2019 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot


Source: Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrThibbs)

It’s the greatest time of year. Snow is falling. Christmas is right around the corner. Best of all, the ballots for the Baseball Hall of Fame have been sent out.

It’s one of the best parts about baseball, but also the most controversial. There are 35 candidates to be enshrined this year, but realistically only 4 or 5 will receive a call of a lifetime.

For those who aren’t familiar, there are roughly 400-500 people, who are members of the Baseball Writers‘ Association of America (BBWAA), who get to vote for the Hall of Fame. Each voter is allowed to cast a vote for up to 10 players, but they are also allowed to vote for nobody if they want. In order to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, a player needs to receive 75% of votes. On the other end of the spectrum, if a player fails to receive 5% of the votes, they are eliminated from future ballots altogether.

As you’ll see, I’m a big fan of using all 10 votes. However, there are a lot of voters who will vote for only one or two players, or just leave their ballot empty. These people are called morons. For some reason, baseball writers feel like they are the eternal gatekeepers for the Hall of Fame and are more interested in their own personal agenda than honouring the deserved nominees.

Now, the major question when it comes to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Do players who have tested positive for Steroids/PEDs deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame? I don’t care if somebody did PEDs. Obviously, it would be better if every player in the history of the game was clean, but that’s not the case. For some voters, PEDs are an automatic non-vote. That’s fair. It’s their opinion and right to withhold their vote from a player who cheated. However, there are dozens of players currently inducted into the Hall who took PEDs and weren’t caught. Also, there are players currently on the ballot, or who will be on future ballots who were suspected of using PEDs, but never caught. This results in writers withholding a player from the Hall of Fame based on pure speculation. To make things even worse, Bud Selig, who was the commissioner of the league during the ‘Steroid Era’, was inducted in 2017. Selig basically turned a blind eye to steroid use due to it helping the league’s ratings. If he can get in, people who used steroids should get in as well.

Lastly, before I get started, if you want to stay up to date with the voting, the best follow on Twitter is Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs). He compiles all of the filled in ballots that have been made public by the voters and keeps track of them on a spreadsheet. The sheet can be found here. With all that said, here are my votes.

1. Mariano Rivera Position: Closer Team(s): New York Yankees Years on ballot: 1st

Percentage of votes received in 2018: N/A

Regular Season

82-60, 2.21 ERA, 652 saves, 1283 2/3 IP, 1173 K

Postseason

8-1, 0.70 ERA, 42 saves, 141 IP, 110 K

Career Accolades

13 time All-Star 5 time World Series Champion (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009) 1999 World Series MVP (1999) 2003 ALCS MVP (2003) 5 time Reliever of the Year (1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2009) 5 top five Cy Young finishes

Here it is. If there is ever going to be a player that receives 100% of the votes, this is the best shot. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely to happen. As I stated before, there are always a few voters who submit a blank ballot, no matter who is nominated. What also hurts Rivera is the game that voters play with their votes. There are going to be voters who see Rivera as a lock to be inducted, so they won’t vote for him and will instead vote for a lesser name who may be on the cusp of being dropped off the ballot altogether. Or there will be a voter that says “Well, *insert player name here* didn’t get in unanimously, so nobody should”, it’s extremely petty, but this type of thing happens.

Whether he’s a unanimous vote or not, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s the most dominant pitcher in the sport’s history. There, I said it. Rivera has the all-time record for regular season saves (652) and games finished (952), both of which will likely never be matched. If you like advanced stats, he also has the best ERA+ (205) of all time. However, the most impressive thing about Rivera is that he did all of this with one pitch that he stumbled upon accidentally. With the vast majority of pitchers, you have to worry about 3-4 different pitches. Whether it’s a fastball, curveball, changeup, slider, or any other pitch you can think of. With Rivera, hitters knew that there was a 99.9% chance that he was going to throw a cutter, and yet, he still dominated batter after batter.

Rivera has already been honoured by having the award for the Best Reliever in the American League named after him, but he should now be the first ever unanimous inductee. But even if he’s not, he’s a definite first ballot Hall of Famer.

Before we move onto the next inductee, I would like to remind you that more people have walked on the moon than men who have scored on Rivera in the postseason.

