This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was announced this afternoon, with Roberto Alomar headlining the first-timers and Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven the top returning vote-getters. I’m a long way from getting a vote, but this is what my ballot would look like as of tonight. Ask me tomorrow and I might have changed my mind. Frankly, I love that there is no definition for what makes a Hall of Famer. Good, smart baseball people can disagree. The gray area makes the decisions difficult and that’s exactly the way it should be.
Would, without question, get my vote
Roberto Alomar — A great all-around player throughout the 1990s. He hit for average, showed good speed, played great defense at second base and played well in the postseason. I’m sure a lot of people dislike the guy, but there’s no doubt he could play.
Would, after much second guessing, get my vote
Andre Dawson — We talk a lot about five-tool players these days, and Dawson was a five-tool major leaguer. Great arm. Good speed. Hit for a ton of power. I think of him as a dominant player, and that’s what I want in the Hall of Fame.
Barry Larkin — When Larkin was still playing, I thought of him as a future Hall of Famer. He was a really nice hitter at a premium defensive position and he might have won more than three Gold Gloves if he weren’t playing in a league with Ozzie Smith.
Mark McGwire — Not an easy choice, but the more we learn about the Steroid Era, the more I’m convinced McGwire should be in the Hall of Fame. There are plenty who disagree — probably most people disagree — but I would put him in.
Would not, after much second guessing, get my vote
Bert Blyleven — There was a time when I was firmly in the Blyleven-belongs-in-the-Hall camp, but I no longer think he had a dominant enough peak to be a Hall of Famer. He was very, very good for a long, long time, but I think the Hall should be full of players who were overwhelming at some point. I’m not sure Blyleven ever was. If he gets in, though, I won’t be upset about it.
Edgar Martinez — He’s exactly the kind of hitter I love — more walks than strikeouts, a lot of doubles — but I don’t think I would vote for him. It will be fascinating to see what happens with him. With apologies to Harold Baines, Martinez is the first great designated hitter to appear on the ballot.
Don Mattingly — Absolute proof that not all great players are necessarily Hall of Famers. Wouldn’t make my ballot, but I don’t think anyone could blame you if he made yours.
Dale Murphy — Kind of like Blyleven, I once firmly believed Murphy should be a Hall of Famer. Unlike Blyleven, Murphy’s peak was terrific — back-to-back MVPs, five 100 RBI seasons — but I’m not sure it was sustained long enough.
Jack Morris — A great player who pitched one of the great postseason games of all time. But not a Hall of Famer.
Tim Raines — I think I might come around some day. Right now, I don’t think of Raines as a Hall of Famer, but I’m always amazed at how much better his numbers are than what I might expect them to be.
Lee Smith — I actually typed his name into the “would” category before moving him down here. I honestly might change my mind again tomorrow. Throughout his career, Smith had one job to do and he did that job very well. Maybe I would vote for him afterall…
Not Hall of Famers, but I hope they get some votes
Dave Parker — Big guy with a big bat and a big arm. Always liked him as a player.
Alan Trammell — Another favorite. Trammell put up pretty good career numbers, and he hit especially well in his only World Series. Personally, I probably liked him more than I liked Larkin, but I think Larkin was a slightly better player.
Robin Ventura — Can you imagine how many times he’s had to watch that video of Nolan Ryan punching him in the head? It’s a separate part of his Wikipedia page! Someone give the guy a Hall of Fame vote for his troubles.
Ray Lankford — The 12-year-old version of myself would have voted for him. That’s what happens when you grow up in Southeast Missouri.
The full list of candidates