2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot (With voting!)

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is official. Here are your choices. Put together your ballot of up to ten players! I’ll list them here, but also put the names in a poll.

Holdovers (year on ballot, percentage of vote last year)

Barry Bonds (6th, 53.8)
Roger Clemens (6th, 54.1)
Vladimir Guerrero (2nd, 71.1)
Trevor Hoffman (3rd, 74.0)
Jeff Kent (5th, 16.7)
Edgar Martinez (9th, 58.6)
Fred McGriff (9th, 21.7)
Mike Mussina (5th, 51.8)
Manny Ramirez (2nd, 23.8)
Curt Schilling (6th, 45.0)
Gary Sheffield (4th, 13.3)
Sammy Sosa (6th, 8.6)
Billy Wagner (3rd, 10.2)
Larry Walker (8th, 21.9)


Chris Carpenter
Johnny Damon
Livan Hernandez
Orlando Hudson
Aubrey Huff
Jason Isringhausen
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Carlos Lee
Brad Lidge
Hideki Matsui
Kevin Millwood
Jamie Moyer
Scott Rolen
Johan Santana
Jim Thome
Omar Vizquel
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Wow, tough if you’re leaving off the steroid guys. Such a fall off after Bonds and Clemens, and to a lesser extent, Manny.

No steroid guys:
Steroid guys:

Maybe just as displayed on my browser, the poll did not include all the newcomers - add one vote for Jim Thome and one for Scott Rolen to my account.

Johan Santana is probably the second- or third-best pitcher whose career started after Pedro Martinez (1992) and before, say, Justin Verlander (2005) - behind Roy Halladay (1998) and arguably Andy Pettitte (1995). That’s a pretty long stretch with very few hall of fame pitchers. Still, his five-year peak isn’t quite good enough to carry a career of only 12 seasons and just over 2,000 innings. Jamie Moyer is at the other end of the scale - it’s tempting to throw him a vote for lasting so long and defying the odds, but he was an average pitcher overall; league-average over 4,000 innings has value but not hall of fame value. Among position players, I took a long look at Vizquel but he wasn’t actually Ozzy Smith with the glove and that’s about my limit for a decent-but-not-great offensive player, even one with a very long career.

Otherwise, I voted for the PED guys (Bonds, Clemens, Ramirez), Edgar, Mussina & Schilling, and Vlad among the hold-overs and C. Jones, Thome, and Rolen among the new guys, with a long look at Andruw Jones. No relief pitchers for me, especially given that I’m already shorting McGriff, Larry Walker, and A. Jones.

(Too late for edits - I forgot Sabathia, who is probably on balance a bit ahead of Santana even if you weight peak very heavily, and Tim Hudson, who is at least arguable, and probably should have started the clock for the current generation of pitchers with Greinke (2004)).

Yeah, I’m not seeing Rolen or Thome either. For a minute I thought the backlog had completely cleared up, and I’d have to decide whether to vote for probably my least favorite baseball player of my lifetime - but with Rolen and Thome I can put that decision off.

I assume Rickjay will fix the poll so I’ll hold off voting.

Pete Rose?

Oh crap, I already voted for 10 and didn’t realize Thome was missing. He’d be an obvious choice. The ten I voted for, without a shred of research to back up my votes:

Larry Walker

Myself, I won’t vote for the sure Steroid cheats.

***Player – First Thought – Baseball Reference Check ***
Vlad – Yes - Yes
Hoffman – No – Maybe, no vote this year
Kent – No – No
Edgar Martinez – Yes – Yes Barely (This guy killed the Yanks & Mariano, pushed him over the borderline for me)
Fred McGriff – No – No
Mike Mussina – Maybe – Maybe, no vote this year from me; went back after seeing weak year and YES
Curt Schilling - Maybe – Maybe, no vote this year from me; went back after seeing weak year and YES
Gary Sheffield – No – No
Billy Wagner – No – No
Larry Walker - No – Maybe, no vote from me
Chris Carpenter – No – No
Johnny Damon – No – No
Livan Hernandez – No – No
Orlando Hudson – No – No, I already had forgotten him.
Aubrey Huff – No – No
Jason Isringhausen – No – No
Andruw Jones – No – No
Chipper Jones – Yes – Yes!
Carlos Lee – No – No
Brad Lidge – No – No
Hideki Matsui – Yes – No, not really, can’t vote for him in good conscious.
Kevin Millwood – No – No

**Jim Thome will be an easy Yes Vote for me. **

I voted for Curt Schilling and Lawrence “Chipper” Jones. Eventually, yes, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds probably deserve a spot

I apologize for screwing up. I have added Rolen and Thome to the poll.

