Saturday, November 30, 2013


Life is short, time is money, and the Hall of Fame will not keep you warm on a winter's night.

Here is the first cut at what would be our "tactical Hall of Fame ballot" in 2014. It probably won't change, though some of the estimates given for BBWAA support of these players is likely to undergo a certain amount of refinement in the next few weeks. We will jump off the gangplank and await a similar leap from Chris Jaffe (no friggin' in the riggin', Chris!).

First, the ballot, then the explanation. (We will get a running start for the jump overboard...)

In alpha order: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker.

Aiiee!! Shark alert! So, where the eff are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro? Stashed in the hold, that's where. None of these guys has a prayer for the foreseeable future. Bonds and Clemens will hang on the ballot and still have a shot to outlive the outrage sometime in the next decade. McGwire and Palmeiro are toast, and will have to wait for the Vets Committee.

So where are Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Alan Trammell? Let's answer those in succession.

Schilling is overrated by many of the "advanced" metrics. That's not to say that he isn't "Hall-worthy." But we aren't going to try to fight against the win no matter how much mouthfoam comes from the crumbs left in the Tango Love Pie™-tin. Once Maddux, Glavine, and Randy Johnson are inducted, it will likely be a race between Mussina and Schilling for the next slot (with Pedro Martinez as a dark horse due to his peak performance, which will resonate with the BBWAA).

Sosa's OPS+ (128) just ain't high enough, no matter how many 50+ HR seasons he had. He's going to drop off the ballot, but he'll likely be a Vet Committee pick.

Trammell made a nice gain in 2012, but he stalled last year and this is year #13 on the ballot for him. He's just not in a position to make the necessary jump. He and Lou Whitaker, his long-time keystone partner, should both go in the Hall, and if the world could somehow become fair and just the two of them will still go in together via the Vets Committee toward the end of the decade.

We also gave up the ghost on Lee Smith, who is going to have to wait for the Vets Committee.

[EDIT: You ask about Jeff Kent. The Great Curmudgeon is also deserving of a slot in the Hall, but with ballots as stacked as they'll be in the next few years, he'll probably start in high single digits and disappear until the folks above get their dessert (and their entrées) from the side-door guardians.]

Regarding our ballot, a few notes. We stay with Raines because he's going to take a hit, and his cluster of skills and stats deserve to be honored. Likewise with Edgar Martinez, whose brilliant late-blooming career (9th best all-time in OPS for players who played a full decade in their thirties) should not be denied. Larry Walker needs some votes to stay in the game; he's going to languish for awhile, but this is only year #4 for him--we still think he might make it in the last 2-3 years of his initial eligibility.

The others should not be particularly controversial. Some folks think Glavine is a bit soft, but no 300+ game winners have been denied (except for Clemens, and that's a temporary matter). He's not likely to make it in Year 1 (we figure around 60%), but it won't take too long.

Tactically, this is the most effective ballot for playing all the angles in the Hall of Fame voting. It lets everyone who is significant and not completely buried by 'roid rage to stay in the game. And staying in the game is better than staying the course (but you knew that....) and is almost as good as a stay of execution. And we won't pass up the chance to quote our favorite phunny philanderer from The Apartment, David Lewis, a man capable of appreciating another's play even if it means that he'll need to find another nesting place for nookie. His advice to Jack Lemmon is something that every bloodied but unbowed American male should take to heart as he tries to get on the scoreboard:

"Stay with it, Buddy boy!!"