Although we already have three members. Even if it’s still unclear what effect, if any, managers have on baseball teams, I can get behind Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre in the Hall of Fame. Torre is even borderline as a player.
Here’s the potential candidates for the players, courtesy of baseball-reference.
1 — If Greg Maddux isn’t a first ballot Hall of Famer, I don’t know who is. He’s just slightly worse than Roger Clemens, who happens to be my pick for the best pitcher in the last 25 years, maybe even last 50. He’s also been nowhere near the steroid scandal. Slam dunk.
2 — In any other year, I’d call Craig Biggio a slam dunk too, but there are too many great candidates this year.
3 — Jack Morris is almost definitely getting in, even though I still think the AL version of 85% of Don Sutton is the definition of “borderline candidate.” I think the Veterans Committee puts him in at some point, even if the BBWAA doesn’t put him in.
4 — I don’t see any other obvious candidates. Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas (and to a lesser extent, Mike Mussina and Jeff Kent) should all have pretty solid showings (unless they punish Jeff Kent for being a Dick, by which I mean modern day Dick Allen). Mike Piazza has a decent chance, as does Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines. If we allow for Tom Glavine as a potential first ballot-er, I think the most likely scenario is:
Greg Maddux, Craig Biggio, Jack Morris (sigh), and maybe Tim Raines, with Tom Glavine getting the biggest vote for a first timer not elected this year.
My ballot would be:
1. Barry Bonds. By any measure, the greatest offensive player in history, and only slightly behind Babe Ruth overall because of Ruth’s pitching years.
2. Roger Clemens. Expect these two names at the top of my ballot until they get elected.
3. Greg Maddux
4. Tom Glavine
5. Tim Raines — In a world without Rickey Henderson (a poor world, that), he’d been in for sure.
6. Mike Piazza — Best offensive “catcher” of all time.
7. Jeff Kent — A decent fielder who happens to be a top five offensive second baseman.
8. Rafael Palmeiro — See #1 and #2, although I think his chances are pretty poor.
9. Mike Mussina — I’m still amazed by how good he was, by the numbers, and yet he’s almost criminally underrated.
10. Frank Thomas — He’ll have a decent showing; plus, if he got in, it might kill Joe Morgan from apoplexy. We don’t want Frank Thomas clogging up the Hall of Fame’s basepaths! He’s superior to Jeff Bagwell in everything but baserunning and defense, and the difference isn’t enough to push Bagwell over Thomas. (I think Rafael Palmeiro is better than Thomas, although a lot of that is defense and longevity).