My thoughts:

Barry Bonds

One of the greatest players of all time. Yes, he was not always a pleasant man. Yes, he used steroids. He’s deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Roger Clemens

Basically the same argument as Barry Bonds. Very unlikeable – I am quite sure Clemens is the only player in living memory to try to hit another player with a bat and not be disciplined for it – and steroids certainly made his career longer and even more impressive, but he was a Hall of Famer anyway.

Vladimir Guerrero

Guerrero has a pretty good shot at being elected. I am not actually a huge fan of his candidacy. He was a very good player but I am quite unconvinced he was ever a really super great player at any one time, and his career was not especially long. I know that’s a weird thing to say about a career .318 hitter who hit a lot of home runs, but in the offensive context of his career you have to discount the raw numbers a little.

Look at it this way; how many times did Vlad Guerrero lead the league in homers? Batting average? RBI? Or more advanced analytical stats, like WAR, OPS+? Zero.
Don’t get me wrong, I think he’d be a decent choice, but I’m a little on the fence when comparing him to a lot of these guys.

Trevor Hoffman

Hoffman got 74 percent of the vote last year so his election is very likely. In my honest opinion if he is elected it’ll be one of the worst selections the BBWAA has ever made. He was a really good pitcher but he pitched 1089 innings in his entire career. He just was not that valuable.

Jeff Kent

Jeff Kent was the most awkward looking second baseman I ever saw. When he first came up with Toronto it was as an injury fill in for Kelly Gruber at third base and I thought he looked stiff and awkward playing third. I didn’t even know he was a second baseman. But somehow he was actually pretty good at it. You never know.

Jeff Kent was probably as good a player as Vladimir Guerrero, really. His numbers aren’t quite as flashy, but like Guerrero, he was an MVP and a hell of a player in a career about the same length. His being an infielder adds to his value. I don’t think he’ll get in but he’s on the fence for me, too.

Edgar Martinez

A DH, but a truly, truly great hitter. I’m a bit more positively inclined towards him than I used to be and I think he’s more of a yes for me than a no. See Larry Walker.

Fred McGriff

From 1985 to 1990 or so the Toronto Blue Jays came up with a ridiculous number of quality first basemen; Fred McGriff, Cecil Fielder, John Olerud, and finally Carlos Delgado. Fielder was the worst of the bunch and he was a pretty good ballplayer.
McGriff, like Olerud and Delgado, was a very, very good player, but not really HOF level. He was headed there around age 25, at which point he was one of the best hitters in baseball for a couple of years, but he was never really quite that good again.

Mike Mussina

Absolutely a Hall of Famer, all the way. Rock solid pitcher for a reasonably long time, and he gets an extra point from me for retiring on top. His career lacks highlights – no Cy Young, no World Series victory – but he went out and put up one hell of a season after another for 15 years.

Manny Ramirez

The worst defensive outfielder I have ever seen who played for a really long time. I know people will say “well, he knew how to play the Monster” and that is true, but watch ten games in Fenway and count:

  1. How often a player has to make a play high off the Monster, and
  2. How many times the visiting outfielder screws it up.

It’s not many. Manny was just a comically horrible outfielder; I once watched a game in Toronto in which he wasn’t charged with an error but was personally responsible for five runs scoring that would not have had a decent outfielder been in left. Baseball Reference says he cost the Red Sox about 12-15 runs a year out there. I think it was twice that.

