My 2017 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

By Mike Luciano
Jan. 18, 2017

Judgement day is upon us. Today, the dream of everyone who picks up a baseball glove will either be confirmed, delayed, or evaporate away. The 2017 was one of the most challenging ballots to fill out in recent memory. Not only does the recent PED issue cast a cloud of doubt in the minds of several BBWAA voters, but several potential inductees are teetering on the ever-so fine line between great and very, very good. Without further adieu, my 2017 Hall of Fame Ballot.

Inductee #1: Barry Bonds, OF, San Francisco Giants

Achievements: .298 BA, 2,935 Hits, 762 HR (1st all time), 1,996 RBI (5th all time), 514 SB, .444 OBP (6th all time), .607 SLG (5th all time), 162.4 WAR (2nd all time), 8x Gold Glove Winner, 12x Silver Slugger Winner, 14 x All Star, 7x MVP

The term "greatest of all time" has been tossed around and devalued to the point of having lost much of its meaning in this day in age. It also creates pointless debates about who the best player ever was. While I won't delve into that argument, I can say unequivocally that Barry Bonds was the most dominant baseball player ever. Beyond simply breaking the all-time home run record he now has a stranglehold on, his career was full of spurts of dominance that will never again be equalled. These include hitting 73 homers in his record breaking 2001 campaign, getting on base 61% of the time in 2004 (a season in which he was walked 232 times, another record), and winning the MVP award 7 times, including 4 times in a row. Put aside your PED qualms and recognize that no one, regardless of what they put in their body, will ever be on the same level as Bonds. The fact he was precluded because of a PED case that is still marred with inconsistencies is the highest level of absurdity. Drug users have gotten in to the Hall of Fame before, and will eventually reach Cooperstown. Keeping Bonds out is simply disrespectful to the legendary player he was. 

Inductee #2: Roger Clemens, SP, Boston Red Sox

Achievements: 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 K (3rd all time), 139.4 WAR (3rd all time), 5x K leader, 7x ERA leader, 11x All Star, 7x Cy Young Award Winner, 1986 MVP, 1998 Triple Crown

In much the same vein as Bonds, Clemens was dogged with accusations of using performance enhancing drugs, though no court has found him or Bonds guilty of using these drugs other than the court of public opinion. Clemens in his prime reached almost Bonds-ian levels of dominance and unhittability. His trophy case is stocked with a record 7 Cy Young Awards and the 1986 MVP. Clemens' dominance was sustained throughout his career, culminating with his 7th ERA title at age 42. No one with a functioning brain could argue that his stats justify him a spot in Cooperstown. If the BBWAA can absorb the fact that Clemens was among the best, if not the best, starting pitcher in baseball for almost his entire 22 season career, he should end up in Cooperstown soon enough. 

Inductee #3: Trevor Hoffman, CP, San Diego Padres

Achievements: 61-75, 2.87 ERA, 601 Saves (2nd all time), 1,133 K, 28.0 WAR, 2x saves leader, 7x All Star, 2x Reliever of the Year, 

The greatest closer of all time that isn't named Mariano Rivera, Hoffman's 601 saves was the all time record before Rivera eclipsed him. Being a Padre rather than a Yankee, coupled with less postseason appearances, Hoffman's career was never as celebrated as Rivera's, but he was every bit as unhittable. Featuring arguably the most unhittable changeup of all time, Hoffman was flat out nasty for the better part of 2 decades, setting numerous records for relief pitchers. The only reason he isn't in is because the BBWAA believes the modern closer is an inferior player to the Bruce Sutters, Rollie Fingerses, and Goose Gossages of yesteryear. This has led to several prominent relief pitchers getting blackballed (see Lee Smith). Hoffman's innings pitched should not take away from the validity of his Hall of Fame case. Almost as dominant a closer as Rivera, Hoffman should get the recognition he deserves; an induction into Cooperstown.

