the coolest player in baseball. From 1998-2002 he hit 66, 63, 50, 64 and 49 homers. The HOF should reward that, not punish it, because that’s a lot of home runs, in my opinion.

Scott Neville

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Billy Wagner

There are really two points I wanted to touch on for my ballot selections. One, I clearly do not have a massive issue with the steroid era. It was an era of baseball that should be included in history just like the rest. I’m not going to take off players with inflated home runs numbers in the steroid era just like how I wouldn’t take out dead-ball era Hall of Famers for their pitching statistics. I understand the moral high ground of staying away from cheating but you can’t enshrine the best players in the history of the game and pretend Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens never stepped foot on a baseball field. MLB and Hall of Fame have done enough damage pretending that Pete Rose does not exist, despite having the most hits in the history of the league. I feel the same way about Sammy Sosa because his home run races with other steroid users created some of the most memorable and exciting moments in the history of the sport. He brought as many fans into baseball as just about any individual player in the league’s history.

Chicago Cubs Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The other aspect of my ballot that is unique is the volume of players voted on. I used all ten selections to balance out the voting. There are way too many prideful journalists that submit blank ballots or remove sure-fire Hall of Famers due to personal bias. Whatever the reason, they have made the voting process a joke and the younger writers need to combat their terrible decision-making by honoring these all-time great players and voting for them.

Keaton DeRocher

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Tim Lincecum, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa.

I think the only one I really need to defend here is Tim Lincecum. I’ve had this debate with Jake a couple of times before and I know his career numbers when compared to others don’t look all that spectacular since he only played 10 years, and I know a lot of people feel longevity matters. But let’s be real here. The man accomplished far more in that four-year run from ‘08-’11 than about 99 percent of players do in a 20-year career. Four straight all-star appearances, over 200 innings, and 200 strikeouts every season, and a sub 3.00 ERA in three of those seasons. He also has multiple Cy Young awards, multiple no-hitters, and multiple World Series rings making him only the second player in MLB history to accomplish that feat alongside Sandy Koufax. I don’t care that it was a short stint. It was just so freaking dominant that I think he deserves to be forever remembered for it.

Brendan Campbell

If I had a Hall of Fame ballot, I would be voting for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, and Billy Wagner. To keep my explanation short and sweet, I’ll just say that if eligible voters can select up to 10 candidates, they should aim to vote for close to 10 players every year. There are some guys who will be taken off the ballot who probably deserve to stay on there longer. Voting for more players could, in theory, prevent this from happening.

Phil Neuffer

  • David Ortiz
  • Manny Ramirez
  • Andruw Jones
  • Scott Rolen
  • Todd Helton
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Alex Rodriguez

I used to care a lot about the Hall of Fame vote, but as the years have gone on, that care has waned significantly. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Hall of Fame is an awesome place and I plan on visiting many more times during my life, but the actual voting aspect isn’t as important to me. With that written, if David Ortiz isn’t voted in on the first ballot, then what are we even doing here? I’d also vote for Manny Ramirez, Scott Rolen and maybe Andruw Jones and Todd Helton, but that might just be because I grew up in the ‘90s.

In fairness, all of those guys finished with career bWAR of more than 60 and are among the top 10 guys on the ballot in WAR7, which amasses the bWAR total of a player’s best seven seasons. I also came to terms a while ago with the likelihood that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez should probably make it at some point, especially since Ortiz and Ramirez have some of the PED cloud hanging over them, so if you want to put them on my ballot, I won’t fight you.

Bayleigh Von Schneider

I’m not necessarily a “small hall” kind of gal, but I also do not believe someone with the résumé of Harold Baines screams Hall of Famer. It really comes down to this: Allowing someone like Harold Baines into the Hall of Fame means that a player like Scott Rolen is an unequivocal Hall of Famer, right? Harold Baines and Scott Rolen were extremely valuable players, but for me, they’re not Hall of Fame-worthy players. I do not necessarily hear the names Harold Baines and Scott Rolen and believe these men are in the top 350 to ever play the game of baseball.

Barry Bonds? Yes. Barry Bonds was a Hall of Famer long before there was ever a black cloud hanging above his head. Also for Bonds, he never once actually tested positive for any banned substance. Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, both men with Hall of Fame résumés, are also both men that tested positive for a banned substance. If you test positive, from my standpoint, you don’t belong in the Hall of Fame. It’s a grey area, sure, but it’s hard to really keep a man that never actually violated any rules away from a place that houses the names of the best to ever play baseball. Bonds was one of the best to ever play the game.