2. Barry Bonds Position: Outfielder Team(s): Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants Years on ballot: 7th Percentage of votes received in 2018: 56.4 %

Regular Season

2935 hits, 762 HR, 1996 RBI, 514 SB, .298/.444/.607

Postseason

37 hits, 9 HR, 24 RBI, .245/.433/.503

Career Accolades

14 time All-Star 7 time NL MVP (1990, 1992, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004) 8 time Gold Glove winner (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998) 12 Silver Slugger Awards (1990-1994, 1996, 1997, 2000-2004)

Here’s where it gets fun. Barry Bonds is the most dangerous hitter in the history of the league and may very well be the best overall player of all-time. However, he’s also arguably the most controversial player of all-time. Whenever you think about steroids in baseball, you think of Barry Bonds. Whether or not he ever used steroids, we may never know. But that won’t stop people from refusing to vote him into the Hall.

Bonds has the all-time record for home runs in a season (73) and career home runs (762), two records that will extremely difficult for anybody to break. He also holds the all-time records for walks (2558) and intentional walks (688). Think about that for a second. An everyday player gets between 600-700 plate appearances in a season. Which means that Bonds basically had a full season worth of plate appearances end in the pitcher intentionally putting him on first base. That’s how dangerous of a hitter he was.

Steroids or not, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Luckily for him, he’s been trending in the right direction for the past few seasons. He’s jumped from 44.3% of votes in 2016 to 56.4% last year. This is his 7th year on the ballot, meaning that after this year he only has three more chances to be inducted. If I had to guess, I would say that voters make him sweat it out and don’t vote him in until his last year of eligibility, just to make themselves feel like they got the better of him. Because don’t forget, in the minds of most writers, the Hall is more about them than the players.

3. Roger Clemens Position: Starting Pitcher Team(s): Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros Years on ballot: 7th Percentage of votes received in 2018: 57.3%

Regular Season 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 4916 2/3 IP, 4672 K Postseason 12-8, 3.75 ERA, 199 IP, 173 K Career Accolades 11 time All Star 2 time World Series Champion (1999, 2000) 7 time Cy Young Winner (1986, 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2004) AL MVP (1986)

The Hall of Fame case for Clemens is the exact same as Barry Bonds. Both of them are all-time greats, but both have been connected to PEDs for years. The fact that they are on the same year of eligibility will always keep them connected. It’s simple if Bonds makes it in, so does Clemens and vice versa. Much like Bonds, Clemens will probably have to wait until his final year of eligibility to be inducted.

In terms of his actual performance on the field, there aren’t many who can say they were better than Clemens. He’s ninth all-time in wins, third in strikeouts, and if it weren’t for pitchers in the early 1900s who would throw until their arms fell off and have thus skewed the stats for the rest of the pitchers, he would be near the top of the list in career complete games as well.

Unfortunately for Clemens, even if he were to be inducted, his name will always be more connected with PEDs than with how great of a pitcher he actually was.

4. Roy Halladay Position: Starting Pitcher Team(s): Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies Years on ballot: 1st Percentage of votes received in 2018: N/A

Regular season 203-105, 3.38 ERA, 2749 1/3 IP, 2117 K Postseason 3-2, 2.37 ERA, 38 IP, 35 K Career Accolades 8 time All Star 2 time Cy Young winner (2003, 2010) Threw a Perfect Game on May 29, 2010 Threw a Postseason No-Hitter on October 6, 2010

It’s been just over a year since Roy Halladay passed away in a tragic plane accident, which still doesn’t seem real. However, for the next couple of months, we’ll be able to remember just how great Halladay was on the mound.

Here is the most controversial thing I’m going to say in this article, and I understand that it’s a terrible thing to say, but: Halladay’s case as a first ballot Hall of Famer was helped by his death. I feel dirty saying that, but it’s the truth.

Halladay was an exceptional pitcher, one of the last great ones whom you could count on him giving you 9 full innings. If it weren’t for him being stuck on the abysmal Blue Jays for the majority of his career, he could’ve built an even better postseason resume than he already has. However, with all that said, I’m not entirely convinced he would’ve been a first-ballot inductee. If I had to bet on it, I would bet that he would’ve been. But I don’t think it was a lock. Now that he has sadly passed away, I think that he’s probably the biggest lock to be inducted this year, after Mariano Rivera, of course.

