On the Hall of Fame Ballot: Just Missed
There are a few more candidates who I didn’t seriously consider for inclusion on my ballot, but who do, in my estimation, have legitimate cases. Let’s take a look:
Don Mattingly: Though he had some of the poorest timing of any longtime Yankee – his career was neatly sandwiched between world championships for the Bombers – Mattingly was one of the top players in the league back in the ’80s. Ultimately, his short career comes up a little shy of the Hall’s tough standards at first base.
Fred McGriff: The Crime Dog’s case is actually quite similar to Rafael Palmeiro’s. He was an excellent first baseman for a long time, but rarely, if ever, the best in the league. With 493 home runs, five All-Star nods and 52 career WAR, he had an outstanding career, but probably not a Hall of Fame career.
Jack Morris: More ink has been spilled about Morris’ candidacy than just about anyone else’s on this ballot, and it’s pretty merciful that, one way or another, he’ll be off the BBWAA ballot for good after this year. He was a very good pitcher for a long time, and he had some tremendous postseason moments. Still, his ERA was quite high at 3.90, and there’s no evidence that that was a result of “pitching to the score.” He’s more comparable to Kenny Rogers than Mike Mussina or Curt Schilling, and nobody thinks Kenny Rogers should be in the Hall of Fame.
Lee Smith: Smith was a very good closer for a long time, and he held the all-time saves record for years before losing it to Trevor Hoffman (and then Mariano Rivera). He fits pretty well with the crop of relievers already in the Hall, but I tend to think those guys are a fairly weak group. I wouldn’t be opposed to Smith’s eventual induction, but there’s no room for a relief pitcher on this ballot.
I said at the beginning of this exercise that, if it were possible, I’d vote for 15 players. From the above list, Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Mussina and Martinez would join the hypothetically expanded version of my hypothetical ballot. I could probably be convinced to vote for Kent, Smith, McGriff, Sosa and Palmeiro as well, for an even 20 possible candidates.
Have I mentioned yet that I’m glad I don’t have a vote? Man. After the real results come in, I’ll take a look at the remaining players on the ballot.