Holy crap though the guy could hit. The finest swing I have ever seen. Manny Ramirez’s swing is what you should show kids if you want to see a perfect swing.
I think he’s a Hall of Famer. He as terrible with the glove but he made up for it and then some with the stick, and he hit 29 home runs in the playoffs, the most ever.

Curt Schilling

Analytical stats will tell you Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer; BB-Ref gives him 80 WAR, which is way, way over the HOF mean. A lot of people have a problem with that because

  1. His career W-L is 216-146, which is meh for a Hall of Famer, and
  2. He’s a gigantic asshole.

I do see the reasoning though. Schilling was a dominant pitcher. In context his career 3.46 ERA is simply excellent, better than most HOF pitchers. He struck out a lot of batters and had world-class control. You have to give him points for his brilliant playoff performance; 11-2, 2.23 ERA in 19 starts (and he was MVP of the 1993 NLCS despite not being the winning pitcher in either of his starts. He was that good.) I think he’s a Hall of Famer, even though I would not want to be his friend or business partner.

Here’s a question for you; how do you consider playoff performance into a player’s HOF credentials? The thing is that until recently, I cannot think of any player for whom it really mattered. Off the top of my head I cannot think of a single player prior to the wild card era for whom playoff performance was really a consideration. Ted Williams played very badly in his only World Series but he’s still a Hall of Famer; Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson also did not have great postseason records, but they’re still clearly Hall of Famers. Devon White played extremely well in the playoffs but obviously he is not a Hall of Famer, nor are Gene Tenace, say, or Allie Reynolds.

But with playoffs being a bigger part of the picture now, we’re going to start having some arguments here. To my mind, Mariano Rivera is a case where his playoff performance puts him clearly over the top; he was awesome in the regular season but in limited innings, which makes him borderline. But his playoff numbers are eye-popping. His playoff career – 8-1, 0.70 ERA in 141 innings –s is better than any one regular season he ever had, and obviously disproportionately valuable. In my opinion, that changes Rivera from a marginal HOF choice (about 57 WAR) to a no brainer – that playoff performance is worth 5-6 WAR just measured normally and given that it was the playoffs, I’d count it as 12.

What I am getting around to here is that Schilling was one of the best playoff pitchers of all time, and you have to add that to his resume, and consider what that astounding 19 start stat line is worth. Those games do count, and you have to consider them to be fair.

Gary Sheffield

Great hitter for a long time but a very poor defensive player and, again, you have to adjust those numbers down a little for context. There are way worse players in the Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t vote for him over a lot of these guys.

Sammy Sosa

Slammin’ Sammy had a hell of a run from 1998 to 2002 but outside of that he was not actually a great player. His case is not, if you consider context, much different from that of Dale Murphy. I wouldn’t vote him in, steroids or not.

Sosa had three seasons with more than 60 home runs. He also won two home run titles. Those two sets do not intersect. Isn’t that weird?

Billy Wagner

Trevor Hoffman is almost certainly going to be elected to the Hall of Fame and Billy Wagner is almost certainly going to have to keep buying tickets to get in, and yet to my eyes they are obviously about the same. Hoffman pitched a bit more, but Wagner was much better when he pitched – in fact, I believe he has the second best ERA+ in baseball history for a pitcher who pitched as many innings as he did. (Mariano is first.)

So why is Hoffman going in and Wagner not? SAVES. HOFFMAN HAS SAVES! Saves are a stupid, stupid statistic.

Wagner was absolutely terrible in the playoffs, maybe the worst player in playoff history as compared to his regular season performance. He appeared in 14 games across eight different playoff series and got absolutely torched; 11.2 innings, 21 hits, 3 homers, 13 earned runs. I wouldn’t put him in the Hall even if he’d been good but I found that interesting.

Larry Walker

One of the most underrated players in modern baseball history. I have said this before and will again; if you vote for Edgar Martinez but not Larry Walker, I’d like some kind of reasoned explanation as to why. Coors Field or not Walker was an outstanding hitter, AND he was a very good defensive player (which obviously Martinez wasn’t.) I guess Walker would be in by now had he not gotten hurt a lot.

Chris Carpenter

Had some very good years with St. Louis, but, obviously, didn’t have very many of them.

