Monday, November 28, 2016

2017 IBWAA Hall Of Fame Ballot

As is the case around this time of the year, Hall of Fame ballots are sent out. To Official Baseball Writers Association of America members, they are mailed and returned as such. Through the forward thinking Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, email is utilized to streamline the process. Once again, I have the privilege of completing a ballot.

Before getting into the selections themselves, I wanted to lay a few guidelines out. First and foremost, the IBWAA has already voted in the likes of Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, and Jeff Bagwell. Voters also have the opportunity to vote for anywhere between one and 15 players, but may not turn in a blank ballot. My stance on performance enhancing drugs has been discussed previously, and you can find it here.

For players I have voted previously, I will denote them as such with an asterisk. I will also be using the same explanation as the previous vote. Without further ado, let's get into it:

*Barry Bonds: 164.4 fWAR

It's a no brainer. The all-time home run king (762) is arguably the best player to ever step on the field. A seven-time MVP, eight-time Gold Glove winner, and 14-time All Star, Bonds did it all.

*Roger Clemens: 133.7 fWAR

The Rocket is one of the greatest pitchers to ever grace the mound. He's won seven Cy Young awards, claimed an MVP as a pitcher, and was invited to 11 All Star Games. His 4,672 strikeouts were buoyed by leading the big leagues five separate times.

*Trevor Hoffman: 26.1 fWAR

At one point the All-Time saves leader, Hoffman's 601 career saves still rank second, trailing only Mariano Rivera. His career 2.87 ERA was is dazzling, and the seven-time All Star has a place in the Hall.

*Fred McGriff: 56.9 fWAR

The Crime Dog spent many of his early season among MVP discussions. Despite never winning won, he finished fourth in 1993. He was elected to five All Star games and won three Silver Slugger awards. It's his 493 career home runs that get him over the top and into the Hall however.

*Mike Mussina: 82.2 fWAR

Pitching his entire career in the AL East, Mussina was a household name for Yankees and Orioles fans. Making five All Star games, and winning seven Gold Gloves, Mussina has his fair share of awards. Totaling 270 wins, and just over 2,800 strikeouts, Mussina comes up just short of the guaranteed numbers.

*Curt Schilling: 79.7 fWAR

Bloody sock nonsense aside, Schilling is a three time Cy Young runner-up, and six-time All Star. He struck out 3,116 batters in his career and owns a 3.46 ERA while totaling more than 200 wins. Three World Series rings, an MVP, and a 2.23 postseason ERA do him favors as well. Since voting for him last year, Schilling has made plenty of splashes in the media. He's not well liked off the field, but the character clause is among the most dated pieces of inclusion into the Hall of Fame. On baseball merit alone, he's worthy of the nod.

*Lee Smith: 26.6 fWAR

When it comes to closers, before there was Trevor Hoffman or Mariano Rivera, there was Lee Smith. His 478 saves still rank third among major league career numbers, and likely will stand there for quite some time. Smith was also a seven time All Star.

*Larry Walker: 68.7 fWAR

Although he played the field plenty, Walker also turned in a nice run spending time in both the infield and outfield. He was the 1997 NL MVP and made five All Star games. His glove netted him seven Gold Gloves and his bat produced three Silver Slugger awards. Walker finished his 17 seasons with 383 homers and drove in over 1,300 runs.

Vladimir Guerrero 54.3 fWAR

Guerrero was a nine-time All-Star and picked up an MVP award in 2004. Even with all of his accolades, it's two defining instances on the field highlight his memory most for me. Few players have ever been better bad ball hitters, and his arm from right field remains one of the best the game has ever seen. In his first year on the ballot, Vlad is a no brainer.

Ivan Rodriguez 68.9 fWAR

Another first timer on the ballot, Pudge gets the nod immediately as well. With 14 All-Star appearances, 13 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, and an MVP to his credit, Rodriguez is among the top three or four catchers to ever play the game. He did it on both sides of the plate and his 21 year career was a testament to his durability as well.