Halladay was exactly what you want from your "Ace". He wasn’t going to blow you away with any of his stuff, but he was smart enough to know exactly how to approach each batter. Every fifth day was special for Jays fan, and fans all across baseball, because you knew that you were most likely going to see an 8 or 9 inning masterpiece from Halladay. From 1999 to 2009, his first full season with the Jays to his last, the team averaged 80 wins and never made the playoffs. It wasn’t until he was traded to the Phillies that he finally got a taste of the postseason and quickly made his mark by throwing just the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history in his first ever postseason appearance.

RIP in peace, Roy. Soon, you will be forever enshrined in Cooperstown.

5. Edgar Martinez Position: Designated Hitter Team(s): Seattle Mariners Years on ballot: 10th Percentage of votes received in 2018: 70.4% Regular season 2247 hits, 309 HR, 1261 RBI, .312/.418/.515 Postseason 34 hits, 8 HR, 24 RBI, /266/.365/.508 Career Accolades 7 time All Star 5 Silver Slugger Awards (1992, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003)

Well, this is it. Edgar’s last year on the ballot. Based on the percentage he received last season, he should easily reach the 75% this year.

Martinez is widely considered to be the best Designated Hitter of all time, and there’s a good argument for that. When you think of a DH, you think of a guy who hits home runs, and that’s it. That’s not the case with Martinez. Sure, he hit a good amount of home runs – over 20 in eight seasons – but he also hit for average, as shown by his .312 career batting average. Another thing you think of with a DH is somebody who has the tendency to strike out a lot. You think of the Adam Dunn or Giancarlo Stanton's of the world, who strikeout over 200 times every year. In Martinez’s case, the only time he struck out over 100 times was in the final season of his career, when he clearly wasn’t as good as he once was.

Much like Mariano Rivera, Martinez has been honoured with an award named after him. Every year, the best DH in the league is given the Edgar Martinez award.

Some voters refuse to vote for him because he spent the majority of his career as a DH, but luckily for him, it looks like enough people will agree that he’s a Hall of Famer, and frankly, it couldn’t come at a better time.

6. Curt Schilling Position: Starting Pitcher Team(s): Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox Years on ballot: 7th Percentage of votes received in 2018: 51.2%

Regular season 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3261 IP, 3116 K Postseason 11-2, 2.23 ERA, 133 1/3 IP, 120 K Career Accolades 6 time All Star 3 time World Series Champion (2001, 2004, 2007) World Series MVP (2001) NLCS MVP (1993)

One of the most clutch pitchers in history. The 2001 Postseason alone should be enough to get Schilling inducted. On the way to a World Series championship, Schilling pitched in six games, in those six games Schilling went 4-0 with 48 1/3 innings pitched, a 1.12 ERA -- I don’t think you read that properly. A 1.12 ERA -- and 56 strikeouts. Even more impressive is that in the World Series, he pitched games one, four and seven against the New York Yankees and went 1-0 with 21 2/3 innings, 26 strikeouts, and a 1.69 ERA. Just incredible.

f you could choose one pitcher to win in a win or go home postseason game, Schilling has to be near the top of that list.

The only things keeping Schilling away from the Hall of Fame have nothing to do with on-field performance. Schilling is a very opinionated man, and he also likes to tweet. Due to his political stances, and some of his Twitter takes, he has left a sour taste in many people’s mouths, which has unquestionably led to him not getting some well-deserved Hall of Fame votes. It sucks, because the Hall is a place to honour the greatest players to ever play the game. Not a place to honour people who agree with your political views. Voters need to get their heads out of their asses and place their votes based on what the player did on the field during their career.

7. Andy Pettitte Position: Starting Pitcher Team(s): New York Yankees, Houston Astros Years on ballot: 1st Percentage of votes received in 2018: N/A

Regular season 256-153, 3.85 ERA, 3316 IP, 2448 K Postseason 19-11, 3.81 ERA, 276 2/3, 183 K Career Accolades 3 time All Star 5 time World Series Champion (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009) ALCS MVP (2001)

Pettitte is an interesting case. When you think of the best pitchers of all-time or the best pitchers of a certain generation, Pettitte never comes to mind. Probably because he wasn’t at the top with the likes of a Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, or others. But what makes Pettitte a Hall of Famer in my eyes is the fact that he was always there to make a start, but more importantly, if you had a big game ahead of you, Pettitte was usually the guy chosen to start it.

