My 2011 Hall of Fame ballot is not much different than my 2010
ballot, which I detailed at some length a
I did not vote for any first-time candidates this year, for
reasons I explain in my
accompanying column. But here are some updated thoughts on the
eight players I checked on my ballot:
Roberto Alomar. Missed by eight votes in his first
year of eligibility, an embarrassment that prompted myself and
others to question whether certain voters — sports editors
and feature writers, in particular — should be voting at all.
Difficult to imagine that he will be snubbed again.
Bert Blyleven. Missed by five votes last year, and
finally figures to surpass the 75-percent threshold in his 15th and
final year on the ballot. Blyleven, in his acceptance speech,
should thank sabermetricians for championing his candidacy so
effectively — and relentlessly.
Barry Larkin. I wrote last year — and still
believe — that Larkin was a more complete player than Ozzie
Smith and perhaps even Cal Ripken Jr., the two preeminent
shortstops of his era. Full disclosure: Larkin is a colleague of
mine on MLB Network. So are many other former players, a good
number of whom (sorry, guys!) will not get my vote.
Edgar Martinez. The anti-DH bias — like the
anti-closer bias — drives me nuts. Sure, everyday players and
starting pitchers carry more value. But the Hall should honor the
best at every position. Martinez’s peak was short, perhaps
too short, but find me a better right-handed hitter.
Fred McGriff. You get the feeling that he would
garner more support if he had been a more vibrant personality, or
if he had hit seven more homers to reach 500? I do. The two most
similar batters, according to the similarity scores on
Baseball-Reference.com: Hall of Famers Willie McCovey and Willie
Tim Raines. No, he wasn’t Rickey Henderson.
But Raines was about as close to Henderson as a player could get.
It’s mind-boggling that in three years on the ballot, he has
yet to receive more than 30.4 percent of the vote.
Lee Smith. I’m wavering. Again. Smith was a
dominant closer for more than a decade, but the appearance of John
Franco on this year’s ballot gives me pause. I did not vote
for Franco and probably will not vote for him in the future. But
really, he is not all that different from Smith. Maybe the Hall
should simply be reserved for the elite: Fingers, Sutter, Gossage,
Ecklersley — and soon, Rivera and Hoffman.
Alan Trammell. Fighting a losing battle here. This
is Trammell’s 10th year on the ballot, and his
“support” actually fell from a high of 18.2 percent in
2009 to 17.4 percent in ’10. As my colleague Jon Paul Morosi
pointed out a year ago, Trammell and Larkin should not be penalized
for playing in the same era as more historic figures at their