San Francisco Giants v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

If you do a simple Google search of Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Barry Bonds, unsavory aspects of their personal lives will be exposed, and some of them are abhorrent. It’s hard for me to keep these men on my ballot. The question of a “character clause” does come into play. Why should we allow these types of men to be revered? If we look at just résumé alone, if Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer, Curt Schilling is absolutely a Hall of Famer. For me, Mike Mussina being in the Hall of Fame is a little dicey as well. Not from a character standpoint, obviously. Mike Mussina was a standup gentleman by all accounts, but from a question of him being considered one of the best. The voters will never get it right in the eyes of some people, and if we just look at résumés... Barry Bonds, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz, Roger Clemens, and Billy Wagner have earned enshrinement, based on on-field performance, a place among the plaques of Cooperstown.

Brady Childs

I haven’t thought about what my theoretical baseball hall of fame ballot since my trust eroded in the institution after Jack Morris was slid in through the backdoor. But my experience as a Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame voter had gotten me thinking about the process again. Not about the players I’d vote in, but about how cool the process is and how every writer who talks about how this is some burden is full of it and should relinquish their vote if they hate it so much. Having a Hall of Fame ballot of any sort rules. Here’s what mine would look like sorted into two groups:

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

David Ortiz

Manny Ramirez

Álex Rodríguez

Gary Sheffield

All of these guys are tied to steroids whether it’s via the BALCO trial, suspensions, or supposedly anonymous survey testing. Getting angry about my faves popping for PED’s was a product of my time. Now that I’m older, I know that drug testing in most major sports is a sham and that everyone is cheating. Not everyone, but if you want to juice you can and if you get popped you’re either dumb or cheap. I’m not going to punish people for doing something everyone else was doing and is doing now.

Scott Rolen

Curt Schilling

Scott Rolen is one of the best third basemen of all-time and was a legitimate threat with the stick. Curt Schilling was a great pitcher and one of the best postseason pitchers of all-time. I find his rhetoric and political beliefs horrible, too, but I don’t care about them as it relates to a Hall of Fame.

Bob Osgood

I will preface this with the fact that I chose to ignore the character clause entirely. Whether it be steroids, personal life, or otherwise. There are some terrible people in the Hall of Fame already. Who am I to judge anyone for their character? My character stinks.

Without hesitation: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez. Bonds won seven MVPs and hit more home runs in a season and a career than anyone ever. Clemens won seven Cy Youngs, an MVP, and two pitching Triple Crowns. Rodriguez won three MVPs, hit 696 home runs, and stole 329 bases. These three are no-brainers.

David Ortiz’s .286/.380/.552 career slash line for a power hitter is excellent. In 85 postseason games, he was even better. A .289/.404/.543 slash line in 85 games with 17 HR and 61 RBI. He was essential to three World Series titles, and in one World Series, he hit .688 with a .760 OBP, excluding a grand slam that was “robbed” from him.

Manny Ramirez (along with Albert Pujols) is the best pure right-handed hitter of my lifetime. His career slash line was .312/.411/.585. He hit 20 or more home runs for 14 consecutive years, from 1995 to 2008. He once drove in 165 runs and didn’t win the MVP.

If Andrew Jones retired at the age of 30 (after entering the league at 19), he would have had 368 HRs, 138 SBs, and an acceptable .263 career average while playing the best center field of his generation. I don’t care what he did with the Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees. He dominated for over a decade.

Curt Schilling threw 133 innings in the playoffs (close to an entire season these days) and went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA, and a 0.97 WHIP against only the elite competition. He won a World Series MVP and won three World Series. Oh, and he won 216 regular season games too, with three second place finishes in the Cy Young vote.

Those seven aren’t tough for me. The last three are. Since this was supposed to be a quick post, I’ll go Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Sammy Sosa. Rolen’s defense, as with Jones, plays a big part for me while being an elite third baseman for a long period of time. It’s not Helton’s fault he played in Coors. .316/.414/.539 over 17 years if he played in Tibet is getting my vote. Lastly, Sosa. Power profiles alone need to have a higher threshold, especially with what was going on in the ’90s, I understand. But three seasons of 63 or more home runs is preposterous and 609 home runs are beyond that threshold for me. The .344 career OBP is a knock for sure. Last note: Shoutout to Tim Lincecum, don’t let him get less than five percent of the vote.