Johnny Damon

Certainly one of the ugliest players in MLB history. He’s not THE ugliest – he’s not even close to Willie McGee, of course, but Damon’s up there. Or down there.
Damon was a very good player for a long time, but not a Hall of Famer in my opinion. BB-Ref says his best comparison is Vada Pinson, and actually Pinson was one of the players I thought of, before looking it up, when thinking “Who was like Johnny Damon”? Damon played on championship teams and Vinson only saw one World Series, but it’s a good match.

Livan Hernandez

Primarily famous for the NLCS game where Eric Gregg struck out a bunch of hitters for him. Livan went 178-177, missing by one fewer win or one more loss the chance to have the biggest .500 record in baseball history. He wasn’t a great pitcher but he pitched a long time and he had some good years.

Orlando Hudson

An underrated player; Hudson was a decent hitter and an outstanding glove man at second base. He got started late, not becoming a regular until age 25, and his health went on him early.

In 2005 the Blue Jays traded Hudson and Miguel Batista to the Diamondbacks for Troy Glaus, because Glaus was a big, scary guy who hit home runs, and also because the Blue Jays in those days had no idea what they were doing. To my eyes, it is clear that the trade was very, very stupid. Glaus had flashy power numbers and once won a World Series MVP Award, but at that point Orlando Hudson was just as good an overall ballplayer and, being younger and more athletic, would probably provide more value over the rest of his career. My guess was correct; Glaus was good enough for a few years but Hudson was just as good, and he lasted a few years longer.

Aubrey Huff

Aubrey Huff received some mentions on the MVP ballot three times, but was never named to All-Star game. I think the fans and All-Star managers were smarter than the BBWAA in this regard.

Jason Isringhausen

Led the league in saves once. Not as valuable as player as Orlando Hudson.

Andruw Jones

The poster child for being careful about assuming a guy is going to the Hall of Fame. Jones was one of the best defensive center fielders who ever lived and a big power threat, started at the age of 19 was was an All Star more years than not right up to the age of 29, and then he just fell apart. He is actually a marginal Hall of Fame choice all the same; most sources put him around 62 WAR, which is a decent candidate, and he contributed to many championship teams. He really was as good an outfielder as you have heard. But there’s better candidates. Had he just played OK until he was 32-33, he’d be a no brainer.

Chipper Jones

Should be elected on the first ballot. One of the ten best third basemen in major league history.

In mid-career, the Braves decided to make Jones a left fielder. To this day I’ve never understood why. Jones wasn’t Brooks Robinson over there but he was good enough, and a bat like his is more valuable at third than in left. He was not a very good outfielder. The Braves replaced him at third with the dessicated husk of Vinny Castilla, who was old and so it’s not like they had the next Mike Schmidt pushing Jones out. Jones moved back to third a few years later so he was clearly capable of playing there, and he played decent third base the rest of his career, until he was 40. It was odd.

Carlos Lee

I confuse all the first basemen and left fielders named “Lee.” There’s Carlos Lee and Derrek Lee and Lee May and Cliff Lee. They’re all kinda the same. This was the Lee who hit home runs for the White Sox, and then hit somne for the Brewers and then the Astros. He ended up hitting 358 home runs, but there are at least 358 players better than him who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.

Brad Lidge

Lidge had a short and not especially noteworthy career and I’m surprised he made the ballot, actually. Not that he wasn’t a good pitcher, but they left better players off.
Lidge, as you probably remember, was a huge man who threw the ball extremely hard; he could get up around 97, 98 MPH. If you think about it, baseball is full of Brad Lidges now. It used to be quite remarkable for a pitcher to throw 98 MPH; now every team has two or more guys in the bullpen who throw that hard. Brad Lidge was a harbinger of things to come; we are now in an era where many pitchers who lack the skills necessary to be starters are trained to simply throw hell bent for leather for one inning, and as a strategy, it works; there are Lidges on every team, guys who throw 98 and strike out 9-10 men per 9 innings.

Hideki Matsui

One of the few good nicknames of modern baseball, “Godzilla.” Nicknames have gone to shit. Most players are known by their name, or a part of it, with a “Y” attached to it. Not Godzilla, though.

