Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Let's start the discussion of my 2019 ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame with an easy one: Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in history, gets my vote en route to enshrinement.
Any objections? No?
That won't last long.
In this age of divisiveness over Cooperstown voting, it's a testament to Rivera's tremendous career that almost no one screeches about his candidacy. He ultimately might not be a unanimous choice, but maybe he breaks Ken Griffey Jr.'s mark of 99.3% of the vote.
Most of the rest of the ballot, however, seems to have vociferous debate draped over it. Honestly, that's part of the fun of being a voter -- people care enough for the process to be a big deal every year.
So have at it. Here's my full ballot, respectfully submitted from Big Hall HQ, where we believe that more players should get the Hall Call:
Rivera, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker.
If there were no limit of 10 votes, I may have checked the names for Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner and Andruw Jones. Lance Berkman deserves a long look, too.
I'm hoping that we'll see a big class in Cooperstown this summer to clear some space on the ballot. Derek Jeter seems like the only newcomer "must" on next year's docket.
Rivera, obviously, is a must now. Look at his postseason stats (0.70 ERA, 86 hits allowed in 141 innings, only two homers). But don't do it for too long -- they're so awesome it's like using binoculars to peer at the sun.
Seeing both Bonds and Clemens on my ballot also may sear some eyeballs. But I believe having these two dominant forces enshrined shows us the game as it is, deep flaws and all. It's a museum, not holy ground, and Bonds has more MVPs and Clemens more Cy Young Awards than anyone.
Halladay was one of the last great workhorses, getting to 220 innings eight times. He also won the Cy Young in both leagues. Whether you like wins or not, his 203-105 record (a .659 winning percentage) is impressive.
Martinez is perhaps the greatest designated hitter of all time. As the game has specialized, it's worth recognizing him, especially since he has a career slash line of .312/.418/.515.
Kent makes my ballot simply because he's one of the best hitting second basemen ever. And all the carping about his defense? Well, he certainly lasted a long time at second for a slew of good teams (seven postseason appearances in 17 years) for a guy some think couldn't field.
Schilling achieved excellence in the regular season and then pitched better in October, showing a flair for drama along with precise control. Mussina thrived against the over-the-top offenses of the AL East and was in the top 6 in Cy Young voting nine different times.
In his final year on the BBWAA ballot, I voted for McGriff, a remarkable slugger who has 493 home runs, the same number as Lou Gehrig. He had 10 30-homer seasons, a career OPS-plus of 134 and had a career OPS in the postseason of .917 in 50 games. An excellent, underappreciated run.
I regret not voting for McGriff more, but maybe this checkmark will reverberate a little -- hopefully, last-ballot support will urge the next committee that considers McGriff to enshrine him.
I voted for Walker this year, too, though some don't believe he's worthy thanks to the Coors Field factor, as well as injuries making it difficult to amass huge counting stats. Still, Walker is one of 19 players who played at least 1,000 games and have a career slash line of .300/.400/.500 or better. Walker's was .313/.400/.565.
And, honestly, if you don't like his career because he played at Coors, what was he supposed to do, not rake during home games?