While the Hot Stove continues at full bore, December also means its Hall of Fame season. The Hall recently announced the 2014 ballot, which contains 36 names. If you've been around before, you know this usually means a lot of words by me on the candidates. This year though will be a bit different. Like we did with the power rankings and the award voting, Pat and I will be collaborating on this one. We'll give our thoughts and hypothetical votes on the major candidates. You can do the same by either yelling at us in the comments, or better yet, taking out official poll on the subject.
For this post, Pat and I will give our overall voting philosophies (such as it is, since we don't have votes) and thoughts on the ballot. We'll also cut down a few candidates. When it comes to my philosophy, this is what I wrote in the past, and it holds today.
1.) I am not in any way an anti-PED zealot, as I outlined last year.
2.) I tend to be statistically inclined, and base my arguments on them. I'll try not to give you a players’ WAR, but don’t expect the word “RBI” to show up here.
3.) I have no problem with the 15 year rule. I find the calls for the vote to be one and done incredibly shortsighted, especially now. The time frame for balloting allows for new information to come out, and for the electorate to argue amongst themselves and the fans. It allows minds to change, or at least think about the candidates more than a knee jerk response. If it helps a guy I wanted to see get in, like Bert Blyleven, great. If it helps a guy I didn’t want to see get in, like Jim Rice, so be it.
4.) I don’t try to think of the Hall all encompassing. I try to keep it to each player individually. As Joe Posnanski documented, the Hall “standards” have changed so much that there really aren’t any standards. I also don’t label myself as a Big or Small Hall guy, but I’m guessing once you see my picks, you’ll say Big.
As for this year's ballot, it's stacked. There's no way around it. I count 19 players on this ballot that I would least consider voting for. Unfortunately, because of the 10 vote rule, I can't vote for all 19. This is the writers' own fault of course, since they won't elect anybody. Remember that when most (not all) complain about this. For now, when we look at the players individually, I'll be saying yes or no based on would I vote for them if there was no limit, then make my final decisions at the wrap-up post, because, well, I don't know the complete 10 I'm voting for yet.
Finally, yes I know I think and write way too much about this and need to get a life, so don't bother pointing that out.
With that, let's do some quick culling of the herd. Of the first-time candidates: Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne, Luis Gonzalez, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Hideo Nomo, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, JT Snow, and Mike Timlin. You all had fine careers, and I don't begrudge any of you your spot on the ballot. You are also nowhere near Hall of Fame level, and do not warrant in-depth discussion. Agree, Pat?
PAT: For the most part, I would agree. The only exception that I would consider taking is with Hideo Nomo. By the numbers alone, he's certainly not a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. That having been said, he opened the door for a wave of extremely talented players to come to America. His first couple seasons were spectacular, and his impact on the game is undeniable. I'm not comparing him to Jackie Robinson by any stretch. He's not even the first Japanese player to play in Major League Baseball. But he was the first one in 30 years, and he really paved the way for guys like Ichiro Suzuki and Yu Darvish, who could be involved in future Hall of Fame discussions. Is it enough to deserve my vote? No, I don't think so. But Hideo Nomo's legacy should at least be acknowledged, and I'd put him a shade above the other first-timers on that list.
ERIC: Fair enough. Nomo paved the way for Ichiro, Darvish, and the rest. Unfortunately for him, the ballot is too stacked for him to earn a stray vote here and there.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine also appear for the first time. Both are beyond obvious Hall of Famers, with Maddux in particular being inner circle. There is no need to debate these two, they are Hall of Famers and should sail to election. They were certainly be on my fake ballot. Agree, Pat?
PAT: Maddux and Glavine absolutely deserve to be first ballot Hall of Famers, and it will be an absolute travesty if the BBWAA snubs them. Honestly, I can't imagine it happening, but I refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt.
ERIC: While it won't be unanimous for either, I can't imagine even of them missing
With that, we'll be back later this week and throughout December with individual looks, starting with Frank Thomas.