As it stands today, Pettitte is the all-time leader in postseason wins (19) and postseason innings pitched (276 2/3). He was also called upon to start 13 World Series games. For context, he started five more World Series games than Roger Clemens and Roy Halladay combined. He also started more World Series games than most pitchers start postseason games in their career.

Pettitte isn’t without controversy though. He admitted to using HGH back in 2002 to help him recover from an elbow injury quicker. This will obviously lead to some people refusing to vote for him, but I don’t think this will have a huge effect on his case as a whole.

Realistically, I don’t think Pettitte will be a first-ballot inductee. I could see him being voted in but will probably have to wait for his third or fourth year time around, but he should be inducted at some point. He was never the best pitcher in the league and he never had the best stuff, but his postseason pedigree alone should be enough to get him voted in eventually.

8. Manny Ramirez Position: Outfielder Team(s): Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays Years on ballot: 3rd Percentage of votes received in 2018: 22%

Regular Season 2574 hits, 555 HR, 1831 RBI, .312/.411/.585 Postseason 117 hits, 29 HR, 78 RBI, .285/.394/.544 Career Accolades 12 time All Star 2 time World Series Champion (2004, 2007) World Series MVP (2004) 9 Silver Slugger Awards (1995, 1999-2006)

Manny being Manny. Something we heard numerous times over the course of Manny’s career.

Despite the controversy and antics, Manny Ramirez put together an incredible career. He ranks 15th all-time in home runs and 19th in RBI. All while hitting at a .312 clip. He was also an incredible hitter in the postseason, namely in the ‘04 World Series where he hit .412/.500/.588 while leading the Red Sox to their first title in 86 years.

However, with Manny, his on field stats are never the story. He was known as a bit of a goof in his playing days, routinely going into the Green Monster during the game, only to have the rest of the players and umpires have to wait for him to come back to resume play. To some of the defensive decisions that he made, that even a 4 year old tee-ball player wouldn’t be dumb enough to make. But it all comes down to the PEDs. He was suspended for 50 games and 100 games -- which was late reduced to 50 games – for failed drug tests.

Manny has the numbers, but he has a tough hill to climb if he ever wants to be inducted.

9. Mike Mussina Position: Starting Pitcher Team(s): Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees Years on ballot: 6th Percentage of votes received in 2018: 63.5%

Regular season 270-153, 3.68 ERA, 3562 2/3 IP, 2813 K Postseason 7-8, 3.42 ERA, 139 2/3 IP, 145 K Career Accolades 5 time All Star 7 time Gold Glove winner (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2008)

Mike Mussina was a great pitcher, especially if you needed somebody to eat innings. In his 17 full seasons in the majors, he failed to eclipse the 200 inning mark only six times, four of which came in his last five seasons. In those 17 seasons he averaged a 16-9 record with a 3.70 ERA.

Mussina has the 23rd highest pitching WAR of all-time, higher than the likes of Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling, Roy Halladay, Tom Glavine and Andy Pettitte. He also spent his whole career in the AL East. Which isn’t an easy thing to do in any generation, let alone the late 90s-early 2000s. Although he never actually won a Cy Young, he finished second in 1999 and top 6 in five other seasons.

He’s getting closer and closer to the 75% mark and although it may not happen this year, it looks like he’ll be a member of the 2020 class at the very latest.

10. Larry Walker Position: Outfielder Team(s): Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, St Louis Cardinals Years on ballot: 9th Percentage of votes received in 2018: 34.1%

Regular season 2160 hits, 383 HR, 1311 RBI, 230 SB, .313/.400/.565 Postseason 23 hits, 7 HR, 15 RBI, .230/.350/.510 Career Accolades

5 time All Star NL MVP (1997) 7 time Gold Glove winner (1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002) 3 Silver Slugger Awards (1992, 1997, 1999)

Larry Walker was a gifted hitter. Some of his slash lines are unbelievable, even for the time period. Now, you’re going to have lots of people saying that Walker only succeeded because he played 81 games a year in Coors Field. I’m not going to sit here and say that his home field didn’t help inflate his numbers a bit, but you don’t have batting averages of .366, .363 and .379 in consecutive years because of thin air. That takes talent. He also displayed some serious pop in his career and was a solid base stealer for the majority of his career.

He needs a seemingly impossible percentage jump to be inducted this year, and unless he can gain around 20% this year, the chances of him getting 75% next year – his final year on the ballot – seem slim.

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