Matsui, of course, did not come to MLB until he was 29, so it would have been nearly impossible for him to have a shot at a HOF career, and he wasn’t the most durable player and couldn’t play defense – well, I guess he wouldn’t have been a Hall of Famer anyway. But he had some good years and won a World Series MVP Award.

Kevin Millwood

Pretty good pitcher and all, but of course he isn’t a Hall of Famer.

Jamie Moyer

Jamie Moyer won 235 games AFTER he turned 30. Isn’t that amazing? That is the sixth highest total in baseball history;

Cy Young, 316
Phil Niekro, 287
Warren Spahn, 277
Gaylord Perry, 238
Randy Johnson, 235
Jamie Moyer, 235

Of course no one thinks of Moyer as a Hall of Famer like those other guys. Fair enough, he was never at any one time a truly great pitcher. You have to be impressed with his durability and perseverance, though.

Moyer gave up 522 home runs, the most ever.

Scott Rolen

According to BB-Ref, Scott Rolen was worth 70 WAR over the course of his career, which is well on the “should be in” line by HOF standards. If you think “gosh, maybe, but I never really thought of Rolen as a Hall of Famer,” join the club.

Much of that value is ascribed to his glove; statistically, Rolen reads as a great third baseman, and that certainly squares with my recollection of him, cause he sure LOOKED like a hell of a third baseman. Maybe he is a Hall of Famer, but I think he will have trouble getting in.

Johan Santana

The Dale Murphy of pitchers, a great player for 6 years or so and then his arm died. 3 or 4 more years and he’d be a good choice, but he didn’t do it, so he’s not.

Jim Thome

What a wonderful player. Thome was a big muscular guy whose approach to playing baseball was “Hit the ball really hard.” He was so fun to watch in batting practice; he’d just ping 500-foot home runs like it was nothing. He was never the best player in baseball but he was a very valuable hitter for a very long time, and should be in the Hall of Fame.

Omar Vizquel

A very common argument to put Omar Vizquel in the Hall of Fame is to say that if Ozzie Smith is in, Omar should be in, because they were so alike. I would say with exaggeration that I have heard or read this argument made by 25 different people. I think the fact their names both start with O helps people make that connection, though I guess no one ever compares then to Onix Conception so maybe not.
The problem with this argument is that Omar Vizquel simply WASN’T the same as Ozzie Smith. He was a shortstop who played a long time and won many Gold Gloves, but when you look deep into the facts, Smith was a much greater player:

  1. Omar’s hitting numbers superficially appear to be as good as Ozzie’s, but they are not. When you adjust for the leagues and times they played in, Smith was a substantially more valuable hitter.

  2. Omar Vizquel was a truly great fielder. Ozzie Smith was the GREATEST fielder. Omar was awesome, and remained awesome for a long time, but Ozzie Smith was the best shortstop ever. It is hardly an insult to Omar Vizquel to admit Ozzie was better; I mean, Frank Robinson was a great hitter, but we all agree he was not Ted Williams, right?

Overall, I think Omar falls short of the Hall. Consider this; Ozzie Smith was in the All-Star game every year, usually elected by the fans. Omar Vizquel made three All Star games. Omar appeared on an MVP ballot once, Ozzie six times and in all honesty he should have won it in 1987. Contemporaneous observers seemed to think a lot more of Ozzie Smith, and those observations are supported by the stats. I think that while Ozzie is clearly a worthy Hall of Famer, Omar is not.

Kerry Wood

Kerry Wood played for ten years? I’ll be damned.

Carlos Zambrano

Zambrano is now largely famous for being a good hitter for a pitcher; he hit 24 home runs in 693 career at bats. He also struck out 240 times and walked 10 times, so the “for a pitcher” part is the operative term there.

