Ballot Time

Were it not for his awful testimony in 2005 before Congress, Mark McGwire would be in the Hall of Fame. He's a special case, so let's assume for a moment that he's in — as arguably he should be.

Excepting him, which currently eligible Hall of Fame candidate has the fifth-highest batting average, third-highest on base percentage, highest slugging percentage and highest OPS+ among the 15 men eligible for the Hall this year?

That would be the Hit Dog himself, Mo Vaughn, thanks to his still-impressive .293/.383/.523 line, good for a 132 OPS+. Sadly, Vaughn's career ended too quickly and too poorly to merit enshrinement — though he was deservedly inducted in 2008 into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

I tend to favor peak over longevity when looking at the HOF, but even I think you need at least a few more than 10 full seasons (and parts of two others) in the big leagues. That 1994-98 run was beautiful though — a 149 OPS+ over five seasons, good for 10th in probably the most offensive-centric period of the game's recent history.

Anyway, Vaughn's not getting in (probably won't even hit 5 percent of the ballot) — and there are two players whose induction seems likely — Rickey Henderson in his first year and Jim Rice in his final one. We've gone over the Rice arguments before and I'm about sick of them. He's extremely borderline, and I've gone back and forth in my head for the last few months on it as well. In the end, I think he's barely a Hall of Famer, but I'd still vote for him.

My ballot:
  • Bert Blyleven
  • Andre Dawson 
  • Rickey Henderson  
  • Mark McGwire 
  • Tim Raines 
  • Jim Rice 
  • Alan Trammell

Your turn. 

11 comments… add one
  • Rickey
    Walt Weiss

    Nick-YF January 4, 2009, 10:53 am
  • by the way, Rickey will not get the unanimous vote. BBTF has discovered at least one voter who kept him off his ballot. He didn’t give a reason.
    So we’re on to Greg Maddux in five years to see if the streak of imperfection is broken.

    Nick-YF January 4, 2009, 11:04 am
  • Blyleven
    Raines (where speed gets underrated – 800 SBs at 85% rate!, fifth all-time behind Henderson, Brock, Hamilton, Cobb. Add those extra bases to his SLG, and he’s looking at a career line of .294 .385 .516; a historically underrated player)
    By contrast, a .789 Career OPS on the road is not a HOFer. That extra 40 points of puke green “luck” turned a .280 hitter into a .320 hitter. Big difference.

    Cambridge YF January 4, 2009, 1:22 pm
  • > one voter who kept him off his ballot. He didn’t give a reason
    Because none exists.

    attackgerbil January 4, 2009, 1:28 pm
  • Davidoff nails both cases.
    Tim Raines: Here’s an instance in which I think first-hand observation does impact my decision. Because I got to see what kind of teammate Raines was. He was great with Joe Torre’s Yankees from 1996 through 1998, keeping everyone loose with his sense of humor and talking hitting with the younger players on the team.
    Now, that written, I think Raines is a Yes, anyway. His personality just strengthens the argument. Raines played long enough that he produced what felt like two distinct careers _ the first (1981-95) as an underappreciated leadoff hitter, the latter (1996-2002) as a very productive part-time player.
    Such longevity produced 390 win shares, a statistic created by Bill James in which 400 win shares merits “absolute enshrinement” into the Hall, as this linked story ( states. Raines’ .385 on-base percentage and extremely high stolen-base percentage (808 stolen bases in 954 attempts, an 85 percent success rate) boost his candidacy, as does his .435 OBP with runners in scoring position.
    As for his cocaine habit, that’s not a disqualifying factor to me. He wasn’t cheating; to the contrary, using coke very likely hurt his game. And while I respect Bob Tufts’ opinion, always, I disagree with his assertion that we can make an easy link between cocaine usage and association with gamblers. That’s too slippery a slope for my liking. As I’ve said to Bob, couldn’t you say that a player’s messy divorce and subsequent alimony payments make him more vulnerable to gamblers?
    Jim Rice: Ah, Mr. Rice, the most controversial call of all. My first two years, he was a slam-dunk yes, no questions asked.
    But to go back to my original premise of why I flip-flop, I’m not blind to what’s out there. I’ve read the many arguments in favor of and against Mr. Rice’s induction. And many of them have stuck with me.
    The home-road splits are remarkable. Then I re-read Howard Bryant’s superb book about the Red Sox’s history of racism, “Shut Out,” and thought, “True, Rice benefited from playing at Fenway Park. But it was no gift to be playing in Boston in his time period.” I e-mailed this thought to Howard, and he admitted he had never regarded Rice’s HOF candidacy through that prism.
    The offensive totals fall short, and his .8539 career OPS ties him for 147th all-time. He trails his era mates Reggie Smith (.855) and Jack Clark (.8543).
    At the end, having it pounded into my head that Rice was “feared,” I looked at some of his offensive splits (you also can see the home-away disparity here):
    Runners in Scoring Position: .371 OBP/.501 SLG//872 OPS. A better OBP than overall, one tick lower in slugging.
    2 outs, runners in scoring position: .358/.414/.773. Better OBP by a little, and much worse SLG.
    Late and close: .337/.453/.791. So when the “chips were down,” as they say, he was 53 points of OPS worse than overall.
    When you throw in his poor defense, I went with No. I’m sure he’ll get in anyway, in his final year of eligibility, and I won’t lose a wink of sleep over it.

    Cambridge YF January 4, 2009, 1:40 pm
  • Mo Vaughn’s most similar by age:
    28. David Ortiz (943)
    29. David Ortiz (937)
    30. Fred McGriff (932)
    31. Fred McGriff (940)
    32. Jason Giambi (939)
    33. Jason Giambi (911)
    Somehow I don’t see Ortiz aging as well as Giambi or McGriff. Heh.

    Cambridge YF January 4, 2009, 2:23 pm
  • Let’s get this back on track. I’m more interested in who other people would put on a HOF ballot, not in post diarrhea from old enemies pretending to be new friends.
    How about it, folks? Who’s on your ballot?

    Paul SF January 4, 2009, 6:31 pm
  • Looking forward to the fearsome grin argument in ten years for why Ortiz should be in the Hall. Tee-hee.

    Cambridge YF January 4, 2009, 6:52 pm
  • I say:
    * Bert Blyleven
    * Andre Dawson
    * Rickey Henderson
    * Mark McGwire
    * Tim Raines
    * Alan Trammell

    Rob January 4, 2009, 10:37 pm
  • > Looking forward to the fearsome grin argument in ten years for why Ortiz should be in the Hall
    It hear it is a good thing to set goals.

    attackgerbil January 5, 2009, 2:27 am
  • I have read before where votes said they havent voted for someone for the HOF who most certainly deserves to be voted for because they knew he would be elected and they wanted to make sure it wasnt unanimous… They said if Babe Ruth wasn’t a unanimous choice, no one should be.

    TJ Sox Fan January 5, 2009, 1:36 pm

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