Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Every year (since 2010), registered Internet baseball writers are sent their own version of a Hall of Fame ballot to be completed and returned. Once tallied, the IBWAA announces the inductees into its virtual Hall of Fame. No bronze plaques are created, and no official player speeches are given, but it’s still interesting and fun. We often see that the Internet writers induct players into their Hall of Fame that have yet to be inducted into the more well-known counterpart located in Cooperstown. 

Lately, the baseball writers who vote for the Cooperstown Hall are being challenged to be transparent with their ballots. Players who seemingly should be on everyone’s ballot are being left off or ignored, and fans (along with other writers) have called upon the voting participants to be accountable for what they’ve cast.

With that in mind, I’ve just completed my IBWAA ballot and will gladly share it with you. 

The names I highlighted in yellow are the players I am voting for. Don Mattingly is a write-in with the clear understanding that the IBWAA does not accept write-in candidates.

I did it as a matter of principal. 

Anyway, you’ll notice that some stat-worthy names have not been selected. Guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Magglio Ordonez, Manny Ramirez and Ivan Rodriguez did not get my vote, and probably never will. 
(Paul Kitagaki Jr/Sacramento Bee/MCT)

They are names commonly associated with the Steroid Era of baseball. Bonds in particular could be considered the poster child of the era – with Clemens not far behind. Other writers may look at it differently; the argument being that “everyone” during that time was using one form of PED or another. I simply don’t buy it. 

(Courtesy: MLB.com)

I cannot believe that Cal Ripken, Mattingly, or even Fred McGriff – all of which played during the height of that dark period – used anything more than their God-given talents to put up their numbers. None of them had dramatic spikes in their numbers, and none of them had dramatic physical changes. I refuse to make them collateral damage of the cheaters.

(Sept. 20, 2011 - Source: Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America)
Anyway, who did I vote for? For starters, wild-swinging Vladimir Guerrero. “Vlad the impaler” had one of the longest reaches in baseball, and used it to crush balls well outside of the strike zone. In 16 seasons he hit 449 home runs and batted .318. Most amazing to me is the fact that, in spite of being such a free-swinger at the plate, he never struck out more than 95 times in any season. Not once did he crack the 100 strikeout mark. If he was going to swing, the man made sure he connected.
(March 4, 2013 - Source: J. Meric/Getty Images North America)
Next, I voted for the “Crime Dog”, Fred McGriff. He is one of those being held accountable for the sins of his brethren by the Baseball Writers Association. How else can you explain someone with 19 years of service, 493 home runs (he missed a season due to the baseball players’ strike), a .280 batting average, and who hit 20 or more home runs in 15 of those 19 seasons being left outside the doors of the Hall of Fame? In the post season, McGriff hit .303 – including .438 in the 1995 NLCS against Cincinnati which eventually led to Atlanta’s World Championship over the Indians. During his prime, Fred McGriff was truly one of the most feared hitters in baseball. The BBWAA might ignore him, but we won’t.

(Sept. 18, 2008 - Source: Chris McGrath/Getty Images North America)
Someone else that I feel has been overlooked is “the Moose”, Mike Mussina. While pitcher Tom Glavine has his plaque hanging on the wall in upstate NY, Mussina has been given the cold shoulder. Let’s take a look at their numbers:

While Glavine played 4 more years than “Moose”, he actually averaged less wins, had fewer strikeouts, had a higher WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), had less complete games, less seasons of 17 or more wins, and for the stat geeks, had a lower WAR. Mussina managed to either put up comparable or better numbers on worse teams and in a shorter time span than Glavine, yet he remains on the outside of Cooperstown. It is my hope that we can give him some consolation with a virtual plaque in our Hall of Fame.

My last two choices are both career-long Yankees, and some of you will certainly consider them to be “homer” picks by this author, I assure you that both have very good arguments for residing alongside the immortals of baseball.

Jorge Posada was the primary backstop for one of the Yankees most “golden” of eras. He was known as one of the “Core four” that brought multiple championships back to the Bronx. Posada owns 4 rings, and put up numbers well worth consideration for entrance into Cooperstown. I’ll be writing an article later in the week explaining my reasoning. Just be aware that when placed alongside some who have already gained entrance, Posada’s numbers don’t back down. In addition, there are some intangibles like grit and heart that can’t be put into a spreadsheet. His importance to the great teams he played on is primarily why he has my vote.

Don Mattingly is one of the greatest players I have ever seen play. During the peak of his career, he was the best player in the game. I’ve written an article in the past explaining why he belongs in the Hall. If players like Kirby Puckett, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor have been voted in, then it is a crime that Mattingly has not. I’ll write his name on every one of my ballots, always.

So there you have it. I’ve voted for five players I consider worthy of baseball immortality. What do you think? Do you discount the PED users like I do, or do you think their numbers are deserving of induction – regardless of how they were achieved? We’d love to hear from you! 

By the way, if you haven't seen it already, be sure to check out a great piece about the Hall of Fame vote by newbie BYB writer Barry Millman.  Check out PLEASE DON'T BLOW THIS YEAR'S HOF VOTE. It's terrific.

--Steve Skinner
BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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