Zambrano was an extremely large, strong man, and his philosophy on hitting was “As long as I’m up here, I may as well try to hit the ball to the moon. Nobody expects anything, so won’t they be thrilled if I hit a homer.” This strategy clearly worked – not only did he hit homers, but by hitting the ball as hard as he could he pushed out some other hits, too. This is important to note: his contact rate actually wasn’t even good for a pitcher; he missed the ball and struck out just as often as most pitchers. The difference between Zambrano and most pitchers is that when he hit the ball he hit it very hard, as opposed to most pitchers, who kind of feebly wave at the ball and so when they hit it they pop out or dribble one to the second baseman.

Youtube Carlos hitting, and you’ll see his hitting form is clumsy. If he was a position player you’d think “hoo boy, that does not look good.” So it’s not like he was a brilliantly skilled batsman; he just refused to give up and tried to absolutely mash the ball.

If you think about it, all NL teams should be teaching their pitchers the Carlos Zambrano school of hitting; just have fun up there and swing hell bent for leather and if you’re lucky enough to hit it you might hit a home run. Most pitchers are big and strong; they tend to be bigger, on average, than their position player counterparts. If they tried to crush it on every pitch they’d still suck, but they’d suck less because they’d belt a few homers every year. There’s no point in giving those at bats up for nothing, and if your batting average is going to be low anyway, why not knock a couple of dingers now and then?

Anyway, Carlos was also a really, really good pitcher for about 4-5 years but then his arm gave out.

I almost feel like you should close this thread and start a new one with the corrected poll and the full list you used in it. Would you consider that?

I can fix the voting totals too, and have already done so according to such preferences as have been stated.

If anyone who wanted to vote for Thome or Rolen wants to ensure their vote is heard, just PM me or say so here, I’ll ensure their totals are corrected.

Well cool, that works fine.

Great analysis, as usual, RickJay. I agree with nearly everything, but there is one point on which I always seem to stand alone. That is relief pitchers. Look, it’s a position. They put 'em on the All Star teams. Trevor Hoffman made 7 of them. MLB has an award for the best relief pitcher in each league and did you know, by the way, that the NL award is called the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award?!

I always thought, and still think, Lee Smith is a Hall of Famer. There’s a guy who modern day analysis just clobbered. He was on the HOF ballot for 15 years and really lost voting momentum in the last 5 or so. Smith also made 7 All Star teams, finished in the Cy Young top 10 in 4 different years (same as Hoffman).

I decided “fuck it” on the steroid users because we’ll never know and some of them are already in. I’m voting for Jim Thome and how do we know he didn’t use PEDs? We don’t, so fuck it.

Bonds (Greatest player ever. Enhanced)

Clemens (One of the greatest pitchers ever. Enhanced)

Manny (Rickjay’s description of his fielding is apt. Comically bad)

Edgar (Hall of Fame hitter)

Moose (There’s a dumb nickname. He is so not a moose type)

Schilling (For Fucks sake, just put this cretin in so I can stop typing his name)

Vlad (Inevitable, so whatever)

Hoffman (Also inevitable, so whatever)

Jim Thome (Monster)

Larry Jones (Nice to have a no-brainer come along)

Sure, I know that stuff, but it’s not my fault they aren’t very valuable. It’s not my fault modern closers are under-used and are pitching 75 innings when they could pitch 125.

“Closer” is a position the way “pinch hitter” or “the right handed guy in a platoon” are positions - which is to say it is not a position at all. It’s a ROLE. And it’s not a very important one.

Switch my incomprehensible vote for McGriff to Thome.

Hey, when they create the “Matt Stairs Pinch Hitter Award,” maybe I’ll advocate for his HOF candidacy. And Ok, relief pitcher is a role, not a position. True enough. But for an unimportant position, teams sure do feel the pain when they don’t have a good one. The closer by committee approach fails more than it doesn’t.

Just was having a conversation about Hoffman & Rivera. The person I was talking to thinks Rivera will be unanimous. I figure about 91-92% as some voters will still discount relieving. I know he is the data point that falls outside the norm, but what do you think will happen on his first ballot next year?

FWIW, I picked:
[li]Vladimir Guerrero[/li][li]Trevor Hoffman[/li][li]Edgar Martinez[/li][li]Chipper Jones[/li][li]Jim Thome[/li][/ul]

Maybe someday I’ll feel differently but I still don’t think known PED users should get elected.