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My 2018 HOF ballot

January 28, 2018

Ya, I don’t get one but so what. Unlike the voters, I also get to share some personal memories of these guys.

My 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot

No limit to votes and I am not included

  1. Chipper Jones – No brainer. When you think about the greatest switch hitters of all time, Mantle, Murray, Chipper is absolutely in the conversation. Enjoyed the hell out of competing against him. He was so good he made the game plan easy. No repeat pitch, no repeat location, ever. The only issue was that meant you needed to have 3 workable pitches every AB.
  2. Vladimir Guerrero- Yes. I think he snuck up on me as I wasn’t thinking he was a lock for some reason. Then seeing his numbers and understanding his toolset it really does get easy. The approach was simple, yet complex. You threw every pitch knowing he was swinging and did everything in your power to make sure his contact was away from the barrel. Insane plate coverage. I idolized Clemente growing up and Vlad was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to Roberto in RF.
  3. Jim Thome – Might sound dumb but the guy should have gotten in on character alone. An amazing man who I wish I’d been able to play with. Didn’t face him too much but he left me a parting gift. Drilling me on the elbow in the final game before the all-star break in a game that ended up going 18 innings. I faced one more hitter and was done literally and figuratively. The amazing stat for me? 612 Home Runs AND a .402 OBP.
  4. Trevor Hoffman – For all the talk of Mo’s cutter, I thought Trevor’s changeup was every bit as lethal. In addition to being an awesome guy, he had the uncanny ability to forget last night. I think people who’ve never played the game fail to understand just how hard AND how different those last 3 outs are. When he had command and his changeup it was like watching someone play Nintendo baseball.
  5. Edgar Martinez – Yes. I think it’s insane he’s not in yet. In addition to one of the most gorgeous RH swings of all time, this guy just hits, and hits and hits. I don’t understand how you penalize a guy for playing the position he’s given.FWIW in 2055 games, his OPS was higher than Chipper AND Vlads. He was one of those insane combos of power and contact.
  6. Mike Mussina – Yes. I think, no, I know folks just don’t understand this fact. He won 270 games with a 3.68 ERA ALL while pitching his entire career in the most offensive division in the game, the AL East. Add to the fact he pitched in Camden Yards, and Yankee Stadium and again I think this election should have already happened.
  7. Clemens – While he was a HOF before he cheated, clearly IMO, I would not ever vote for someone that cheated. I hate that in this case because Roger was an ENORMOUS part of my career and every interaction of our lives was a good one. I wasn’t pissed nearly as much as I was disappointed when it all came out. FWIW matching up in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series was one of the most ironic and awesome experiences of my career. Not to mention when he threw me a 92mph split I laughed, out loud…..
  8. Bonds – Same thing. This guy was on the way to being the greatest to ever play before he cheated. I just don’t think I would or could vote to reward someone who willingly and knowingly cheated. Having said that this was the ultimate combo of power and speed. Hit more HR off me than any other player. In the years he was huge, and hitting everything I am not exaggerating when I say you either threw the ball 95+ inside or off the inside corner or you just put him on. He NEVER chased. Told me early in my career he could see my split which is why he never swung at it, so I never used it again…
  9. Omar Vizquel – The HOF is the ONLY place I feel defense has little to no value. If Omar hit .200 for his career he should still have a plaque. Alex Gonzalez had the best single season I’ve ever seen at SS in 2006 but Omar was the best defensive shortstop of my era, hands down. I remember getting out early for BP just to watch him take ground balls.
  10. Larry Walker – Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.Like punishing a DH I don’t understand punishing someone for being extraordinary even if you think it was the Coors effect. This guy was a 5 tool player in Montreal. Had a career .313 average over 17 YEARS! FWIW his WAR is higher than Vlads and .3 behind Thome. He had every bit the arm Vlad did and he brought speed as well stealing 230 bases. If he’d stay healthy I expected him to be a legit 40/40 guy. Fun to face too, we always seemed to be guessing each other every AB.
  11. Fred McGriff – Yes. In addition to being what seemed like a great guy and teammate, the guy hit 493 home runs and he did it clean, absolutely clean and I have zero doubts about that. My most vivid memory was his trade to Atlanta when he seemed to homer every day and help them into the postseason. Had a gorgeous swing too. .377 OBP and .886 OPS over 19 years is insane. Stacks up to and surpasses folks already enshrined.
  12. Manny Ramirez – See Bonds and Clemens. The worst part of this is he was without a doubt one of the two smartest offensive players I ever played with. The only guy I ever saw spend almost as much time in the video room as I did. The word majestic comes to mind when I think about his swing, it was perfection. Combined with a very intelligent approach he was the ultimate combination of power and average. A CAREER .996 OPS…… That’s just stupid. He once told me he was going into a game and was not going to swing until the starter threw him a curve ball, he knew it was coming and when it did he was going to crush it. 3rd AB of the game, no swings as of yet, 1 walk 1 K, 1st pitch curveball and he hit it to Landsdowne Street. I always laughed when he talked to young players and they asked him for advice. “Get a good pitch and swing” was his offering. He was so good, like many, that hitting really did boil down to that.
  13. Jeff Kent – Am I mistaken or didn’t this guy end up as one of the top offensive 2B of all time? I don’t know if he’s in or not but I do know he’s far more than a 14% vote guy…
  14. Gary Sheffield – See Bonds, Clemens, Manny. I remember very vividly the day I heard him say he intentionally made errors to lose games. That sucked beyond all reason as this guy was absolutely a hitter to be feared. His insane pre-swing movements belied a swing that was picture perfect. Yes, he seemed out of control but damn if every still shot of contact didn’t show him in the perfect hitting position. That bat waggle came before a swing that was at the top of the charts from a bat speed perspective. I compare him to Paul Molitor in this sense, there was never a pitch he couldn’t barrel. As we would say ‘the guy could pull a bullet foul’.
  15. Billy Wagner – Made hitters swing and miss like few others, ever. I don’t know the criteria for relievers but this guy was one of the 3-4 best closers of my era hands down.
  16. Scott Rolen – 10.2% for the best defensive 3B of all time?I had the honor of watching him from day 1 through his first couple of years and I agree with Mike Schmidt, Scott was the best defensive 3B to ever play the game. The game’s over a century old when you’re the best ever at something that means you’re a hall of Famer. He could have been a marginal offensive player (which he was not, he could hit) and he still should be in. He was Omar Vizquel at 3B. I always said this about Scott, he had range at a position no one else did. 3B is for most a position of reaction. Few guys, Arrenado, Caminiti, and a few others actually had range left and right. I remember opening day 1997. One run lead, bottom of 9, Brett Butler slaps a ball down the 3B line and Scott catches it on the bag running into foul territory, spins and throws a BB to Rico Brogna at 1B beating Butler by like 3 steps. I remember thinking “Wow, that sucks. You just made the best defensive player in history in your 1st season. Nowhere to go but down from here.
  17. Sammy Sosa – See Bonds, Clemens, Manny…
  18. Andruw Jones – I would say this. I would vote for him because I think he was the best CF of my generation and I can’t imagine he wasn’t in the top 3-4 all time. I never saw anyone (except Devon White) who seemed to glide when they ran. Never ever looked like there was any effort. I honestly think many times folks got on him for ‘not hustling’ it was because he was so effortless. He was quite honestly “pretty’ to watch. Another example of defense being worth too little to HOF voters IMO. As an aside, I got to sit next to Andruw on our flight to Japan in 1998. A more well mannered and well-spoken young man I have not met. Speaks multiple languages. Also? This was the year Bobby had pulled him off the field mid-game. He talked about it and how he regretted it. I wished he’d stayed healthy and that good, he could have been the best CF to ever play the game.

