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2012 Hall of Fame Ballot

This might be the last post of 2011, we'll see. I'm hoping that if I say enough times "this is the last post of 2011," the Mariners will make me look foolish by completing some big move. I also find it ironic that the last post of this year has next year in the title.

I digress. As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I have the privilege of filling out a Hall of Fame ballot. It does not count in the real HOF vote, but it does count for the BBA voting. I am curious to see how my fellow BBA bloggers vote, and whom we would elect if we were the BBWAA.

I won't drone on and on about how I decide who is a Hall of Famer, but I do put some thought into my standards. I believe the Hall of Fame's primary function is to preserve what baseball looks like in its highest form. This generally means accumulating remarkable statistics, but that's not everything, as you will see with my ballot. More than anything, I see the hall as where we acknowledge and define what baseball at its best ought to look like.

Because I am a fan of transparency (and ready-made blog posts), here are the players voted yes for, in alphabetical order:

  • Jeff Bagwell - I don't think Bagwell did steroids, but even if he did, he stays on my ballot. I have written about steroids before. Long story short, I believe baseball was as juiced in the 1990s as anyone - and because of that, I also believe there were tons of juicers who did not reach the heights that the stars did. It's unfair to the 1990s to eradicate everything that happened. Bagwell should be in the hall, no doubt. He was too good for too long, and is synonymous with the Astros.
  • Barry Larkin - Larkin was the last guy I gave a yes to. He was right on the cusp for me. No single number pops off the page for me, but the total package for such a long time at shortstop is remarkable. He also was the face of the Reds for at least a decade, which counts for something.
  • Edgar Martinez - Edgar is, and likely will always be, my favorite player of all-time. I'm terribly biased here. I've written about how I feel designated hitters ought to be considered when thinking about the Hall of Fame, and Edgar stands the test for me. Plus, like it or not, the designated hitter is a part of baseball. Who epitomizes what a DH should be and can be more than Edgar Martinez? The designated hitter award is named after him. Enough said.
  • Mark McGwire - It's a shame that McGwire has been lowered and shamed so much for his steriod use. He still was the first man to hit 62 home runs, and I would argue that his epic home run race with Sammy Sosa stands as the most captivating baseball story of at least the past 20 years. I remember daily reports on the national news, updating all of the US on what was going on. As far as I'm concerned, McGwire and Sosa resuscitated baseball out of the post-lockout doldrums more than anyone else. Yeah, they were probably juiced, but those home runs still counted, and my Hall of Fame has no issue honoring the incredible amount of good that came out of the home run chase.
  • Dale Murphy - Peaks matter for me. Murphy didn't have as long of a career as most Hall of Famers, but his prime was incredible. He won back-to-back MVPs, and had five consecutive seasons where he was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, and posted an OPS north of .800. In the early to mid-1980s, it is hard to argue there was a better player in baseball. That's a Hall of Fame stretch in my book.
  • Rafael Palmeiro - 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, and a positive test for steroids. By now, I doubt any of you reading this are surprised that Palmeiro is on my ballot. Palmeiro was always great, but also overshadowed by other first basemen of his generation (such as Bagwell and McGwire, already on this ballot). I remember being surprised as Palmeiro approached some of the impressive benchmarks that he achieved. He always seemed like a great player, but never an elite one. Still, Palmeiro's longevity, and friction-free swing, just nudge him onto my ballot. It was a close call.
  • Larry Walker - While Walker had some of his best seasons in one of the most prodigious launching pads of all-time (Coors Field in the 1990s) his numbers are just that ridiculous. He had three seasons where his OPS was over 1.100 (I swear that's not a typo).  He has the magical .300/.400/.500 triple-slash for his career. Along with the sick hitting numbers, Walker played right field most of his career, and his cannon for an arm earned him six Gold Gloves. Injuries and some healthy Coors Field skepticism have dampened Walker's accomplishments, but he is still worthy of enshrinement.
Everyone has their own view of the Hall of Fame, and I don't ever want to see a formal definition for enshrinement. Much of the beauty of the Hall of Fame lies in the debates over individual players. This is where we figure out what baseball should be all about. I could have picked up to 10 players, but only these 7 were Hall of Famers this year, among the players eligible...at least in my eyes.