Inductee #4: Tim Raines, OF, Montreal Expos

Achievements: .294 BA, 170 HR, 980 RBI, 808 SB (5th all time), .385 OBP, 69.1 WAR, 7x All Star, 4x SB Leader

Tim Raines was what you would find if you looked up leadoff hitter in the dictionary. A speedster who got on base more than even the titans of the game, Raines' 808 stolen bases rank 5th all time. While stolen bases will be his calling card, Raines' .294 average and .385 on base percentage showed that the fantastic Expo teams of the 80s were led by the exploits of Raines. Raines' induction would be not just a deserved introduction, it would be a big win for sabermetrics. The BBWAA has been almost comically resistant to sabermetric stats, preferring trite axioms like "he's not a winner" and "he's a big game player." Raines getting it would show that advanced are slowly but surely creeping into the BBWAA's consciousness. 

Inductee #5: Jeff Bagwell, 1B, Houston Astros

Achievements: .297 BA, 449 HR, 1,529 RBI, 202 SB, .408 OBP, 4x All Star, 1991 Rookie of the Year, 1994 Gold Glove Winner, 3x Silver Slugger Winner, 1994 MVP

The famed "Killer B's" trio in Houston may one day see all 3 members inducted into Cooperstown. Craig Biggio has made it, while Bagwell and Lance Berkman stand by waiting. Bagwell's induction is long overdue. An imposing bat who constantly hit for both average and power, Bagwell's 400+ home runs and 200+ stolen bases put him in a category all his own amongst first baseman. Add fine defense and consistency, and Bagwell, arguably the most feared and dominating of the 3 Killer B's, surely deserves a spot alongside Biggio in Cooperstown. 

Inductee #6: Ivan Rodriguez, C, Texas Rangers

Achievements: .296 BA, 311 HR, 1,332 RBI, 14x All Star, 13x Gold Glove Winner, 7x Silver Slugger Winner, 1999 MVP

The undisputed best catcher of the late 90s, Rodriguez had his name was penciled into the All Star Game starting line up annually. As good a defensive catcher as we've ever seen, Rodriguez took home an unprecedented 13 Gold Glove Awards. Even his offensive numbers were average, his defense may carry him to Cooperstown. Rodriguez's ability at the bat allowed him to hit above .296, more than 300 home runs, 550 doubles, and 1300 RBIs. The only other players to reach those totals were Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, George Brett, and Stan Musial. Not bad company. 

Inductee #7: Vladimir Guerrero, OF, Montreal Expos

Achievements: .318 BA, 2,590 H (1st all time among Dominican players), 449 HR, 1,496 RBI, 181 SB, .379 OBP, 9x All Star, 8x Silver Slugger Winner, 2004 MVP

The 2nd Expo who needs immediate induction, Guerrero and his legendarily strong right arm can be found on any list of thefts players of the early 2000s. His unmatched ability to hit pitches out of the zone propelled him to a .318 average, culminating in a career high .345 average in 2000 and the AL MVP award in 2005. The epitome of a five tool player, Guerrero sustained his excellence over his entire career, appearing in an all star game during his penultimate season. Guerrero stands as one of the best Latin players of all time, recording more hits than any Dominican player in history, and his illustrious stats coupled with his place in Latin baseball history should be grounds for induction.

Inductee #8: Edgar Martinez, DH/3B, Seattle Mariners

Achievements: .312 BA, 309 HR, 1,261 RBI, .418 OBP, 7x All Star, 5x Silver Slugger Winner

One of the most revered designated hitters of all time, Martinez could rake at a legendary clip, posting a career .312 average. that included 8 seasons with an average above .320. Martinez teamed with Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. to form the heart of the greatest regular season team in history, as well as several other great Mariner teams of the 90s. The only reason he is not in is because Martinez was a DH for most of his career. The untrue narrative that his defense was so abysmal it should keep him out of Cooperstown can be easily debunked. When compared to an average fielder, Martinez saved 18 defensive runs in his career. By comparison, David Ortiz, who will get in even though he was a DH for most of his career, had -6 DRS. Derek Jeter had a mind-numbingly bad -159 DRS and he'll get in. Defense should not bar the great Martinez from Cooperstown. 

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