 

  • Guys that dropped off the ballot.
  • Johan Santana – The 2nd guy to destroy the 2nd half of a season and beat me in Cy Young voting. Won unanimous and deserved it. Honestly, when he got going early on he was a lock hall of famer. I don’t remember a lefty with that much ‘stuff’. His changeup was a game changer. I knew facing him that the winning run was up the minute the game started. I don’t think he played long enough. But I do know he sure as hell deserved more of a look than 2.4%
  • Johnny Damon – I don’t think he got the overall numbers you’d need but I can tell you this. At 7:05 every night I loved the fact he was my CF. After Steve Finley, I think Johnny was as good a CF as I ever had the honor of pitching in front of. His game 7 in the 2004 ALCS was one for the ages.
  • Hideki Matsui – Clearly nowhere near the duration needed but I can tell you this. Of the guys on that team in his days in NY he was the hitter I most hated facing. I never ever got a feel for his approach and he was a very smart hitter. In 2004, game 6 of the ALCS he was the one hitter I was most concerned with that night as I knew I didn’t have anything sharp breaking to get swings and misses from him. Thankfully he didn’t square up the mistakes I made to him that night!
  • Kerry Wood – Injuries kept him from being the HOF he would have been. I will say that I played with RJ, watched him punch out 20, saw Clemens do it, saw Pedro k 17 Yankees and all that. Saw many awesome games. But I still to this day believe his 20 K game vs the Astros was the most dominating game of my lifetime. FWIW a fantastic guy too.
  • Orlando Hudson – I loved this guy. Hated his guts before I met him. Legit game changer on defense and a decent bat.

 

 

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