June 18, 2018

If I had a Hall of Fame vote…

Actually I do.  Two, in fact.  I belong to the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and Internet Baseball Writer’s Association of America.  Not the actual BBWAA (yet), but it’ll do for now.

There is much hand-wringing and hair-pulling every year from the traditional journalists who make up the BBWAA and have Hall of Fame votes.  Each writer takes it as seriously as they deem necessary and allow their personal biases and relationships with individuals to shape their vote.  That’s all well and good.  That’s always been part of the process, and for the most part, the electing media usually get it right as a group, although in certain cases it takes way too damn long (see: Blyleven, Bert).

With the heavy hitters during the “Steroid Era” now making their way onto the ballots, it causes the electorate that much more angst.  But really, it’s pretty simple if you boil it down to its most elemental terms.  No one — NO ONE — knows who was using and who wasn’t.  It’s as simple as that.  There’s only player that was on this year’s ballot that ever tested positive for a performance enhancing drug, and that was under murky circumstances at the tail end of his career.  Of the thousands of players in that era (in this one too, I might add), we don’t know which ones — good, bad, or Hall-worthy — were using PEDs unless they’ve admitted to it.

That said, I then assume the playing field was even.  You can’t judge the good players accused without considering the same percentage of bad/average players also on the juice.

Here, then, was my ballot to the two groups for which I submitted ballots.  Please know some of this is objective, some subjective.  It’s my ballot.  I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions.

Jeff Bagwell:  .297/.408/.540.  Unique blend of power (449 HRs) and speed (202 SBs) at first base.

Barry Larkin: .295/.371/.444.  Quintessential top-of-the-order hitter with excellent defense.

Mark McGwire: .263/.394/.588.  583 home runs.

Dale Murphy:  .265/.346/.469.  398 homers, two-time MVP, best all-around player of the 80’s.

Rafael Palmeiro:  .288/.371/.515.  One of four hitters in MLB history with 500-plus homers and 3000-plus hits (Aaron, Mays, and Eddie Murray).

Tim Raines:  .294/.385/.425.  Dominant base-stealer with decent pop and great plate discipline.

Lee Smith:  71-92, 3.03 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 2.57 K/BB.  All-time saves leader when he retired by a large margin.

Bagwell and Larkin’s careers speak for themselves.  They are probably the most electable of the players on the ballot.  I know Raines and Smith are niche players.  I also know that they dominated their positions against others in the era.  Murphy is a pet pick for me.  He’ll never get elected, but was one of my favorite players as a kid and was the best player in baseball over an eight-year period.  Everyone knows McGwire’s story.  And call me a fool, but I buy Raffy’s story.

Just missed:  Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Fred McGriff, Alan Trammell.  Each of these players were excellent in their own rights, but I can’t get over the hump on them.

Not for me:  Jack Morris, Don Mattingly.  Morris’ 3.90 ERA can’t be explained away by “pitching to the score”. Mattingly just doesn’t have enough numbers in shortened career.

Overrated: Juan Gonzalez.  Didn’t like him then, don’t like him now.

Hall of Very Good:  Bernie Williams, Tim Salmon, Javy Lopez, Brad Radke, Vinny Castilla.

Why are they on the ballot?: Brian Jordan, Bill Mueller, Jeromy Burnitz, Eric Young, Phil Nevin, Ruben Sierra, Terry Mullholland, Tony Womack.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP


  1. I had no idea that individuals could have more than one vote. I think the integrity of the vote, and of the Hall itself would necessitate a process that insured a one-person-one-vote system. Is it common for voters to have more than a single vote? How many votes can a single person accumulate? I’m feeling the same type of dismay I felt back in grade school when I first learned that the President wasn’t elected by popular vote but by some esoteric entity known as the Electoral College.

    • Dave Nichols says:

      Kevin, not sure if you’re being funny or what. I have a single ballot for each of the organizations I belong to. sorry if that was unclear.

      • I wasn’t trying to be funny. I honestly didn’t know that individuals had more than a single HOF vote. I understand how it could be that you have one for each organization and certainly understand you’re working within the system as it’s structured. My question wasn’t intended to be accusatory towards you and I’m sorry if it came off that way. It was more questioning a system as a whole that collects multiple votes from single sources. It would seem to be more reflective of the opinion of the writers as a one-person-one-vote system rather than placing more value on votes from people who belong to more organizations.

        • Dave Nichols says:

          Kevin, maybe there’s a fundamental confusion here. I don’t actually have a hall of Fame vote — I’m not a member of the BBWAA. the two organizations I do belong to that conduct their own vote are not part of the BBWAA and therefore don’t actually vote for the Hall of Fame. those two organizations conduct their own votes for internet media and journalists that don’t belong to the BBWAA as a barometer for the real Hall of Fame voting. I’m sorry if there was confusion about that.

          • Ahh! And sun shines as the clouds part! Thanks for clarifying. Sorry for the political hijack.

    • I hope I’m not being political, but I was a poli sci major in college, so ill say this it’s a good system. The smaller states wouldn’t get as much attention if it was a straight popular vote. You would see more campaigning in the big cities. But like anything else, you change the rules you change the game.

      Curious Dave, why isn’t Bonds on your list? If you are going to include players who were supicious and/or used steroids, why do you leave the big fish off?

  2. I’m with you Dave. Bonds should join Pete Rose in the Hall.

    • Rose is a different case, he admitted to gambling on the game, which some might argue is worse than putting something in your body. So should anyone be excluded or just let everyone no matter what their character was(a HOF criteria).

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